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Good Decision 2010

Reverb10: December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

The wisest decision made this year was putting the Zeta Iota project aside and moving on to Luck for Hire. I had a crisis of faith during the first few months of this year. I was certain that if I just did my job long enough, I could make the Zeta Iota novel work for me. And it just didn’t. I’ve often compared working on writing project to romantic relationships. My experience with Zeta Iota did not resemble a pulse-pounding crush. It was more like being set up by your friends with a guy that should be perfect, but you have no chemistry, but you still go out a few more times until you realize that staying home alone is the better option. (Always avoid two "but" situations.) This doesn’t mean that I’ll never write Zeta Iota.  The idea isn’t quite mature enough. One day, Eric will come to me with another layer layer added to the Zeta Iota onion and it’ll be Thunderbolt City.

Obviously, this played out well since I consider it a wise decision. One up-shot: Eric and I as collaborative writers realized that there has to be something in it for me, as it were. I can’t just be the "writer." No matter how intriguing the idea, I need the Katherine hook. When left to my own devices, I write quirky stories filled with tricksters and fools. I need some of that in the novels too. Aleister Luck has it in spades.


Not doing as much work as I should be. I’m caught up in enjoying holiday stuff. The tree is up and looking pretty. I need to shop for the Omaha nieces and nephews. Been writing a few Christmas cards. Putting together holiday playlists. Buying long-sleeved shirts even though the weather has been in the high 70s. Reading Spacelogs. Okay, that last one isn’t holiday related, but it is damn cool.

Eric’s nearly finished with classes. His parents won’t be down for his matriculation, so we are spared the need to go to the ceremony. The next few weeks look calm and good.

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Par-tay, or something like one…

Been updating social networks and the like. Seems to be a reasonable end-of-the-year thing. Re-re-purposed my blog. KatenRead will be the home of 2011’s ill-fated reading project. I’ll be keeping my LiveJournal, but I may be doing some reposting in the future.


Reverb 10: December 9 – Party Prompt: What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

I think my favorite social gathering of the past year was the happy hour that Tyler put together back in July. It was just six people: Tyler, Casey, Reif, Betsy, Jim and me. Eric was in Nebraska for the week. According to the Facebook thread, we went to Robbie Fox’s Public House. I don’t remember the name or location of the place since I was in the hands of Reif and Tyler to get me there (mostly Reif since he drove). It was a slightly odd mixture of people since, while we’re all ultimate players, Betsy didn’t really know Reif or Jim and Betsy and I were the non-engineers at the table. Which led to Tyler drawing up a Venn diagram of common interests. I love Venn diagrams and this is an event I still refer to. The food was okay. The drinks, tasty. I had a Foley sandwich (tomatoes, basil, Irish cheddar, scallions, with a tarragon cream dressing), several Guinnesses and a Murphy’s Irish Red. That Friday evening the summer heat broke a tiny bit and we saw some monsoon action…up close since we were sitting on the patio. The first short sprinkle didn’t scare us from our seats, though the dust blown on to the head of my Guinness was not ideal. The second round of showers was heavier and set us scurrying under the awning. Luckily that was after everyone had eaten. But the best part of the evening was the meandering conversations. A meal and a drink with a small group of people? That’s good stuff.

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Reverb10 prompt:
December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

I was mulling this prompt when I came across this post on Tor’s blog: May the Force be with Katie. In short, 7-year-old Katie is a Star Wars fan, but has lately been teased for liking something that’s "boys only." (I was surprised to learn that it was the boys that were doing the teasing. What does that say about my perception of girls?) Her mom wrote a post for Chicago Now about bullying and this quote caught my eye:

She has learned that there are degrees of being different, and she wants to minimize how different she is.

And that’s the rub with being different. Yes, we’re all different. Differences can make us beautiful, but beauty is also in the eye of the beholder. We all judge how much of our differences people see. Some of us hide more differences than others. Some of us have more control over what can be hidden.

Anyway, this is me with an ewok. I’m wearing a *pink* Return of the Jedi shirt. This was at some very cheesy event in a mall in Council Bluffs. I was 8 years-old when this was taken. About Katie’s age. I was very fortunate to have a mother that was a science fiction fan and totally understood the need to attend cheesy events. I suppose I was different in grade school because I yearned for an AT-AT instead of a Cabbage Patch Kid, but no one ever told me that that difference was bad. Or if they did, I was pretty oblivious. I suppose I still am.

If I were to list a "difference" that is an asset to me (and an asset trumps beauty in my book), I’d say that not being too girly serves me pretty well. It gives me a different perspective, or rather lets me see things in a slightly removed way. I can occasionally glimpse the "boy" perspective and compare it to what I assume to be the "girl" perspective. Or something like that.

(The funny thing is that I’ve been wracking my brain over differences–how am I substantially different than most of the population?–and I just remembered that I have red hair. Other than the odd Pippi Longstocking reference, no one has never made an issue of my hair color. At least not in a way that was meaningful to me. Again, I’m oblivious. (The whole hatred for "gingers" is completely befuddling to me.) But my red hair is a feature that I’ve really come to appreciate over the years.)

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Community, Work Notes

December 7 – Community Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

I’m an introvert. It takes me a long time to cultivate connections within a community and maintaining those connections is a lot of work. On my birthday in 2007, I made some goals related to being social. While I may not have completely achieved those goals, the effort I’ve put forth has reaped some result for me. Or manifested results to use Reverb 10 terminology.

I’ve kept active within the VOTS community this year. (Well, active for me. It’s all relative.) I’ve accepted more invitations, hung out more with people. I even set up a team dinner! That seems really pedestrian by normal standards, but it’s something for me.

I’ve also had a Twitter account since April 2007, but I’ve only come to use it in a network-y kind of way this year. I still feel like an interloper among the Twitter communities, but I’m working on that. I’d like to find a good level of participation. I over-do it and then burn out. A more steady level of participation would probably be a good thing.


Read over the galley for "Breakfast in the Garden" this morning.

Giving Divine Fire the 10% trim, though that novel still needs some work.

I need to get back to subbing Model Species too.

Unfortunately, I’ve been really creaky and tired today. Tuesdays have a way of slipping away from me. This one is no different.

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Book #27a and 27b

Book #27a – Doctor Illuminatus by Martin Booth

Received an ARC of this way-back-when at a convention. It’s "Middle Grade Fiction" and part one of two. The premise: When a family moves into an old English estate, they wake Sebastian, the son of an alchemist, who has been in suspended animation for the last 600 years. The archenemy of Sebastian’s father is still in the world as well and is bent on creating a homunculus. Despite some hand-wavy things (like the whole suspended animation bit), homunculi and historically based alchemy are pretty cool concepts. Unfortunately the book is somewhat tedious. There are pastoral descriptions of the English countryside. There is a great deal of exposition as Sebastian explains what’s going on to Tim and Pip, our young protagonists. (At one point, I wished that this book were not about the kids in the present day, but the backstory involving Henry VI, the Duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort. Now, there’s a story with some breadth!) What the book lacks is a system for alchemy and characters that I cared about. Despite assurances that a homunculus would be the End of the World as We Know It, I never felt like anyone was in peril because the mysterious Sebastian will solve every problems. It’s deus ex machina in a 10-year-old body with a 600-year-old mind. Plot-wise, I felt more suspense about whether this book was going to be somewhat self-contained (knowing that there is a sequel) or a cliff-hanger. (Self-contained, in fact. And there doesn’t seem to be much over-arching plot.)

Book #27b – Fairy School Dropout by Meredith Badger

I went on Christmas book scouting mission last week and saw this on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. I figured Hannah would probably enjoy it. It’s a fun book about a fairy that is not very good at being a fairy. She is fairly certain she wants to give up on the whole concept of fairy-dom until she helps her next door neighbor fulfill a wish. The asides about the "truth about fairies" are a bit sly and the situations are appropriately amusing for an eight-year-old.


In the land of Reverb:

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)
I spent some time yesterday contemplating this. Honestly, I can’t come up with anything. If I’ve let things go, I’ve let them go to such an extent that they are gone from my mind. What’s more likely is that I never really let go of anything. On the plus side, my grip is never that tight.

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)
Made aside from writing? Made aside from coffee? Probably putting together the Halloween prizes for the VOTS costume contest. It was an artful arrangement of candy and silly toys in a dish, though I did make little tags warning people not to eat the glow sticks. I haven’t done much in the way of visual arts this year. I think working on smaller writing pieces has taken up that time. That’s not a bad thing.

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Wonder & Book #26

Reverb10: December 4 – Wonder.
How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

Is a sense of wonder something you can cultivate? Maybe, I guess. I did an exercise earlier in the year in which I listed things I’m drawn to, which is really a list of things that I find to be wonderful. I suppose that’s a good way for anyone to cultivate a sense of wonder. I didn’t do it with that intent, it just happened that way. Otherwise, I think it’s a matter of taking a step back and saying, "Dude, that’s kinda cool."


Book #26 – The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien

There. I did it. I made my way through the entirety of the Lord of the Rings saga. I started about two years ago with Tor’s read-through. I finished ahead of schedule because I wanted to finish by the end of the year. Here are my impressions of The Return of the King: In light of the tension of "Shelob’s Lair," it’s a bit slow. I loath Denethor. "The Scourging of the Shire" is bizarrely Orwellian in light of the high fantasy of the rest.

Other reading:
"The Price" by Neil Gaiman – No deep notes on this one. It’s just a solid, enjoyable story.
"Ponies" by Kij Johnson – A parable of icky, squirmy truth. 

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I’m a fan of structured reflection.

Rebecca Rosenblum mentioned Reverb 10 yesterday. I only read about it today because Wednesday got away from me. Between having a cold, being at the whim of public transportation, and loading files on my shiny new music player, I seem to have lost vast swathes of time yesterday.

Anyway, Reverb 10. An "online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next." I don’t know about manifesting, but I’m a fan of structured reflection. I’m not going to be an official participant because…I need to stop doing things like that. I jump into things, gung ho, then I hit a hermity patch and I fall off the edge of the word. And then I feel guilty for having signed up all gung-ho-like. So, I’d like less of that in my life. To catch up, here are the first two prompts:

December 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)

My word for 2010: Reboot. I’ve found some new life in my writing this year. Eric and I started working on a new novel with a new central idea (well, new to me). I started working on short works again and submitting some of them. While the short things aren’t the end all of writing for me, they’ve brought some of the fun back to writing. I need the fun the fuel the work. Word I’d like to describe 2011: Follow-through. Finish Luck for Hire. Keep writing and submitting. Continue, continue, continue.

December 2 Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)

I fear. At first, I was going to say that I doubt myself, but doubt can be helpful. Doubt can spur you to improvement. But, fear? I guess you can say that fear is fight or flight and fight can be a good thing, but fear is too much of an animal emotion. Fight born from fear is unthinking. Fear of criticism, failure, looking dumb, whatever; it doesn’t do anything but paralyze me. To sound utterly Frank Herbert about it, the only thing I can do is to remember that I’m human, not an animal. As a human, I have a mind that can overcome fear. To be a little Tarantino about it, I have to believe I’m fucking Barretta, that I’m super cool.