Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Nature is Beautiful

Prairie life offers up some beautiful sunsets.  I snapped this picture before the fields were growing this year.  The artist's eye is always looking for colors and shapes in everything I see.  Some of those pictures end up as book covers or backgrounds to information like a family tree or a timeline.  I selected this one for the timeline at the end of Confessions of the Second Born.   

As Paresh notes in The Arrival, Illinois weather is incredibly fickle.  She compares it to Kansas, which is parked in the middle of Tornado Ally.  We are closer to the edge, however.  Several tornadoes recently streaked through my area - all in the EF-0 and EF-1 categories.  Scary nonetheless, especially when you consider that one or two whipped up without warning.  A few subdivisions took damage, but fortunately (not so fortunate for those hit) most of the damage was limited to farm buildings and fields.  

Most of Illinois is quite flat and perfect for farming, so even larger cities host vast fields (think anywhere not in Chicago).  Southern Illinois consists largely of Shawnee National Forest, which is most definitely not flat, but still has farms and vineyards.  It's breathtakingly lovely.  Closer to home, I love the corn and soybean fields.  Recent additions of wheat, winter wheat, and hay have added majestic fields of gold to compliment all the green.  It's fun to watch the farmers during harvest time, but sad, too, to lose all that color.

The old saying for healthy corn growth used to be "knee high by the 4th of July."  These days?  And even going back to the days when The Arrival takes place?  The corn has been head high by the 4th of July and the harvest dates seem to get pushed further and further back - sometimes into November.  It's changed so much that I can't remember when the harvest began when I was kid.

I recently spoke with a professional gardener who mentioned that we've officially been moved into a warmer climate zone.  We don't seem to have a Spring or a Fall anymore.  It's either hot or cold, and in those supposedly temperate seasons, we go from hovering over heating vents to blasting the A/C.  50 degree temperature swings have become the norm.  Larger drops have occurred - we've gone from blizzards that shut the entire area down to 70 degrees in 24-hours.

When I wrote The Arrival, I was nervous about keeping the chilly summer that greets Paresh upon arriving home.  But June in 2007 (I wrote it in 2007; it takes place in 2006) was chilly and it was weird because the corn was still head high by July 4th.  That was the first summer I noticed such a drastic shift.  Colder Junes have become more normal, which then shift into blistering, miserably hot days that tend to last until it snows for the first time.  And then it gets hot and then it snows, and then we lather, rinse, and repeat until winter actually decides to show up right about the time we're ready for Spring (which won't show up).

I know "Spring" is here when the song birds arrive.  They'll still get blasted by a few rounds of snow and drastic temperature drops for about a month or two, though.

I'm not opening a debate about Climate Change.  These are my observations.  Until my health took it away, I loved being outside.  As a kid, I loved the 4-foot snow drifts that formed around my parents' house and making tunnels and snow forts.  As an adult, I loved swinging and sipping chardonnay on 90-degree days with my laptop on my, well, lap.  (duh-doy ;-P)  At any age, I loved (and continue to love) playing with bugs, watching the fireflies at night, and listening to the cicadas in the evening.  I love it.  I love it so much that Nature became a character in my book without me even realizing it. 

It retreats to the background in Confessions of the Second Born given everything that happens and steals the focus.  Nature becomes more of a vehicle that carries the plot, but it's still important and relevant.  Nature in Orison Crossing is more magical than it is here in reality, but that's how I view it, especially in the summer with the trees and fields and birds and bugs and life.

You can probably guess that you don't have to ask if I stop to smell the roses.  I do.  Every day.  :) 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Random Stuff - What I'm Up To

That moment when you want to write something, but sit down and can't think?  That's what this is.  (laughs)  I feel like I have a zillion and a half (the half is important) thoughts zooming through my mind.  If I catch one, I'll jot it down and maybe this post will be somewhat cohesive.  Fingers crossed.

A few months ago, chest pain took me to the ER twice in two weeks.  Abnormal EKGs and another doctor's concern had me held overnight the second time.  Since then, I've worn, and returned, a month-long heart event monitor and am awaiting the results.  At the moment, the issue remains unexplained.  Neurology and Cardiology are working together to figure out the cause:  my brain or my heart.  (Giggity)

Probably unsurprisingly so, I haven't felt that great lately.  I'm experiencing more issues with my arms, which, of course, causes issues with my hands and fingers.  Like last summer, I'm hitting extremely hard fatigue walls that knock me out for a few hours.  And I'm feeling a greater disconnect between myself and my brain.  I swear, I talk about my brain like we share a symbiotic relationship, and that's weird, I know, but it truly feels like it. 

This morning I was talking to my cats about finding Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card on Hulu last night, (there was a huge WHOO-HOO moment when I found the books on Rightstuf).  I couldn't get the words right.  I kept saying, "Cloudclaptor..."  I got frustrated and shut up.  (I think the cats were grateful.)  But this word slippage and other vocal issues have been getting worse.  I mumble now and don't realize it, I put the wrong consonants into words (like Funny instead of Money), and I randomly pick up an Irish or other foreign accent.  It's still at that super weird stage that makes us laugh when it happens. 

Speaking of Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card, I love it!  Sakura is one of the cutest and sweetest anime/manga characters, and the anime itself is always uplifting with positive interaction between Sakura and her friends.  Thankfully, there is no English dub to waste your time with (unlike the original season-don't, just don't).  I'm so used to watching the Sub that it'd be odd to hear other voices.  Since I am reading the manga, and am current, I'll eventually get to a point where I need to stop watching so I don't ruin the reading experience.  So far, it seems that several episodes fit into a book. 

I've also been reading the Sherlock manga that essentially takes the BBC show and puts it to paper.  It's pretty cool.  The lack of color pages does limit what the reader can deduce, which is my only complaint.  It's obvious from the first book:  A Study in Pink.  I missed quite a bit of the pink stuff since it's all in black or white.  Otherwise, it's cool to enjoy Sherlock in different mediums.  Like with Cardcaptor, I read the books first and then watch the show.  I realize this reveals that I'm a late comer to the BBC show, but oh well.  With only 3-4 episodes per season, I like the forced pacing.  I also enjoy Elementary and the Robert Downey Jr movies.  I have the Moriarty novel in my towering "to read" pile, and the collected works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The game is a foot!

My newest obsession is watching (and listening to) the ISS live feed here:  The first few days I watched, it was silent, so it scared the beejees out of me when I was in another part of the house and heard a man talking in the supposedly empty loft.  I hadn't noticed the other live feeds on the page and got to watch one of the astronauts (Alex) working in the air lock.  It's fascinating!  And watching the sun set from the ISS roughly every 20 minutes is otherworldly.

I picked up a book called "Civil War Front Pages" by John Wagman.  It is absorbing.  It's difficult to read since much of the news print is small.  I happened to flip to the day the war ended and was amazed by the headlines, huge and bolded, with giant eagles of victory.  I wonder what it was like for people to see that on their newspaper in 1865 after years of a nation torn apart.  The grandeur of the headlines spoke volumes.

I'm a bit behind on my comics, but I'm enjoying the Doomsday Clock comic and the Justice League Dark tradebacks - I'm almost done with them.  I can't believe Doomsday Clock won't finish its run until next summer!  AND!  I am so, SO thankful that Netflix picked up Lucifer for season 4!  A tv without Tom Ellis on it would be a sad tv.  The saddest tv if ever there was.  Now it can be happy.  ^_^  I'm into the fourth volume of the Lucifer run by Mike Carey (he was created by Neil Gaiman in his Sandman series).  It is vastly different from the show, but that's a good thing, I think.  Because they are so different, spotting Easter Eggs on the show is extra cool.  I'm also still working my way through the Hellblazer tradebacks from the original run.  I grew up in the 80s, so seeing it portrayed in comic form as an adult is eye-opening.  With few differences, you'd think it was modern day - racism, fear of war, violence, etc.  Aside from the supernatural aspects of the story, it's very real and sometimes that makes it hard to read.  Not hard in a literal sense - it's like watching the news these days.  You need a break from it.  Hence - moving slowly. 

I think we're going to watch a movie soon, so I need to post this and "run."  (I don't run; I hobble.)  BUT - we watched Annihilation the other night and it's amazing.  Gorgeous shots with a story that doesn't ram itself down your throat.  Anyone who's played The Last of Us - watch this.  So many of the mutations in the shimmer are reminiscent of scenes in The Last of Us and even from The Evil Within 2.  I would love for a game developer to base a game on this movie/book series.  It has potential for some really cool things. 

Ok, well, I smell popcorn.  Confessions is still in the works - I've just taken a small break while other folks are critiquing.  I think we'll be on track for a July release.  ^_^

PS - there's a promo video for Confessions on my Amazon author page.  Watch it! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Book Status Update - Boring Blog Title

It appears that I’m neglecting my blog again.  Shame, shame!

A lot has been happening.  I’ll release info in bits as I get stuff nailed down (or staked down, if you will – bad joke, I know). 

For now, I’ve pulled THE ARRIVAL from sale to reformat the interior to match CONFESSIONS OF THE SECOND BORN.  It cut the page count by almost 100 pages, which also brings the price point down!  So, win-win for the readers! 

When THE ARRIVAL goes live again, it will be across various distribution channels and no longer an Amazon exclusive.  I may, periodically, return it to being an Amazon exclusive because that allows me to drop the price considerably and is really the only control I have over putting the title “on sale.” 

Meanwhile, the Kindle version remains live.  I will update it, eventually, but only to add a cleaner family tree and fix a few formatting issues.  Nothing too big.  It will continue to be a free download with purchase of the paperback.

I’m awaiting a physical proof of THE ARRIVAL to approve.  Once that’s done, it’ll go live within a week. 

I’ve been busy putting together sketches and information for the Notations section of CONFESSIONS.  I’ve heard this book is very intense and I don’t give the reader a break.  So prepare thyself for an emotional whirlwind. (evil laugh)

I love how THE ARRIVAL sets the stage for the overall story.  CONFESSIONS OF THE SECOND BORN takes that setting and runs with it (like Juggernaut and The Flash had a baby – which would probably be an ugly baby, no offense to the Flash).  It’s not fair to THE ARRIVAL, but I love CONFESSIONS so much more.  I don’t know if it’s supposed to be like picking a favorite child, which we all know is a thing, but it’s easy for me. 

If you haven’t been by the FB author page in a while, I’ve posted a picture from my day playing with the Civil War Cavalry, along with little things here and there.  And, if you’ve read THE ARRIVAL, join the discussion group!  They’ve been treated to early peeks at character sketches, marketing materials, and info teases. 

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Stay tuned.  But don’t hold your breath.  I do tend to neglect this blog.  ^_-