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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015
Mental flush

Someone I know used to tell me that I need to learn to flush the crap out of my head and let it be gone. Don’t let it keep bothering me. This is much harder to do than I like. The older I get, the more I’m convinced I need to do it, and just let it go.

I’ve not been given to grudges in my life. I don’t particularly hold them. There are some people, however, who I would as soon never have anything to do with ever again. Occasionally I think of them and feel my blood pressure rising. Luckily, I think of them less and less frequently, and I’m slowly–if not forgiving–I am forgetting them. I’m remembering that they have no impact on me. They are not important. Their opinions, their past actions, their voices–none of that matters now. I handled them the best that I could at the time, and while hindsight always offers woulda coulda shoulda moments, on the whole, I am happy with my integrity and honor intact.

That said, someone posted something today that really peeved me. It had to do with what happened with the last teaching gig and I realized I wasn’t over with the way things played out and the ways some people behaved. I have and had no control over them, only myself. But this brought up terrible doubts. I live with imposter syndrome anyhow, and so I fell today into an awful funk about whether or not I am a good teacher. I miss teaching, I miss students, and so this was particularly painful to me, especially since in so many ways, that was my dream job.

I am not over it. But I have decided that I am letting someone else have too much control over me. I’m letting him into my head rent free. I have to decide to let it go. It’s in the past. Stewing about it will change nothing. Worry and regret are useless things. I have to believe in myself. That’s an extraordinarily tough thing to do sometimes. Especially right now with the end of the book fighting back tooth and nail.

To let it go, I have to deliberately cut ties. One of the reasons I saw what this persona said, was because he had followed me on FB and his post came up in my feed. I have unfriended him. I am considering how many others I need to unfriend. I have to resist temptation to go checking in on what they might be saying. I have to resist thinking about them at all. I have to deliberately turn my mind away from those thoughts whenever they come up. This post, will hopefully be the last of it.

I chose to write this post because I think I needed some sort of personal closure. Or maybe I needed to write down instructions to myself to move along and quit wallowing in the woulda coulda shouldas. I needed to acknowledge that I feel hurt and angry, but I have to acknowledge that I don’t need to. I can kick the squatters out of my head.

So as of right now, that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to have some self-discipline about staying on the positive road. I’m not going to let the bastards grind me down.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

Monday, July 20th, 2015
Book Review: Jonathan Kellerman’s The Murderer’s Daughter
I received this ARC via NetGalley.
I just finished Joseph Kellerman’s The Murderer’s Daughter (which will come out August 18). It’s amazing.
From the back of the book description:
A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches—perhaps because she bears her own invisible scars: Only five years old when she witnessed her parents’ death in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace still has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace’s harrowing past returns with a vengeance.cover68324-medium
 
What I like about this book is the depth of characterization and the way all the characters resonate together along the same theme. The main character, Grace Blades,  is the daughter of a murder-suicide with both parents being truly terrible. Their deaths are merely the culmination of an awful early childhood.  She ends up in the foster system with a lot of shitty situations, arrives at a good one, and eventually it turns horrible, but not in the way you’d expect.

She ends up adopted by a couple who are very good to her, letting her become herself and encouraging her on every level. Grace is extraordinarily gifted mentally, able to zip through school with few real challenges. Before she’s thirty, she becomes a revered psychologist specializing in trauma victims. She’s very good, very empathetic, partly from her own background. But. She’s also very distanced and observational–almost living her live in third person. She’s extraordinarily self-aware on some levels, and on others, she’s oblivious. She doesn’t recognize as an issue the leftovers from her own traumas–from courting dangerous situations, to sucking her thumb, to being unable/unwilling to have real relationships of any nature.

One of her risky behaviors leads her to get mixed up in a murder, and soon she realizes she’s become a target of the murderer. Now she has to figure out who that is and why he wants her dead. Only, the why and the who are a lot more complicated than they seem to be.

The thing about Grace is that she’s unemotional and very focused. She’s also brilliant. She makes plans and executes them with determination and nerves of ice, breaking down only occasionally. She makes mistakes and figures out her next steps. She forges on, the need to survive driving her. She is a survivor. That truth is fundamental to who she is and takes precedence over almost every other aspect in her life.

The thing a reader has to be aware of is that Kellerman presents Grace as cold person. Readers may find even her repulsive, though she is skilled, empathic, and she genuinely cares about her patients and helping them through their traumas. But whether you like Grace, you can sympathize with her. Plus Kellerman builds the tension so that you have to keep turning pages. You want to know what is happening and who the players are and why the murders. For me, Grace is not unlikeable, but Kellerman definitely doesn’t give Grace a lot of soft, easy qualities. The book is told in a first person narrative, but despite that, the narrative is related in a distanced way. But that is the point. Grace is meant to be difficult to like, so that the book can investigate its main theme.

It’s clear to me that Kellerman suggests Grace is a sociopath, or at least, verging on one. We know this because she’s so cold-blooded in her observations and her choices, she’s manipulative–usually for good, and she’s unfeeling in many ways. The question is, was she born sociopathic or did she become that way because of her childhood? And how much does it matter? And is who you are about your choices or about nurture or about genes?

All the various characters represent different possibilities of Grace, different aspects of her. In the end, the reader decides if she is a valuable person, if her choices are right, if she’s good or evil or something else entirely.

The mystery is good, but I recommend this book because it does such an amazing job of exploring the nature of a sociopath, of what happens to children of abuse and trauma, how much genetics plays a role in who you become, and who you must be.

Five out of five stars.

 

Thursday, July 16th, 2015
Sasquan Schedule

My Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention​ schedule:

Autographing – Diana Pharaoh Francis, Nichole Giles, Nancy Kress, James Van Pelt
Thursday 12:00 – 12:45, Exhibit Hall B (CC)
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Nichole Giles, Nancy Kress, James Van Pelt,

Reading – Diana Pharaoh Francis

Friday 11:30 – 12:00, 301 (CC)
Diana Pharaoh Francis

Writers Workshop section 05
Friday 13:00 – 16:00, 201A (CC)
David D. Levine, Madeleine Robins, Diana Pharaoh Francis

Fantasy and Supernatural Noir

Saturday 12:00 – 12:45, Bays 111C (CC)

Dark speculative and (frequently) dark detective works are best-sellers these days.  Our panel talks about earlly supernatural noir and where it’s headed now.

Diana Pharaoh Francis, Richard Kadrey, Katherine Addison, John Pitts

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
Parenthood

Parenting is fucking hard.

Monday, July 13th, 2015
Edge of Dreams on sale

The kindle version of Edge of Dreams is on sale today for $1.99. Yay! So if you still don’t have a copy, it’s time to grab one. And spread the word for me, okay??

And now to go back to work on book 3 and see what damage I can do to my poor characters . . . Remember, adversity builds character. Bwahaahahahahahaha!

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
Napping with dog(s)

I developed a headache today after doing some running around this a.m. and some chores. I have no idea why. Totally lovely day. Blessedly cool. Anyhow, late this afternoon I decided to crawl into bed for a nap. Of course Voodoo followed me and jumped in with me, snugging up into the back of my neck before moving down into the small of my back. So I fall asleep, only to wake up sometime later with a wet dog nose in my hand. Different dog. Viggo does NOT jump onto the bed. He requires the staff to elevate him up. I did not do this. Curious. Apparently other staff members helped him. He felt compelled to wake me a so I could have the opportunity to scratch his ears, which I did, and then went back to sleep.

Later, upon getting up, I did yard work and came away bloodied, but unbowed. The roses fought back, as did the blackberry bushes. Our neighbors grow them, and some have decided to colonize beneath the fence. They have been knocked back for now. I also discovered some blueberry bushes along the side of my front yard that I was unaware existed. I am going to have to find a way to get them some more sunlight.

The kids were highly concerned about the blood running down my leg. Mom! Did you know you were bleeding! As it happens, I did not know. I wasn’t surprised. It’s a rare day when I don’t add a bruise or a scrape or a cut to my collection. The main thing is I didn’t get blood all over my clothes. That would have been annoying.

Oh, I also knocked my noggin into the bird feeder and THAT hurt. Oh my, ouch. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the farmer’s market today, and so didn’t pick up raspberries. I need to go find a fruit stand.

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 10th, 2015
Sweet sweet coolness

After weeks of heat, today we were able to leave the windows open all day. I think the weather should hold for another few days at least. Hopefully we can get out and do some things. I’d like to go hike to a falls.

I did get decent writing done this week. Book 3 of  Diamond City Magic is getting close to done. I hit a bit of a snag today when I couldn’t remember where in a book I included something, or if I put it in and took it out again. I didn’t find what I was looking for in the first two books, but it could be earlier in this book. So I still have to dig. Annoying. I’ll look tomorrow, I think.

I also started a new knitting project. It might be a Christmas present. Hush. I know it’s far away, but if you’re knitting, you have to start much earlier. This is a fact. I also found a cool crochet hat pattern I want to try. I’m still not that great at reading patterns, or following written patterns–I get confused–so it can be a slow process. The one I started tonight has fairly simple cables and repeats, so it’s making up reasonably quickly. Using some yarn out of the stash. Given I just added to the stash, this is a good thing. Also, crochet projects make up faster. Just saying.

Tomorrow will hopefully be some yardwork, some writing, and hopefully some fun stuff. Next week the boy starts a summer “camp” which is more like a class. He’s excited about it.

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
*gnashing teeth*

Today has been a crappy writing day. And by that, I mean I hardly got anywhere. Lots of typing and erasing and doubting and, well, see the title of his post.

I did write a little bit I do like, so rough as it is, I’m sharing:

I contemplated what to do. The trouble was that doing wasn’t exactly an option. That meant my only option was to open the door on the spirit world inside myself. Easy peasy. And for my next trick, I’d fly to Mars and back, and then jump a tornado to Oz.

The trouble was, I didn’t have any other choices, reasonable or not. It wasn’t like I was going anywhere. I took a breath and let it out and focused my attention on the problem. That’s when I noticed how uncomfortable I was. Let me say this: any reasonably well-endowed woman lying face down is for any length of time is going to start to feel a certain ache in her boobs. Before long, it’s going to turn into a raging ache. My panic attack had distracted me from the mild discomfort portion of the show, and now I had to bite my lip to tolerate the ever-increasing throbbing pain. Maybe I could shoot for a trifecta and get cramps and my period now, too.

If I could have, I would have shaken my head. As it was, I mentally smacked myself for going off track—not to mention tempting fate–and pulled myself back to the problem at hand.

Monday, July 6th, 2015
Progress made

You may not know this, but the third Diamond City Magic book is due at the end of this month. And I’m yanking my hair out. Mostly because where I thought it was going to end isn’t going to be where it ends and I’ve got to figure out a solid ending. But I have plenty of stuff to put into the next book. I left Riley in a rather bad place today, and oh! I managed to squeeze in an Elmer Fudd reference. Cuz yanno. That’s always entertaining. For me anyhow. And really, if I’m not entertained, how will you be?

Family is important in this book, as you might guess. And someone just found a family skeleton in the closet. It’s so fun!!!

And a small snippet:

“The FBI brought you here,” he said, his voice lifeless.

“They thought I could help,” she said with a little nod.

“Help them break me.”

“If I could. They needed to see you for what you are.”

His head tipped. “What am I?”

Her lip curled. “An abomination. A demon from the depths of hell. Satan’s own spawn.”

 

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
Book review: Sally MacKenzie’s What to Do With a Duke

I took the boy to his doctors appointments today. Knitted on the way up, then read this book while waiting, and got stuck in traffic on the way home (the man drove up, I drove home). Anyhow, I’m a sucker for regencies, so I was looking forward to this one.

Caveat: I received this from NetGalley.

The description of What to Do With A Duke intrigued me. The Duke of Hart is going to his family estates to find the next spinster to be installed in Spinster House. It seems that 200 years ago, the wealthy orphaned daughter of a merchant set up the house for a spinster from the village who needed a place to live independently. When the current spinster marries or dies, the Duke must choose the new resident from the candidates who present themselves. In the meantime, the same woman who founded the house, apparently has also put a curse on the Dukedom. Every duke will be doomed to die before his heir is born. So he marries and gets his wife pregnant, and before she can deliver, he dies. So far, five dukes have suffered that exact fate.

Enter Cat (short for Catherine) who is desperate to get away from her loud, boisterous family. At 24 years old, she never has room or time for herself, constantly helping take care of her many siblings. She has no interest in marriage and desperately longs to be installed at the Spinster House. Marcus, the current Duke, at thirty years old, is feeling lonely and wants a companion, though he believes in the curse and is certain that when he marries and gets his wife pregnant, he’ll die. All his friends and servants buy into the curse as well. Of course, when he and Cat meet, sparks fly and soon they find themselves drawn to each other, and uncertain anymore what they want or believe.

I loved the dialog in the book. It felt realistic and was witty and funny. The supporting cast were wonderful, from Cat’s family, to the village locals, to the duke’s servants, and his estranged mother. Their attraction to each other was startling to both and fun to watch grow. On the whole, I really enjoyed the book. I also loved the idea of the Spinster House, and the history of the curse and Isabella (the merchant’s daughter).

I did have a few issues, though. First, I had a hard time believing that Cat’s good friends, even jealous and angry with her, would do what they did (avoiding spoilers here, so apologies for the vagueness). Second, Marcus spends an awful lot of time thinking about his cock. After awhile, the word gets really repetitive. The thing I didn’t like the most was the curse. I had a hard time that Marcus believed it so strongly. The author reinforced it so much that it felt a little bit like “the lady doth protest too much.” I love the conceit, but I wanted to see more showing of how it affected his life and his choices, rather than having that summed up by his mother and by introspection.

I’d give this book a solid 3.5 /5 stars.