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End of Year Wrapup

Posted by Leona Wisoker on November 30, 2016 in Books, business, Uncategorized, winter, Writing |
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It’s not even December yet, and I’m ready to call 2016 a wrap. How about you?

This hasn’t been an entirely bad year, though it’s certainly knocked many of us on our respective keesters more than once. Let’s look at the good stuff – and some weird stuff – as we haul ourselves up and get ready to face this holiday season and whatever lies beyond the New Year.

The first solar-powered round-the-world flight

Bud Webster’s “Farewell Blues” was nominated for a World Fantasy Award

(If you haven’t heard of Bud, here’s an introduction)

Virtual Reality is now a … well … reality.

The Shannara Chronicles aired on MTV

(and turned out to be a reasonable adaptation)

(AND it’s been renewed!)

Running a country on renewable energy is getting a little more achievable

Neil Gaiman became a grandfather

Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington have raised their minimum wage

36-year-old George Frandsen made it into the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of fossilized poop

Medical marijuana has been legalized in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota; California, Massachusetts, and Nevada have legalized recreational use

Deadpool. Definitely a major plus to this year’s roster!

Tammy Duckworth became Congresswoman to Illinois’ 8th District 

Archaeologists have uncovered the Middle East’s oldest middle finger

Catherine Cortez Masto won the Nevada Senate race

“Twisted light” could be the way we communicate in the future


There you go. Hopefully at least a couple smiles and “wow” moments came from that list! Share your own good moments of 2016 in the comments, please!

Hug your friends and loved ones today, and remember to be kind to yourself. 😀

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Home Again: Followup to Hold On To Anything You Can

Posted by Leona Wisoker on November 27, 2016 in grieving, Uncategorized, winter, Writing |
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The sky is a crisp blue against the array of earth-toned leaves still hanging on to their perches. Squirrels dig, industrious, through the crackling fallen, searching out nuts, insects, whatever it is that squirrels search for at times like this. There are few birds; my feeders have been allowed to run empty, some weeks ago by the look of it. I’ll have to take them down and clean them all properly before refilling them.

I’m home. It’s good to think about such small things, about bird feeders and washing curtains and picking up clumps of dog hair from the carpet every few hours. I like loading my dishwasher, doing laundry, cleaning the counter, weeding my absurdly overgrown garden. It’s a ritual of nesting for me, a system of settling back into my Real Life.

I’ve also been sleeping a lot, aided by my good friend NyQuil. I don’t exactly have bronchitis, but close enough to make no difference in treatment. I knew I’d get sick once I got home. I’ve been Refusing To Stop for months now. Getting up at 3 a.m., at 6 a.m., at 8 a.m., staying up until one or two p.m., managing a brief nap, up again by 3 p.m. and working until around 11 p.m. Normally, I don’t get up before ten a.m., and I require a solid 6-8 hour block of uninterrupted sleep in order to function properly the following day.

My dog snores. It makes me laugh every time I hear it. I like laughing. I haven’t been able to genuinely laugh often enough in the past months. As I laugh, I feel another knot of tension and fear dissolving. It’s good to be home.

I check Twitter and shake my head at how fast things are changing. I’ve written two blog posts in the past few days, and both are languishing in draft because they’re out of date already. Jill Stein has begun filing for recounts, and Hillary Clinton is backing her.

Some things haven’t changed. Cops are still shooting unarmed black kids. Black Friday shoppers are wrecking stores. Trump continues to be a complete and total jackass. Flint still doesn’t have water. The Dakota pipeline protest is a gigantic mess on multiple fronts.

Of the plants remaining green in my garden, the pineapple sage is the most impressive: it stands tall and splayed out, bright red flower spears vibrant against the frost-damaged foliage piling up nearby.

One of my neighbors walks by with his grey and white dog, its fluffy tail signaling excited curiosity about everything it sees. Kids bundled up in thick jackets meander along, immersed in their cell phone screens. Now and again someone jogs down the road, determined to work off that Thanksgiving feast, headphones on, gaze high and stern, fixed on the Goal Of Fitness.

Over the last few weeks, I routinely had to call my husband or a friend while grocery shopping. I would get overwhelmed, my brain would quit functioning, and I’d be standing in the middle of the store just staring at the shelves, muttering to myself like a madwoman. I needed someone to talk to, someone to just say “you’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay” over and over, to ground me in myself again.

Driving was occasionally a terrifying experience.

I’ve added several new seeds to my Pandora feed. It’s now laced with hip-hop, rap, and techno. I’m particularly fond of Daft Punk lately. I’m also enjoying older heavy metal, the less polished iterations of Motley Crüe and Iron Maiden and Metallica. At the same time, I’m aware of the seriously gross content of many of the songs: the macho, women-serve-me attitude inherent in the genre at that time. I’m dismantling old thought patterns as I listen, tracing back behavior and belief to various sources, checking whether that agrees with where I am today, reshaping and refitting.

Another neighbor goes by, this time with a brown dog, perhaps a Weimaraner. I’ve always wanted one of those gorgeous, gentle pups. My husband is tidying up the yard, using the leaf-blower to push the unkempt piles of fallen foliage into a useful compost pile amongst the trees.

Ron Glass and Florence Henderson have died: just two more names for the 2016 Wall Of Those We Lost. Brietbart has a foot in the White House. Swastikas are spray-painted on mosque walls. Fake news is a real thing–and may have swung the election in Trump’s favor.

I’m feeling a lot better today, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m finding ways to balance all the aspects of reality. Later today, I might even manage some fiction writing.

It’s good to be home.

This is a followup post to Hold On To Anything You Can, and part of the #HoldOnToTheLight series. Details below.


About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiative, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SNAE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To fine out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

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Hold On To Anything You Can

Posted by Leona Wisoker on November 6, 2016 in grieving |
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My mom always had a garden, everywhere we lived.

That’s the first line of a eulogy I’ve already begun writing for her. Here’s one of my notes, jotted down during a doctor appointment this time:

…the clinical staff seem really distant today. I don’t blame them. I get the need to move things along etc, but god, I feel like they’re looking through me most times. Which is me, not anything they’re doing, my rational brain tells me. But this just sucks. It really really just freaking sucks. I hate this. I hate this so much. I want to go back in time and fix it before it starts. Somehow. This is wrong, this is wrong, this isn’t how it’s supposed to go. Everything sounds muted and harsh at the same time, my throat hurts, and I’m so freaking scared.

My mom’s been battling lung cancer for over two years now. It metastasized to her brain this year. I know more about radiation and chemotherapy than I ever really wanted to learn.

…She just came back in from her walk with the home health aide, very excited about spotting an alligator at the pond next door. She’s perked up and glowing more than I’ve seen her in days.

My mom is very much alive at the time of this writing. I feel like I’m dying inside as I watch her, day by day: shifting from alert to confused seemingly at random. There are no good or bad days any longer, just good and bad hours.

There’s a constant scream in the back of my head, like Arthur Dent’s early morning shriek of horror. My knees frequently feel like jelly, and I’m forcing myself to eat against a background sensation of nausea. Let’s not even talk about when the actual anxiety attacks hit.

On so many fronts, my litany of woes seem petty, unremarkable, only to be expected, martyrdom implied simply by stating the problems aloud. I’ve told myself I’m strong enough, I’ve told myself this is worth all the hassle, I’ve told myself that I love my mom and she’s done so much for me over the years that this is a drop in the bucket towards repayment.

And yet…

…there’s a little voice in the back of my head, nagging, nagging, telling me that I’m doing too much. That I’m actively harming myself, walking on the emotional equivalent of broken legs.

I hate that voice. It tends to be right. It’s that wisdom inside myself that I don’t want to see, the truth that’s too painful or inconvenient to face.

I love that voice. It’s saved my life in the past. It’s pushed me relentlessly–away from bad situations, toward good ones, through fear and pain and depression, back into the sunlight.

I’ve been hearing this voice a lot in the last few months, and I’ve been ignoring it. This is the source of the scream I wake up to every morning and push past to reach sleep every night. It’s been talking, and I haven’t been listening, and so now it’s just howling at me.

….Mom’s feeling cogent at the moment. She wants to sort through stuff on the counter that my sister and I have piled there in our efforts to organize and curate the household. That would be a terrible idea, partially because she would have to stand up and I would have to stand there with her. I grabbed a pile of old paperwork and asked her to sort through it instead.

Each page is taking her about five minutes of frowning concentration. Including envelopes.

I’m dying inside, watching how hard everyday items have become for her. At the same time, I’m glad she’s distracted; now I can get work done, handling items like this overdue blog post.

I’m not going to be good enough at the end of the day. I came into this knowing that. It’s a standard I can’t meet: being everything necessary, doing this all perfectly, never screwing it up. All I can strive for is to avoid the most dangerous mistakes and make sure someone is there to take over before I collapse completely.

I’m rude and impatient, irritable and wanting very badly indeed to break All The Things into teeny tiny pieces. I do my best to be sure that Mom only sees a smile and a goofy joke. If I find myself snapping at her at loud, it’s time for a Xanax and a brief retreat to the bathroom to cry it out.

This is one small aspect of the glorious hell that is being a caretaker for a terminally ill parent. It barely scratches the surface, to be honest–there’s so much more involved. But I think it’s enough to show those who’ve never done it just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Those who have done it know what I’m leaving out, and why. Some things even the most ardent over-sharer shouldn’t talk about in a blog post like this. Besides, we don’t want to scare off the rest of you. 🙂

This blog post is part of the Hold On To The Light campaign. Details below.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiative, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SNAE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To fine out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

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Interesting Statistics…

Posted by Leona Wisoker on June 25, 2016 in Uncategorized |

I’ve been managing to post about once a week on Fridays, but the top traffic day appears to be Thursday. That’s … interesting. Hm. Not quite sure how to interpret that. Any ideas, folks? 😀

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About Them Broads…

Posted by Leona Wisoker on June 24, 2016 in business, Uncategorized, Writing |
http://broaduniverse.org

Some years ago, I came across a fledgling organization called Broad Universe, aimed at helping women spec-fic writers around the world. I thought it sounded neat, so I signed up; since then, other than dutifully renewing my membership every year, I’ve almost entirely ignored it. I’ve helped out with this n that, and participated in stuff like the Full Moon Blog Hop, but taking advantage of my BU membership isn’t on my mind most days.

(By the way, if you’re already a member of Broad Universe, you probably already know all the stuff I’m about to talk about. Feel free to skip to the end and post a comment about your experience with BU!)

I just took a look through the BU web site to see what’s going on lately, and I’m . . . mad at myself, honestly, for not taking advantage of all this cool stuff. For example, I knew about the Rapid Fire Readings at conventions–where a group of BU authors get together for a panel in which we read 5 minute excerpts of our work out loud–and I knew about the convention sales table, where BU members can hang out and take shifts selling their work over the course of the convention. I’ve always liked participating in the former (SO much fun!) and never bothered with the latter (I usually already have a sales table through The Scribbling Lion).

But there’s more. Oh, my, my, so much more. I’m very behind on what this little organization has blossomed into.

There’s a catalog. Granted, it’s still a bit basic in appearance, but it gets the job done.

There’s an Active Members Directory that lists author web sites, bio blurbs, and whether the author in question is available for speaking gigs (very important!).  Again, more functional than fancy, which is perfectly fine by me. (I’m listed on this page, if you’re interested.) 😀

The Events Page is the most biggest coolest (err…. I mean…. I’m a bit tongue tied, sorry) — I really like how the Events Page is developing. It’s a fabulous list of upcoming events, from big to small, conventions, conferences, individual parties, online, offline, Twitter, FB, you name it. Never mind the organization involved behind the scenes, the members that are coordinating advertising efforts, attendance, schedules, talking points, outreach … well, okay, mind that. It’s a huge amount of work. But while the calendar itself may be the tip of the iceberg, it’s a BIG FREAKING DEAL for folks like me who are always scrambling to remember what happens when in the spec-fic convention world. That alone is worth the $30 a year, to me!

One of the newer additions to the organization’s perks is a discount on NetGalley access. That doesn’t particularly interest me at the moment, but apparently other folks find it handy. Maybe I’ll check that out eventually.

There’s a lot more to this iceberg, as I mentioned above. User forums, Facebook groups, blog hops, advice on every imaginable aspect of writing, self or trad-publishing, promoting your work, and overall cheerleading throughout–which is no small thing, let me tell you.

If name-checking is what gets your attention, I’ll point out that Gail Z. Martin, Danielle Ackley Mc-Phail, Elizabeth Black, Valerie Estelle Frankel, John Hartness (yes, guys can join!), Laurel Anne Hill, Paula S. Jordan, Jody Lyn Nye, and Jean Marie Ward are all members.

Writers of speculative fiction really need to check out this group. It’s worth the price tag, and I say that as someone anxiously counting pennies and side-eyeing travel costs.

Please feel free to comment with questions, but do take a moment to see if the BU site already answers them first!

 

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