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100,000 Kingdoms

I finally got around to reading "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" by N.K. Jemisin. Aside from some dark fantasy sex with a bad boy god, it was a really interesting, well written novel. Lots of plot twists and most of the characters were damaged rather than evil. I wish I was the sort of person who wrote longer reviews, but most of the time I don't know for sure what I think about a novel until I have someone to disagree with. ;)

Jul. 31st, 2015

I finished my MA dissertation. I think I will take up Zen meditation to keep my nerves from overwhelming me as I wait for the results.

I feel like my various pulled muscles are finally healed up. It always seems like if I lift enough weights to make progress, I'm at risk of yanking something out of place. I don't remember having these problems when I was lifting in my twenties.

I've been reading up on Native American history for my alternative history novel. When a Christianized Native American writes, it comes across as Transcendentalist. Both are a mix of Christianity with a more naturalistic spirituality, Native American for the former obviously, and Buddhism/Taoism for the latter.

Jul. 20th, 2015

I over came a writing block the other day. I've been writing an alternative history, but when I researched the characters and started writing them, well, history made a lot of sense. I can see why history turned out the way it did. But I figured a way out.

I've been going to the gym, of course. I was losing weight on a 3 days of lifting, one day of swimming plan, but now there's too many swimmers so I'm on a four lifting days schedule and my weight is hovering around the same range. But I am getting stronger.

I've been watching "West Wing" again. Sometimes it is strangely prophetic and other times I find myself thinking "those were the days." If they thought Republicans were crazy then...

Jul. 17th, 2015

Now that we've seen all the "Foyle's War" on Netflix, my mother has lost all interest in what we watch on TV in the evenings. It's a great show, more like a series of movies, really taking it's time to build up the murders instead of marching characters on and off screen to explain what horrible people they are, but going into withdraw is a little much.

Yesterday I took the plunge and sent my entire novel manuscript to DAW. That precludes sending the complete manuscript to anyone else, but what the hell. A choice has to be made and I have a lot on my plate.

For the fun part of writing, I've had some two thousand word days, writing in both my alternative history novel and my Chinese experiences novel.

I've been getting to the gym four days a week, 70-90 minutes a pop. It requires a careful division of muscle groups to go that often, but I manage.

Jul. 12th, 2015

I've been reviewing unfinished work, and I'm thinking the 20,000 word start to a novel would be easier to finish as a short story if I cut out unnecessary secondary characters and finished up the main plot. Crossing fingers.

Yesterday I went to help my dad with a volunteer project, figuring if few people showed up it would take a long time but I could feel virtuous and if a lot of people showed up then it wouldn't take very long. As it turned out, few people showed up, but since it rained we couldn't finish anyway, so I had the best of both worlds.

Why Computers will never rule the world

Because the fancier they get the more fragile they become.

My Dad has three computers now, each with more capacity than the next to do all this wonderful stuff with his photography, but when I want to print out a word document for three days in a row the Wi-Fi connections between the computers and the printers failed.

As far as I'm concerned, word processing reached it's high point in 2003 and ever since it has been down hill, just engineers showing off for each other without making sure everything worked properly, making changes to justify their jobs.

Bleh, bleh, bleh.

Jun. 28th, 2015

Last night I watched "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which was obviously a work of love for the people making the movie. Several name actors would have taken pay cuts to be in that movie, since they've been in bigger budget movies before. The plot was mostly predictable, but at the same time the characters were fun and filming surreal.

I'm coming to realize that when it comes to losing weight, which exercise I use is less important than how long I do it. Boxing, weight lifting, mowing the lawn, etc, it needs to be between 70-90 minutes long to kick my metabolism high enough to keep me burning fat the rest of the day. This is significant because most exercise classes are 50 minutes so they can switch classes every hour on the hour.

Yesterday I shamed myself into writing. I need to get back into a routine or I'm not going to much done this summer.

Jun. 21st, 2015

I watched this “Jonah Hex” movie, and it was disappointing on two levels. The first is that Megan Fox wears more clothes playing a Western prostitute than she does in Michael Bay movies (but at least she has a cooler character in “Hex”). The second is that Jonah Hex’s justification for joining the Confederate army (in the backstory) is as lame as that of libertarians who side with the conservative movement. Because they don’t want to be bossed around by the government, they insist the government stand by while rich assholes treat women, minorities, and labor like dirt. Hex eventually learned his lesson, but I don’t expect most libertarians will.

And the Indians use magic to keep him going, magic that would have allowed them to defend their lands if it had really worked. And the villain’s plot hinges on the government having a super weapon and storing it instead of using it.

I’m hard pressed to think about anything in this movie that makes sense.


Saying Good bye to England

…one step at a time.

I had a farewell dinner with 9 of my friends. An English fellow and I were talking back and forth so quickly that one of the Chinese girls had trouble following so another Chinese girl had to help her out with translation. I had forgotten how much I change the pace that I speak with regards to who I am talking with and their level of English. English was also the language of choice at the other end of the table, between Chinese and Spaniards.
Alex did tease me about choosing a Turkish restaurant for my good-bye to England dinner, but he had to concede my point of good Turkish food being a lot harder to find back in Iowa than it would be to find fish and chips. Besides, it is one of the favorite restaurants for about half the people I invited anyway.

I am going to miss looking out my window and seeing the Shire on the other side of the tracks. I’m going to miss Exeter being big enough to be interesting yet small enough to be manageable. I’ll miss the mild weather, the polite people, the pretty houses, and taking short train trips to other interesting places (like London).

But my friends are graduating, too, since we’re Masters students from different departments, and I doubt I’d get as lucky next year as this year. Somehow I made very few English friends, since the English students were much more interested in hanging out with each other than with foreign students. The other foreign students I spoke with felt the same way, and were a little relieved that it wasn’t just them. Maybe if my novels made $100,000 a year and I married some nice Asian girl who wanted to live abroad I’d come back to settle down, but time will tell…fate as a way of smacking around my plans.


Jun. 11th, 2015

My third dissertation session with Professor Brown went pretty well again. There were some places in my thesis (as opposed to the fiction part of the dissertation) where what makes perfectly good sense in my head didn’t come across well on the paper and he asked me what I met so he could help me clarify it, but he didn’t object to anything I wrote once I explained it. I also told him about the idea of agency and he seemed to like it.

When I mentioned I only had a few hundred words left and another SF novel to read and possibly discuss, he said I’d be surprised how much room people can find if they are willing to do a grammar sweep and condense the style. On the way to the dorm I remembered all the times I’ve helped Chinese kids condense their application essays to fit within word limits, so why not? I’ve already saved myself a couple hundred words just cutting out my paragraph about alternative history in comic books like “Watchmen.” It was really just there to show the flexibility of the genre.




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