Monday, March 28, 2016

New Joint Project...

Well, some of you may be wondering why I have only been blogging intermittently, or why I have stalled out on my youtube series, or why I haven't had any great progress updates on the sequel to Blade's Edge recently.

The answer, my friends, is that I have been working on a joint project with my husband for the past few months, and today, I unveil it to you...

At the end of nine long months we'll be starting a new chapter in our adventures. 

I expect there will be a few interruptions to my other projects, but I hope to have the Blade's Edge sequel wrapped up and in people's hands before that time. I have big plans to finish up the first draft in April, and then things should move fairly quickly from there, with six weeks for the rewrite, and then off to beta readers, back for more rewrite and then off to the editor. I'll do the formatting myself, and I hope to hire Juan Carlos Barquet for the cover again. My goal is to have it all wrapped up and ready to publish before my whole world turns upside down in September. Wish me luck! :-)

And as for why I haven't been working on the sequel up to now? The short answer is that the first trimester really wiped me out and I found very little creative energy to do anything at all. There were days when just getting up seemed more of a challenge than I was prepared for. I suppose most of that energy was concentrated on creating a new human. Now, I find myself quite a bit restored and hope to be able to tackle this project with renewed vigor even while working on making a new person constantly in the background. We'll see how it goes, and I'll be sure to keep you updated on writing progress. (Don't worry, there won't be many pregnancy updates here. I'll find another outlet for those.) 

Monday, March 21, 2016


Well, once more my life has taken me to Arizona for some lovely outdoor adventures and quality time spent with good friends and family. My hope is to get some serious work accomplished today, so I will keep this blog entry brief. (Not that blogging isn't serious work, but there's writing and formatting work that needs doing and blogging often feels like a distraction.)

So far this trip has included such highlights as: backpacking for two days with one of my favorite people in the world and covering 20 miles of rugged desert terrain in that time period, watching my husband wear a kilt all weekend whilst playing traditional celtic music at the Phoenix Highland games, eating delicious food from a variety of restaurants ranging from hole in the wall Mexican food to old favorite Japanese restaurants, and spending time with people I don't get to see nearly often enough.

In an attempt to disconnect from technology for most of this trip I neglected to bust out my cell phone for pictures very often. However, here are a couple shots just to give you a general impression of the awesomeness.

Bagpipes provided the soundtrack to most of the weekend. There were hundreds of them and they never stopped.

Here are Claire and I post-backpacking trip both seeming startled that we have taken a picture of ourselves in this state. Behind us is the trailhead to our 20 mile, two day loop. (Claire please forgive me for using such an unflattering photo of the two of us, but I felt it best captured the moment.)

Arizona, you have treated us well yet again, and I look forward to the next visit! 

Friday, March 11, 2016

On This Day...

...five years ago, I was running late for work. It was the day I taught young kids at NHK. I was never particularly fond of those classes because none of the students ever seemed particularly keen to be there and I have never felt particularly comfortable teaching small children, but I had prepared puzzles and games for the day and I was just grabbing my bag and heading out the door when my phone buzzed and I checked it to find an early earthquake warning flashing...

Lots changed that day. So much was taken away from so many. We were fortunate in so many ways. In particular we were fortunate to be in a place that allowed us to help others during what could have been a pretty bleak time. Doing so helped to keep us from falling apart.

If you want to read a detailed account of what happened on that day, and the following few days, I happened to write them down here. Just scroll down past the first handful of paragraphs until you see the March 11th header and there you'll see my account of everything that happened from the 11th to the 17th. 

I'll forever thank my former self for writing down a detailed account of that time when it was still so fresh in my mind. While it was all still happening. Memory is a slippery thing, and while I will never forget that time period, I am grateful to have a more accurate account than what my brain would be able to dredge up today without that writing to aid me. 

Unfortunately, I stopped blogging about my time in Japan after that. However, I've been looking through my old e-mails and realize there's lots to mine there about my experiences. In fact the reason that I stopped blogging seems to have been the sheer volume of e-mails I was sending back home to keep folks calm in the aftermath it took up all of the time and energy that I normally would have put into the blog. 

If you'd like to know about the month or so afterwards, it could best be summed up as "endeavoring to focus on things other than the threat of dying from alpha and beta radiation blowing across our prefecture from the Fukushima reactor and working to help as many people as possible as part of that distraction." In other words, we tried to live life as normally as we could with gas rationing, milk and bread rationing, rolling blackouts to conserve energy, and a lot of extra people camped out on our living room floor for weeks on end. We did pretty well actually. A lot of our friendships were strengthened through that time, and there is a closeness between those of us who were there during that period that is wordless and enduring. 

The truth is, if you're ever going to live through a natural disaster and its after effects Japan is the best possible place for it. I was continually impressed by how everything was handled and how well everyone worked together for the greater good. It was an awesome thing to experience. (And yes, I'm using awesome in it's original and most literal sense.)

Funnily enough one of the toughest things about that whole time period was keeping all of our friends and family back home calm while we tried to resume our normal lives and push forward. Folks were understandably worried about the damage done to the Fukushima nuclear power plants, but that worry was magnified and blown out of proportion by the fear mongering of the US media. We were getting very reliable information from a number of sources (mostly the International Atomic Energy Association and a friend of mine who is a nuclear engineer), and as bad as things were, and could have gotten, nothing was ever quite as bad as the western media made it out to be. Trying to convince my parents of that, however, was a full time job.

Meanwhile, many beautiful things came from that time period. We hosted a lot of people at our place during times when lots of people didn't have power or other utilities working properly in their homes. We also got together a group of people who worked to collect supplies to send north to the towns that had been wiped out by the tsunami. This served multiple purposes. One, it sent much needed supplies to an area that was struggling to get them as the roads on the way in were severely damaged. Large organizations were finding it difficult to get in, and smaller groups like ours, that sent supplies in a caravan of smaller vans, had more success, and were able to get in earlier than larger groups. Also, since we didn't handle any money, there was no red tape to deal with. Collect supplies, deliver to Iwate. Done and done. The other purpose it served was to help all of us who felt the world fall out from under our feet to feel as though we weren't just sitting around waiting for the sky to fall too. We did something, something positive, something physical and concrete, that directly helped the people who had been hurt the most, and that made us feel like we still knew who we were and what we were doing in a time of continual uncertainty. 

The friendships we made in Japan were always going to be friendships that lasted a lifetime, but for those of us who lived through March 11th and its aftermath the bond is even greater though it's harder to describe. How do you explain the trust you feel when the world seems like it's falling apart around you and you know a group of people are there for you and always will be? I'm a writer and feel like I should be able to do it justice, but... well, it's having a home in each of those people. Wherever they are, you will be welcome and safe. Each of them is a light in the darkness. 


We will always remember.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Day I Killed My Skate...

Today we went for a skate along the river with friends. The weather was fine, the sun shining, the sky cloudless, and only a light breeze to tickle us as we slid gently along the icy surface of the river. We had traversed about half of the available distance on the river trail when, mid stride, with no undue pressure or torque applied, I heard a crack and suddenly felt like my foot had a lot more room to move around. The upper portion of my skate, (a five dollar thrift store purchase from the previous winter) had completely let go of its base. My foot was no longer connected to the blade below. With help from my friends I hobble-scooted my way to a nearby bench, and inspected the damage.

The view from above. If it looks like the skate is double wide, that's because my foot is hanging out of the side of it.

That's the bottom of the liner that is supposed to be inside of the skate. Meanwhile the blade is still pointing downward as gravity demands.

Here you can see my toe poking out of the front

None of this stopped Artemis from having a wonderful day

Or looking adorable in the snow

Or standing majestically in the sun

Or exploring the expanse of the river

The moral of this story is that you get what you pay for when you buy five dollar skates, and that nothing stops a dog from enjoying a wintry day in the sun. (Also, when you bring your boots with you in a backpack while skating skate failures are really not a big deal. Walking home on a sunny winter day is still quite pleasant.)