Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Book Review: Ways of Being

 If you're interested in solarpunk, you might be interested in reading Ways of Being Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence by James Bridle. The author just doesn't look at ways in which plants and animals exhibit intelligence, but how technology can be used to help us understand them so we can meet their needs and sustain the biodiversity we need to survive.

The book starts and ends in Greece, where the author first visits an island where the ecosystem is under threat due to a search for fossil fuels, but later visits a farm where plants purify metals from the soil. In between, we look at the different ways animals perceive the world, how plants communicate with each other and even learn in response to their environment, non-neural computers, the importance of randomness, and inter-species communication. All of this is to remind us that we are connected to the rest of the planet and that there are other ways of knowing besides ours. The last chapter in the book is called "The Internet of Animals," where Bridle discusses how by tracking animals, we gain a better understanding of their needs and how they travel. For example, by pinpointing the exact spots where wildlife cross highways during migration, we can build wildlife bridges that prevent collisions. 

Some parts of the book are easier to follow than others. For me, I found the chapter on non-binary machines the most difficult to digest. Other readers may balk at acknowledging the legal rights of animals and rivers, even though there is legal precedent. But if you want a book quote that encapsulates the ideals of solarpunk, I suggest this one: "The enemy is not technology itself, but rather inequality and centralization of power and knowledge, and that the answer to these threats are education, diversity, and justice." I recommend checking it out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Book Clubs

I don't think I've mentioned on here that I joined a local book club last fall. We had our first meeting in November, when we discussed The One. We'll be meeting in a couple of weeks to talk about Mad Honey, and our tentative choice for February is Kindred. While it's a good excuse to socialize with other people, this book club forces me to read genres that I normally don't consider. I admit I didn't care much for our first book, and it didn't seem like most of the other members didn't think too highly of it either. It'll be interesting to see what we discuss about our next two books and what else we read this year.

Have you been in a book club before? If so, did you enjoy the experience? Which books did you read for it? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

2023 Writing Projects

There are three main projects I'd like to complete and publish in 2023: The Season Between, a short story collection set in my Season Avatars universe after Summon the Seasons (it's meant to transition into a sequel or spinoff series, though right now it focuses more on what other issues the Season Avatars face); and the next two books in my Abigail Ritter cozy mystery series: Restaurants and Revenge and Bubble Tea and a Body. Here's a summary of where I'm at with each project.

The Season Between: I want to have at least one short story featuring each of my four Avatars. I have rough drafts for Gwen, Ysabel, and Kay, but Jenna's story has been giving me issues. I originally wanted to show her on a trip to a different country, but the story spiraled out of control, with no good way to resolve the conflict. So I've shifted the conflict back to Challen and made the problem about more than magic. Hopefully this will allow me to finish the rough draft of this story this month. I can then revise the other stories and decide if I want to add any others.

Restaurants and Revenge: This is the second book in my cozy mystery series. The first draft is complete, and it's been revised. However, I've been trying to work in a subplot that will allow me to add more touches of Filipino culture to the book, and it's hard to add something when the story is complete as it is. I think I've figured out where to add a couple of scenes; the problem is finding the time to work on this project. Revising can be harder (and take longer) than drafting.

Bubble Tea and a Body: This is the third book in the cozy mystery series. I'm about 30,000 words into the first draft. I have a sense of where I'm going with it (at least in the short term), and want to return to it when I'm done drafting Jenna's story.

Part of the reason it's taken me so long to finish these projects is because I've been distracted by writing short stories. I currently have three out for consideration, though at least two of those stories face long odds. I might work on another solarpunk story for another contest (or solarpunk magazine), but hopefully I'll finish what I'm working on before I take on too many other projects.

What are you planning to work on this year, writing or otherwise? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

IWSG: Word of the Year


 Happy 2023! May we all have a better and kinder year in the next twelve months. Since this is also the first post of the month, that means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Learn more about the IWSG on their website and Facebook

Our hosts this month are Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin

Here's our question for January (I'm just quoting the first two lines): Do you have a word of the year? Is there a word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? 

One of the suggestions that was listed with the question was FINISH. That works for me, as I still have several writing and craft projects that I'd like to finish. One of the reasons I have trouble completing         everything is that I keep picking up new projects. Perhaps I should make a list of everything I want to         finish this year to keep me focused.

    What's your word for 2023? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

My Year in Books

 Although there are still a few days left in 2022, it's time to look back at what I've read this year. I set a fairly modest (for me) reading goal: 150 books. As of Monday, 12/26/22 (which is when I'm writing this post), I've read 187 books. (The link is to my Goodreads challenge.) I'll probably add another book or two before midnight on New Year's Eve. That's well over 45,000 pages. How do I read so much? I read a lot on my phone using my Kindle and Hoopla apps, I multitask and read (within limits), and I try to prioritize reading over games, TV, or other entertainment. I'm also a quick reader; I can easily finish a cozy mystery in a day or two. When I discover a series I really like, I chain-read it as fast as I can download the books.

Below is my breakdown by genre:

Science Fiction: 7

Fantasy: 32

Mystery: 108 (many of the cozy mysteries I read have fantasy elements, but I count them as mysteries)

Other Fiction: 8

Non-Fiction: 32

Here are some of my recommended books for the year:

Asian American Histories of the United States

A Sorrow Named Joy

The Library: A Fragile History

A Spindle Splintered

Plagues Upon the Earth

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

Meet Me in Another Life

For series, I particularly enjoyed Maria Grace's Jane Austen's Dragons and Gloria Oliver's Daiyu Wu Mysteries.

For 2023, I'll probably set a reading goal of 175 books. I'll continue to challenge myself to read at least one Diversity Book (written by someone of a different race, religion, or sexual orientation from me) each month. I recently joined a local book club, which is already challenging me to read books outside my usual genres. Hopefully I can also knock a few more books off my to-read lists.

What books did you read in 2022 that you would recommend? Feel free to list them in the comments.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Holiday Trees

 One of our family holiday traditions is seeing the decorated Christmas trees at the Museum of Science and Industry. If you're not familiar with them, each tree is decorated with motifs from a different country. (MSI also has displays honoring other holidays.) We went on Sunday, and my husband gave me permission to share some of his pictures of ornaments. (He's running a contest on his personal Facebook page to see who can correctly identify the most countries pictured here, so I'm not going to identify them in this post. (If I remember, I'll come back later to comment.)

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I hope you have a good one! I'll be back next week to summarize my reading for 2022.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Sale on Smashwords!

 Draft2Digital acquired Smashwords earlier this year, but they just recently made it possible for their authors to distribute their books to that site. If you're familiar with Smashwords, you may know that they also hold sales twice a year around the solstices. From tomorrow (December 15th) through January 1, 2023, my books will be available for free on Smashwords. (Please note that ebooks are available on Smashwords only in the EPUB format.) You can find a list of my titles on Smashwords through my author page. Enjoy!

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