777 Challenge

Casey Blair tagged me in a game of 777, and I’m happy to play along. The rules are to start on page seven, seven lines down, and post seven sentences of your work. So here we go (An excerpt from the bronze age fantasy I worked on last):

“We have wintered here for five generations. We will not leave.” Her mother stood stiff as a rod, and threaded her arm through Tama’s so that she could not run. “Patience, child,” she whispered softly.

They were near enough to Qin lands that they encountered the foreigners often and spoke their language passably well, but never had Tama seen Qin dressed for war. Their black lacquered armour was not much different from their own, but the soldiers wore their hair in elaborate braids, or topknots, tilted off center. Several soldiers displayed ribbons of red and blue pinned to their breasts.

I’m tagging anyone who wants to play. Send me links to your juicy writing tidbits. You know you want to.

How Not To Feel Overwhelmed By Social Media

Stress
[ photo: Cracking Under Stress by Bernard Goldbach CC ]
It sometimes seems like these days social media can be a constant flood of bad news, and it can be both very tiring, depressing, and can cause real anxiety.

You’ve probably heard the advice to get away from it all for a while, but social media and public life on the internet part of the new reality we live in. Some people depend on it for their livelihoods. Getting away isn’t always a viable option.

So what can you do? Here are some things that have helped me. Your mileage may vary, but if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, it’s worth a try.

  • Limit the social media you participate on. You don’t have to be on every network, and easier to engage if you’re focused on fewer. I’ve heard the advice to pick 4 networks at maximum, but I’m down to just Twitter and blogging for now.
  • Stick to the social media you enjoy the most.
  • You don’t have to follow everyone. I weed out my Twitter feed and blog list regularly, so that the people and things I follow mostly make me happy.
  • There’s nothing wrong with giving someone a temporary time out (even if they don’t know it) to give yourself a break. A temporary muting can save a your sanity if you don’t want to follow a particular subject. So can turning off re-tweets on Twitter.
  • Make peace with not having to be caught up with everything. The world won’t fall apart if you missed a few blog posts, or neglected to comment.
  • Use lists. You can choose when to view certain feeds or people, rather than automatically displaying them. This way, you can check on them when you feel that you’re able to / have the energy to, and not have them forced upon you. For example, authors, publishing industry talk, or agent chats.
  • For big more popular sites / news / big media, don’t read the comments. I make an exception for friends blogs of course :)
  • Take care of your real life relationships, and try to cultivate a healthy social life offline. Sometimes the real world can be a lot more civil than the internet.
  • Also, fuzzy bunnies!

My experience online is a lot more zen these days, and it’s nice to know that I can control a little of it with effort. Never everything, but some things.

Do you have some tips to add? How do you stop from feeling bummed out by all the bad news?

Note: This is not about coping with online harassment. That’s a different beast entirely.

And That’s a Wrap

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending VCON39! I’m still exhausted, and writing this in a half-bleary state, but overall I can say I had a good time at my first SFF Con. I can totally see why some people go every year!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
[photo: The 'Best Writing Advice Panel']
For a small con, there were plenty of writing panels scheduled the entire weekend, and I spent most of my time flitting from one to the other, and saying hi to people who I recognized from Twitter. I completely forgot to bring my camera, but a friend forwarded me this slightly blurry phone photo. That was my first panel ever. HISTORY, folks.

I’m sure I shoved a foot in my mouth more than once, and rambled a little, but I did learn a few things. I actually enjoyed the public speaking.

Tips for nervous panellists:

  1. It may help to view a panel as just a conversation about writing among friends.
  2. Bring notes with a few related things to talk about in case you blank out. (I had to refer to my cheat sheet a couple of times).
  3. Write down the names of your co-panellists, so you can refer to them by name instead of pointing (I’m terrible with names, so this helped).

Actually, if you can swing it, even if you have just one short story published, do volunteer to speak on a panel the next time you’re at a con, or propose one. It’s a great way to meet other writers, or introduce yourself to them without being super awkward.

I had a good laugh with several new acquaintances, and even a shy gal like me ended up in the bar (drinking soda), because we got a little too loud in the hallway. Writer’s… they can talk about writing all day.

Hopefully that was the first good experience of many!

VCON 2014 Schedule

VCON39_Website_LeaderBoard

This year I will be at VCON (Vancouver’s science fiction and fantasy
convention). I’m super excited because it’s my first ever con, but also nervous since somehow I’ve gotten myself on two panels.

Friday October 3
12:00 pm – The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received

Sunday October 5
11:00 am – Diversity in SFF

I’ll probably be around on Saturday for part of the day as well, just wandering :) If you see me around, please do say hi! If you won’t be there, I’ll have a post con recap posted here for you afterwards.

Click here for the full VCON schedule. It looks like there will be some really interesting panels this year!

New Standing Desk Setup

You may recall my previous work station involved balancing my laptop precariously on an open dresser drawer. Now that I have a little more space, I’ve got a proper standing desk set up. Bonus? It was cheap. I scored an adjustable non-tilt overbed table (hospital table) for $50 on Amazon.

New standing desk setup

This table can only support 25 lbs, but a laptop is light enough. I pulled a monitor stand off a free desk we got from Craigslist and added it on top. Unfortunately, with the monitor stand in place, my keyboard juts off the front edge just a little, but it’s not unstable. I could always  get a new stand that takes up less space on the narrow surface.

My only real peeve is that it tilts a little to the left because of the weight. I’m thinking of adding a piece of wood or an extra table leg for some support to the left hand side.

This was the most economical solution I could find, cheaper than making my own desk, and it’s adjustable too. I’m very happy with it.

Note: I haven’t switched to exclusively standing all day. I sit when I’m at the office, so its a nice change to stand when I’m at home writing or surfing the internet. I also have a cushioned bar stool I can pull up to the desk if I get a tired, but standing has done wonders for my back and neck pain.

Release Day! D-Day

I’m a little bit late to announce this (but I’m TOTALLY blaming baby brain for the delay).

FracturedCatCov

Fractured: Tales of the Canadian-Post Apocalypse is finally available. As the name suggests, the anthology presents different takes on what Canada may be like after the apocalypse.

Included is my story D-Day, a series of journal entries following the day that everyone in the world, except 5 people, disappear into thin air. I think it’s the strangest thing I’ve written. It also may be a love story.

I’m happy to share the table of contents with so much Canadian talent, and doubly happy to see Arun Jiwa, fellow Viable Paradise 16er, in there too!

Time Out

TEHawaii

So I’m not actually on a tropical beach, but in the office, I just wish I was on one! The past couple weeks have been really tough, and included a short stint in the emergency room at the hospital, plus more doctors than I can count. I’m doing okay, but I need to rearrange my priorities for the next while. I’m not going anywhere, but I need rest more, and writing has to take a back seat to my health. Maybe this blog will start getting interesting again when I feel a bit better? It’s hard to think of things to blog about when all you want to do is curl up in the fetal position.

Until then, know you’re not forgotten. I’ll be back!

Scattered details

I’ve been scarce and perhaps a bit cryptic lately, but I have some happy news to share!

A bun in my oven
[ photo: A bun in my oven by Sweet Mandy Kay CC]
I’ve officially got a bun in the oven (of the non-bakery kind). While it’s a happy time, and a busy time, it’s been really tough time health wise. I’ll spare you the health details, but it hasn’t been fun.

In the meantime I’ve been taking it slow, but I think my energy’s picking up again. I’m currently beta reading for some pals, and I’m impressed by how different, and how creative, each of the stories I’ve read have been.

I haven’t really had much energy to think about my own work, but two story ideas are battling it out in my head right now. Which one will win out and turn into the next novel? I need to let both ideas percolate a little longer just to see if they’re really viable.

And in house news, we’re still short on furniture but a couch and dining table should be arriving next week – so no more sitting on the floor. I still need to figure out some kind of office set up, and get my laptop fixed – hopefully soon!

I also really need some vacation time. Work has been insanely busy the past month, which hasn’t helped much on any of these front’s.

How’s your summer going?