In Searching for a Tagline . . .

This is going to be a short post to make up for missing September 16.

I’ve never chosen a tagline for this blog because nothing really appealed to me. So I just put “A Blog in Search of a Tagline” up there.

That being said, I may be on the track of something usable. I read a study once that said that people who spend their money on experiences are happier than people who spend their money on things.

And, well, I definitely spend my money on experiences — travel and books. And now I’m blogging about travel and books. So I think that this weekend I’m going to dig through Google for that study and see if there’s any quotes I can make punchy enough for a tagline.

In other news, a new series based on the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson is coming out on Amazon Prime in November, so I’m thinking that maybe that’ll be a theme for NaNoWrMo this year. Maybe not the only theme, but definitely a theme. Some posts will be basic plot summaries, some will be in-depth looks at the characters, some will be squeeing about spoilers.

I need to come up with some idea of how to mark spoiler posts. When I first started blogging, I was told that it was polite to use cuts so that people visiting my blog wouldn’t be overwhelmed by text and scared off. So I did. And what traffic I did have plummeted. I went back in and removed the cuts and it went back up. So I don’t use cuts anymore. Maybe someday I’ll get steady traffic and will be able to keep it with cuts, but for now, no. I don’t think it’s very professional to use ROT-13 in a blog, but that may be my best solution just so no one can see that (choosing random surprise ending from a movie here . . . .) Rand’s been dead all along.

So I guess that today we’re having a Germane Amazon Link: The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan. I’ll probably not have Germane Amazon Links all month, though, just in posts where I talk about events of one single book. For posts about character arcs and so on, I may do Gratuitous Amazon Links.

Crap. Where Did I Leave Off?

I want to try for a mini-NaNoWriMo for September. I don’t expect much, since it’s almost September 3 and I’ve written, well, about this much.

I left off on my travel memories sometime in the 1980s and I still have 30-some years to go. I also have been doing a lot of reading this year. Like, right now, Goodreads thinks I’ve read more than 90 books.

I haven’t read more than 90 books, because there are a bunch of books that I don’t ever intend to read again and I got in the habit of flagging them as read on the date that I remembered having read them. This adds quite a few to my book total. I’m slowly moving them to December 31, 2020, so that when I actually finish 2021, I’ll have a correct number and then my numbers for 2021 won’t be thrown off until . . . .

Maybe I should move them farther back. Or, yeah, I’ll just make December 31, 2020 my permanent place to abandon those books and from 2021 on, my book counts will be accurate. We’ll play with that idea at first and see how it goes.

I’m really thinking about taking turns writing about books I’ve really enjoyed (with not-so-gratuitous Amazon links therein) and books that I didn’t enjoy at all (with slightly-more-gratuitous Amazon links).

I think that has potential.

Now where did I leave off on travel memories? I didn’t realize that I had finished our 1988 New York/Philadelphia/Baltimore trip. Woot!

So now I’m on our 1989 trip to Florida. I only did half of this trip with my folks. I drove down to Florida with them, then flew back and stayed at my in-laws’s so that I could spend some time with Thomas.

So it looks like next up is St. Augustine, Florida and then Epcot. Yay!

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Turns out my Amazon links are a real mess. I don’t even know where I left off. I think I’ve spent more time poring over my Goodreads list to figure out where the heck I am. I seemed to have gone from October of 2020 to . . . oh. I figured it out. I read Solutions and Other Problems in October of 2020 *and* in January of 2021.

So. Back to October 2020. Or, well, November of 2020. In November, I reread a whole bunch of graphic novels and collections of issues of comic books. I need to figure out how to tackle the collections because marching lockstep through Ms. Marvel Volume I, Ms. Marvel Volume 2, . . . doesn’t sound like fun.

So let’s do the beginning of the comic sequels to the Avatar the Last Airbender series. Or, maybe we should start with the Avatar the Last Airbender series and then go from there. This link is for Blu-Ray, but you can get DVDs from a link on that page.

Next up, The Promise comic sequel. Woo!

Series I’ve Read: Philip Jose Farmer’s The Dungeon

Oh. Wow. While going through my memory for books that I’ve read, I just remembered The Dungeon.

The Dungeon is about a group of adventurers traveling through, well a dungeon that’s somewhere undefined. It may have been underground or in a pocket universe or wherever.

Our original point-of-view character is Clive Folliot, who is looking for his missing brother, Neville. Along the way he teams up with a giant spider, a cyborg, and his own granddaughter (great-granddaughter? great-great granddaughter?) They have adventures with public domain fictional characters, figures from mythology, and so forth.

Here’s the kicker, though. The Dungeon is a six-part series where the first and last books were written by one writer, and the middle four were written by three different writers.

And for the most part, the three writers play well together and the story holds together really well. Until the last book, that is, when apparently the original writer didn’t like where the middle four books had gone and wrenched it in another direction entirely without any rationale for it at all.

Obviously, Richard Lupoff, the writer of the first and sixth books, has never done a round robin story. Unless you set out where you want to go ahead of time, you’ll never go where you want to.

I have one particularly, well, I don’t know if “fond” is the word. “Schadenfreude-full,” maybe, of me saying at the beginning of a round robin story that we should plan it out ahead of time and one writer in particular vetoing it because it’s “more fun” if it’s full of surprises for the writers. So, when it came my turn, I gave that writer a surprise. I could see where they were heading and when my turn came, I interpreted what they had said in a completely different way and headed the story off in a different direction.

They threw a fit about how they were heading for resolution X and I just said, “You wanted surprises. I gave you a surprise.”

So, let’s hear it for our three middle writers — Bruce Coville, Charles de Lint, and Robin Wayne Bailey, for doing a great job on those middle books. I’ve never read anything else by any of those authors, I don’t think. I’ll have to look into it.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is the March 2020 Fantastic Strangelings Book Club pick — We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry. This was my favorite book club pick until July’s Mexican Gothic, which we’ll do later. We Ride Upon Sticks is set in Danvers, Massachusetts, which is where the original accusations of the Salem Witch Trials took place. The 1989 Danvers Falcons girls’ field hockey team is the worst in their district (in the book, in real life they actually were an excellent team). Then they sell their souls to Emilio Estevez and suddenly things start to improve for their team. Is it teamwork and friendship, or is it witchcraft?

Let’s See If I Can Make this Quick Post Quick

Ha! That’ll never happen. I have to be up in nine hours, so I don’t want to spend all of it writing; I’d like to get *some* sleep.

Let’s think. I guess that last night’s dream will take up some words towards my 35,000 word goal.

I was at the movies? Watching a movie on television? Something like that. And the movie that was playing was one of the Harry Potter movies. I don’t know if they were the original Daniel Radcliffe ones or newer ones. But as the movie progressed, I found myself actually *in* the movie.

And the longer I was in the movie, the less Harry Potterish the movie seemed. I met a man with a small child and the man told me that he had a new wife, not the mother of the child, who, when he said her name, I recognized it as the name of a woman who had figured in a video that had gone viral in which she had been behaving badly. I don’t know what she was doing; I think she may have been mouthing off to a cashier or a waiter or something.

The group I was with ended up inside Malfoy Manor somehow, and while we were snooping around, it occurred to me, like a memory that I already had, not like something that I’d been told, that the guy I was with had a twin brother who’d died somehow.

We ended up inside Narcissa Malfoy’s wardrobe and I remembered a scene where Hermione was wandering around in there and that the very back of the wardrobe is where the most beautiful of all of Narcissa’s beautiful clothing was located.

I seem to recall having an ongoing theme of beautiful dresses in my dreams. I swear I had a dream where my mom had a hidden wardrobe of gowns in the back of her closet (or was it in our basement? dreams are weird).

This, in turn, may have been influenced by having seen a wedding gown dressing room at my local Sears when I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was looking at. I only saw a room with mirrors all over and a platform in the middle. In fact, I never saw another one until I was getting ready for my own wedding.

Anyway, Narcissa’s wardrobe was a room full of shoes and purses, laid out more like a shoe store than anything else, and then a small closet at the back. You open the small closet and there’s another type of clothing in there, like, pants and skirts, maybe and an even smaller closet. Then you open the even smaller closet and there’s another type of clothing, like tops, and a smaller closet. And then eventually you come to a very tiny closet about the size of the knee hole in a desk and that’s where the gowns were.

Something happened there and we ended up in some kind of danger and someone rescued us. It was a person of indeterminate gender dressed up in a way similar to a sandperson from Star Wars. They were wrapped in brown fabric and had some kind of mask on their face. I got the impression that the person who rescued us was the twin of the guy in our group.

When we got safely out of Malfoy Manor, we bumped into a woman who was a kind of mother figure for our group and we ran to her and I hugged her.

When I first woke up, I realized that the place we were was less like Hogwarts and more like New Rome from Rick Riordan’s mythology books. There were entire families living there, not just students.

And now that I’m thinking about it again, I realized that the entire dream took place in some kind of shelter, like maybe a cave or something.

One day fiction will come back to me and I’ll be able to parlay at least one of these dreams into a book and maybe, just maybe, be able to make enough money to survive on my own. Maybe.

I know that my Gratuitous Amazon Link should be a less gratuitous Harry Potter or Rick Riordan book, but I think I’m going to continue to go through my Goodreads list like I have been doing. So, today we have The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, by the Try Guys. In The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, each of the Guys takes an area that they feel insecure about and sets a goal for improving that area. We watch their journeys and get to enjoy the humor that the Try Guys are famous for along the way.

Hardware . . . Inventory?

Since I’m doing all of this writing on my computers, my hardware has been on my mind a lot lately. Additionally, every time I pause a YouTube video, it takes quite a while to get up to full steam again.

So. I got this computer in I think it was 2013? 2015? It’s hella old and running really slowly. I hesitate to replace it based just on that (I only replaced my first Android phone in 2019. I literally couldn’t install software on it anymore and now I use it to listen to podcasts and Chinesepod lessons in my car).

I had to have a new hard drive installed in this computer a few years ago because the hard drive just crapped out on me. I have a data drive, so I didn’t lose any data (hooray for data drives!), but the c:\ drive wouldn’t work at all anymore.

More pressing, in a odd way, is that I’d like to start using my most recent laptop (which, by “most recent” I mean I got it when Alex was a toddler). I booted it up recently and discovered that the BIOS can’t find the hard drive at all. I don’t know if my computer repair place can install a new one, but I just need to be able to write on it. If I could watch YouTube videos on it, that’d be nice, too, but not necessary. I’d like to take the laptop with me when traveling. I’m not planning on doing any traveling this month, so I don’t need to get it fixed for Camp NaNoWriMo. I do need to remember to call the computer people about it anyhow. Maybe I should get a new battery, too.

My phone is in good shape. I also have a tablet from 2012 that I literally can only run Kindle on anymore. Which means that I have a nine-year-old e-reader. I can work with that.

Gratuitous Amazon Link: In 2015, a friend gave me a copy of Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson, a steampunky science fiction novel set on a planet called Solace. I don’t have a read date for that one yet, so instead I’m linking to its sequel The Secrets of Solace. It’s odd for a sequel, because the characters from the first book aren’t even referenced in this one. But I really enjoyed the book and its look into the World of Solace. I just realized that I’ve never read the third book in the series, The Quest to the Uncharted Lands. I’ve added it to my Want to Read shelf on Goodreads.

My Recent Epiphany

I know that I’d love to write for a living. I know that I’d love to make residuals on my writing, but I’ll accept being paid enough upfront to be able to invest the money and get an extra income that way. I’m flexible.

I’m afraid of trying to write fiction again. I have had two main fiction-writing eras. The first was when I was a child and adolescent and the other was my marriage. Now, I just don’t know if I have it in me anymore.

I mean I have ideas. I have a steampunk novel about an inventor couple who are currently halfway across the country from each other and have developed a steampunk version of the internet. Sort of. The father, who has the first prototype, sends his adolescent kids across the country with the plans to their mom, and they’re being followed part of the way.

I have . . . something that defies genre. It started out as a sort of alternate history thing but gradually became a fantasy-without-magic world where women run the world.

And I love these ideas. The only thing is that when I try to write them, I hit the wall. Every. Damn. Time.

And my plans to translate kids’ books would require me to learn again how to write fiction. Because, ideally, a translation is kind of word-for-word, but also involves choosing the best and most natural way to say it in the target language. And I feel that it might be hard for me to do.

But the other night it hit me — since I’m writing non-fiction pretty much exclusively, why not translate non-fiction kids’ books from my target region (Mexico? Central America? Germany? Italy? China? Switzerland*?) — books on historical figures and events, geographical points of interest, cultural holidays, etc. I think that I could do a real service by opening these things up to the English-speaking world.

It’s not impossible that I could be back to writing fiction by then, as well. I do have ideas, I just have no follow-through at this point. But we’re talking about something like 11 years in the future. Most anything could happen by then.

*70% of the population of Switzerland speaks either German or Italian. And guess who else does?

Argh!

November 30, 2020 3 of 3

It’s 10:30 and I need to get to bed soonish. I’m also 15 words short of hitting 30,000 for NaNoWriMo.

As a result, I will be just blathering more than usual. I realized that I posted a lot about my Goodreads account, but not much about the books I read this month. I guess that’s because it was a lot of comic book rereads and such and not really something I really had much to say about.

I’m rereading The Glass Sentence (yay for germane Amazon links), which I recall really enjoying when I first read it five years ago, but not really the details. I guess I could write about that once I get away from “I need words and I’m panicking!” mode.

I have made a nice habit for myself of sitting down to write every day. I hope to continue that, maybe in a more considered way for December and January.

I’m already two weeks ahead on posting at one post per day. If I can keep this up, I should stay two weeks ahead, which will be nice if/when I catch COVID. I’d probably be out of commission for two weeks at that point.

I’m going to continue reading and come up with more content creators to feature in posts and we’ll see where we are when my first practice NaNoWriMo for 2021 hits in February. Maybe I really will make it to 8 posts a day then.

Or maybe not.

NaNoWriMo Update

November 28, 2020 3 of 8

It’s 6:27 pm on November 28, and I’m not even to 30,000 words yet. I think this is definitely a personal best for me, as the last time I registered at the website, I only got in the 15,000s, but I’m not going to make it to 50,000.

I also have 16 scheduled unposted posts. I was scheduling them out a week, and then for some reason, I did several days of scheduling for November 30. So I just spent half an hour straightening out my future schedule. I think they’re technically out of order, but I’m pretty sure that I have Alex’s suspected COVID case (his test was negative) in order, so there’s that.

Now since I have 16 unposted posts, I’m too far ahead to schedule them for a week out without messing up my schedule, so I’m scheduling them for Christmas now. This is scheduled for 1 am on Christmas. I’ll go in later and move it to the . . . 8th, I think?

I was also going to start socializing with the other WriMos, but that never worked out either. Variable work schedule, stress from Alex moving out this month, COVID, Thanksgiving. Yeah.

I think that writing a bunch of posts in a row and scheduling them ahead of time will work pretty well, though. I don’t think I can do an unofficial NaNoWriMo in December or January, but February might work. I may have to go back in and spread my scheduled posts out to one a day or one every other day to fill in the blanks of December and January, though.

Now for our Gratuitous Amazon Link. We’re back to Discworld today with Reaper Man, a book featuring Death.

I Really Need to Stop Procrastinating

November 12, 2020 1 of 8

Although what I’m doing while procrastinating is kind of helpful for the long haul, I need to literally and figuratively get off my butt and do something more immediately productive.

I’ve basically spent the whole day reading comic books so that I can fill in those blanks in my Goodreads page.

Meanwhile, one of my friends has a sick dog and her paycheck was short this month, so I’ve just offered to spot her some money so she can take him to the vet.

Additionally, back in 2018, I found a pair of sandals I really loved (Earth Origins Nellie) and so I bought a bunch of them. By the time I found out that I was going to love them, the local DSW was sold out, so I had to scrounge what I could online. I ended up with one pair of black (the one I got at DSW), and one pair each blue, red, and brown. I wore the blue ones until they were just about worn out and the red ones until they were completely worn out. That means I wore the red ones for running around the house and things for a year or thereabouts. So the insole finally completely fell apart last night and so I’m changing to the brown ones.

Since I’m used to the sandals being red, every time I look at the brown ones I feel like my eyes’ color balance is off. It’s very disconcerting.

Since I realized how old these shoes are, I decided to see if I could still get them. I was very, very surprised to see that I actually still can. I honestly thought that my current pair was the last pair in the world. The store at Amazon.com has both black and white in my size, so I’m getting three black and two white. That should hold me until, well, if they last as long as the ones I got in 2018 did, 2022?

Boy, that added up fast. But for two years’ worth of comfortable sandals? I think it’ll be worth it.

I had to go back and look over all of my soon-to-be posted posts to see if I can figure out where I left off on Gratuitous Amazon Links. It looks like I was on the first Squirrel Girl compilation so, I bring you: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It’s True, by Ryan North, Dan Slott, Erica Henderson, Matt Haley, Kieron Dwyer, and Ty Templeton

One of these days I need to go back through my Gratuitous Amazon Links and make sure that they are still good and that they lead to the books that I’m intending them to. That day will not be today, because I’m trying to focus on writing. Maybe I’ll do NaNoEdMo this March and do it then.