I really wish it weren’t. I cut my biological sire out of my life when I turned 26. That’s 5 years this August and yet certain days haven’t gotten easier for me. His birthday. Today. Any day that reminds me: I have no mortal father.
The kind of insidious thing about abuse is the grooming for it can make it almost impossible to escape, even after you’ve escaped. My brain keeps bringing up the script that I’m a Bad Daughter for not calling him on his birthday, or today, for not welcoming him back into my life, because that’s what he groomed me with my whole life. It’s hard to turn off scripts that have been running in my brain since I was young. It’s bad code and I’m still a first year programming student.
Anyway. I don’t really want to write about him today. I wanted to say that Father’s Day is still hard for me, both because of him and now because I was hoping by this point I’d be wishing a happy Father’s Day to my husband. I really want to reclaim this day and make it positive. I keep trying, but so far no success.
So, I figured I’d post here, and offer a space for anyone else who is having a hard time with Father’s Day, for whatever reason. If Father’s Day is hard for you, pull up a chair and snuggle in in the comments section.
Talk about whatever you want to — about the day, not about the day. I promise I’ll listen, and I will do my hardest to reply, even if it’s only with a <3 because I’m sending you love.
Today may be hard, but hard things are usually easier when they’re shared.
This is something I’ve noticed lately in my time spent in various author places online. There is an almost pathological fear of long books.
I see post after post from people worrying about their word count, that their book is “too long.” I see post after post of people saying “Keep your book short because all long books are unedited pieces of crap and you don’t want to bore your reader!” (Paraphrased.) Many of these posts I see are referring to books in my genre — SFF.
The word counts I’m seeing this about? 150K. 130K. 100K.
*looks at 250K first novel that was extensively edited and also pretty well-received*
It’s really weird to claim that all long books are “unedited”. It’s like there’s this assumption that you can’t POSSIBLY need that many words to tell a story; that if it’s that long, it means you couldn’t cut what was unnecessary.
Sure, there ARE longer works that haven’t been cut down as much as they should have (though to be honest, this usually happens a bit into a trad-pubbed series, when no one dares tell a popular author “No” anymore — see: George Lucas & the prequels). I’m not saying that it never happens; I just think it’s weird to assume it’s ALL that ever happens.
ok, so, long and short of it — i’ve been up all night and i can’t see straight at this point. yesterday i got informed we have another flood. for those of you keeping score at home, this is flood number 3 in our time here. the first was the weekend before our wedding, the second was last november (so only a few months ago), and the third was yesterday.
the good news is this flood seems to be the least severe of the three, so they’re getting better? i guess?
regardless it meant i spent yesterday dealing with flood stuff instead of WORKING AS I WAS SUPPOSED TO so i have now been up all night getting work done that needed to be done for today.
anyway i’m too tired to deal with proper capitalization right now. or maybe ever. also, if you see any extra t’s in my post it’s because that key is coming up on my keyboard and i have to periodically SQUISH ITS TINY HEAD.
so sunday was my very first author takeover! how exciting is that! if you missed it, that’s ok, i’m sure to do another one at some point. and if you really wanted in on the giveaways, no worries, i’ll do more of those too. (hey, if you really want to know about future book giveaways, become a member of Loony Nation! so important i capitalized it.)
anyway the takeover was a lot of fun and i had a lot of engagement on my posts, so that was very nice. made me feel like i was not completely failing at it, which my brain convinced me i was going to do in the lead up to it. because my brain hates me and wants me to suffer.
but it was a good event so my brain was wrong this time and haha, i bite my thumb at it. which is a very awkward position to get into.
so because of the flood i have now taken down my xmas trees and am in the process of putting away xmas stuff, which i suppose should make me feel like i have my life together but it really doesn’t. also, we found a box of books we didn’t know we owned and for a while i was very confused as to if they were even ours. it was a weird fucking combo of fantasy books (most of which were likely Mr Katje’s) and stuff like The Poisonwood Bible or a book on companion planting or stuff from Oprah’s book club. also The Hunger Games, and Fifty Shades 1 and 2.
i mean those last 2 also make sense because of my fifty shades of drinking video log that is on indefinite hiatus because of computer issues, mea culpa mea culpa, except that those copies were clean and not filled with notes in the marigins to the tune of FUCKING KILL ME ALREADY THIS BOOK IS CANCER, as does the hunger games because i actually like that series, but with the rest of the stuff thrown in it was such a fucking weird mess i was very doubtful they were ours, but MORE doubtful they belonged to the landlords.
when mr katje got home we figured it out; it was a box of stuff from his room that his mom had added a bunch of books she wanted to get rid of to. at least we think that’s the case. so now i have a stack of random books on our freezer that i need to find a place to put away. could be worse!
book writing and stuff
ok so one thing i really wanna say before my eyes completely crap out on me and i need to stumble into bed to put my monstrous machine over my face so i can not die in my sleep is that i am finally getting back to writing. it’s been like, a year and a half, and in that time i have not felt excited about my writing at all.
but i’m finally excited again! i’ve been doing a lot of worldbuilding writing and plotting out of from the ashes, which is the sequel to stranger skies and book 2 in the borderlands saga overall. i am so excited to get back into this story, so thrilled to work on this series again. and that’s an amazing feeling when you’ve been spending a year and a half feeling like you’ll never be able to write again. i’ve even plotted out the book after from the ashes as well! (currently titled the moonrunner. except capitalized. don’t judge my laziness right now. writing is hard.)
i have some specific goals with this series which i’m not going to get into here/now, because it’s too soon, and anyway, newsletter subscribers hear it first. but i am going to be sharing my writing progress updates publically on facebook and google plus, so if you’re on those social media networks and you want to read about my getting words on the page, you should follow me! you should also subscribe to my newsletter, hint hint. i promise i won’t zerg rush your inbox.
i will also be posting writing update compilations here, ie, grabbing a week’s worth of fb/g+ posts and putting them in one post here, because some of the posts might be super small and i don’t want to make several small blog posts.
but yes, i’m going to be starting real work on From the Ashes again really soon and I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT YIPPEEEE.
ok 2 more updates and then bed
—BELLICA IS FREE ON KINDLE. this took me like a year of work and one or two ritual sacrifices but it finally happened and kindle price-matched bellica to free. huzzah! so if you have friends who haven’t picked it up yet, or if you haven’t for some weird reason, go forth and download from the mighty Zon. (it’s also now available through Pronoun, which pushes books to big distributors a bit like Smashwords except i kind of like it more. sorry smashwords. i will still use you for the other distributors that pronoun doesn’t cover though!)
–expect to see a few posts go up here in the near future that were originally published on my medium account. i’m still going to be publishing stuff to medium, just also publishing it here when i do, and i hadn’t yet done that with the posts that are currently up.
I am writing this from the past, because I know myself well enough to know I would never be able to write this and post it on time for when I want to post it (11:59pm, December 31st 2014). That, or I’m trapped in the past and this is the only way I can communicate with you. Help! Rescue me! GET IN THE DELOREAN AND SAVE ME BEFORE I FADE AWAY
Anyway. My best wishes are going out to all of you for an awesome New Year’s, with partying that suits your personal levels of introversion/extroversion and midnight expressions of affection you are comfortable with. If 2014 was good, I hope 2015 is even better. If 2014 sucked donkey genitalia, then join me in wrestling 2015 to the ground and making it our minion.
2014 was a mixed bag for me. On the upside, I finally moved in with Mr. Katje, and he’s pretty great to live with. On the downside, I broke my femur, requiring long months of doing absolutely nothing followed by more months of not being fully recovered yet — see above note about donkey genitalia.
On the upside, I started a new business in selling Barefoot Books, which I’m enjoying and I am really excited about. (You can read about my exploits on my business blog.) On the downside, I’m fucking exhausted: starting a new business is a LOT of work and I have, yet again, overestimated my capabilities. (As downsides go, though, this one isn’t huge. I’m just whining.)
On the upside, I wrote almost 120,000 words this year. On the downsides, I didn’t make my goal of 150,000 and over half of what I did write was on blogging because I allowed myself to count blogging words for word count. That skewed my writing heavily in a way I did not like.
I also had a bit of a breakdown in November with regards to my writing. The stress of releasing The Jade Star of Athering was so great it broke something in me, and I was pretty close to calling it quits with this whole writing thing.
I’m glad I didn’t. I decided to take a step back, give myself a hiatus, and take it easy on myself. I’m feeling better now, and I hope that very soon I’ll be back in the saddle. However, what this means is that I won’t be releasing any books in 2015. If I try, I might have another stress-related breakdown and then all bets are off. I’m sorry, I know how much it sucks to wait a long time for the next book in a series. I really do. (10 years.)
On the bright side, it should only be about 13 months before my next release. I hope to get the next book in The Third Age out in February 2016. That’s assuming everything goes to plan, so cross your fingers!
Blog changes in 2015
You might have noticed the changes to this blog already. New theme, new name. Mind you, I came up with “Quillscratches” when I was loopy from lack of sleep so no telling how long it’ll stick around.
What is sticking is the change to what’s being posted here. I’m not going to quit posting about mental illness, smashing the kyriarchy, or the weird things that happen in my life — not completely. I’m just shifting focus.
Starting next week, on Wednesday, I will be posting bits of backstory, character profiles or interviews, and other bits and bobs from my writing that doesn’t make it into the final books. I’ll be posting every Wednesday, all year.
Other posts might come up outside of Wednesdays — maybe snippets of my personal life or those rants I love to get into — but they won’t be a focus, and will only show up as and when I’m inspired to write them…which is basically how my posts here have been done for a while, anyway. I want to change that.
(If, by the end of the year, I’ve kept to the once-a-week schedule, I may consider upping it to twice a week because I, too, like to live dangerously.)
And, despite the subtitle of this blog, these bits and bobs will not be solely Athering-related. Any world I write in is fair game.
If you have questions for me you’d like me to answer with one of my weekly blog posts, please send them to me at this email address: katjevanloon AT gmail DOT com. Put “Blog questions” or something similar in the subject line so I know what it’s about.
Fifty Shades of Drinking
This has been on hiatus for an unduly long time, and I am sorry. I was going to get back to it in October, but a bunch of events sort of took over my autumn and then I was planning on doing one as a surprise Christmas present to y’all but then I slept a lot and then Christmas was over and then I slept a lot again and now it’s basically the end of the year, so.
It is coming back. I’m not going to give an exact date, because I won’t keep to it, but expect a new episode in January. Hopefully before the last day of the month. Honestly, I plan on doing this vlog series for as long as I humanly can. The broken leg just threw a wrench into a LOT of things for me…including my leg, which was wrenched when I fell. A wrenched leg wrenches plans!
I’ll stop typing ‘wrench’ now.
Anyway, it IS coming back. Sometime in January you will again get to enjoy the slow destruction of my liver, punctuated with many vicious swear words and rants against misogyny.
Welp, that’s the news. I will see you all next week.
Sending wishes to banish the morning’s hangovers!
ETA: Apparently I set this post to publish at 11:59 AM, not PM, so. Uh. Not the new year for me yet. But maybe for you! HAPPY NEW YEAR ANYWAAAAAAY
Hello dear readers! I am sending you lots of warmth and love over the holidays. I hope that whatever your celebrations may be, and whatever you end up doing, they bring you much happiness.
If the holidays are a stressful time for you, please know you have my complete understanding and sympathy. You have the strength to get through this and you are not alone. <3
This time of year has not always been easy on me. It used to downright suck, honestly, and consequently I used to be a total Scrooge, without the excess piles of money or the scary ghosts. I’ve been very blessed that in the past few years it has gotten better, to the point where I actually get excited for Christmas again and look forward to the holiday, as well as my Longest Night Vigil (where I attempt to stay up from sunset to sunrise on Solstice). Also, I really enjoy wrapping presents, and I am insanely good at it.
I spent part of my Longest Night Vigil putting up our tree (check the video to see the twinkling lights!) and tonight Mr. Katje and I are having our own, private Christmas dinner. Tomorrow we go to his parents’ place to unwrap gifts and spend the night, and then on Boxing Day we’re having the big family dinner. Between now and this evening, however, I’m going to be watching Stargate SG-1 and trying to finish the stocking I’m knitting for our nibling. I will also be refraining from hitting “refresh” a million times on the USPS tracking page that tells me where my 2015 planner is (San Diego, since the 18th).
Happy Holidays! I’ll see you all in the new year. (Or possibly the evening before.)
Content warning: emetophobia, depression, thoughts of self-harm/suicide
A week ago I had the flu. I call it the “Angry Badger Flu” because it felt like two angry badgers were fighting in my stomach and ripping up my insides and punching my gag reflex like it was a button that would give them kibble. Luckily, that portion only lasted one night, but the terrible nausea continued for a week.
Consequently I went without meds for a week. Taking pills of any sort often triggers my gag reflex and I always have to be super careful when swallowing pills to make sure they stay down. So when I’m suffering from things like the flu, I often have to stop taking any meds I’m on completely, at least for a few days. Otherwise it’s The Exorcist all over again.
Today is day 3 of being back on my anti-depressants. There’s kind of a night and day difference. It takes about 3 days for the anti-depressants to kick in, and today I am much different than I was this weekend.
This weekend I picked fights with Mr. Katje. I was surly and weepy and angry, so angry I wanted to hurt someone, preferably me. I thought a lot about killing myself, or just driving off a bridge. I had a lot of “What the fuck is the point of anything?” thoughts.
Today, I’m still stressed by the various stressors that didn’t help with my shitty mood last week, but I’m not thinking about suicide anymore. I’m not picking fights with Mr. Katje. I’m not surly, I’m not weepy. I’m even doing housework. (Is it possible to drown in laundry? I think it is. If you don’t hear from me for a few weeks, assume that’s what happened. Or that I forgot to update my blog in forever, as usual.)
I’m posting about this because I wanted to illustrate a very important fact: I am a better person when I’m on my meds. They are not a crutch, or a problem. I believe in better living through chemistry and that means finding the chemistry that works for me. My anti-depressants do a hell of a lot more for me than Vitamin D (seriously, shut up) or St. John’s Wort (though it does have a small effect, so I’ll give it two points for trying) or medical-or-otherwise marijuana (just makes me stupid and really hungry) or any of the amazing new miracle cures people are pushing these days.
Three days. That’s all it takes for me to go from “being suffocated by my own illness” to “functioning as normally as I possibly can.”
And yes, while I did survive years and years and years of having this illness without any sort of medication, so therefore it is possible for me to live without it…the key word there is survive. I did not thrive. I scratched my way through the dirt and broke a lot of nails to get here, to live enough days to get to this one.
I’m tired of breaking nails. I want a shovel. I want to see the light again in more than brief snatches. I want to thrive.
You know what else I just realized? My 4-year anniversary with Mr. Katje was 4 days ago and we have marked the occasion in no way whatsoever. I think because we forgot.
Either way, it’s clear that I am terrible with anniversaries. And so is Mr. Katje. We make a good team.
Anyway. There was a draw for ebooks. WINNER ANNOUNCING TIME
I used Random.org to pick a winner, and the winner is Shawna! Congrats! Check your inbox for an email from me.
In other news I will be volunteering at the Writers Fest all this week, as I do every year, so I don’t know how much I’ll be posting here in the next several days. I am going to be very busy. I may already be suffering from intense overwhelm. Send help in the form of tea and Nutella.
If you’re in Vancouver and you haven’t done the Writers Fest before, you totally should! There are still events that are not sold out and it’s a really cool opportunity to see authors speak and maybe even meet them or get your books signed. If you’re into literature, you’ll probably enjoy yourself.
It occurred to me that, while I often mention my injury or identify as disabled, I don’t really talk about what it’s like to live with this injury. I think people get confused, because some days they see me doing things that make it look like I’m a-ok, and the next day I can’t even get out of bed.
The fact is if you don’t have an injury like this, or chronic illness or disability, you don’t know what it’s like, and you really won’t unless something happens to make you end up in that position. Before the spinal injury I was a much different person. I was suffering from various chronic illnesses, some of which I’m not even sure of the name, but they did not take as great a toll on my health and wellbeing as the injury did. Before the spinal injury I could not have ever conceived of what life would be like right now.
But I can still try and shed some light on what it’s like. For me, at least — I don’t claim to speak for anyone else who may have a similar injury or situation, and I certainly don’t claim to speak for people who are disabled or chronically ill in ways much different than I am. I’m only speaking for myself, and I hope it helps explain things to people who don’t live this every day.
Ok. So, every day I start out with a pool of units of energy — I refer to them as spoons, and so do many other chronically ill people. (That link goes to the article that started the use of the “spoons” terminology.) I’ve personally extended the spoon metaphor to include forks (mental health energy) and knives (social energy), but as this post focuses on my physical energy I’m only going to be talking about my spoon supply and demand.
On a Perfect Day, I have about 100 spoons. Please note, perfect days never happen. I’m only including them as reference. A perfect day means I had a perfect night’s sleep (no nightmares, didn’t wake up during the night, slept in a perfect position), woke up in no pain, am full of energy, didn’t borrow against spoons for the past week, and feel only minimal pain for the rest of the day. The first two things never happen. The second two happen, but only occasionally.
More likely than a Perfect Day is a Good Day. That means I had a good night’s sleep (minimal nightmares, only woke up a few times, slept more or less in the right position that doesn’t exacerbate the pain), woke up with minimal pain, had a pretty good amount of energy, didn’t borrow against spoons for the past few days, and felt minimal to moderate pain for the rest of the day. A Good Day gives me about 80 spoons.
The days I have most are OK Days, and especially so now that I’m recovering from a broken leg (which has made my back worse, as it’s been overcompensating for the lack of left leg support). Ok night’s sleep — moderate to heavy nightmares, woke up several times, didn’t sleep in good positions — wake up in moderate pain, have minimal energy, borrowed against spoons minimally to moderately for the past few days, and felt moderate pain for the rest of the day. OK Days yield a pool of 55-75 spoons.
Bad Days are the worst, and they happen more often than Good Days. I have a shitty night’s sleep, wake up in a lot of pain, have almost no energy, borrowed against spoons heavily in recent days, and feel a lot of pain all day. Bad Days yield a max of 50 spoons, but that’s a high estimate.
What’s borrowing against spoons? That’s what I do when I’m out of today’s spoons but I must continue to use spoons. I borrow tomorrow’s and sometimes the next day’s, too. I actually borrow a lot — way more than I should. This is why I have so many OK Days and more Bad Days than Good Days. Part of the reason I find myself borrowing so much is because I’m still not mentally adjusted to being sick and tired all the time. I keep signing myself up for things I could have accomplished three years ago but can’t today.
Now. Each activity I do throughout the day takes a certain amount of spoons — a price tag, if you will. But those prices aren’t constant. On a Good Day prices are much lower than on a Bad Day. On a Good Day, loading the dishwasher and starting it might only take me 3 to 5 spoons. On a Bad Day, it might take 10. And it should be noted that, with my leg still healing, the prices have all spiked, no matter what kind of day I’m having.
So, let’s look at Monday, October 13th. Thanksgiving.
While I loathe Columbus Day and think it should be renamed into Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Bartolomé Day or something else, anything other than honoring the father of the transatlantic slave trade, I don’t actually hate Thanksgiving, for all the parallels drawn between the two.* That’s because my experience of it is pretty different from the way the Thanksgiving experience is portrayed in a lot of western media.
That school play thing where half the kids dress up as Pilgrims and the rest are Indians and there’s a giant turkey and it’s all very sappy and simple and glosses over the intricacies of the actual history, not to mention talking about “the Indians” as if we up and went away to the Undying Lands all Tolkein Elvish-style? Yeah, never had that. (The play specifically, I mean. I’ve experienced plenty of talk about Indians being “gone” or “lost to history” and will likely continue to experience that on a regular basis.)
The pat story about how the Pilgrims and the Indians survived the winter through the Power of Sharing? Was never really a Thing. I wasn’t even fully cognizant of that being part of the story until I was in my preteens. At which point, well, that seemed ridiculous.
Thanksgiving was always presented to me as more of a harvest celebration, where we’re grateful for the fact that we have food and shelter throughout the cold nights, and as a reminder that not everyone is as lucky. I don’t know if that’s just the way I was raised or if it’s more common in Canada to see Thanksgiving this way, but it’s how it was for me.
Also, once Mom and I moved to Hawai’i and began celebrating the US version of the holiday, it had the benefit of being a holiday that I was sure to have with her instead of on access with my father. (There was one Thanksgiving I spent with my father, when I got a week off school to come back to Canada in October, and brought my best friend. She’s forgiven me for that experience, thankfully.)
Finally, I fucking love turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.
So while Thanksgiving might have dubious origins, and while it may contain enough threads of colonialism or just, well, being a family holiday to taint it for many people, for me it’s a celebration of thanks, harvest, togetherness, and PUMPKIN.
PUMPKIN SPICE FOR THE PUMPKIN GOD.
*cough* Right. Where was I?
Thanksgiving! Yes! So we spent Monday evening at Mr. Katje’s sister’s place. I made a pumpkin pie and it was a huge success. It was only my second pumpkin pie; the first one didn’t have enough pumpkin spice in it and the pumpkin god was displeased. Also it was bland. But I have pictures of the first one and not the second one, so here you go:
Looks delicious, doesn’t it? Well, its brother was.
If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful one, full of all your favourite holiday foods and people.
-Katje, who is thankful for pumpkin
*Probably important to note here: I adored seeing 1492: Conquest of Paradise in theatres and I listen to the soundtrack to this day (in fact I’m listening to it now; it’s VANGELIS HE’S AMAZING). I visited Dominican Republic for the quincentennial celebration of the “discovery” by Columbus and there were huge parties. While now I acknowledge that Columbus was an ass and isn’t someone we should celebrate, that doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t know it then (I was 5 or 6 after all) and I still had an amazing time. And while I haven’t seen it in ages, I’m pretty sure I’d still enjoy the movie 1492: Conquest of Paradise even if Columbus is the protagonist. And I wouldn’t feel guilty, nor would I try to make anyone else feel guilty for enjoying that film or the music.
Just, you know, it’s possible to hold opposing thoughts in your brain at the same time without being devoured whole by them.
So last night was supposed to be this big blood moon eclipse thing, right? We didn’t see it. We tried, but by the time it was supposed to be happening we got a nice big fog cover, so. No luck.
We even went so far as to drive around looking for a better vantage point (there are a lot of trees on our street) just in case the moon was poking through the fog…of course, we didn’t realize until after we’d driven for a few klicks that we’d left the front door unlocked and our gate open.
We are not smart people.
(Everything is okay. I came back into the house waving my cane wildly in the air so I could hit any intruder before they struck. There was no intruder, and I didn’t break anything. Win win.)
What we did see, however, was the pre-eclipse show: a huge (I mean HUGE) halo around the moon at about 12:30am. We took out the garbage together and looked at the moon for a while, and I even got a picture. When we looked at it on my phone screen after, it turned out really well — I managed to capture not only the moon but the halo and the trees below. Ok, so the halo wasn’t that clear, but it showed up. That was way better than what I expected.
So I immediately uploaded it to Flickr and got…this:
What the fuck?
I double checked on my phone, thinking maybe Flickr had screwed it up somehow and that I had to re upload. No such luck. Apparently the really great picture I took somehow changed itself to, well, what you see above. Which is a picture of the moon taken with a phone and looks about how you’d expect from that description. No halo, no trees, itty-bitty moon.
(And no, I’m not crazy, because Mr. Katje saw the original picture too. It was better. I have no idea why or how it magically changed.)
(Well, okay, I’m not crazy about this.)
My phone works really well for most pictures but things like this make me really wish I had a proper camera. Like an SLR or something. (I am so not hip to the lingo but I believe an SLR is the thingamabob I’m thinking of. *waves hands vaguely*)
Anyway. There you go. A photo of the moon, sans all the cool stuff happening with it that I actually wanted to capture in said photo.