30 March 2020

Notes from Exile, Beginning of Week Three

She gets it - look at that face.
Well, it's week three.

Today, so far, I have been frustrated with work in the DayJob™ to the point that I posted about it on social media, and then got the whole thing wrong. Y'all, the imposter syndrome is STRONG today in that world. Strong.

As far as the Writer Life goes...well, I need to find motivation there too. Scorch released a week ago on Friday and for those who have it and have or are reading it, THANK YOU. That project meant a great deal to me, as it was my real foray into worldbuilding. The Nature Walker Trilogy was taking a story idea and shoehorning it into a world, but I got to step back with the Forest War and really look at that world. Ignite and Scorch are tied for second place in terms of my favorites in the Orana Chronicles. Wanderer is still my favorite because I love how innocent Gin is and how the whole story is still ahead of her, waiting for her to find Sath and get on with saving the world, already.

Another Nano event starts Wednesday. I'm planning to work on a reboot of a story that I have tried to write several times and have come up frustrated and empty. Kinda like the look on my Willow-Pickle's face there. I know the overarching story, but I have no idea how to get from A to B. I can only hope that my MCs have a bit more insight to share than they have in the past.

Other than all of that, I'm just hanging out here, working from my sofa while I await the arrival of my desk and desk chair. Sounds glam, huh? I will be the first to admit that I have been jealous of my friends that do their job from home - but when I said I wanted to do the same I meant as a writer. This DayJob™ stuff from home is too hard.  TOO HARD. But I will get through it and on with it, and make my soup for lunch and listen to the Femmes and deal.

We aren't really quarantined exactly because Hubs is still going to work every day and I have left the house on Sundays to go grocery shopping. That's been a surreal experience - there was a 15-minute queue to get into one shop yesterday because they are limiting how many people are in the store at a time.  It's the new normal - but for how long? This is all so weird.

Maybe by the next time I sit down to pen type "Notes from Exile," I will have more coherent thoughts to share or at least a positive Camp Nano update. Meanwhile, keep safe and healthy, y'all. We're all in this together.

24 March 2020

Notes from Exile, Week Two, Day Two

As seen on Facebook...surprisingly appropriate.
First off, I'm going to admit that it took me far longer to remember what day it is than it should have. I know that it is Tuesday - but which Tuesday? HOW MANY TUESDAYS HAVE THERE BEEN?

I'm okay now.

Today I wanted to write about something that happened to me in a store over the weekend. Because we are NOT HOARDING, Simon and I have been making our grocery runs as usual, on Sunday mornings when people that are far better than we are in church. Judge if you like, this is not a post about my church attendance or lack thereof.

Anyway, we hit Costco, Trader Joe's, and then maybe Publix before we nip out for a quick brunch. Then he works a bit in the yard, I faff about on the couch pretending to be a writer, and then he rings his parents on WhatsApp.

Quickly - y'all. If he and I were living in these technological times when we met I am not entirely certain how the trajectory of our relationship would have gone. Replace choppy AIM conversations with WhatsApp video chat? COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BALLGAME.

Okay, back to my point - also, this is pretty much how my working from home is going, the metaphorical SQUIRREL is all up in here and I CAN'T NOT FOLLOW IT.

We were doing our shopping on Sunday, right? Arrived at Costco early, about 9:30, and they normally don't open until 10am. There was already a queue of people out front, keeping a safe distance from each other which made it look longer than it was, waiting to walk up and receive a freshly sanitized trolley as they entered the warehouse. The Costco staff were even staggering how many people went in, I suppose, against how many people were coming out. It was surreal in there - quiet, not crowded, and no chicken, hand sanitizer, or toilet paper to be found.

There was a whiteboard out front, actually, that had a list of what they did not have in stock.

We moved on to Trader Joe's, talking amongst ourselves about how well our fellow community members seemed to be taking all the changes in stride. We made the odd comrade joke. When we arrived, Trader Joe's was doing something similar but without the Disney World Esque queue laid out with orange tape and pallets. So well done, we clucked as we entered the store. People keeping distance, smiling, everything was great - until I had to get some tempeh.

A young lady had stopped her trolley in front of ALL THE VEGAN/VEGETARIAN THINGS IN THE COLD CASE and was texting someone through her nitrile gloves. I stood, I waited, I socially distanced, until she still did not move. I leaned over her trolley (mind you, she was at the other end of the trolley and engrossed in her phone) to grab one package of tempeh. One.

That got her attention away from her phone and she jumped backward, pulling the trolley with her, and glared at me as though I had just sneezed the coronavirus into her eyes. I apologized and made a comment about it being hard these days, trying to stay six feet apart chuckle.

She sighed VERY LOUDLY and returned to texting. I saw her in the store several times after that and she made a point of going way around me. In my mind, I was all Listen honey, I have allergies, okay? I can't help the fact that it got warm for ten minutes and every plant in the county turned YELLOW but I just smiled and kept going. I hope that her gloves kept her safe from sniffling strangers like me who made a point to NOT SNEEZE, SNIFFLE, OR EVEN CLEAR MY THROAT until I was in my car.

At least I was able to order our brunch on the way home and pick it up - Atlanta Bread Company deserves some love, y'all.

So all that to say, keep in mind what is important here. Self-isolate. Shelter in place means at your place, not someone else's. No, you can't go to a movie or the park downtown. One step in front of the other, boots then corset. It will all be fine. The sooner we all head to the Winchester* for a pint, doors locked behind us, the sooner this will all blow over.

Unless they've closed the Winchester.

*Yes, I am aware that I just told you to stay home and then suggested going to a pub. What you would need to have known to get the joke is... Well, while you're home, find Shaun of the Dead streaming somewhere and watch it. See? Funny.

23 March 2020

Notes from Exile, Beginning of Week Two

Back when I was still at the DayJob every day...
So, the last time I updated, we had just heard that everything at the DayJob was going online for employees as of 16 March and students as of 23 March, when they returned from their spring break. Initially, it would be for a week, maybe two, with an evaluation on 1 April to see how much longer we needed to self-isolate.

Turns out, the isolation was going to be much longer than that. The classes are online for the rest of the semester. All events (sporting and otherwise) are canceled, including but not limited to graduation.

All the St. Patrick's Day parades canceled - even the ones in Ireland! Two festivals canceled outright - the Hounds were supposed to appear and now aren't. One of them was rescheduled for September. The Georgia Renaissance Festival has postponed opening weekend for two weeks. Still, with cancellations happening in May and early June (including the Scottish Games here in Greenville!), I wouldn't be surprised if they canceled the rest of the faire.

So, here in exile (with my sword, I'll have you know!), I've been working from home and watching the numbers on my latest release, SCORCH. It's the second and final in the Tales of the Forest War series - do two books make a series? A duet? A couple? I digress.  I'm working through the final edits/cover design for the first in my new LitRPG series, Arcstone, due out in May. I'm still hoping that I will be appearing at ConCarolinas at the end of May, but that remains to be seen in the wake of all the cancelations.

What have you been up to, my Lettuce Readers? How is your exile going? Are you staying at home? Are you preventing the spread of this awful virus? If I think that I am missing out on going to dinner with friends or seeing movies, I just look at the latest numbers of people infected, and suddenly it isn't such a sacrifice. I will admit that my anxiety is a little high because I don't deal well with change, but I have enough to keep me occupied.

We are a few weeks out from the next writing event: Camp Nanowrimo begins in April. Once again, I'm going to tackle my Baskervilles project and hopefully make it through with something I can revise and improve upon for later. May should be full of revising whatever comes out of April. I'm also beta reading two manuscripts for other writers, so as I said, loads to keep me occupied.

Check-in! Let me know how you are coping during this unprecedented time in our world. Keep me honest - feel free to contact me through my website or this blog and ask me how the nano is going if I haven't been updating. The only way we will make it through exile/quarantine/self-isolation/social distancing is together.

Separate but Together. What was it I said in the last post about the introvert's time to shine?

13 March 2020

The Introvert's Time to Shine

What Ignite and Scorch
look like on the inside...
This week is just too full of awful news - let's look at some fun stuff to do during this time of uncertainty and possible quarantine/isolation.

I could start with the obvious - read some good books! But that would quickly lead to, "Hey, have you read my books?" and that isn't what I want this newsletter to be. If you are curious about them, though, click HERE.

As I said in the title, this is the introvert's time. I've been joking that I have been training for this my entire life, but that's only partly true. We do all need each other - this pandemic is just forcing us to think about different ways to be there for and support each other, I think.

Introverts unite - separately, and from the safety of our own homes!

So, as promised, good things to do during a bad time:

1. You may be self-isolating and confined to home, but you are not necessarily confined to the inside of your home. Sunny outside? Take your book/tablet/laptop outside. You will get fresh air and sunshine, both of which are good for you. (I am well aware of the hypocrisy in this statement, since lately I have been LIVING on my sofa.)

2. Board games! Puzzles! Unplug and have some analog based fun with your fellow self-isolating inmates. Now, if you are sick with COVID-19, this might not be a good idea since these types of games require using your hands, but if you are simply being a RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN OF THE EARTH and isolating to control the spread, break out Cards Against Humanity and get playing! Other recommended titles include Exploding Kittens, Codenames, and just plain old Scrabble or Boggle. Extra points if you are playing the Klingon version of either of those two games.

3. Write! This isn't just for writers anymore, y'all. Scared of the spread of COVID-19? Tired of people either panicking and running away OR telling you to calm the huppledepup down already when you try to talk about it? Journal that business. Open a word document - you should be working from home anyway, right? Grab a notebook and a pen. This may never see the light of day, but getting those thoughts out will help you stop some of your obsessing - tin foil hat not required. It could be interesting to go back and read this after the danger has passed to see what you can do differently to prepare for the next thing that comes along.

Whatever you do, please think seriously about avoiding large gatherings until the spread has slowed. This virus is no joke, and even if you are healthy and not worried you could pass something on to someone that isn't as lucky as you. We will all get through this.

So, you say you need a book to read?

03 March 2020


Just a reminder that for less than the cost of a coffee you can have your own Kindle copy of SCORCH on launch day to finish up the Tales of the Forest War. Click on the cover to pre-order yours! Launch day for the Kindle and paperback editions is 20 March 2020!

Well...It's been a MINUTE.

Litchfield Beach, SC
I'm doing better with at least thinking about updating this blog, y'all, I swear.

So this past weekend I had a marvelous time hanging with my tribe - the South Carolina Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf crowd. Our annual conference was on Pawley's Island this year and even though I didn't make it to the beach (other than to snap that photo right quick from the boardwalk on Sunday before we drove home), I still came away feeling refreshed, renewed, ready...and REALLY TIRED.

Like down in my bones I cannot keep my eyes open one more second if you ask me to stand up I will crumple kind of tired. I am still that tired today, two days later.

This kind of gathering is good for my soul because I live in a family where no one but me signs. I work in an office where no one but me signs (because our other interpreter here is a contract/part-time type of employee and I never see her outside of the classes we team). I basically live in a world where the majority of people I know and call friends and family-of-choice have only a marginal understanding of my career and if they know any signs, it's basic communication.

Now, this is the point at which I apologize for omitting the disclaimer that I am not a CODA nor any other kind of native user of American Sign Language, but the fact that my first exposure to visual language came around the age of 10-11, I claim it as my second language. I think and dream in ASL more than English, even now. I'm constantly thinking about how something I see on telly or hear on the radio would be interpreted. It is part of me, even if I don't have native fluency.

That is why those people that I was with over the weekend are precious to me. I may know them so well that I call them friends or fam. I may have just met them THIS weekend. It doesn't matter - when you find your tribe and you share this language, this culture - this interpreter brain, whether Deaf or hearing - you're home. My hands and eyes are aching from all the extra work that they were doing over this weekend. But I wouldn't have traded a second of it - well, okay, the weird mushroom stalk I discovered in my pasta at tea on Friday night could go, for sure - for anything.

They get me, y'all, in a way that no one that isn't an interpreter can. I love my husband more than I can express. I love all of my greyhound and wolfhound friends, my Rennie fam, my Glisson fam, My Girls that I see almost every week...but this is different. I've said for years that I want to do some kind of scholarly research into sign language interpreters as a third culture, not just a Venn diagram crossover of the sets called Deaf and hearing.

Maybe it's time to look for a master's program. Maybe.

But for sure, I need to have more of my tribe in my life, and not just once or twice a year at the conference - so that it won't be quite so many minutes between feeling this heard/seen/understood.

Upcoming Appearances, 2023

At 742 North, Rock Hill, Fall 2022 So I sat down the other day and looked at my travel calendar for this year. Whew! There is a lot coming u...