Clocked knowing

The grandfather clock in my parents’ entryway hasn’t worked for over forty years, pendulum unswung, deliberately silenced long ago because it was “too noisy.”  12:04, its hands read. Time is an illusion; time stands still.

Sitting here, at the kitchen table, across from my aged father, out of sight of the silent clock, I am aware that time is all too real, passing even when unmeasured.

I sit and listen to stream-of-conciousness, demented rambling that lasts for hours and mingles past and present in a word salad that includes frequent, unhappy, and often fierce repetitions of “I don’t know,”  “I know but I don’t tell them I know,” “Everyone is stupid; they don’t know,” “I’m not stupid; I know,” “What, do you think I’m stupid?” and “I don’t care.”

“Oh, but you do care,” I don’t say.  Nor do I say, “And I care, too.”

The only acceptable responses are “I agree”, “OK,” or “I don’t know either.”   Beware engaging with the convoluted substance of the rambling; instead, focus on the emotion and acknowledge it, and maybe there will be a little less anger and frustration at all the loss and the unknowing.

And the caring that is so hard to take.

Are you trying to tempt me?


Hangman word of the day is: traumatic.  

(I play hangman once per day on my phone and pretend that the word predicts something about the day.)

One Question, Many Answers #2

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “fan”?

 

“The abbreviation of FANATIC! Perhaps not the most knowledgeable, but likely to be the most passionate. (And perhaps not quite sane.)”

–Anonymous fan at BayCon 2017
East Bay Linux Users Group at 
eblug.org

 

“A small piece of equipment that has blades which spin and move air.”

–Anonymous fan at BayCon 2017

 

“Creative enthusiast.”

–Jean Martin (costumer, editor-in-chief, dancer, singer, actor, photographer)
creativeavocations.com

 

 

One Question, Many Answers #1

At BayCon 2017, a science fiction and fantasy convention that’s taken place annually in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past twenty-five years, I cornered people in the hallways and asked them to participate in my One Question, Many Answers series.

Fans
Fans answered the following two questions:

  1. What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “fan“?
  2. What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “reading“?

Authors
Authors answered the following two questions:

  1.  What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “writing“?
  2.  What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “reading“?

Every couple of days over the next week or so, I will post answers to these questions, along with people’s names or pseudonyms and links to publications, passion projects, or charities that the fans and authors want to promote.

I’m going to start with a few of the authors’ answers to the first question.

Q.  What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “writing”?

 

“That I should really be writing and not doing whatever it was I had been doing.”

–Anna Rose (Author)
A Darker Shadow by Jake Keplin

 

“Being a god, creating a world to make it my way and finally have the control that real life never gives.”

–Meg Elison (Author)
The Book of Etta
megelison.com

 

“My desk, coffee, morning, being cold, knit hats, penguins.”

–Tyler Hayes (Author)
The One About Jacob” (short story)

 

Video

Rat in the Walls 3: Angrr

Here’s the third video in Rat in the Walls, in which I read the third post that I wrote during the last year of my brother’s life.  A copy of the post appears below the recording.

I recorded the video at BayCon 2017 but have delayed releasing it.  Approximately 45 minutes after I got home from the con, my sister called to tell me that Mom is back in the hospital, so my sister is now watching over our 91-year-old Mom in the hospital while I take care of our 95-year-old Dad at home.  More caregiving.

Title:  Angrr

Angrr:

Tiger in the chest
Claws out.

 

Guest Interview: Denise Tanaka

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Denise Tanaka, the talented writer of a delightful fantasy novel, Truth in Cinders.

Denise is a lifelong writer of magical beings and fantastic worlds. Her short stories have appeared in issues of SQ Mag (edition #17), of New Realm (Vol. 1 No. 12 and Vol. 2 No. 6), in the annual anthology Once Upon A World No. 7, and her latest story appears in the AlternaTEAS anthology edited by Elizabeth Gilligan. In her spare time, she creates historical and fantasy-based costumes. Her live spin transformation Diana Prince-to-Wonder Woman costume won Honorable Mention (Journeyman) in the masquerade at Sasquan the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention.

Truth_in_Cinders-400jpg.jpg


Welcome, Denise, and thank you for talking with us today.  Let’s jump right in.  
Is there a difference in your short stories and your novels, other than length?

Yes, my short stories tend to be contemporary urban fantasy and my novels are epic other-world fantasy. One reason is that short stories don’t give a lot of space for elaborate, original world-building. I need to dig right in to a short story whereas a novel has more room to explore. Short stories focus on a moment, or a single revelation, and a novel is a longer journey with a sequence of many moments leading up to a conclusion.


What’s one of the first books you remember reading or having read to you?

One of my earliest memories is sitting on my mother’s lap while she read The Gingerbread Man. I still have the book, though it’s a bit tattered by the years. It has colorful illustrations. I recall feeling a bit sad in the end when the gingerbread cookie meets his untimely demise.


What attracts you to the fantasy genre?

Fantasy has the most possibilities. It can have the most unique, imaginative creatures or events. It is not constrained by the laws of physics. The hero and heroine don’t have to wind up happily-ever-after together. Literally anything can happen! Frankly, I am often bored by mainstream fiction or romance-for-the-sake-of-romance type books. If I weren’t writing fantasy I would probably write detective mysteries. I love unlocking secrets and discovering surprises in the end.


What do you feel like when you are writing?

I feel removed from the real world yet still a part of it. I am in a semi meditative state, almost hypnotized, yet lucid and aware of structure and grammar. I swim in and out of my own imagination.


Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?

I’m a fan of old t.v. shows like, “The Immortal,” “The Invaders,” “The Fugitive,” and “The Incredible Hulk.” I wanted to tell a story from the point of view of somebody who lends assistance to the lone man on the run. In the t.v. shows, the people who shelter the hero seem to accept his innocence pretty quickly. But if you’ve just met this guy, how can you be sure he’s telling the truth? That he didn’t do it? I overlaid some fantasy elements, tied it into my original universe, and I was off!

If I could add one more thing? I wrote the first draft of this novel many years ago when I was part of a writer’s group with Elizabeth Gilligan, Teresa Edgerton, Kevin Andrew Murphy, and others. I got some great feedback but, at the time, my writing skills were not yet developed to the point where I could implement their advice. Then, I reconnected with Beth Gilligan at a local convention and she asked about this story. After all these years, she still remembered some elements of the plot. It inspired me to dig it up out of the drawer and do a fairly extensive rewrite of the magic system and the events of the second half. I’m glad that I put it aside while I built up my skills on other manuscript drafts. I’m pretty happy with how this final version turned out.


Which of your characters do you feel closest to or enjoy writing most?

In this novel, I feel closest to the main point of view character. You can’t write 400+ pages in a fictional person’s head without getting to feel close to her! I slipped in a lot of my own insecurities and awkwardness. I also gave her a speech impediment, and although I never stuttered quite this badly, I’ve always had trouble expressing myself verbally. I used to dread speaking out loud in class. If I get nervous or if I’m put on the spot, I can easily slip into mild stuttering where I’ll hesitate, repeat a word several times, or fill in gaps with “ummm.”


Which scene was particularly hard to write, and why?

The opening! That first page needs to grab the reader’s attention while relaying information about an unfamiliar world. Originally, I had a couple of pages watching Condrie the tavern maid go about her morning chores and thinking about her life. I put it up for critique in an online forum and they convinced me to shave it down.


How do your hobbies or real-world passions and projects show up in your writing?

For most of my life, I’ve pursued a hobby in historical or fantasy costuming. I am a member of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild http://www.gbacg.org/ When I describe my characters’ wardrobe, I am very conscious of the materials and fashion.


Do you write full time, or do you have another role? If so, what?

My day job pays the bills. I work as a paralegal in an immigration lawyer’s office. I’ve in this field for about 12 years.


If you could go anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go, who would you take with you, if anyone, and why?

Easy! Viña del Mar in Chile. A few years ago, I researched a non-fiction true crime story that happened 100 years ago. One of the key personages came from Chile and I became fascinated with the colorful history of the area. I would love to explore the amazing sights of Easter Island, Patagonia, and the Andes mountains. Whoever wants to come along is welcome.

About Truth in Cinders by Denise B. Tanaka

Condrie the tavern maid befriends a man on the run only to discover he is a firebird disguised in human form. Together they must elude the tyrant king’s relentless forces while seeking the truth of who massacred other firebirds enslaved to the king.

Truth_in_Cinders-400jpg.jpgAvailable from Sasoriza Books at www.sasorizabooks.com

Available from Amazon (print and Kindle) at http://a.co/exAvijA

Available in other formats (Nook, iBooks, Kobo, etc.)
at https://www.books2read.com/u/3kZyQO

Visit Denise on Facebook

 

 

 

BayCon 2017 Community

baycon2017-guide-300.jpgAt my final panel yesterday, we talked about love in dystopian society (including failed romances like the one in 1984) and the importance of relationships and community in wartime.

For myself, the discussion suddenly went meta:  being at BayCon, in this IDIC atmosphere, an enclave of loving and diverse relationships that contrasts so sharply with the current state of U.S. politics–right there, in the middle of the panel, I found I had made a decision. I need to work on Red Hand.

Red Hand tells the story of an older woman with the rare ability to heal individuals dying of a galactic-wide plague that’s been decimating populations for decades, causing wars, disrupting civilizations, and encouraging isolationism.  The woman and others who possess the healing ability are themselves oppressed by those who see them as a source of power and wealth, or as means to stabilize chaos, or as a threat that must be properly regulated and controlled.

At the beginning of the novel, we see the woman in crisis.  She has little of herself left to give, drained by decades spent healing others while on the run from the Red Hand, an apparently benign paternalistic organization sanctioned by the remnants of the galactic government to regulate healers.  She longs for a permanent home, to live in a community without fear of discovery.  But she can’t have that if she continues to heal.

People will die if she stops healing.

If she doesn’t stop, she will die without having lived a life of her own.

In this moment of personal crisis, forced to flee yet another impending capture on yet another planet, she takes passage on a small spaceship captained by a man with secrets of his own on a mission that poses a direct threat to her dreams.

He’s a good guy.  He has reasons.

But he’s out to capture a healer.

 

 

BayCon 2017 Costumes

Shael in knitted
Shael Hawman knits fantastic costumes.  For BayCon 2017, she knitted a Star Wars flight suit!

Last year, Denise Tanaka was Wonder Woman.  This year, she is … faceless.

 

 

 

Video

Rat in the Walls 2: Body Blocking

Here is the second video from Rat in the Walls.

For the original post (the second on the Rat in the Walls blog), look below the video.

Title: Body Blocking

His illness is written on my body.

Eating excessively for the past six months, I’ve gained forty pounds, accumulating layers of fat. I tie my intestines in square knots, turn my emotions into sausages, blocking, holding on.

As if I become heavy enough, weighty enough, I might anchor him in place.

Video

Rat in the Walls Introspective

Last night, I couldn’t sleep.

My brother died of ALS in February 2008, after blogging almost daily about his illness following his diagnosis in December 2003.  I began blogging about caregiving in a companion blog during the final year before his death.  I called my blog Rat in the Walls.

After he died, I stopped posting and let the rats fall silent.

In May 2014, I finally revisited the site for the first time since his death, and I posted this:

When I first started on Blogger, my handle was Ratty, maintaining anonymity so that in my Rat in the Walls blog I could write about my brother’s fatal illness without giving away his identity. Under that pseudonym, I could voice things I couldn’t elsewhere. Rats thrive in the dark. ::: Now, five years after his death in 2008, I’m coming out of the walls and reclaiming my humanity.

I didn’t reread any of my posts in 2014.  Too soon.

Now, in May 2017, I’m ready to reread them.

So, here’s the project:  as I open each post and look at it for the first time since my brother died, I’m going to make a video recording in which I read the post aloud and say something about it.

I don’t remember much about the posts, except the following:

  • They are short.
  • Some of them state a brief lesson about caregiving that I learned that day.
  • Some of them respond implicitly to the post that my brother made in his blog that day or a preceding day.

Here’s a link to the video I made last night while looking at the first post.

The original blog post says:

Title: Knock Knock

Scurrying, nibbling, hiding. That’s the Rat in the Walls. Knocking about at night, avoiding the light, coveting the cheese.

You only see the leavings: the dry little kernels that trace Rat’s passage through your cupboards; the holes gnawed behind your stove. The fruits of your labor, tooth-marked, scattered.

The Rat lurks in your back brain.