Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is a time in my family to stop and reflect on what we’re grateful for, as a person and as a family. This year has been harder than the last ten or so before it, but it’s also the first time in a while that I really stopped to reflect on what I’m grateful for. Really truly grateful for, not just the glib answers that immediately come to mind when someone puts me on the spot. So since I am always better with written words rather than spoken ones, I wrote them down here to share.

I am grateful to be alive. Because despite everything, I am alive and my roommate/ best friend is alive, and my family is alive and that right there is a huge blessing. We’re alive, despite the government doing it’s absolute damndest to work to kill us. I am grateful for every single person writing and faxing and calling their Senators and Representatives and encouraging them to put country over party and not sign legislation that would kill me or the people I love.

I am grateful that my chronic pain disease is managable enough that I can keep fighting for people whose disease don’t permit them to do much except keep breathing and keep existing. I am grateful that I have a job that allows me to take the time I need when I need it. I am greatful to have coworkers who genuinely care about my wellbeing both on and off the job. I am thankful that they provide benefits and that they also pay me a living wage. That they don’t hate me when I make mistakes and that they always encourage me to learn more and shine brighter because they actually care about their employees as people, not just numbers on a payroll.

I am so greatful for the support and love from the people I have met at conventions and shows that honestly love and care about me and aren’t afraid to use their platforms to make the world a better place. For the creative community that never fails to surprise and humble me with their outpourings of support and love and presence. For their bravery in continuing to produce amazing work despite the climate we all live in. Where it would be so easy to just give up and walk away because it’s harder now than it has been before and this kind of hypervigilance and the ceaseless crises from one moment to the next is wearing physically, emotionally, and mentally.

For all my fellow autistic and disabled people who are so so tired of forever justifying our existence and our right to be heard and be alive. Thank you so much for everything you are and everything you’ve done and continue to do.

For all of the people who’ve been there for me when the depression and the anxiety have taken hold and I start to doubt again, thank you. You make this life worth living and I’m not saying that lightly. Thank you for being the light in the darkness when it was needed.

Over the past year, I have really come to understand why it is that God encourages us to have community with each other, because it’s impossible to do this alone. So for every single person reading this, thank you for being my community. Thank you for letting me share in your lives and help when and where I can, thank you for everything. You make my life better by being in it.

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Chicago vs MLA

I wrote this many years ago, while I was in college.   I happened upon it again as I was searching for something else in my files and thought it would make a few of you smile.   So here is a short satire piece on a subject near and dear to my heart.                                                              

Chicago vs. MLA

My friends, I am here today to speak on a matter of the gravest importance. This matter has divided our disciplines for a number of years, caused an untold amount of grief for millions worldwide.  How to properly cite your sources in an academic essay, research paper, or a thesis; do we italicize the titles or do we underline them.  Where do the quotation marks go?  We are one world and in this world we need to be united.  United against ignorance, united against the death of all we hold dear, united against revisionist acts, and united against the death of culture.    But such unity cannot ever be achieved while we in academia are split into so many different factions on the basis of this one crucial detail, so small, so vital to the works that we do.  

How to cite your sources is an issue that has been fought and battled over for centuries.  We are all professionals here; we are all well versed not only in our chosen fields of study but often in other disciplines as well.  We can agree on other things.  What makes for a topic sentence is one example.   What makes for a good paragraph and what makes for a poor one is another.   But on this issue no one can see clearly, no one can compromise, and compromise is severely needed for both major parties in this struggle.  Academia cannot stand up proudly, united against the world, if indeed we have such divisions under our own roof.  President Lincoln stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”   In this he speaks very clearly, Academia cannot hope to influence the world around us and work to bring change without being united in spirit and in truth.

 “To footnote or not to footnote” is a question that millions of students over the years have asked themselves.  Some professors prefer in-text citations or endnotes.  This is a matter of personal preference and as such we are not advocating that everyone adopt footnotes as the universal standard[1].  However, in the formatting of these footnotes and other citations, we do have cause for some alarm.   MLA, a format used and beloved by all English majors and professors is one of the most widely used styles.  This is the style that they pound into our heads all throughout high school and through all of the college English courses.   The problem with MLA is that not only is it complicated to learn and remember; it is also an inflexible style.   It was created for in-text citations and in-text citations alone.  

The Chicago style, preferred by historians and several of the other humanities, unlike MLA, is quite the opposite.  It has the flexibility to encompass in-text citations and footnotes and endnotes.   It is relatively simple to memorize and use.  It is, by far, one of the better choices, yet it is often laid by the wayside, untaught, and unacknowledged in the public and private schools.   This is a serious matter which needs to be addressed, ladies and gentlemen.   Only being taught one method of style can be a serious handicap for a young college freshman in their first semester. Citing sources goes hand in hand with writing papers and essays. When you write papers in college and you will write papers, that is an absolute basic fact of life, along with death and taxes. You will die, you will pay taxes, and you will write papers in college. Citing sources is a very integral part of that process, having more than one style often tends to confuse and befuddle students.  Some students entering college, it is sad to say, don’t even know what a footnote is, much less how to correctly format one.   Think of the children, the children who write, who want to contribute, but suffer under the burden of not knowing how to correctly format a simple footnote because of the problems inherent with having more than one style.

A prominent military journalist and English major torn between Chicago and MLA, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity due to fears of Oxford Comma Hit Squads, suggests that standardization is called for. “All citations are sacred, you know. If we allow this so-called “choice” in citations, what we’re really doing is killing words,” he said. “By killing words, aren’t we really killing the authors’ souls?”   A bit drastic, we feel, but we sympathize with his sentiments.  We agree wholeheartedly that standardization is just what we need to solve this issue.  A melding of the two camps, healing the breach between the two major disciplines involved in this dispute. 

To that end we suggest a committee be commissioned to explore the possibilities of paving a way so that a new style can be developed, a style that can encompass everything that citations should be, need to be in a way that would satisfy all the disciplines.  Because if this does not reach a peaceful compromise, I fear that the continuing battles back and forth could lead to something even greater and far uglier than the current struggles.    I fear an all out war between the disciplines could arise if middle ground cannot be found.   So many papers have already been sacrificed to the continuing strife between the departments.  Let us act now and save the future papers from this horrible struggle.   

In all seriousness, standardizing the style guides completely across the board (barring technical or scientific papers as the exception) so that there is only one style that students need to learn throughout all of high school and college would be an excellent move on the college’s front, especially for those lucky few double majoring in two separate disciplines.  It would make formatting papers more efficient and easier to do and also easier to grade.  There are more benefits than downfalls to standardizing the style with which we format our papers and citations.  Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for your time.

 

 

 

 

[1] As useful and pleasant as we find them to be, we understand that not everyone shares our love for the footnote.

 

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Movie Review: Murder On the Orient Express

So earlier this week, I had the honor of being asked to be on a podcast for the ESO Network who are a large group of amazing geeky people.  I’ve had run-ins with them before at conventions and technically I’ve been on a few podcasts of theirs by virtue of simply being on a panel they were recording, but this was the first formal invitation.   So I got put into the Geek Seat.

Ya’ll.  I have hardly ever giggled or laughed that much in such a short period of time, it was amazing.   So if you want to hear me answer some hysterical questions all about nerdity and geekery and then a panel review with me and several of the other amazing ESO hosts about the latest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, give this episode a listen.   Click on the picture below to take you to the direct link for the podcast OR  find it where you find all great podcasts.

I really enjoyed the movie itself, though I will freely admit that I walked into it having freshly re-read the book so I could do a better compare and contrast and with having seen several of the other adaptations.   The book is a wonderful character piece and the movie portrays that well.  Kenneth Branagh does a great job with the role of Hercule Poirot, though much like with Doctor Who, he’ll never be my Poirot ( David Suchet, if you wondered, I watched a lot of PBS as a kid).   He did the role justice though and it’s my second favorite adaptation of this book.    The rest of the cast is fabulous and there’s a lot in there to unpack.  The movie isn’t as long as I thought it would be and it drags a little in some odd places.   Overall, I give it a 4.5 out of 5 (with the .5 attributed to nostalgia because I love Poirot and hope this will inspire fresh interest in Agatha’s works).

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Self-Care and Writers: An Update

Writers are not really great about this self-care thing.  Just ask the Internet or any writers you know.   We forget food, errands, sometimes hygiene, all because we’ve got fictional words driving us to type them out and make them real on paper/word processor.    It’s a thing.    The frustration when we’re not producing up to our own standards is also a thing (see above for helpful links regarding all of that).

Self-Care is important. 

I have a double-dose of forgetting about self-care because not only am I a writer, my family is also the worst at this.   We grind and grind until we drop and then once we’re back upright, grinding more.   We never stop and we’re not overly fond of slowing down from the things we need to get done.

So in a move that really surprises no one at all, least of all me, because of all of the compounded stuff in the last three-four months (okay really since April to be honest) – I  hit the actual burnout point.  Technically I hit it at the beginning of last month, but I still had a con to do at that point, so I pushed through it.   Which meant that I spent the entire rest of the month of October reaping the whirlwind exhaustion and fatigue from having just pushed myself so far without a whole lot of down or recovery time.

I did 37 total panels at four conventions in between  a trip to NYC, my baby brother leaving for college, my best friend coming for a weeklong visit, and a whole wealth of immediate and extended family events, house issues and the ever present, always fun medical issues.    I’ve been to Atlanta three times and Louisville once. I’ve had a short story published and invites to submit to three other anthologies, the Patreon is still running for various short stories and novellas, and we’re coming up on the major holiday season.  It’s been a lot lately.

I’m an introvert so recharging generally means I’m sitting somewhere comfy by myself, enjoying the quiet and stillness of just being inside my own brain and not needing to respond to any exterior stimulae unless I wanted to.  Unfortunately with a day job and cats who demand to be fed at regular intervals, recharging had to come at points where I wasn’t working at the full time day job.  So literally everything else had to get reshuffled around to make sure that I could have the time to refresh and recharge.  So that’s why there hasn’t been a lot of posting here from me here (if you follow on me on Twitter, different story, but Twitter doesn’t lend itself well to good thinky posts like I prefer to do here).   You’ll see more posting now, some of it normal updates like the reviews and the wednesday reads, some of them will probably be hilarious posts about November and writing/writers.   It’s deep into NaNoWriMo after all (i’m at 18k and change and I hit the part of loathing all the words ever, so really I’m right on schedule for the nanocycle of writing or if you prefer, I’m right at “The Tango of Mirth and Shame” ).

So hi, everyone!  I’m back and you’ll start to see a lot more posts floating your way very soon.

 

 

 

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The Mad Visions of Al-Hazred Is Out Today!

 

Cover for the anthology

So this came out today and I am super thrilled about it!!   I’ve got a story in there, along with stories from super talented and amazing people.   If you like Cthulhu Mythos stories, then pick this up!    If you would like a signed copy from me,  please comment here or DM/Email me.   It’s 13$ plus shipping and I am more than happy to personalize it any way you like.

Otherwise, it should be available in short order wherever you buy your books!

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