Entries in travel (3)

Saturday
Dec292018

Hope at the End of the Longest Year

Like in 2017, this year was hard fought and draining. Trying to get things done amidst creeping fascism has been incredibly hard. And because having fascists loose everywhere else in the world wasn't bad enough, the greedy idiots here in Ontario had to go and elect Thug Fraud to premier. I truly, deeply hope that horrible man goes the way of his equally horrible brother VERY soon.

Anyway, when I'm not wishing death on The Worst people in power, I'm probably reading a book. Maybe writing one. I still hit a lot of my writing goals, though I've been lagging behind all of December because of severe depression.

Heh, you want your favourite creators to keep creating? STOP ELECTING FASCISTS

Anyway, here's the breakdown of how I did this year, despite all the bullshit.

Writing
I hit most of my writing goals this year, and the ones I didn't hit were because I swapped them for something else. I've done a lot of work on Blueshift 1, revised book 2 and rewrote book 3 for NaNoWriMo. Books 2 and 3 still need work, but I'll get to them later. I'm happy with the trilogy as it is right now and look forward to polishing the rest. I've been querying book 1 and getting some good feedback from agents, though no contracts yet.

I got Fireborn polished and out into the world and it's also had some positive feedback from agents. I will continue to query both books in the new year.

I wrote and submitted three short stories but, while one of my stories got shortlisted for an anthology, ultimately nothing has gone into print this year. It's a tough industry, but I'll keep working to improve my craft until I can wriggle my way in.

I've looked into novellas and have read plenty of what Tor puts out. I haven't attempted to write a novella yet, but I've started to outline one.

I didn't end up outlining the next two books in the Fireborn series for a few reasons. One is that I'm just not as interested in the series as I was, though I'm sure that will change once I deal with the fact that I'm not entirely sure where I want the next two books to go. And finally, there are a lot of compelling reasons not to work on the rest of a series until the first book is published. So instead of working on books I can't sell/publish right now, I plotted and started writing something different: The Spider's Eye, a stand-alone epic fantasy.

I'd wanted to get a good portion of Spider's Eye written by now, but I was sick for most of November so my NaNo goals fell short, and then I've been severely depressed all of December and didn't get anymore writing done. I've done some more research and some planning on Spider's Eye, but that's it.

And my shiny (not so new) idea is still percolating in the back of my mind. I'm still not entirely sure what I want to do with it, though I'm leaning toward the novella format. And then I've got to do an epic amount of research and... I just really hate research.

Anyway, I've learned now to keep my writing goals flexible because I'm inevitably going to be more interested in certain projects than I think I will be and less interested in others. And I've got enough ideas to work on that I don't have to force myself to finish one thing if I (temporarily) stop loving it. So I didn't necessarily hit the things on my list, but I still did about the same amount of work.

Reading
So I hit this one out of the park this year. I've read 66 books! If I finish the one I'm currently reading over the weekend, it'll be 67! About a third of that has been the children's books I've read to my daughter (chapter books only, not counting any picture books). I've read a lot of novellas this year too, including a double-read of the Murderbot diaries because I love them so much.

I've read loads of books from the library and the vast majority of the books I read this year were by white women. I'd like to keep reading more diversely and I'm still not reading as many books by people of colour as I could.

Family
I've gotten really bad at family stuff, and a lot of it is the stress of the current political climate. I just don't have a lot of energy for things. What energy I do have goes more toward time for my daughter than to my spouse and the extended family. So we still did plenty of family activities, but my spouse and I have spent another year not having many date nights. We're both just so tired. Not sure what to do about it other than just keep trying.

Health
Hey, this one was a smashing success! I did all the walking until the weather got cold. I did plenty of kickboxing. And I even lost weight! I lost and have kept off 10 lbs! Now that I've found something that works (I'm using the MyFitnessPal app), I'm hoping to keep up this trend until my knees stop hurting. We'll see how it goes.

Travel
So this year was all about the travelling. I suspect that travel is partially my midlife crisis? It's also my creeping-fascism coping mechanism. So I went to more than two new (to me) national parks in both Canada and the US, including Yoho NP in BC and Volcanoes NP in Hawaii. I went to a lot of new places this year, and it was magnificent. I went back to the national parks in Tobermory as well, and returned to Sequoia NP with my daughter for a week before we went to WorldCon76. I am now out of money, but it was well worth it!

2019 Goals

Writing
Submit 3 short stories
Write Blueshift short story "Making Waves"
Plot & write Mage War novella
Plot Mage War novel
Finish, revise, and polish Spider's Eye
Do NaNoWriMo
Look into writing a MG series
Keep querying Blueshift 1 and Fireborn
bonus/swap in:
Research and planning for shiny idea
Start writing shiny idea
Start querying Spider's Eye

Reading
Read 30 books
Read 15 books from my shelves
Read 15 books by POC

Family
One family event per month
One date night per month
Continue after school activities

Health
Regular kickboxing
Regular walks in warm months
Lose some weight (any amount will do)

Travel
One mother/daughter trip
One family vacation
Anniversary vacation

Anyway, 2018 has been the longest decade of my life. Congrats for surviving! We all deserve cookies just for that alone. If you managed to actually accomplish anything this hellscape of a year, bonus! Here's hoping we're all still here and kicking ass at the end of 2019.

Wednesday
Feb222017

The Last Continent

This is another hilarious installment of Rincewind's tales in the Discverse. It crams basically every pop cultural and historical anything about Australia that you can into one book. But it doesn't have nearly enough Luggage!

Okay, so I probably could have done better than that for a review, but I finished the book a while ago and forgot to post about it and now I've forgotten a lot of the details. And I'm in a rush to get ready for a trip I'm going on. So you'll just have to Google the book if you want more details. The Rincewind novels are always a lot more lighthearted than the other Discworld books. They don't always end up having the same heart to them though.

Anyway, this one is a lot of Australian fluff. It's a good one. If you've started the Discworld books, you should read this. There.

Thursday
Feb202014

I am not Waiting for Godot

I haven't updated here in two weeks.... Well, that's embarrassing. But hear me out! Between illness -- my own and those I care for -- a deadline pileup, and travel, I have had no time for reading or blogging. Or sleeping, really.

But I'm not going to put it off anymore, and today I'm going to talk about the travel part because it does have literary roots. Over the weekend, I travelled to New York City (by bus, because I'm insane) to see Sirs Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot, which happens to be my favourite play ever.

In short, it was sodding brilliant!

Now for the long version.

Just before midnight on Valentine's Day, I set out on a bus journey -- 24 hours, round trip -- with a very good friend of mine (good friend, you can tell, because we're still friends after all this), bound for New York City. Neither of us had been there before and were hopped up on excitement.

We spent the night on the bus and I don't think I slept a wink, though I did sit there with my eyes closed for what felt like an eternity listening to everyone around me snore. We arrived in NYC around noon on Saturday, took a few moments to get our bearings, and then began to trek from the bus stop to our hotel. We were gobsmacked for the next 36 hours.

We dropped our bags at our lovely hotel whose stunning architecture I managed to not take a picture of. Then we set out walking north on 5th Avenue to explore and see what Central Park had to offer. We found the stunning Chrysler Building, ate at one of 'wichcraft's delicious locations, and took a detour to the corner of 46th Street and 2nd Avenue. If you've ever read Stephen King's Dark Tower series (and if you like horror and/or fantasy epics, you should!), then you know why. And I'm pleased to announce that there is, in fact, a rose (of sorts) at that corner.

We continued to the park and took a horse-drawn carriage tour, and immediately vowed to return during the not-winter. We only saw a small fraction of Central Park, but it was mesmerizing.

We ventured back to our hotel, this time traipsing down Sixth Avenue and scouting the location of the Cort Theater where we'd be seeing the play. It was a snowy day, engulfing most of the skyline in fat, snowglobe flakes, and I cite this as the reason we failed to notice the Empire State Building directly behind our hotel.

Well, we did eventually notice it, but not until later that evening when we took a drink at the hotel's rooftop patio bar (after eating New York cheesecake in New York... heh). Yeah, it was pretty cool.

We began Sunday on a sombre note, venturing by one of those ubiquitous yellow cabs to the 9/11 Memorial. It was a powerful experience and I cried a lot. It's a lovely tribute and I'm sure even more so in the summer months when everything is in bloom. It's also a very sad place.

We took lunch at a pizza bar around the corner from the memorial where I had a much-needed cocktail that contained absinthe (check that one off the bucket list) and watched a film shoot erupt directly outside the window where we sat. It was all very NYC.

And yes, I ate my pizza with my hands, folded in half, just like you're "supposed to" in NYC.

Cab ride to theatre where we enjoyed the greatest play ever. It was even funnier than I could have anticipated and the sirs were completely brilliant. The entire cast did an excellent job. I've read the play four times in the past and this was the second time I've seen it, but I never get tired of it. As a philosophy major who loves existentialism, as well as a total geek, I was in absolute heaven watching McKellan and Stewart ham it up in such a hilarious and dark show.

While some people see Waiting for Godot as a depressing act of futility, I see it more as a warning. I read/see that play and think, "F**k Godot! I'm not standing around waiting for life to happen. I'm going to go out and find the awesome myself!"

Of course, my lack of sanity is evident and I've already hinted that I'm mildly evil. I am fuelled by spite the way others are fuelled by coffee. I try not to think too hard about the implications that has on my character. Heh.

Okay, so the play ended and we joined the crowd on the street waiting for the actors to leave the theatre. We dawdled a little too much getting out, and everyone but Sir Ian had left. We missed Sir Patrick by only a minute. Damn! But we waited and were rewarded.

Yes, Sir Ian signed my battered, much loved, bought used, slightly dog-eaten copy of Beckett's masterpiece. My inner geek is still exploding. I MET GANDALF AND MAGNETO! *cough*

Right, so, from there, my friend and I bounced down Seventh Avenue to Times Square where we did nothing to hide that we were dumbstruck tourists. I make no apologies, I was raised in an honest-to-god village (population 2000-ish) so NYC overloaded every last synapse in my wee little brain.

We stopped at Grand Central Station, gobsmacked again by the architecture and artistry, and then shuffled back to our hotel on lead legs. We picked up our bags and schlepped off to the bus stop to catch the midnight bus back to Toronto.

For the record, that meme where you replace one word in a movie title with "bacon" (ie/ Lord of the Rings becomes Lord of the Bacon, etc) is a fabulously hilarious way to pass the time. We baconized all of Hollywood.

It was a whirlwind adventure and I'm still a little dizzy. I do not, generally, like cities (I'm the village idiot, remember) but I thoroughly enjoyed NYC and plan to return.