Spring has… sprung?

The sky is blue and clear, the sun shining.  The calendar says it’s spring.

Our clocks already made the great leap forward.
Once again the sun hits my eyes as I head to work.  (I’ve never been sure where the savings come in.)

But the grass is still brown, dormant, waiting.
The ground holds patches of ice that used to be snow, dirt captured within.
The wind carries the same sharp bite it’s held for months.

I am tired of jeans and sweaters and sleeves and coats.
Spring should mean t-shirts and sandals and warmth.

I survived my first northern winter in a decade.  I’m ready for a weather reward.

Is it spring yet?

 

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Folding Little Boxes

My parents and I are folding origami for my sister’s wedding.  (Somehow this has become a tradition – they folded paper cranes for my wedding.)

The pattern isn’t hard – I got the paper from my mom today and within less than an hour I had four done.  I want to be somewhat of a perfectionist on this; it is for my sister’s wedding, after all.  That means I’m taking a little more time with it, just to be precise, and it uses unfamiliar muscle patterns in my hands.  Four was about my limit at a time, but I’ll probably fold a few more before I call it a day.  I’m sure by the time I finish my pile of paper, I’ll be an expert at origami boxes!

Tonight I called to talk to my dad, and discovered that we were both folding boxes at the same time tonight.  We were even watching the same television show while doing it!  Most of the time you don’t think about the fact that everyone else in the world is doing something right now.  When you have a moment of “we were doing the same thing!” it reminds you that life happens simultaneously.  We remember it in our writing; characters often have parallel story lines.  For some reason it’s harder to think about in your own reality.   It often takes a revelation, or a moment of intentional reflection (“I wonder what they’re doing at work right now”) to open that train of thought.

Enough pondering life.  Back to folding boxes!

Common Threads

Have you ever noticed that you collect people in your life who have shared characteristics?  Sometimes they don’t even know each other – maybe it’s a friend from high school, a college roommate, and a coworker who all have something in common.  I posted a funny little picture of a bat on my personal Facebook page and tagged it with the people I know who are very fond of bats.  Two of them worked with me at my last place of business (albeit in different departments) and the third was in the same Master’s program as me.  I know it’s not totally unlikely – I have a lot of animal fans among my friends – but it’s still odd enough to make me ponder.

In another example, my sister and two previous co-workers  have the same birthday.  Again, just a coincidence, but still an odd thing in common.

There are many people in my life who also share behavioral traits or personality quirks.  I’ll have moments where interacting with one person will make me think of someone else I know.  Often these shared characteristics are things that I don’t share with the people in question.  Perhaps it is simply that my personality is complementary to theirs in some way, making it more likely that I will attract friends who share that trait.

Once again, contemplating human behavior can lead to interesting implications for writing.  Anything that you notice about people, particularly the things that make them complex, layered individuals, can be incorporated into writing to build the same sense of depth for your characters.

Seasons

The official first day of spring is next week.  That doesn’t mean that it’s really spring everywhere.  It’s probably been spring for weeks in Texas, and it still feels like winter here in South Dakota, but March 20 is what divides the calendar.

There are many commercials that are playing into the concept of upcoming spring, and they got me thinking.  In fantasy, you generally see worlds that are variations on our own planet.  Science fiction is different, of course, as it often features different planets.  But fantasy is still speculative fiction, and who’s to say that an Earth with magic, or a magical realm different from Earth, needs to function the same as our planet?

It’s an interesting and very unfamiliar thing to think about mixing up the seasons.  Would it even really be possible?  If there is a hot season and a cold season, there would by necessity be a cooling-down season and a warming-up season to transition between the two.  Perhaps that’s why no one has really played with seasons, because there isn’t a lot of room for play.

There are places on our planet where seasons are different, and often fantasy stories will take place in rainforests, deserts, or mountains, taking advantage of the change in climate to work in a variation on weather.  The necessary logic of seasons might preclude toying with them in a fantasy novel, but it might be interesting to consider incorporating some the other variables that can change when you free yourself from the world we live in.

More Tally Marks

As of today we are past the deadline for two pending queries, both of which were of the “respond only if interested” type.  That means it’s time to add a couple of tally marks to the list of rejections and no responses.

We are now standing at the following count – Rejections: 4, Pending: 0, Still to Send: 6.

See that lovely zero,next to pending?  This weekend it’s time to send a couple more query letters!  I have to work tomorrow, to make up the day I lost on my adventure earlier this week.  After that I’ll pull out the stack of index cards and peruse my agency options.  🙂

Signed Books!

Tonight I had the pleasure of getting to attend a presentation by one of my favorite science authors (Sam Kean).  The talk was great – in person he’s just as interesting as his writing.  Afterwards, he was kind enough to sign both of his books (The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist’s Thumb) for me.

Those two books bring my small but growing collection of autographed books to ten.  Some of them are people who gave presentations I attended, and some are books that my mom had signed for me, and overall it’s an interesting collection.  Here is the remainder of the list, in case you are curious.  The first three books are the folks that I met in person.

Sundown Towns by James Loewen
From the Bottom Up by Chad Pregracke
Eye to Eye, signed by both Frans Lanting (the photographer) and Chris Eckstrom (the editor)

100 Heartbeats by Jeff Corwin
National Parks: the American Experience by Alfred Runte
Talk, Talk retold by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate (children’s)
Till Year’s Good End by W. Nikola-Lisa  (children’s)
Song of the Red Fox by Brian “Fox” Ellis  (poetry)

Pretty awesome, huh?  I was fortunate to get to meet some cool people, and I’m fortunate to have a mom who gets to meet cool people.  🙂  I’d like to continue to grow this list as opportunities arise!

Under the Weather

I love to contemplate words and their usage, especially when they are applicable to my own life.  Feeling a bit ill myself, I have found sick to be an interesting word and concept.

First, there is the fact that this is one of the things in the English language for which there are many euphemisms.  Under the weather.  Not myself.  Less than 100 percent.  Feeling poorly.  (Or the kid version: I don’t feel good.)

The other interesting thing is that “sick” is a somewhat blanket concept.  I am sick right now because I have a sinus infection with a secondary ear infection.  A person is sick if their digestive tract is not their friend, in either direction, or if they are trying to cough up a lung.  It’s kind of odd though; you wouldn’t refer to someone with a broken leg as sick.  Perhaps there is a requirement for some level of perceived ick factor on which the concept of ill or sick hinges; maybe you need mucus or blood or some other bodily fluid involved to count as sick.

Since I am fighting off whatever microscopic being has decided to invade my sinuses and ears, I think some sleep is in order.  Hopefully my ear won’t feel like it’s stuffed full of cotton balls tomorrow.  🙂

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