Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Writing vs. Quarantine

Wow, what a curve ball Mother Nature has sent our way recently!

When this current situation started in the U.S. - Hubbie now working from home every day of the week, kids with pretty much two weeks of spring break instead of just one before diving into virtual learning (um, homeschooling), and me without a moment to myself any longer - I'd thought it would be a grand idea to do a funny diary-like post about the whole situation. As I've learned so often in life, things never turn out how I planned.

As each day passed, my notes quickly turned into not funny at all. And then I had to start homeschooling. Let me tell you, for a person that completely sucks at multi-tasking, my anxiety is beyond high simply from trying to teach Youngest (who doesn't want to listen to me) and field questions from Eldest (while Youngest yatters in my ear to go on with her school work so she can continue to not pay attention or believe a word I say).

This has seriously been rough on me the last nearly four weeks. So rough that I can't get any writing done due to a combination of time, energy, and anxiety.

And yes, I understand and sympathize with others out there who also have it rough (or rougher). I'm not pulling out a measuring stick, trying to compare who has it worse. It's bad for everyone, even if it's a different kind of bad for everyone (even for those people who are simply bored - I mean, I can't grasp the concept of ever being bored with my endless list of interests, but I do understand they are suffering in their own way as well).

So please let's not come into the comments with anything like, "You have it easy - it's so much worse for me!" I've quite had enough of people belittling other people's feelings and reactions to this whole situation.

For me, it simply boils down to, my anxiety is high, so high that I've been on the verge of an anxiety attack several times. And while many of the things causing me anxiety may not affect others the same, that's how those things affect me. Everyone is different, everyone reacts differently, each person has different levels of what they can take, so let's just all get along and sympathize with everyone else - this whole thing sucks all around. Period.

OK, off my soapbox. I guess mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed has been getting to me. Too much jabbing on all topics.

Which is why, pretty much after this post, I'm taking a big social media break. This will include blog posts. Hell, it was hard enough convincing myself I needed to write this one. I'm hoping to be back at it all come June.

And yes, as I mentioned already, I've been unable to write. Revisions of Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) are on hold, likely until June as well. I'm hoping in summer, even though the kids will still be home, there will be a lot less pressure due to no longer having to homeschool, and then I can banish them outside for a couple hours (or be nice and let them play video games every afternoon).

Until then, I'm not putting any pressure on myself to write a single word... well, aside from this post. I may start a new Fractured Fairies story just to blow off some steam if my anxiety levels decrease and allow me to have a bit more energy. I've been intending to have Grinka deal with a computer virus - maybe she'll be confronted with a real virus as well, who knows. Those stories have always been my way to vent about annoying situations or just plain have fun. Can you imagine Grinka quarantined with the fairies? Oh, boy.

I'm at least happy to declare my drive to write and conjure up new ideas hasn't been dampened. Stuff is just getting in the way of my ability to execute. =P And I have to accept that once in a while, it's time to put the original plan on pause and go back to it later.

None of us should be too hard on ourselves right now!

I've babbled enough. And since I did spend the time writing down some of the events once we started pretty much quarantining ourselves, aside from grabbing food and taking occasional walks, I'll leave you with a few here. Not the depressing ones. The ones that still give me a bit of a chuckle. I hope they give you a chuckle, too.

Diary of a Quarantined Writer Mom

Day 1 – Bickering broke out at breakfast. Kids had exhausted me by lunch. And then I gave up and played video games until dinner.

Day 2 – Drama over organizing a drawer – Eldest claimed it would take hours to straighten. It took 10 minutes. Pre-order for the Deluxe Edition of Final Fantasy VII Remake delayed – the horror!

Day 4 – Ostara (Spring Equinox)! Woke up with a headache and a beyond hyper Youngest. Where does she get all this energy? Amazon messed up categories for Mind Behind the Mind big time. Medical Romance? Um, no. Planted sunflower seeds, but too tired to dye eggs.

Day 5 – Anxiety climbing. Really need a schedule... if the kids would let me make one between all the other stuff I need to get done. Finally dyed some eggs – glad the kids had fun.

Day 6 – Played a hell of a lot of FFX and let the kids play video games, too.

Day 8 – Schedule for today – let’s see how it goes. It seems Minecraft pacifies the young rabble-rousers. For the most part. Still some drama while I was trying to revise.

Day 9 – Went for our usual walk, and clearly people aren’t taking this social distancing seriously. Another kid tried to give Youngest a shell, and after we backed away and said no thank you, the kid’s caregiver tried to insist it was "just a shell". No, means no. Move along. Do I need to carry a sign that says, "Observing Social Distancing"?

Day 10 – Woke up in an "I don’t care" mood. What do you think that means? More video games!

Day 11 – Eldest’s birthday. Unfortunately, our local baker couldn’t make the cake we ordered. So... Funfetti cupcakes instead! With blue frosting, of course.

Day 12-13 – Lots of video games!

Day 14 – How long does it take to plan three daily schedules and a single day’s lesson plan? All damned day.

Day 15 - First day of homeschooling. How long does it take for the schedules and lesson plan to unravel? Minutes. Oh, and drama over art/drawing? The one task I thought would be easy!

Day 16 – I can’t do this for five plus weeks. Argh! My brain is constantly being interrupted by the kids, notifications from teachers, and the million things I need to do speeding through my mind. My lack of multi-tasking skills are showing through. Writing time? What writing time?

Day 17 and Beyond – Gave up tracking the days. Everything’s blending into one big blob, a blob that I turn into every afternoon as I scroll through Facebook on the couch in utter exhaustion.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Mini Mind Splat #9: Invisibility

MINI MIND SPLAT WARNING: Nothing I comment on is meant to offend. It's simply my opinion and how I feel about certain things (mostly inconsequential things). I'd love to see thoughts from others in the comments. Just remember, have fun with it. This isn't meant to be super serious.

You can't see me!
I know, I said no more Mini Mind Splats for a while, but since I said that I've gone down to blogging whenever I feel like it, and right now I feel like venting/splatting a bit. ;) So let's get on with it!

Hello, my name is Alexa Grave, and my superpower is invisibility. No, not like Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. Hell, if I had a power like that, I'd actually be more visible, if you know what I mean.

Here, I'll use an example. A ton of books are published each day, which of course makes it insanely hard to get enough people to notice your book when you publish it. So you have to jump through hoops - do promos and post ads (this can be akin to flushing money down the toilet, and in my opinion a form of gambling, but that's probably a whole different Mini Mind Splat post). You also hit the social media and try to encourage your friends and family to help a little (it kind of sucks when you have a family that doesn't give a rat's patoot about your writing... again, a topic for another post).

You do all of that, and then... crickets. Yes, you do it the right way like how all the successful writers are recommending, and still crickets. It's like you completely just shouted into the void and wasted your time and money for zero results.

Now I know this isn't the best example because trying to get your books noticed is so damned hard, and many many writers are stuck in this situation. It was just the easiest one for me to talk about.

The thing is, this happens to me all the time. With writing, yes, but other things in life as well. I have good ideas that I want to execute, that I know are good ideas and others have done such things, and then I propose the idea and get maybe one person saying it's a great idea, but said person doesn't then participate in it nor does anyone else (friends and acquaintances alike). Half the time I feel like I've just being paid minimal lip-service, and then I'm instantly forgotten in the next breath.

Speaking of forgotten, that's also happened to me in certain instances. Or people constantly spelling things associated with me wrong, like my name and book titles.

It's like I have an aura of foregetability surrounding me, if not invisibility. Do I smell? Do I scare people? Does everyone secretly hate me but aren't willing to tell me to my face? (Honestly, I'm also usually the one that has to initiate plans with my friends.) All these thoughts fly through my brain when it just seems like I can't get myself to be heard, let alone seen.

OK, now I'm getting a little whiny. Sorry about that - not my intention.

I often hear the advice that you should take a close look at your talents and use those talents to help you in life. What do I do with this invisibility talent? I mean, it would be great if I were a spy, but I'm a writer. How do I leverage invisibility when it comes to writing? The whole point of publication is to get noticed so people read your books! Maybe I just should have been a spy. :p

Honestly, though, if anyone has any suggestions on how to utilize this superpower of mine, I'm all ears.

Though I'm guessing maybe one person will read this blog post the whole way through because even though I've been blogging for years, I've never been able to gain a decent following.

And I'm starting to get whiny again. Time to wrap it up!

What's your superpower?

Thursday, February 06, 2020

The Mandalorian, Season 1 - Baby Yoda!

***WARNING: There might be spoilers ahead! So, if you still haven't watched Season 1 of The Mandalorian in its entirety, you may want to wait to read this post. Unless of course you like spoilers (my husband comes to mind - lol). In which case, just keep reading.***

Yes, yes, I know it's The Child and not Baby Yoda, but I'm still going to call that cute, adorable bundle of joy Baby Yoda, so just accept it and move on.

I also know at this point The Mandalorian has been out for a while, but hopefully that means those with Disney+ have already had the chance to watch it. If you've been intending to watch it and haven't, I highly recommend you stop waiting and just do it already!

The opinion I'm about to state may cause some opposition. Keep in mind, though I enjoy Star Wars, I'm by and far more heavily a Star Trek fan. So, I'm not an all Star Wars, all the time, fan girl. The original trilogy is fun, even if a bit dated, and I did go see all the re-releases of those in the theaters when I was in high school (great, now I feel horribly old - lol). But I've never seen all of Episode III, only bits and pieces (Episodes I and II kind of soured me on that trilogy arc). Plus I didn't run out to theaters to see Episode IX, either, though we had done so for Episodes VII and VIII. I'll see it eventually. I mean, we do have Disney+.

I know, blasphemous. I'm not a diehard Star Wars fan. Though I am looking forward to exploring Galaxy's Edge at Disney World later this year. It seems wonderfully immersive!

And that's honestly how I felt about The Mandalorian. It immersed me in the Star Wars world. Here's the opinion that some may not agree with: I feel The Mandalorian is currently the best Star Wars that has appeared on the screen (not bringing books into this - never read any). I also haven't watched any of the animated series, so I'll keep that statement to live action for now.

Yes, better than the original trilogy. And now all those super Star Wars fans are going to throw rotten tomatoes at me... or whatever rotten fruit is part of the Star Wars universe.

At least hear me out, for a bit, whether you happen to agree, but especially if you disagree.

Now, I know a lot of people complained that The Mandalorian started out too slowly. I honestly disagree with that opinion. Since this is a TV series, there was ample time to build Mando's character and to show us the state of the universe when the series takes place. This has led to a very well-rounded main character. That first episode was the beginning. Movies have to move a lot quicker with their beginnings because they have less time to squeeze everything in.

In that first episode, we see his life as a bounty hunter, we see how what's left of Mandalorian society works. And then right at the end, we get the big hook. And what a hook it was! I applaud Disney for successfully keeping that one under wraps. Amazing.

I don't want this post getting too long, so I'll briefly list a few other things I enjoyed about the series.

Touching on Mando's character again, I loved seeing the other side of the hardened bounty hunter. The Child was a foundling, just like he was, and that connection drove him to save the poor, innocent thing. I'm just amazed at how well his character was built in this first season, and most of it without seeing his facial expressions - that can be a tall order!

Using animatronics was also a great decision. That Baby Yoda puppet still has so much expression and reveals so much with its actions. It reminds me of Gizmo from Gremlins, who was also darn adorable. I think it would have lost something if Baby Yoda was simply all CGI.

Cara Dune rocks! I need more of her. Casting was spot on, too.

The Armorer = the bomb. My husband was like, oh she's going to die now, when the stormtroopers attacked her. I was nervous she would because that's the typical expected outcome of such a scene (many movies and TV shows can be horribly predictable with lots of cliches and stereotypes). Instead, she kicked their asses! Which not only shows that even female Mandalorians are super fierce, but it left things open to have her show up in future episodes. I'm super stoked about that possibility.

Finally, I loved the humor that was peppered throughout the season. Though we have a serious and dramatic story going on, there were moments that weren't afraid to lighten that heavy load. And moments that weren't afraid to poke fun at some of the ongoing Star Wars jokes, like how stormtroopers can't aim or the Jar Jar Binks callback.

I offer the heartiest round of applause to Jon Favreau for creating this series (who, by the way, plays one of the Mandalorians, too) - his vision was clearly strong and was executed well. I can't wait for Season 2 of this amazing and well-crafted story.

OK, now all those who disagree with me are welcome to tear me to shreds. I can take it. I mean, I know my opinion is only one, and you know what they say about opinions...