31 August 2020

Music Mondays: Sathlir and Ginolwenye

[Slightly spoilerly - read at your own risk...]

Yeah, I couldn't sit on this one any longer. Anyone who knows me or has seen me talk about Gin and Sath and the Orana Chronicles knows how much I love these two characters. When I first heard this song I was captivated. It seems like it was written for them, documenting the path they take in the Nature Walker Trilogy. Please find the lyrics below and enjoy the music of this band from Dublin as they talk about my superheroes, Gin and Sath.



Superheroes
The Script

All the life she has seen
All the meaner side of me
They took away the prophet's dream
For a profit on the street
Now she's stronger than you know
A heart of steel starts to grow

All his life he's been told
He'll be nothing when he's old
All the kicks and all the blows
He won't ever let it show
'Cause he's stronger than you know
A heart of steel starts to grow

When you've been fighting for it all your life
You've been struggling to make things right
That's how a superhero learns to fly
Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power
When you've fighting for it all your life
You've been working every day and night
That's how a superhero learns to fly

Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power
Oh-oh, oh, oh
Oh-oh, oh, oh

All the hurt, all the lies
All the tears that they cry
When the moment is just right
You see fire in their eyes
'Cause he's stronger than you know
A heart of steel starts to grow

When you've been fighting for it all your life
You've been struggling to make things right
That's how a superhero learns to fly
Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power
When you've fighting for it all your life
You've been working every day and night
That's how a superhero learns to fly

Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power (power, power, power, power, power)
Every day, every hour turn the pain into power
(Power, power, power, power)
Every day, every hour turn the pain into power

She's got lions in her heart
A fire in her soul he's a got a beast
In his belly that's so hard to control
'Cause they've taken too much hits, taking blow by blow
Now light a match, stand back, watch them explode

She's got lions in her heart
A fire in her soul he's a got a beast
In his belly that's so hard to control
'Cause they've taken too much hits, taking blow by blow
Now light a match, stand back, watch them explode

When you've been fighting for it all your life
You've been struggling to make things right
That's a how a superhero learns to fly
Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power

When you've fighting for it all your life
You've been working every day and night
That's a how a superhero learns to fly
Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power (power, power, power, power, power)

Oh, yes (power, power, power, power)
Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power
(Power, power, power, power) Ooh, yeah
Whoa (power, power, power, power)
Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power

When you've been fighting for it all your life
You've been struggling to make things right
That's how a superhero learns to fly

27 August 2020

Notes from Exile: Stargate SG1 in the time of COVID-19


So, Hubs and I have been working our way through all ten seasons of Stargate: SG1 over the summer. I somehow never watched it when it was on television, so in order to avoid having to turn in my nerd card, I started watching it. Unlike Babylon 5, I didn't hate the first season (I watched the movie first, so that could have something to do with it), and I did watch all the way to the end. I did not switch over to Stargate: Atlantis or Stargate: Universe, and I haven't watched any of the movies yet.

So we were watching the series finale last night and I was really not enjoying it. At some point, I decided to talk about it, and got Hubs so wound up (because that was one of his favorite episodes) that he requested that I just shut up and watch. What I was not liking about the episode was - spoilers if you haven't seen it, but seriously it's been at least 10 years so, #sorrynotsorry - all of them being trapped in the spaceship with no real timeline for how long they would be there.

I was spewing ideas about how it was too drawn out and how most of season ten had been almost slapstick in its levity so this level of emotion was jarring. But I think it was the parallel to how at least some of us have spent the time since mid-March that was more than jarring, it was downright unsettling. It came to me during the scene where Col. Mitchell was running through the ship, and then ends up in his quarters, throwing things around and destroying everything he could get his hands on.

At first, on Stargate, they all tried to work with Lt. Col. Carter to find out how to escape from the time bubble without the ship getting exploded by a shot from a hostile vessel. But after a few weeks and then months, they started getting on with whatever they could on board the ship. In the end, they were trapped there for 50 years, as barely a minute passed outside the bubble.

I have chosen to stay at home almost exclusively since mid-March. I go out on the weekends to get our grocery shopping done. I have spent one evening, recently, at the home of one of my beta readers, going over feedback for an upcoming novel. I drove to Georgia for the completely outdoor and socially distanced funeral for my Aunt Mary back in April. Other than that, these four walls and occasionally our yard and street (to get the post) have been the extent of my world. For five and a half months, I have been here.

The first parallel is that I have watched eagerly - in the beginning, until it became begrudgingly - as each Coronavirus Task Force Report played out on television, hoping that the day would come SOON that a vaccine had been developed and life would return to normal while we could still remember what normal was. We would be back on campus in the fall. There would be football Saturdays and renaissance festivals to look forward to - but none of that happened. Every "cure" and treatment and suggestion by anyone in charge would be the next best thing, and then it would fail. Finally we all were advised to wear masks, and while that seems to slow things down, it was not widely enough adopted to be really effective.

The second parallel is how my life adapted easily, it seemed, to getting on with things here. I am one of the lucky ones that could do my work from home, so I filled those endless days with transcription and planning for the summer semester, still certain we would be back on campus in the fall. But, just as it did on board the Prometheus in the time bubble, that started to wear thin too - didn't take 50 years, thankfully, but it happened. It comes with the moving of the goalposts, I think, from "This will be just until the beginning of April," to "I'm sure we will be back on campus in June," to the current "I am remote working until January."

The final parallel, or where everything fell into place for me last night, was the scene I mentioned above, where Cameron is shown running through the ship, then sparring with Teal'c and taking things more than a bit too far, and then finally losing it in his quarters and destroying things. I can completely understand the feelings there. I ran through the ship for exercise while I was buying a desk and setting up an office in the spare room in our house. I sparred without caution as I let myself have free reign to eat what I liked, hang out on the couch all day during the summer, and generally did nothing in terms of self care because WHAT WAS THE POINT, ANYWAY? And finally, on the inside anyway, I am raging, I am destroying, I am screaming - but not out loud, not in front of people, and certainly not when I'm taking my scheduled exercise at the grocery store and Costco.

And the grand moral at the end of this tale, the moment you've been waiting for if you've made it this far reading is that there isn't one. It's me, and Hubs, and the dogs, here in the house, and likely to be that way through that mystical far off time called January. Three months ago I would have said that in January we will all step out of our isolation and fall back into the swing of things as they were before. After all, on Stargate last night, they managed to reverse time and stop themselves from going into the time bubble in the first place. They were reset - the past 50 years didn't happen (in true Bobby Ewing style, if you ask me) and they were ready to go on another adventure through another wormhole.

We can't reset anything. We are here, for better or worse, six chevrons are encoded and we're just waiting for the seventh to be locked in. (Thanks, Walter.)

26 August 2020

Notes from Exile: Week Two in the DayJob

Old Main Building, Clemson
I know that I have titled this "Week Two" but it really doesn't feel that way. The first week was only three days of classes and two days of absolute soul-crushing stress, so I'm not sure that makes a week. Instead, I am fairly sure that it has been about six months since I was celebrating my last week of the weirdest summer break I've ever had.

In retrospect, that's pretty normal for the first week of a semester, so I guess I should be glad that it didn't seem like a year. Interpreting into a camera has been very different from sitting in the front of a classroom and interpreting, and has made me very aware of the fact that I am not suited for Virtual Remote Interpreting (VRI) that is taking over the market these days. I spend most of my time playing dispatch - chasing down zoom links and Canvas sections, which is not that different from what I would be doing in the office on campus.

I do miss having my office mate across the desk. I miss catching up with people from the other offices in our building while waiting on my lunch to heat. And believe it or not, I miss the two hours a day on the bus from here down to campus.

When I envisioned my semester working from home, I have to say this was not what I thought it would be. I was looking forward to a bit of DayJob work, interpreting my class three times a week, getting some novel work/marketing done, and maybe having time to run out for some interpreting gigs here and there. Last week felt more like someone put me in a runaway roller coaster car and pushed me onto the track, swinging me just close enough but not quite to be able to feel like I've gotten anything done successfully. I would just feel like I was catching my breath going up one of those Scream Machine-esque hills before plunging back down into Zoom rooms that weren't allowing the caption writer to enter and videos to transcribe that were due to disappear from Canvas long before I could get the work done. I did not touch anything I've written the entire week.

I finally broke down and got int touch with my beta reader for an upcoming stand-alone novel in a new universe to suggest that we get together to go over her feedback. I'm putting this manuscript up for #pitmad in September, so there isn't much time left before that (if I don't get any requests, I will just put it in the pipeline for self-publishing). We got together at the weekend and went over the novel with a fine-toothed comb and a couple of glasses of wine and I felt the most like myself that I have since March.

Surprising? Yeah, me too. I've been basically with my partner ONLY since March, and I thought that I was introverted enough to be okay with that. I was wrong. It was a good time, socially distanced, and I basically bathed in hand sanitizer when I got home. This does not signal a rapid return to weekly girls nights out, retail therapy, or any of the social outlets I had in what my partner and I lovingly are calling "The Before Times." I'm still far too concerned about falling ill with COVID to return to my old life. I was becoming legitimately concerned for my own mental health, and this jolt may have recharged my ability to wait for safety to return so that we can stand in each other's kitchens, cooking, laughing, and relaxing into our friendships and letting go of the DayJob stress.

For now, though, it's back to my desk, in the office I share with our dogs and the house that has been my world, more or less, since March. I'm just a little better able to handle it.

24 August 2020

Music Mondays: D'Ayna Turlach

 [SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE TALES OF THE FOREST WARS.]

When I first started working on the Tales of the Forest War, I had plans for one book. Just one. Simple characters. Focus on the conflict and the aftermath. Easy, right? 

Yeah, not so much. Once I got in there and started really thinking about what would cause this kind of conflict and how anyone other than the supremely powerful dragons (and the gods, of course) could come out the other side of it at all intact, it became clear that the personalities had to be as powerful as the overall story. This story was about more than just a war. 

There are always names. There are always places. War spawns heroes and villains, winners, and losers. This war could be no different. This war would forge a bond between two very different family lines that lasts for many generations to come. And so, knowing that meant that I knew that one of my characters would be the Nature Walker. But what of the other?

D'Ayna (named thusly because the first time I said it out loud it sounded like Diana and I was smitten) Turlach is an Ikedrian. She is a lieutenant. She is military-minded. She possesses magic that her family will not accept. She is every one of us that has tried to suppress who we are to fit in, and finally comes to the turning point where that isn't working anymore. She follows her heart. She loves her family. And all she has, in the end, is her battle cry: a mighty roar combining anger and fear.

Don't tell Gin or Tairn, but Ayna might be one of my favorite characters I've ever written. Maybe. So this song spoke to me in that gruff yet soft way that Ayna did while I was writing these novels. She was afraid - OF COURSE SHE WAS - but she knew what had to be done. This song is like an imagined conversation between Ayna and Draoch after the war. And that's as spoilery as I'm going to be. 

Also, when the Orana Chronicles become movies I am FOR SURE involving Imagine Dragons - you are going to see a lot of them on Music Mondays. Enjoy.

 


Battle Cry

Imagine Dragons

Just one more time before I go

I'll let you know

That all this time I've been afraid

Wouldn't let it show

Nobody can save me now, no

Nobody can save me now

Stars are only visible in darkness

Fear is ever-changing and evolving

And I, I feel poison inside

And I, I feel so alive

Nobody can save you now

King is crown, it's do or die

Nobody can save you now

The only sound

It's the battle cry

It's the battle cry

It's the battle cry

Nobody can save you now

It's do or die

Nobody can save you now

King is crown, it's do or die

Nobody can save you now

The only sound

It's the battle cry

It's the battle cry

It's the battle cry

Nobody can save you now

It's do or die

Just one more time before I go

I'll let you know

That all this time I've been afraid

Wouldn't let it show

Nobody can save me now, no

Nobody can save me now

19 August 2020

The end of one exile, beginning of another...

So, we are still at home, still in the midst of a pandemic, and to be honest, I don't know exactly how my state is doing, because the numbers have to be taken with so much context - so I'm pretty much still here at home until there is a vaccine.

I'm working from home until January, at this point, in the hopes that things will look better next year. Our university is starting classes today, online until mid-September because we still have some pretty alarming trends in terms of COVID cases in this part of the state. In a way, it feels the same as it has since the first week of May when I officially "went on summer break" from my job in academia. But really the only difference is that I'm spending more time at this desk than I did over the summer.

In March, we watched the students leave for Spring Break and not come back. We had about a month of scrambling and pivoting to online study only. The summer was the beginning of the true exile: no renaissance faire, no girls night, no nothing except weekly trips to the shops for food. The anniversary of my mother's death. The death of one of my favorite aunts. Cancellation of the trip to Scotland to be with my partner's family to celebrate his father's birthday. Just me and the dogs and these four walls. Lots of time to write and barely any motivation to do so.

So this begins a new kind of exile. Daily communication with my office colleagues. I had a video call with my office mate last week that nearly left me in tears because I miss her. I miss the office. I miss the dynamic. But I'm determined to stick this one out and do my part not to spread this horrible virus. And so, my officemates now are Daddy's Jeany-greyhound, the duckling, the bluebird (inexplicably in the pond but there you are), the YHC lion reading his books, the odd Celtic-ish warrior and the no-longer roaring triceratops wearing Yoda as a hat. We have Julius Caesar as a guide to inter-office politics and Profee watching over all of us. And we are all fine, really.

Well, until I find the batteries for the triceratops, that is...

17 August 2020

Music Monday: Lairceach

 She's a minor character in the Nature Walker Trilogy, really, but she is so very important. Gin's younger sister who grew up without parents and learned at an early age to take care of herself so that no one else had to do. But this song is very Lairky to me when I think about her relationship with Kam. He's an Ikedrian - serious, dark, broody, methodical. Lairky is none of those things. She grew up swinging from the bridges connecting Aynamaede, playing in the dappled sun, and driving her older sister and brother mad. 

I just heard this song recently, but it jumped out at me as so very Lairky. One little wild girl that grew up to take action that would change the fate not only of her sister but all of Orana. Not so minor after all, huh?




Leave Her Wild
Tyler Rich

If you find a girl, hands up, hangin' halfway out on the highway
You find a girl who likes whiskey mixed in her hangover coffee
Find a girl that scares you half to death
You'd kill to be the train she wrecks
And don't tell her I never met someone like you
Then try and turn her into every girl you ever knew
If you're gonna love her, if you're gonna love her
If you're gonna love her, leave her wild
If you're gonna make her, if you're gonna make her
Make her smile, smile
If you're gonna let her, if you're gonna let her
Let her dance, let her sing, let her be whatever she wanna be
Leave her wild
Don't tame her, try to chain her
The second you do you'll break her
Don't dull that shine that caught your eye
'Cause you're afraid somebody will take her
She ain't a dial you just turn on and off
She ain't all found, but she ain't all that lost
If you're gonna love her, if you're gonna love her
If you're gonna love her, leave her wild
If you're gonna make her, if you're gonna make her
Make her smile, smile
If you're gonna let her, if you're gonna let her
Let her dance, let her sing, let her be whatever she wanna be
Leave her wild
Oh, leave her wild, yeah
Leave her wild, leave her wild
Leave her wild
If you're gonna kiss her, if you're gonna kiss her
Kiss her slow
If you wanna change her, if you wanna change her
Let her go
If you're gonna let her, if you're gonna let her
Let her dance, let her sing, let her be whatever she wanna be
If you're gonna love her, if you're gonna love her
Leave her wild
If you're gonna make her, if you're gonna make her
Make her smile, smile
If you're gonna let her, if you're gonna let her
Let her dance, let her sing, let her be whatever she wanna be
Leave her wild
Leave her wild, wild
Yeah, leave her wild, leave her wild
Let her dance, let her sing, let her be whatever she wanna be
If you're gonna love her, if you're gonna love her
Leave her wild
Leave her wild

10 August 2020

Music Mondays: Taeben

So as promised, today's Music Monday consists of music that inspired everyone's favorite villain from the Nature Walker Trilogy, Taeben. I know that there is a hashtag out there among my readers referring to Ben: #benisadick, but he is really a product of his environment more than anything. His story will come one day, but I'm not quite ready to tell it. 

Until then, though, when I sat down to think about a song that always makes me think of Ben, this one kept coming to mind. It's an older song, from when I was younger than I am now, and it is what I think of when I think of Ben's motives, specifically his feelings for and actions toward Gin. Lyrics to follow after the embedded video.



Fortress Around Your Heart
Sting

Under the ruins of a walled city
Crumbling towers in beams of yellow light.
No flags of truce, no cries of pity;
The siege guns had been pounding through the night.

It took a day to build the city.
We walked through its streets in the afternoon.
As I returned across the fields I'd known,
I recognized the walls that I once made.
Had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I'd laid.

And if I've built this fortress around your heart,
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire,
Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm,
And let me set the battlements on fire.

Then I went off the fight some battle that I'd invented inside my head.
Away so long for years and years,
You probably thought or even wished that I was dead.
While the armies are all sleeping beneath the tattered flag we'd made.
I had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I'd laid.

And if I've built this fortress around your heart,
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire,
Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm,
And let me set the battlements on fire.

This prison has now become your home,
A sentence you seem prepared to pay.
It took a day to build the city.
We walked through its streets in the afternoon.
As I returned across the fields I'd known,
I recognized the walls that I once made.
Had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I'd laid.

And if I've built this fortress around your heart,
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire,
Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm,
And let me set the battlements on fire.

03 August 2020

Notes from Exile, Week Eleventy-Seven, with extra Lenny Kravitz

Nancy in Home Depot, wearing a mask
Y'all, what day is it?

Please, while I try to figure it out, enjoy this shot I sent my friend Brina of the mask her daughter made for me back at the beginning of all this.

Seriously, I know what day it is. But I was surprised yesterday by how shocked I was that this is August. I have always had trouble with estimating the passage of time and am a chronic watch looker as a result (even when I didn't have a watch, how sad is that?). So this pandemic has made that little character flaw even more vivid.

How is it August? It was just mid-March a few days ago, wasn't it? Is Christmas tomorrow?

Side note: It had better not be tomorrow because that means we skipped my birthday but in the grand scheme of things that's probably okay as it is the last one before I turn 50 so...what was I talking about?

Right. Notes from Exile. Writerly stuff. Author life. Got it. Rift continues to do fairly well and I had plans to work on the next book in that series over the summer/possibly as the November Nano, but I haven't heard from Em and Alex in a while, so they may just get put back on their shelf in my hard drive for a bit longer. What I have fallen back in love with is Gin and Sath's story - but let's be honest, I never stopped loving them. 

I'm in the middle of the second draft of Guardians of Darkness, which is the next chapter for Gin and Sath, and while the story has plot holes you could drive a BUS through I'm enchanted all over again. So, I thought that I would start a new thing here at the Lettuce called Music Monday, while I'm shoveling mad amounts of literary tarmac into those chasms. 

The first one is a new one for me in terms of immediately making me think of the Rajah and the Nature Walker: Ride, by Lenny Kravitz. Enjoy. (Lyrics follow the embedded video.) Next Monday, a song that reminds me of everyone's favorite villain from the Nature Walker Trilogy. Let me know in the comments here or on social media if you have a favorite character from any of my work and I will look at my playlists for that character's inspiration.







Ride
Lenny Kravitz


When I look into your spirit
And the spirit never lies
There's a feeling that I can't explain
Deep inside, deep inside
Feels like I've known you forever
Since the origin of time
I've been with you in eternity
In my mind, in my mind

I have loved you since the dawn, my love
Through the storm, my love, we will ride
I have loved you since the dawn, my love
Through the storm, my love, we will ride

You and I on Earth together
Can't you see it's no surprise
I know it from the first second, babe
As I looked in your eyes
I could only dream of heaven
When I gaze into the sky
But I know I found my angel here
In this life, in this life

I have loved you since the dawn, my love
Through the storm, my love, we will ride
I have loved you since the dawn, my love
Through the storm, my love, we will ride
I have loved you since the dawn, my love
Through the storm, my love, we will ride
I have loved you since the dawn, my love
Through the storm, my love, we will ride

We will ride
ride, ride, ride, ride, ride

I have loved you since the dawn, my love
Through the storm, my love, we will ride
I have loved you since the dawn, my love
Through the storm, my love, we will ride

Music Monday: Lex