AROW80 Check-In: April 20, 2014

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it; everyone else, hope you have a generally lovely day.  I am once again posting wayy too early in the morning before I go to bed, so here we go!

What I’ve Been Doing: I’m still working on the 13 Worldbuilding Questions.  I’m up to #9 and will be working on that tonight. Since I’m trying to do world building for the Defcon series as a whole, and since each book takes place during a different time period, I’m answering some questions by time period to make note of the changes.

I used my car for research purposes tonight, which was kind of cool and fun.  Because World War III is sparked by an asteroid strike, I used an online calculator to figure out the size of the blast I wanted. And the calculator told me other cool things, like the size of the crater that the blast would create — with the information I gave told me the crater’s final diameter would be 2.65 km.  Since I don’t have the best grasp of distances, especially in metric measurement, I used the metric setting on my car’s odometer to get an idea of how long 2.6 kilometers is and…wow, that’s one fairly big crater…

World Building Goals:

  • Finish fiddling with my charts and spreadsheets, re: targets
  • Refine some of my geography
  • Finish the 13 Worldbuilding Questions and move on to the next checklist.

Personal Stuff:

SCHEDULE MY ROOT CANAL! I am calling on Monday and if I don’t…then I will call on Tuesday but I WILL CALL this week because the ache is driving me nuts! The cold gets into the tooth and it’s just this dull ache that…arrglefargle!

AROW80 Check-In: April 16, 2014

The destruction of the world — well, parts of it — continues apace! I’m making charts and spreadsheets, including one based on the largest cities of the world circa 1980 which is helping me to better visualize the information.  And is also a heck of a lot of fun.

AND I finally finished the Original Religion Meme that I started the other day. It topped out at 20 pages’ worth of notes and I’m really happy with how well it turned out.  For one of the questions, which was about what the religion discourages I used the Seven Deadly Sins as a checklist within the checklist and contrasted them with the Seven Heavenly Virtues. (If you look at the Original Religion Meme, it’s part of the question about body modification, which I adjusted to talk about discouraged things in general).

I’ve started working on a new checklist – 13 Worldbuilding Questions.  It’s a short list and I’m thinking it will be good for getting a rough sketch of ideas down.

World Building Goals:

  • Finish fiddling with my charts and spreadsheets, re: targets
  • Finish the 13 Worldbuilding Questions — I’ve got the first two questions done, so I’ve made a start!

Personal Stuff:

I got the second half of my dental cleaning over and done with yesterday. Getting the shots for the anesthesia wasn’t quite as bad as last time. Still sucked, still hurt, but I at least knew what was going to happen.

Still need to schedule the root canal…. Eh-heh…

 

AROW80 Check-In: April 13, 2014

Howdy howdy! I got a late start at posting today’s update based on being dead-dog tired when I got home and not in a frame to think beyond ‘Cheerios are yummy’ and ‘Go to sleep!’

Ok, and also to do some mucking about with charts and spreadsheets for my world building project.

World Building Goals:

I’ve gotten back into the swing of things and I’m revisiting a subject that I’ve been circling around for a while: how badly the US was hit during World War III and what cities were targeted. Like I told my aunt yesterday, it’s not so much world building as it is world destroying.

I’ll admit, I’m very likely putting in wayyy more work than I really need to, but this is one of those things that is going to bug me until I map it out to my satisfaction.

As far as the rest of the world, that I’ve done in some fairly broad strokes based on latitude. Roughly speaking, if the country is located near or below the equator, the better off it was.  Above the equator, the hardest hit areas are between 30 and 60 degrees north latitude, with most of the damage being done to the United States, Soviet Union and Europe.

In less demographic news, I started working on one of the checklists that I’ve been needing to get to. It’s for a religious sect that’s going to play a role in several books.  I’m hoping to finish that checklist tonight and hopefully work on some other checklists about the history of the world and stuff.

I’m almost to the halfway point of the Month of World Building and while I’m not as far along as I’d like to be, there’s still time to catch up so that’s what I’m going to work on this week. CHARRRGE!

Edit to add:  Had a very productive night at work! I managed to get further along in the checklist. I added about ten pages (not full pages, since it’s in an outline format but still! Progress!).

AROW80 Check-In: April 9, 2014

Happy Wednesday!

My aunt and uncle came into town yesterday for a visit, so I’ve been spending the last couple days with them. Today we went to Carilllon Historical Park here in town and showed them the museum and the historical buildings on display. It’s a relatively small museum, but it packs in a LOT of Dayton’s history into that small area.  They even have one entire building dedicated to the Great Flood of 1913.

And, in the main museum building, there is a carousel that features, among the horses, things you can ride on that are Dayton-specific: like a bag of Mike-Sells potato chips – which is apparently the oldest potato chip brand in the US.  And a huge exhibit of classic cash registers with an interactive display that talks about the model and use of each register.  Some of them are pretty fancy-schmancy looking, with scroll work and stained wood finishes. They’re definitely a step up in the pretty department from the bland beige plastic ones we see now!

I’ve always loved museums — primarily because of the aunt who came to visit who took me to them when I was a kid.  I’ve been to Carillon Park a couple times and I always learn something new and interesting there. Ditto for the Air Force Museum which is about 20 minutes from my house and which is an all-day event and not for the feint of feet. I mean, any place that can house several dozen full-sized planes is not gonna be small!  (We didn’t go there today; my aunt and uncle aren’t much for militaria but I gotta shout out for the first Dayton landmark I ever visited).

Though, in a slightly Defcon related note, the Air Force Museum is the home of Bock’s Car, the bomber that dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. On a more cheerful note, there’s also an extensive exhibit dedicated to the Berlin Air Lift, including a discussion of Uncle Wiggle Wings – an American pilot who would drop candy for German children as part of the supply runs he flew during the Berlin Blockade of 1948-1949.

So…upshot is, I like museums. Doesn’t really matter how big or how small it is, I will generally find something of interest in them.

Worldbuilding Goals:

Because of company, I haven’t been writing much though I did type up a brief list of how World War III affects crime — a lot of my notes boil down to ‘due to depopulation, this becomes a lot easier’ but I’m also betting on there being a rise in things like rustling and agricultural crime.

Also, the exhibit on the Great Flood sparked a few ideas for the aftermath of World War III and how communities banded together to help each other and is also going to play a significant part in my vampire hunting novel, Butcher’s Bill (which is set in Dayton).

And visiting with my aunt has given me some ideas for the aunt/niece relationship in Defcon.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back at work so I’ll be doing some more writing and answering of some world building questions and working on some character development.

AROW80 Round 2 Goals — April 7, 2014

Hallo! Welcome back to everybody who has returned to AROW80 for this second round and to everybody who is starting out this time around, Welcome! So glad to see you! You can do it! Yes, even you!

I talked about my round 2 goals in an earlier post but I’m going to restate them here.  I’m approaching things a bit differently than I have the last couple rounds, where I was working on finishing a draft of Defcon: Fade Out, a post-apocalyptic story.  This time around, I’m approaching my goals on a month by month basis.

April:  is Defcon Series World Building Month.  I started, technically, on April 1st with the overall goal being of looking deeper into my story world and figuring out the plots of the books that precede Fade Out as well as trying to make my world feel realer and more concrete to myself — in the hopes of having it translate better to the page and to my readers.

So far, I’m not making as much progress as I’d wanted to — in part because I’ve managed to get myself saddled with a case of bronchitis so I’ve spent a lot of time this month dozing and generally recuperating (it’s not a severe case, but is hitting me just hard enough to give me a hitch in my git-along.  But I have gotten some work done and figured out some areas where I need to work harder — namely in figuring out plots for the books and then worldbuilding based off those plots and the questions about the setting that they raise.

I’m using a notebook — well, a couple notebooks — and a cool little program called A Novel Idea which allows you to record ideas for plots, characters and scenes as well as to link them to each other and to novel ideas.  You can also email your collected ideas to yourself or someone else.  I’ve got it on my iPod and I find it very handy for recording those late night ideas that come when you’re trying to fall asleep.  Best yet, it’s a free ap, though sadly, it appears only to be available for iPods/iPads.

May: is to be the Month of Typing. I’m going to start typing up the manuscript of Defcon: Fade Out and trying to whip it into a fully cohesive shape. I’m taking a month off to try and come at the typing in a fresher state of mind. Since there’s probably going to be some rewriting, I’m giving myself a month at the least for the typing.

June: is to be the Month of Letting People Read My Manuscript, aka “AUGHWHATHAVEIDONE?!” Month. To distract myself, I’m planning on taking a look at some of my other projects — i.e. non-Defcon stuff, because I’ve got something of a dream in mind. A dream I’m hoping to make a reality by this time next year.

My Dream: To make a sale of something I’ve written by the time I’m 45. Preferably a novel, but I’ll take selling a short piece of original fiction. It’s something I’ve wanted for a while now and I think I’m getting to a place in my life where I can make a decent sized stab at that goal. So, I’m putting it out there to the universe in hopes that this will keep me honest and on track.

Also, while we’re talking about dreams, I’d love a stuffed trilobite. Because trilobites are awesome and a soft, squishy flat stuffed trilobite to curl up with would be a treat.

 

Insecure Writers’ Support Group Post for April 2, 2014

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

 

This month, I am tackling the problem of world building for an entire series. Namely, the Defcon series that I’ve been working on for the past bit (ok, ok, on and off since 2007).

I’m facing a fear — or at least an insecurity — by making myself work on creating characters and a world that will be comprehensible and hopefully enjoyable to other people.  This is a big and ambitious project, in part because I’m creating characters who are nothing like myself and who live in a world that I literally can only imagine.  But, I’m going for it because I’ve worked this hard and I’m not stopping now!

CHARGE!

(Well, ok, technically I have yet to get started since I got sick on Sunday night and have spent the last couple days recuperating and trying to sleep off the sick but I’m still mulling things over so that counts, right?)

GOAAAAAL!

As of 4:50 am local time this morning (March 30th, 2014), I reached 100,000 words on Defcon: Fade Out!  The 100,000 word was ‘with’ from the sentence, “Considering she threatened to break my jaw with a tire iron if I ever contacted her again, yes, I do remember her vividly.” 

Tonight and tomorrow, I’m going to write a bit more, to finish up the scene that sentence is in and work on a possible ending for the book.  The novel isn’t quite as finished as I’d wanted it to be, but I am a lot closer to a cohesive draft than I was when I started back on November 1st.  And I feel a lot more secure about taking April off to knock out some much needed worldbuilding.

Though, because the book as it is is almost entirely located in a pair of notebooks and some loose-leaf pages, I’m going to take advantage of the free scanning available at my local library to make an electronic copy of everything I’ve done so that I don’t spend the month of April wearing my manuscript around in some kind of writer’s version of a Baby Bjorn.   (Or at least, if I do, it’ll be in a flash drive that’s going to be a lot easier to carry around).

AROW80 Final Check-In for March 26, 2013

Final Thoughts:

This is, technically, my first full round with AROW80 (I started near the end of the last round of 2013).  Looking back at my last final check-in post, it feels like I’ve been participating for a lot longer — in a good way!

How I did on my goals this last time ‘round: When I did my final check-in on December 26, 2013, I was at Chapter Ten of Defcon: Fade Out. . As of today, I’m getting ready to begin Chapter Twenty-three and am at 94K — with a goal of being at 100K by next Monday, so not too shabby!

This round, I’ve focused primarily on one work — Defcon: Fade Out, which is the fifth book in a series set in a post-apocalyptic world where World War III happened in November of 1983.  The book is my homage/riff on post-apocalyptic men’s adventure novels of the 1980s.  (You can read more about it and some of my other projects on my Current Projects Index of Explanation.)

Of course, I say it’s the fifth book but that’s only in the chronological sense — technically, it’s the first book because it is the first and so far only book to be written. Well, mostly written.  And once I get Fade Out finished, I need to start working on the first four books. Which brings me to…

Interim Plans:

I’m going to be approaching Round Two a bit differently. Starting April 1st, I’m going to begin a Month of World Building, focusing on hammering out some details of the Defcon story universe  – including trying to sketch out rough plot outlines for the first four books in the series.  I have a lot of ideas about the Defcon ‘verse that are currently in my head and that I want/need to get down on paper so I can look at them in the clear light of day. So, April is going to be dedicated to answering world building questions and mulling things over.

Technically, I’ve started writing some odd ideas down already but in April, I’m going to try to approach world building with a more focused effort.

I won’t be sharing everything I come up with, but I will share bits and pieces of ideas that I think are interesting and maybe also be writing about the process of world building.

In May, I’m planning on starting to type up my draft of Defcon: Fade Out, which currently exists in two notebooks and a collection of loose pages. Since I can type pretty fast, I’m hoping that this won’t actually take an entire month but I’m giving myself the entire month, just in case. Particularly since I know I’ll be editing and fleshing out as I go.

And then comes June, wherein, once the manuscript is fully typed up, I’m giving copies to friends at work to read it and tell me what they think. That’s for June.  Other plans for June include being a nervous wreck because OMG, people will be reading the ideas that have existed in my head for the last few years and auuuuugh!  I’m seriously thinking of taking some time off and/or giving the manuscript to my friends to read on days when I won’t be at work and thus won’t have to be physically present and freaking out about what they think of my work.

Come June, I might also take a break from Defcon and work on one of my other story ‘verses for a change while I wait to see what people think. It beats chewing my nails off, right?

Personal Goals:  I had a meeting with the diabetes doctor today and she’s very happy with the progress I’ve made in the last few weeks with the Victoza. She’s also prescribed me a new pill called Invokana that’s supposed to help reduce my sugars and help lower my weight (if I’m remembering the conversation right).  And, I lost six pounds!

Other personal goals include getting the @#$# root canal already! And surviving my next cleaning on April 1st. *whimper* Also, walking more.

Hope everybody had a great round and I’m looking forward to seeing everybody come April 7th!  And if anybody has any favorite world building questions/topics, feel free to share in the comments!

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AROW80 Check-In for March 23, 2014

Writing this on Saturday night for posting on Sunday morning again. At this particular moment, I am sitting on my couch not wanting to go to work. In fact, I’m not wanting to get off the couch period.

Sunday Morning Kathy:  And I’m back home and sitting on the couch again and once again, not really wanting to get off of it.  The sad part? I feel more awake now.

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Personal Goals:  I’ve managed to walk more days than I haven’t and the route I’ve been taking is 4/5ths of a mile so there’s some happy.

Still haven’t made the root canal appointment yet. It’s not fear so much as waking up in the mid-afternoon and not remembering to make the call until I’m at work. Also, not remembering to check if the place the dentist recommended is covered by my insurance — which I could do right now but will I? While I’m actually thinking about it? Noooo! Maybe I will tomorrow morning before I post this.

Sunday morning Kathy: I actually went and tried to check the insurance company’s website and it is down for maintenance! I tried, I really, really tried! Gahhh…

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out I’m working on Chapter XX, which may end up at the beginning of the book. OR may end up on the cutting room floor, but it’s at least letting me explore some of my antagonists’ motivations.  – SMK: I think I have figured out the purpose of Chapter XX. I think it might be the actual beginning of the book.
  • Word Count: I’m at 91K+ words as of Friday night/Saturday morning. My goal for tonight is at least 92K  – SMK: Haven’t done a final count of what I wrote tonight, but since the last point I stopped at was 91,901 and I have 3 pages worth of writing to count…yeah, I think 92K is in the bag!
  • Ending: Still working on this.

Goals for this week:

  • Make the expletive deleted root canal appointment. 
  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out and aiming for 100K by the end of March.
  • Celebrate girlfriend’s birthday on Monday!
  • Prepare for the Month of Worldbuilding!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-In for March 19, 2014

Hello, hello, hello! Hope everybody is doing well as we come into the last week before the end of the round.  Other than it being a grey and gloomy day outside and feeling a bit under the weather, I’m doing well.

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Personal Goals:  I started walking on Saturday and have managed to go for at least half a mile every day this week except for yesterday. I’m still not close to 10,000 steps a day, but I’m at least being more active than I have been in a long time. And, I’m up to taking the full dose of my Victoza. Yay! 

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out has hit Chapter Twenty-two and I may actually be up to Chapter Twenty-three, depending on where I decide to put the bits I’m working on now.
  • Word Count: I’m at 89,691 words as of last night. It helps that I’m able to count some large sections of a previously written scene that I was editing last night.  Even if I hit 100K before the 31st, I’m going to keep writing up until 3am on Tuesday April 1st (which is when, technically speaking due to my work schedule, my Monday night ends). Then, April 1st, begins the Month Of Worldbuilding!
  • Ending: Still working on this.

Goals for this week:

  • Make a damn root canal appointment. 
  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out and aiming for 100K by the end of March.
  • Celebrate girlfriend’s birthday next Monday!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-In for March 16, 2014

A quick, quick, quick update — oddly enough, because I waited until I woke up instead of writing it up before I went to bed.

Personal Goals: Still taking the Victoza, I have my second cleaning on April 1st and I still need to schedule a root canal, and I have started walking (as of yesterday). I did a mile yesterday and…I dunno, whatever 900 steps turns out to be today.  Would have been a longer walk, but I went out without a hat and the temps are in the 30s with strong winds.  Not a smart girl, me.

Writing Goals I have hit the 80K mark! 82K+! I just started Chapter 21 of Defcon: Fade Out! W00t!  I am on my way to my 100K by the 31st goal though I am a bit worried that I’m going to run out of stuff to write about. But, that is what rambling is for! Can do!

Hope everybody is having a great week!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-In for March 11, 2014

Happy Wednesday! (Ok, so it’s Tuesday night when I’m writing this but the sentiment remains the same.)  I hope everybody’s having a great week; mine has been…interesting? In the proverbial sense of the word.

I’m going to switch up my usual format and put my check-in stuff up here at the top of the post and then talk about my interesting week after that.  The reason for doing this is that I’m going to be talking about my first dentist appointment and there’s probably more than a few folks who might be squicked by that, so I’m going to make sure there’s a goodly buffer so those who want to can skip such talk. 

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Personal Goals:  These are still going more or less as they should — well, except for the walking thing. Judging by my use of the pedometer, I average less than a thousand steps a day. My doctor wants me to be up to 10,000 — hopefully, now that the weather is attempting to be somewhat decent (except for today when it’s supposed to go nuts again), I can get off my fat butt and do some serious walking.

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out has hit over 77,000 words! In fact, I made it up to and past 77,777 words on Monday night/Tuesday morning! Next goal is 78,901 (for 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
  • Word Count: If all goes well, I am on schedule for 100K by the end of March!

Goals for this week:

  • Make my root canal appointment.
  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out and the 100,000 word goal.
  • Be better about checking in with other folks
  • Get my ducks in a row for next round.

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

Now, on to the squicky stuff!

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Why Regular Dental Check-ups are a Very Good Idea. or How I Made the Waiting Room at Aspen Dental Very Uncomfortable:

I had my first of two teeth cleanings today. Because it has been over 15 years since my last cleaning, the process is a bit more involved than the ‘every six months’ cleanings you’re supposed to get — and which I will make doubly damned sure I GET from now on because I do not ever want to have to do this again. Well, except for the second appointment because right now I have half a cleaned mouth and that can’t stand. 

With the type of deep cleaning that my teeth needed, I had to be numbed up. Which, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, meant that they were going to be putting a needle in my mouth. I felt a little better after I found out that first they would be putting a topical anesthetic on my gums to numb them before I got the shot. I figured, hey, if I can’t feel the shot, how bad can it be?

Oh, me of earlier this week, you silly naive thing!

For this type of deep cleaning, they do half of your face at a time. This time around it was the upper and lower left side of my face — which is also where the tooth that needs the root canal lives, so I was expecting some tenderness there but was hopeful that the numbing stuff would make that a non-issue.

Ok, the numbing stuff tasted kind of good — it’s cherry-flavored — until it got to be overpowering and made the left side of my face feel all smooshy and weird.  The hygienist waited a bit to make sure that it had taken effect so the dentist could give me my shot.

I’ve mentioned that I’ve recently started taking an injectable medication for my diabetes and that, happily, it turns out that those shots cause little or flat out no pain whatsoever. Likely, it helps that the needles are small and that I’m injecting them into the fat of my stomach where the nerve endings are few and far between.

Turns out, there are a hell of a lot of nerves in your mouth. And not a lot of fat to cushion the impact.  Also turns out that when a dentist says a shot is going to be ‘uncomfortable’ what they mean is ‘this is going to be the worst pain you have ever felt in your life.’  Because it was. And I got to feel it six times — three shots in the upper gums, three in the lower. Maybe more, I’m not sure. I kept my eyes closed as much as I could.

I’m not too proud to say that I lost any sense of dignity I had during those shots. I screamed, I whimpered, I cried.  About the only thing I didn’t do was bite either the dentist or the hygienist. Because honestly, my dentist is a sweet lady who told me jokes while she gave me the shots and the hygienist patted my hand and talked to me soothingly and kept me breathing through my nose.

I honestly did try not to scream but it hurt like…insert your favorite metaphor for intense pain here. It was a deep, stabbing horrible pain and what made it worst of all was that it wasn’t just a one and done thing, it was done multiple times.  I really did scream loud enough that folks heard me in the waiting room — which is a lot less impressive if you know that the floor plan of the Aspen Dental I went to is more or less open and I was in the exam room closest to the waiting room.  I know this because once the shots were done and over with, I asked if my girlfriend could come back and sit with me since I had to wait ten minutes for the shots to take full effect.  I was hyperventilating and shaking and just a mess when she came back. She says it’s the most scared she’s ever seen me — and we’ve been together long enough that she’s seen me at my worst a few times.

The actual cleaning? Fhhht. That was nothing. There were a few uncomfortable moments and the sight of the ultrasonic scaler she used on my teeth made me flinch because it looked like a needle but other than that, it was a doddle. She did make sure to tell me, before she gave me an antibiotic treatment that the syringe she was using was just for irrigating between my teeth and putting the antibiotics where they needed to go.

I have the second cleaning appointment on the first of April and I’m not looking forward to it but at least this time, I’m going in with the knowledge of exactly what’s going to happen and maybe, just maybe it won’t be quite as traumatic the second time around. Probably not, because sweet red peppers, those shots HURT, but where there is life, there is hope.

And, on a somewhat braggy note, the hygienist said that for someone who hadn’t had a cleaning for over 15 years, my teeth were in amazingly good shape. So, go me!

To bring this all back to writing, one plus side of the whole experience is I now have a better appreciation for what pain and terror feel like.  And, also, I’m definitely putting some skull work into what dentistry is like in the Defcon ‘verse.

Spaaaace!

I’m watching the original Cosmos with the girlfriend and WOW did this series hold up well! The effects — so far — don’t have much of a dated feel to them and it’s just awesome getting to listen to Carl Sagan talk about space and science.

I’ve got the new Cosmos taped and will hopefully be watching it while I’m off work this week.  I’m expecting my reaction will be similar to this little lady’s:

Source: SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING: SOMEBODY FILMED THEIR DAUGHTER REACTING TO COSMOS @ the Mary Sue. 

 

AROW80 Check-In for March 9, 2014

Happy daylight saving time day! As a third-shift worker, I have kind of a love/hate relationship with DST — I love the spring, when the clocks move forward an hour and I get to leave work (technically) an hour early and I hate it in the fall when I get stuck at work for an extra hour (ok, I get paid for it, which makes up for the hour I don’t get paid for in the spring but still…).

So, upshot? I’m home an hour early from work! And it is light-jacket cold out! And it didn’t snow (there was a possibility of flurries tonight).

Maybe this spring thing will happen this month after all…

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Went over to the girlfriend’s mom’s place yesterday and watched Gravity with the family. Here is my spoiler-free review: Wow, that was awesome! There was a bit of a split among us about whether the ending was a good one or not — personally, I think it worked and was nicely understated. I liked the decision to keep the story focused on the astronauts.

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Personal Goals:  Since these are the same as they’ve been the last few times, suffice to say that I am continuing to do what I’m supposed to be doing as far as my diet goes — or at least, doing my best to do what I’m supposed to do.  Giving myself injections has continued to be easy and relatively painless.  I went to the dentist on Thursday only to find out that they lost my appointment so the cleaning has been rescheduled for this Tuesday, which works out better since I can recuperate at home without worrying about having to go to work.  And I got a pedometer so I can track my steps.  I am, so far, averaging about 1,000 steps a day so yeah, I need to ramp up the walking considerably to get to 10,000 steps a day. 

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out has hit Chapter Twenty! I’ve upped my estimate of chapters to twenty-five or thirty so this is no longer the end goal that it originally was but I’m still making progress so I am happy!
  • Word Count: I’m at somewhere in the range of 74,000 words. My goal now is to try and hit 100K by the end of the month and to use that as a stopping point for this draft if I don’t have an ending by then.  If I can hit 75K tomorrow, I should be able to make it if I average about 1200 words for the rest of the month.
  • Ending: Still working on this.  And I’m thinking that I might need to take a break from the manuscript and come back with fresh eyes. Which brings us to…
  • Rest of the Defcon Series: more on this in a minute.

Goals for this week:

  • Keep my appointment for getting my teeth cleaned and make an appointment for my root canal. — still need to do that. I’m honestly not putting it off for any reason other than I keep waking up too late to call.
  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out and aiming for 75K by tonight.
  • Be better about checking in with other folks; I let that slide the last couple check ins and I want to apologize to you guys for that. I will be better about that this time around.

Plans for Next Round:

Specifically April. Originally, I was thinking about trying the A to Z challenge in April but I can’t really think of a topic for each letter.  Instead, what I’m now planning on doing is using April as a month for working on worldbuilding for Defcon — mainly because so many of the notes I’m making to myself about it are related to questions about the world.  I’m using Patricia C. Wrede’s Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions  as well as Lee Killough’s book Checking On Culture and some other resources to come up with a list of questions/topics I want to answer/focus on. A secondary part of the plan is to organize some of the materials I’ve come up with. Tentatively, the plan is to post snippets/progress updates rather than post full on articles. Particularly since most of the information will be of little interest but me but also because most of it is going to be written by hand while I’m at work rather than typed up.

I’m hoping to use this as a chance to take a break from story writing and then come back to start typing Defcon: Fade Out up in May with fresh eyes.

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Insecure Writers’ Support Group Post for March 5, 2014

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

I faced a fear of mine yesterday and I’m proud of myself for doing it.  I’m a diabetic, Type II, adult-onset that I control through oral medication and diet. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been terrified that one day I would have to start taking insulin.  There’s a couple reasons for that fear but the one that is relevant to this post is the fact that I hate needles.  Haaaaate them. As in when I was seventeen and in the hospital for appendicitis I debated whether the pain in my side was really so bad that I needed to ask the nurse for a pain shot. (It was; massive gastrointestinal area infection trumps phobia much like rock beats scissors but without the cool hand gestures.)

So, the idea that my life would depend on me having to willingly stick a needle into myself was just too much to take. Luckily, oral medication was and has remained an option for me.  Unfortunately, I haven’t always been the best about remembering to take that medication or stick to my diet so my diabetes hasn’t always been under control. Which has meant living in a cycle of ‘work hard on doing what I’m supposed to do’ turning into ‘slacking off’ and that, in turn, sliding into ‘not  doing what I’m supposed to at all’ and segueing into ‘oh crap, this is the doctor’s visit where they’re going to tell me that I have to go on insulin.’

I’ve been exceedingly lucky that I haven’t reached that final stage for real but after my last visit with my primary care doctor in January, I was referred to a diabetes specialist. I met with her yesterday and she put me on a new medication that is supposed to help me get my sugars under control and to lose weight.  Going on this new medication may mean that I’ll be able to drop a couple of the other medications I’m on and reduce some of the other ones I take, so I was pretty excited to hear about this.

And then, the doctor mentioned that a nurse would be coming in to show me how to take my new medication.  “’Show me how to take it?’” I asked, since I’ve been pretty good at swallowing things for several years now.  “Yes, it’s an injectable medication,” says the doctor and I say, cunningly, “Oh…”

I was a good girl and did not attempt to run out of the doctor’s office in a blind panic.  Instead, I waited and the nurse came in and showed me how to use the injection pen and provided moral support for the five or six minutes it took for me to build up the courage to inject myself.  I hemmed and hawed and stared down at my stomach and told myself that this was something I had to do, that there was no way of getting around it and that if I could prick my fingers to test my blood sugar, I could give myself a tiny little poke in the belly.

And, I did it! And it did not hurt. I mean, I literally did not feel it at all. I’ve caused myself more pain biting my nails (which says more about how badly I bite my nails than about how much this needle hurt).  I gave myself an injection!   And I did it again later that night before I went to bed – that time, it did hurt but it was a very insignificant pain and the run-up to doing the actual injection was a lot shorter.  I suspect that it’s going to get easier and easier to jab myself as the weeks go on.

Writing has been kind of like my approach to my diabetes – I know what I’m supposed to be doing (taking my pills; putting words on a page) and that while some of it is difficult (sticking to a diet; figuring out an ending), doing the work is going to be to my benefit (improved overall health; a finished novel).  I’ve made stabs at trying to be serious about my writing, attempts that have fallen through because for whatever reason I just couldn’t make myself stick to it.  But lately, I’ve been sticking with it. Since November 1, 2013 I’ve managed to put some serious work into my current novel draft – heck, I’m still working on it and I’m closer than I’ve ever been to an actual ending.  Thanks to the support I’ve found here and with the good folks at Around of Words in 80 Days, writing a book feels like it is doable.  I can change my habits and do what I need to do to get what I want.

This makes facing the needle and the blank page a lot easier.

# # # # #

Side note: as someone who is and who will likely always remain squeamish about needles, being told ‘oh, it won’t hurt!’ just annoys the crap out of me. Yes it will so hurt! It’s a needle! You are sticking me with it! It’s going to hurt! I still have mad respect for the nurse who gave me a tetanus shot and said “Oh, yeah, it’s going to hurt.”

 

AROW80 Check-In for March 5, 2014

Howdy folks! Happy Wednesday! The snow has, mostly, melted from the ground around here and the weather has warmed up — or I’ve acclimated to the cold — enough that I’m able to only wear one coat when I go outside. 

I’m still doubtful about this spring thing happening, though.

Personal Goals: 

  • Work on following diet plan that the dietitian worked out and generally making better food choices. – Still doing this! Had a follow up with her this week and we reviewed my diet plan and I talked about some of the choices I’ve been making.
  • Met with diabetes doctor — this was something my regular doctor had set up and that appointment was this week. I wasn’t really sure why she was having me do it — other than that whole ‘my sugars are not under control’ thing — so I was pretty nervous but the diabetes doctor was very nice and the appointment went well. She adjusted my medications and put me on a new injectable medication called Victoza that’s not insulin but that’s supposed to help lower blood sugar and may help me lose weight.
  • Keep dentist appointment this week — This is tomorrow. I get to have the left side of my mouth numbed and cleaned. At 10:30 in the morning. *WHINE* The good news is that apparently they put something on your gums to numb them before they give you the shot so, yay!
  • Work on getting exercise — Still needing to work on this, particularly after talking to the diabetes doctor. She wants me to work on losing weight since that will help improve my health and potentially help me reduce the number of medications I need to be on.  And part of that is going to be working on reaching 10,000 steps a day.

Victoza, Needles and Me: So, like I mentioned, I’m now on an injectable medication.  And, as I’ve mentioned several times in the past, I am dreadfully afraid of needles.  So, how am I adjusting to having to jab myself once a day?

Surprisingly well. (Ok, granted, I’ve only been doing this since YESTERDAY, but I am doing it so, go me?)  It helps that a) I know that my phobia is pretty damned ridiculous, particularly when it comes to the kinds of short, sharp sticks that are involved in this kind of an injection and b) this medication can help me get my sugars under control and help stave off complications from diabetes. And considering that the complications of diabetes include things like going blind and losing limbs, being whiny about a needle stick is just counterproductive.

Not that I am anywhere close to ‘going blind and/or losing limbs’ at this point in time. The idea is to never get close to those possibilities.

That said, when the RN came in to show me how to do the shot, it took me a good five or six minutes to work up the courage to do the stick. Which then turned out to be painless — the needle is that thin and I’m injecting into the fat on my stomach so there’s fewer nerve endings to worry about.

It hurt a teeny bit when I injected again before bed but not even enough to signify.  So, here’s to a new beginning!

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out Chapter Eightteen is done! – and now I’m on to Nineteen!
  •  Word Count: I’m at 71,000+ words! Does anybody else have a thing about numbers? I write down little numeric goals for myself — not just round numbers like 50K but things like 65,432 or 77,777. It’s fun and it gives me something to strive for.
  • Ending: I am still unsure of where I am going but I am still on my way!

Goals for this week:

  • Keep my appointment for getting my teeth cleaned and make an appointment for my root canal.
  • Get a pedometer and carry it with me so I can find out how many steps I average in a day and work up to 10K
  • Start checking my blood sugar regularly.
  • .Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out – I’m hoping I can be at Chapter Twenty by the end of the week.
  • Write up my Insecure Writers’ Support Group post for Wednesday — working on that after I post this!

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Writing Fight Scenes — Article Collection

These are the articles I found when I was researching how to write fight scenes.

Plus a couple others I found while working on this post:

AROW80 Check-In for March 2, 2014

Hello! It’s snowing today! I am so not happy about that fact!  I have honestly gotten to the point where I growl when I hear the word ‘snow.’ Literally growling.

Allegedly, spring will come this month. I am dubious.

Personal Goals: 

  • Work on following diet plan that the dietitian worked out and generally making better food choices. – Still doing this!
  • Keep dentist appointment next week – 
    Good news: I kept the appointment and I found out that I don’t have any problems with bone loss and that my gums are in pretty good shape.   Better News Than Expected: the chipped tooth needs to have a root canal and a crown put on it. And I have a few cavities plus a cleaning.  Bad Phobic News: I’m gonna have soooo many needles in my mouth.  I hate needles enough when they go in my arm; in my mouth? *WHINE*
  • Work on getting exercise, which should be easier now that the snow has begun to melt off  – IF IT WOULD QUIT FRICKING SNOWING AND/OR ICING THIS WOULD BE A HECK OF A LOT EASIER! As it would if I’d actually, y’know, make a better effort…eh-heh

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out Chapter Seventeen is done! Actually, it’s been done for a couple days and I’m on to Eighteen now.  Eighteen took a bit of work to get started because it began with a fight scene and I’ve never been in a fight so, I hit up the Internet for some articles about fight scenes and did some reading.
  •  Word Count: just hit 69,000 words tonight and should be at 70K or more by this time tomorrow. 100+K seems more and more doable all the time!
  • Ending: As my girlfriend says when we’re driving and unsure of where we’re going: “I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way!” — I’ve at least got an idea but it is nebulous.
  • Rest of the Defcon Series: I was having a minor freak out the other night at work about the fact that once I get Fade Out done, I’ve still got the first four books in the series to write.  But, on the plus side, since I’ve done so much of the heavy lifting of worldbuilding and plotting and character development for this book, hopefully the writing will be a heck of a lot easier for books 1-4.

Goals for this week:

  • Keep my appointment for getting my teeth cleaned and make an appointment for my root canal.
  • Not think about the fact that they’re going to put a needle in my mouth. Maybe more than one.
  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out – I’m hoping I can be at Chapter Twenty by the end of the week.
  • Write up my Insecure Writers’ Support Group post for Wednesday.

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-In for February 26, 2014

Hello again! I am currently sitting on my couch, watching the last episode of Midsomer Murders that Netflix has and feeling very sleepy and cozy and generally in pretty good spirits.

Personal Goals: 

  • Work on following diet plan that the dietitian worked out and generally making better food choices. – Still working on this ; I realized today that I’ve gone a week and only had French fries once. Which says something, since a week ago it would have been the reverse (i.e. gone a week and only NOT had fries once).
  • Keep dentist appointment next week — That’s tomorrow.  And I am ever so nervous about what they’re going to find. But, again, Tooth Pain Roulette is getting on past old.
  • Work on getting exercise  – Still needing to work on this.  The cold weather isn’t helping but my biggest problem is being a lazy butt. 

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out – Still working on Chapter Seventeen but there’s not much left to write of it before I’m on to Chapter Eighteen. I’m thinking that I’m going to end up raising my estimated number of chapters from 20 to 30, just to give a bit more wiggle room.  And I have a feeling that a couple of those extra chapters may end up going at the beginning of the novel.
  • I’m checking out the Manuscript Wish List Day tag on Twitter. Not that I’ve got a manuscript even close to completion but it’s interesting to see what agents and editors are looking for. #MSWL is the tag.
  • Also, as I’ve been on a podcast kick: Writing Excuses is a really cool podcast, aimed at covering different aspects of writing. They’ve got about nine seasons worth of episodes and a lot of them are SF-centric, but there’s also a lot of general writing advice as well.

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-In for February 23, 2014

Happy Sunday! Hope all is well and that all your breakfasts have been nummy ones the last few days.

I’m cheating a bit and writing this entry on Saturday night before I go to work so as to be able to get to bed earlier than I usually do.  This will probably not succeed but at least I am making a stab at it.

Personal Goals: 

  • Work on following diet plan that the dietitian worked out and generally making better food choices. – This has been going fairly well; I’ve bought some things to take to work for lunches and I’m sticking to eating at regular times and eating sensible things when I do.  And I downloaded a Calorie King app on to my iPod so that I can make decisions about what to eat when I go out.
  • Keep dentist appointment next week – 
    That’s coming up this Thursday afternoon. Not looking forward to it, but not particularly enjoying Tooth Pain Roulette every time I drink something cold either.
  • Work on getting exercise, which should be easier now that the snow has begun to melt off (MELT SNOW! MELT! MELT! MELT! AHAHAHAHAHAHAA!). — I walked around Target today! Yeahhh, consider this one still needing to be worked on.

Writing Goals:

  • I finished Defcon: Fade Out Chapter Fifteen and Chapter Sixteen — following the formal procedure of ‘This feels like a stopping point’. And I’m now on Chapter Seventeen. This book is definitely going to be more than 20 chapters long
  •  I’ve also hit 65,000 words and am onto a second notebook. I’m hoping that if I fill both notebooks with roughly the same amount of words (I ended the first one at 56,665  words), I should have a good start on a draft. Then I just need to write the other four books in the series and we’re golden!
  • Still working on plotting out an ending for Defcon: Fade Out.  Which I have a feeling is going to mean getting a better handle on the beginning of the book.  And figuring out if I’m really close to the end with Chapter 15 or if I’m more at the middle of the story.
  • I have also been making some decisions about the first book of the Defcon series. I’m thinking that it might be a divided story, featuring at least two different groups reacting to the aftermath of World War III and setting up the series proper.
  • And toward that end, I have started keeping a separate, smaller notebook with which to write down ideas for the current book in particular and the series as a whole in general. I’m also keeping track of places where I’m going to need to address problems/fix plot holes/improve things when I begin typing things up for the current draft.  As is traditional, it is a graph paper steno notebook.

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Weird dream….

I had a very weird dream last night — as you do — where many weird things happened but in which the weirdest thing was that I was explaining the historical backdrop for Defcon: Fade Out to a group of people at a bar and Casper Weinberger  – sort of/not really — was among them, nodding approval as I got my facts straight about the state of US vs. Soviet relations circa the early 1980s.

This is either a sign I’m on the right track or a sign I’ve got one wacky subconscious. Either way, it’s all good!

Also, Chapter Fifteen is done!

AROW80 Check-In for February 19, 2014

Happy Wednesday, did you have a nummy breakfast? I had teriyaki chicken and a loaded baked potato and it was pretty darned nummy.

The last couple days have been busy-busy-busy and hurry-scurry around here. The girlfriend is potentially starting a new job soon (she’s kind of Schroedinger’s Temp right now in that we’re pretty sure she’s getting the job but we don’t know when she’ll be starting).  This has required a lot of filling out of forms and then the faxing of said forms as well as drug tests and fingerprinting, plus she’s getting her teeth worked on and had her first appointment for fillings today. Which went very well, to the point that you can only just barely tell where the fillings were put in. It looks like the tooth never even broke.

And I was finally a good girl and signed up for a dental appointment for next week. So, go me!

Had the appointment with the dietitian yesterday and got some good advice about planning a diet to help manage my diabetes. Really, it all comes down to things I already know and should be doing, but that I don’t do because the bad habits are easier.  But, I’m going to be making a change because easy habits are going to make things harder on me in the long run.

I’ve also got an appointment with a doctor over at the diabetes education center as the dietitian I saw — not sure exactly what I’m seeing them for, but likely it’s something to do with helping me to get my A1C back down toward 7.0 and to help keep me from having to take insulin.  I’ve got kind of a phobia about having to go on insulin — partly because I hate needles and partly because I know that when I do manage my diet and make an effort to take care of myself, that my health can and does improve. And I want to work harder on that because insulin + bad habits isn’t going to be a fix either.

That and I am oh my God so afraid of needles it is not even funny. I am not kidding.

On a cheerier note, I’ve discovered a podcast called The Thrilling Adventure Hour,

The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a staged production in the style of old time radio that is held monthly at the Coronet Theatre. The show has been running since March 2005. It is live audio theater. Each episode features three non-serialized segments as well as songs and commercials from fictional sponsors. The show is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and directed by Aaron Ginsburg. The show’s original songs are written by Acker & Blacker with composer and band leader Andy Paley.

The podcast breaks the show into the different segments (descriptions of which are at the above link), so you can follow one show or listen to all the different podcasts. My current favorite is Beyond Belief which is kind of like an urban fantasy version of the The Thin Man and spoofs all sorts of different fantasy/horror stories which can be seen in titles like “Rosemary’s Baby Shower” or “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang You’re Dead” (Christine).

Among the other series on the Thrilling Adventure Hour are science fiction shows like Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars, The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock and Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier, a superhero story, Captain Laserbeam and over-the-top spy/adventure stories about Amelia Erhart, Fearless Flyer and Jefferson Reid, Ace American (which features Nathan Fillion as Jefferson Reid).    You can find episodes for download on iTunes and at Nerdist.com.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour was recommended by the folks who do the Welcome to Night Vale podcast (also awesome and weird and incredibly endearing — particularly considering it is a show that features a little girl who is a disembodied man’s hand, a man with a suitcase full of flies and mysterious dog park.)

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

Turn on your radio and hide.

The show is also available at iTunes or Stitcher or Libsyn or Feedburner or Soundcloud.

My only complaint about Welcome to Night Vale is that episodes come out on the 1st and the 15th, and since I’ve listened to the entire archive, now I have to wait for new episodes to come out. WHINE!

Right so, on to goals and such:

Personal Goals: These are easy-peasy this week

  • Work on following diet plan that the dietitian worked out and generally making better food choices.
  • Keep dentist appointment next week — which’ll be a new patient visit with X-rays and the finding out of how bad my teeth are. I have a feeling my dental insurance is going to get one hell of a work out.
  • Work on getting exercise, which should be easier now that the snow has begun to melt off (MELT SNOW! MELT! MELT! MELT! AHAHAHAHAHAHAA!).

Writing Goals:

  • I finished Defcon: Fade Out Chapter Fourteen on Sunday night/Monday morning and have moved on to Chapter Fifteen.
  • I’m getting close to the end of Defcon: Fade Out which is at once terrifying and awesome.  Awesome because I’ll have finished a book for the first time ever and terrifying because I have no idea how I’m going to get from where I am to an ending. Any and all advice, sincerely appreciated!
  • I’m listening to an audiobook called The Family That Couldn’t Sleep : A Medical Mystery by D.T. Max about prion diseases — things like scrapie, mad cow disease, kuru, etc.  It’s fascinating, but I kind of wish I hadn’t listened to the part about how prions are nearly impossible to kill by any of the usual disinfecting methods and can be passed on by contaminated dental instruments….

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

Join the Insect Army!

Kathy:

As I said over at Mr. Scalzi’s blog, I want to be either a trilobite (the Ute Native Americans of Utah used to wear them as amulets against disease and bullets and called them pachavee (little water bug) according to Wikipedia) or a 7-spotted ladybird, which is the state insect of Ohio. That’s right, we got a state insect! And a state fossil, which is the trilobite appropriately enough.

Originally posted on Whatever:

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.” — (name withheld) on SFF.net, during the recent unpleasantness.

Heh heh heh.

I realize, of course, that the person who wrote the comment above meant “insect” as an insult. But what do we know about insects? They are numerous, adaptable, highly successful as a class, and, when they put their mind to it, absolutely unstoppable. No wonder this person seems absolutely terrified.

As it happens, I have for a long time said that there are three types of writers: dinosaurs, mammals and cockroaches. Dinosaurs are the writers…

View original 433 more words

AROW80 Check-In Post for 2/16/14

A very, very quick update due to it being nearly 0630 and I am exhausted.

1. Chapter Thirteen of Defcon: Fade Out is DONE! And Fourteen is underway! I’m largely rewriting an old draft and adding in things.

2. I have a sneaking suspicion that Defcon: Fade Out is going to be longer than the original 20 chapters I expected it to be. I’ve already realized that there’s at least a scene and at most an entire chapter that hasn’t been written and needs to be.

3. I’ve definitely got to make a dentist appointment this week because I’ve found a ginormous cavity in one of my back teeth. Luckily, I can still chew and all but yeah…that tooth needs some looking at.

A special thanks to everybody who commented on my WIPpet Wednesday this week — and an apology for not setting up the scene better! Next time, I will do better about that!

Hope everybody had a great week and will have a great week!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

The Liebster Award

 

liebster-2-212x207

Tonette dela Luna was kind enough to give me a Liebster Award for my “sheer magnitude of awesymmetry” and I am now getting around to posting about this award with all do apologies to her for taking this long to get around to doing so. I do appreciate it

The rules for the award — or at least this iteration of it — are thus:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you. – so, thank you to Tonette dela Luna
  2.  Answer the ten questions asked by aforementioned lovely person. – See below!
  3.  Nominate ten other awesome and lovely people. — Not done yet, but will get on it as soon as I finish #4
  4.  Send off ten questions you’d like them to ask you. – need to come up with some questions
  5. Let the nominees know how awesome they are by popping by their blog to inform them of their greatness. — To be completed!

TEN QUESTIONS BY ME (well, by Tonette dela Luna):

1) You. Dinner. Plus five guests. Alive or dead, real or fictional. Name them. Oh, and as a bonus, what’s on the menu?

The dinner would be at the Olives restaurant at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I’ve actually eaten there once and it was the most amazing experience ever and if I’m going to have a once in a lifetime meal, I’m having it there! Not sure what anyone else would be having, but I’ll be having a steak and their tempura green beans.

As for the guests, hooo…ok, my girlfriend is a given so I’m coming up with five other people in addition to her: Stanislav Petrov – because the guy saved the world and the least I can do is buy him a great dinner; Harriet Tubman – because she has been a hero of mine since I was a child; Bill Mauldin – because his Willie and Joe cartoons helped to teach me about the realities of war; Carol Burnett – because her variety show taught me so much about humor  and, to be utterly, utterly sappy, my dad who died when I was five and who I never got the chance to know.

2) You just won $1,000,000.00, tax free. First off, congrats. Question: what plans do you have for the money?

First and foremost, I’d pay off my debts which luckily would still leave a nice chunk of change left over, so I’d set up some savings for me and the girlfriend. Sadly, I don’t think a million would be enough for me to quit working but it might be enough for me to cut back some of my hours and would definitely be enough to build a cushion for the two of us.

I’d help out some friends of mine and set up a fund for my younger relatives (the ones who are basically under 21) to help them with their future plans – college, trade schools, etc.

Then, once that’s squared away, I’d make some donations to charities – Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, some local homeless shelters and to my hometown school district among others. Most likely in that case, I’d call up the school librarians and ask about their wishlists. And I’d likely make a nice dent in my wishlists as well.

3) Ever feel you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time? Pick any point in history you feel you’d most likely fit in the best.

Oddly enough, not really? I like this time about the best – okay, so I don’t really have much in the way of experience with other times – but if I could go back to any one point in time, it’d probably be back to the Early Cambrian period to see trilobites.  Or go back to the Library of Alexandria with a wand scanner.

Oooh! Or, there was apparently this one battle during the Crusades where the European knights were mounted on stallions and the Arab/Muslim knights were mounted on mares and I once heard someone speculate that at least some of those mares were probably in heat and I think that would be a thing to see.

Ok, last choice: the day the Berlin Wall came down. I’d love to be in Berlin for that.

4) Do you believe in the paranormal? Care to share any inexplicable stories with the rest of us?

I’m a skeptic, so I think that what we call paranormal experiences can often be rationally explained…but I am also more than mildly superstitious about things.  For example, I knock on wood a lot – and I’ve even justified knocking on plastic because the oil that’s used to make plastic used to be trees and therefore is a kind of wood.

Though when I was in elementary school, my aunt and I did once see a UFO – as an adult, I think what we saw was a collection of several swarms of bees or other insects, which, while it isn’t aliens from outer space, is still pretty freaking awesome if you think about it.

5) Do you believe in fate, love at first sight, or coincidences? If yes, why? If no, why not?

Not sure about fate or love at first sight – I think they can happen but it’s probably pretty rare – but coincidences? Oh yeah, those happen all the time. They’re part of the weirdness that is our universe.

6) Do you believe we’re alone (or not alone) in the universe?

It depends – do I think that there is life in some form somewhere else out there in the infinite vastness that is the universe, then yes. There are too many planets out there that are similar enough to Earth — not to mention, the discovery of extremophiles here on Earth tells us that Jurassic Park did get one thing right — Life Will Find A Way.

Now, do I think that they are buzzing our planet and that they made a secret deal with Eisenhower back in the 1950s or that we have their technology hidden away in Area 51, no. Mainly because I don’t think that the US government could keep something that huge a secret.

7) If you were offered a seat on one of the first spacecraft excursions they’ve got planned, would you go? Why or why not?

Ooooh…I don’t know. I’d want to go, god knows I’d want to go. I mean, it’s space! Bit I have a bad feeling that I wouldn’t do so well in space.

8) Have you ever done or said something you regret, only to take it back and make things worse? (Uh, no. I’m not asking leading questions that might potentially albeit anonymously find their way into one of my books because, really, that would be wrong, but seriously, inquiring minds want to know, right?)

Oh yes, yes I have.  And that’s all I’ll say on the subject, oh questing author!

9) What is one thing you regret NOT doing or saying, and to whom?

I regret not calling my maternal grandmother more before she passed away.

10) What did you have for breakfast this morning (or the morning you read this question)?

Chinese food! Egg drop soup, General Tso’s chicken, sesame balls and crab Rangoon (I work late 2nd/early 3rd shift, so I’m usually waking up around 3 in the afternoon and therefore breakfast is often made up of lunch foods).