alanajoli: (mini me)
So, the world didn't end in December. That's just the start of the good things on my list as we're entering 2013.

Yesterday, first day of the year, I got a (small) royalty check from the sales of Into the Reach and Departure, which is a great way to start a new year off right! I checked my sales report today, and the 99 cent sale definitely encouraged people to buy the books. So hurrah for that! I'm leaving the sale open through this weekend, and after that will be putting the books up at $2.99, which is the price point that I, as a reader, will impulse buy. At any rate, I'm thrilled with the uptick in sales and am glad that people are out there reading the novels!

In addition, people have been saying nice things about Choice of Kung Fu. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that it would get covered in reviews, but I was surprised a few days after its release to see a lot of app reviews up on Google and iTunes -- by people I don't know. And most of them were nice! There were two really insightful reviews by bloggers that I thought I'd link to here: Dora at Casual Gameplay called the game "a rich, compelling narrative set against the backdrop of mystical ancient China" in her review. Tof Eklund of TouchArcade really got some of what the game was trying to do beyond just martial arts adventure; he wrote "what amazed me was seeing the Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian strains of thought, complete with their conflicts (but never categorical oppositions) that play out in the game, and seeing the opportunity to play according to those philosophies, or reject them all." I can't say how excited I am to see someone not only recognize my efforts in that direction, but to think I pulled it off.

Beyond reviews, my buddy Brian LeTendre wrote up a really nice piece about me and my work at his blog See Brian Write. I've really been enjoying Brian's web comic MoStache, and I've just (belatedly) purchased his novel Courting the King in Yellow, which promises to be full of Lovecraftian goodness. Knowing Brian as a gamer as well as a reviewer and podcaster, I know he tells a great story in person, so I'm looking forward to reading his prose!



In other news, 2012 was not an entire success: I did not make my reading goals for last year. Although I did read one non-work related nonfiction book (John "jaQ" Andrews's Quicklet on Castle Season 3, a novel by an autobio writer (The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley, plus several David Weber novels), three rereads, several new graphic novels that weren't review books, and four kids books that weren't for MythSoc, I only read one novel outside my genres (The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley), and only drew down my physical TBR pile by two books instead of twelve.

This year, I'm setting that TBR goal higher, and repeating most of the other goals. Interestingly, out of 141 books I read (sometimes grouping together kids books and graphic novels), around 80 of those were for review for the various publications I write for. Which explains to me why maybe I missed a few of those goals I'd set for myself. To good reading in 2013!
alanajoli: (Default)
Seems to me that there was a time, not so long ago, that I used to keep up with dozens of bloggers, who I liked and felt a kinship with. That also used to be the time when I updated my own blog with some regularity. Clearly, that time has passed.

It was a very busy, and fantastic, summer here in Connecticut (and surroundings -- this summer marked my first ever trip to the Bronx Zoo!).

Tiger, Tiger

There has not been a whole lot to report writing-wise. I am currently at work on a project for Choice of Games, featuring a kung fu theme. Considering I am also preparing for my black belt test in kempo (to take place in November), I have a lot of martial arts on the brain. I've been meaning to write about the process of creating a text-based interactive novel game, but I have been spending more time writing than writing-about-writing. (And also learning how to balance my work-from-home time as Bug is deciding that naps are no longer a guaranteed part of the day.)

Here is the news in a nutshell:
Writing
My newest article for Dragon magazine, "Songs of Sorcery," is out in the current issue. As usual, it's myth based, but it's also got a lot of silly lyrics that I wrote to common tunes. Quite a lot of it ended up being cut from my original draft, and some additional fun lyrics got added by the designers (I suspect developer Tanis O'Connor should be credited with some of the new work!), which makes it feel (to me) like a fun collaborative effort. I'm quite pleased with the final result (though I am a little sad that the hero theme song to the tune of "Funiculì, Funiculà" didn't make the cut).

Reading
This summer has included several book birthdays of those blogging writers I used to keep up with. I'm pleased to be entirely caught up on three current urban-fantasy series (instead of the most recent installments sitting on my TBR pile): Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels series, which had Gunmetal Magic come out in July; Devon Monk's "Age of Steam" series (July's release was second installment Tin Swift; and Kalayna Price's Alex Craft series, which also had a July release (Grave Memory).

I'm also really excited about the launch of three new series:


Since I am at the moment one step ahead of my paid-review pile (I do have several books for unpaid lounging around the office), I'm trying to catch up on both review books and books I just really want to read. I'm currently at 116 books read in 2012 -- three short of last year's total -- but in order to make my specific reading goals I posted on January 1, I've got sixteen non-review titles to choose and read before the end of the year. Four moths to do it in? No problem.

If anyone has a recommendation for a non-SFFH, non-romance, adult fiction book they read this year and would endorse without hesitation, I'm all ears. I made it a goal to read two books outside my genres this year, and while I've picked one, I'm still undecided about the other.
alanajoli: (Default)
I happened upon some fun history this week (though some was published awhile ago). According to the Guardian, a collection of fairy tales by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth was just discovered in Germany after being archived for some 150 years. The fairy tales are not the polished versions of the Brothers Grimm (as evidenced by this excerpt):

A young prince lost his way in the forest and came to a cave. He passed the night there, and when he awoke there stood next to him an old woman with a bear and a dog. The old witch seemed very beautiful and wished that the prince would stay with her and marry her. He could not endure her, yet could not leave that place.


You can reread the story in full here. It's worth taking a look, and then trying to reconstruct it as a narrative that would stand alone, instead of relying on interpretation based on other previously read and studied fairy stories.



On a different note, rogueclassicist over at rogueclassicism posted (back in February) about just how much the book shopping experience in Ancient Rome is mirrored by book shopping today. He quotes an article, written a few years ago, by Mary Beard, which reported:

For those who did go in, there was usually a place to sit and read. With slaves on hand to summon up refreshments, it would have been not unlike the coffee shop in a modern Borders.


Of course, a good copy of a 500 line work cost about the same as what it would cost to feed a family of four for a year. So some things are not quite the same.

On a more personal note, I was checking in with my reading goals today and realized that I'd made one! I've already reread three books this year -- one of them by surprise, because it was on my TBR pile, and I hadn't realized until I'd started it that I'd already read it. And then, of course, since I'd started it, I might as well finish!

I'm into the Mythsoc long lists now, as well, so I'm reading a lot of good quality fantasy. And the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards are coming up, so I'll have a small pile of YA titles to read for that. There will be no shortage of reading material for me in the next month!
alanajoli: (advice)
A few years ago, the Glamazombies (my nickname for fans of writer Mark Henry, also known as [livejournal.com profile] mdhenry) hosted a 52 book challenge on Mark's mailing list. Since then, I've been tracking the number of books I read, including juvenile literature (nothing shorter than a Roald Dahl chapter book) and graphic novels (I did credit myself for going through all of the archives of Schlock Mercenary last year, but am not giving myself credit for keeping up with the daily reading). I made it to 119 books in 2011, and finished my first read of 2012 this afternoon.

I thought, hey, why not set some goals for next year? I've really just been tracking them and not setting any goals for myself, but I thought maybe I could diversify my reading a little more this year. So along with the goal of hitting the even 120 in 2012, I'm setting the following goals:

  • 1 new-to-me nonfiction book not related to work

  • 2 novels that are not SFF or romance

  • 1 novel by an author who I've worked with on the autobio project, but haven't read before

  • 3 rereads of books I've previously loved

  • 1 new graphic novel that is not a review book

  • 12 books from my as-of-2011 TBR pile (which will only start to make a dent; it keeps growing and I keep not gaining ground)

  • 4 kids books beyond the ones on the list for the 2011 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominations list


My reading challenge to all of you: set one goal for what you will read next year, whether it's in quantity, diversity, or quality. I'd love to hear what they are!
alanajoli: (Default)
According to Random.org, last week's winner (with a twitter feed from HeldenSiegfried) is [livejournal.com profile] holmes_iv. Congratulations! Let me know the best way to get you the book. :)

I have to say, I really enjoyed the Trickster love that showed up -- from Coyote to Anansi to Sun Wukong ([livejournal.com profile] lyster, is he the Monkey King?). I also liked the idea of Q, who is arguably a Trickster figure (and certainly as verbose as [livejournal.com profile] kattw suggests). There really is just something about Tricksters, whether they're gods or culture heroes or just the lovable rogue archetype (aka Han Solo) that makes life fun.

And sometimes also terrifying. But that's their job.

--

In other news, I met what I think was my one major resolution this year: I finished "The Dark Is Rising" sequence by Susan Cooper. The last two books were read-aloud family books, so that Bug could be included in them, and we wrapped up Silver on the Tree today. I have to say, the last chapter is hard for me to swallow, as it contains something of a bitter pill for several of the characters. (I'm trying not to spoil the ending here, since if I'd gone this long without reading them, someone else may have, too.) Mind you, it's not the same kind of trouble I had with Philip Pullman's very well-written but ultimately not-my-thing The Golden Compass and sequels, where I realized two-thirds of the way through the last book that he was telling an entirely different story than I'd thought he was, which ruined the books for me. Cooper's story is fantastic, and the ending has some qualities reminiscent of both Tolkien and Lewis. But one of the final consequences is not sitting well with me (much like Susan's fate in the Narnia books made me angry as a child), and I wonder how I would have reacted to the ending had I read them when I was the same age as the characters. I suspect that, like Narnia, I would have rewritten the fate I didn't like in my head, and believed the story ended a different way, at least, in my telling of it. Now I'm too caught up in the authorial decision -- why was a certain fate chosen for the characters? what does that imply about the rest of the story? -- and can't just imagine my own way out of it because I'm stuck in the analysis.

Which is to say, I highly recommend the series. I hope Bug loves them when she's growing up. But I'd love to hear (in a spoiler-filled way) from others who have read the books about the consequence I'm discussing, and their interpretations. So, gang, comments to this post are not spoiler free. Please, please, have at, and I'll respond.

But on to the contest. Tell me about a children's book that you either a) read as an adult and thought you'd have experienced it differently as a child, or b) rewrote the ending in your head. This week's prize is a double whammy: two "Death Gate" novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Fire Sea and Into the Labyrinth. Good luck!
alanajoli: (Default)
It was a wacky week, with Bug's baptism this past Sunday. The ceremony involved the baptism gown that I wore when I was a baby, and my sister wore when she was a baby, and now my daughter has also worn. It also involved the christening bowl from Twostripe's side of the family, which has been used now over the course of three centuries, with the first baptism taking place in, I believe, the 1880s. Three adults were also baptized in the same service, and all of the candidates had water poured over their heads with sea shells. It was quite lovely.

The biggest joy for me was having my family out to visit from Michigan/Chicagoland. They visited for nearly a week, and it was great to have them. It did impact my ability to get writing done, of course, so there's not much to report for KSC this week.

I do have some sooper sekrit news, though, which I'm hoping to announce soon. I never get to be the writer with sooper sekrit news, so it's totally exciting to post that! One hint: it involves pictures. Vague enough?

But here's the reason for my post today: there's a fantasy cage match going on that features two awesome duos: Alanna of Tortall vs. Meliara of Tlanth/Remalna and Aerin from The Blue Sword vs. Astrid from Rampant. Man, talk about tough choices between heroines I admire! Go visit and see the other duels -- and vote!

Edit: Just found out that Aerin was withdrawn from the competition by the author. Congrats to Astrid (whose author is [livejournal.com profile] dpeterfreund) on the default progression. (I'm assuming y'all know that Alanna's author is [livejournal.com profile] tammypierce and Mel's author is [livejournal.com profile] sartorias.)

Goals Day

Jul. 27th, 2010 10:40 pm
alanajoli: (Default)
Guess who has two thumbs and wrote a short story over the weekend?

This writer!

(Imagining me gesturing to myself with my thumbs -- or giving a salute Don Cherry style. Whichever you prefer)

I am so wonderfully excited about being back in the fiction saddle. The story turned out well (Twostripe liked it, which I consider a success -- he's not obligated to like my writing, but he is obligated to tell me if he doesn't, so I'm always pleased when I get approval from him on a first draft). I'm hoping to get a couple of reader responses this week so I can get it off in the e-mail in time for the submission deadline. I am so glad that I had a deadline to shoot for -- it made me consider the work urgent and important, not just important. (Important work that isn't urgent gets shoved down on the priority list under things that are urgent but not important, sadly. That's just how it goes!)

At any rate, next week, I'll probably post a teaser, but for now, I'm just glad I have something to report for Kaz's Summer Camp! Hint: It's a Hobbomock story, so I've finally written something about the Sleeping Giant. (In the process of writing it, I've discovered that the Quinnipiac Tribal Council has put a lot more information up online, and I'm psyched to dig through that.)

Are any of the rest of you campers? I'm embarrassed to say I'm not reading all the notes on Kaz's posts. (I also hear she's under the weather, so I'm about to pop over there, hoping that she's feeling better.)
alanajoli: (Default)
I don't know what week it is. I'm beginning to think that will be a condition for the rest of my life as a mom. I do think a lot about how last year at this time, I was falling asleep for hours unintentionally and feeling sick to my stomach, and that my act of creativity was biological. Bug's "story," thus far, has been a delightful one, and I'm looking forward to her becoming a progressively bigger collaborator.

But on to my goals. I said last week: when you leave a story alone that long, is it yours any more? Is it the story you're meant to tell if you can set it down and walk away from it for a full year?

A lot of people had great things to say in the comments on that entry. [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann's struck me as particularly poignant:

It may be less fair to ask "Is the story still mine?" in these cases than to ask, "Have I changed too much to remain its author?" Stories are not the only things that may be considered "works in progress."

This is sort of where my thought process has gone. In my questions, which are related but not intimately, I was seeing those two changing factors in two ways:

1) If I've left a story alone for a year, am I still the person who should write it? Does that story, as I would have told it, belong to the writer I am now? To echo Jeff, "Have I changed too much to write this story?"

2) If I've walked away from a story for a year, and wasn't compelled to write any more of it, it may be that the story I was trying to write isn't the one that needed me to write it. I think about that in terms of the Blackstone Academy project a lot. There are elements in that story that came from an earlier story that was also not the story I needed to write. So I think what will be best is leaving that draft, those three chapters I've already written, as scaffolding. I think I should scrap them and start over. And based on where I am in my writing goals these days (inspired largely by [livejournal.com profile] slwhitman and her Tu Books project and the entries about the importance of multicultural F/SF over at Genreville), I think that some of those elements will stick around, and others will go by the wayside.

Now, the quantifiables:

Reasonable goal:
* With my cowriter, finish the draft of our serial novel. (We're at chapter 10 of 20 -- halfway there!)
I finally went over [livejournal.com profile] lyster's chapter 11, and in response, it's now been made into chapters 11 and 12. My goal is to write chapters 13 and 14 to be ready for his review after his upcoming life event. I've already written 800 words (of the 1500 to 3000 word limit per chapter) of chapter 13, but there's a lot to accomplish in those two chapters, so I'm not sure what percentage I've actually finished. Still, progress is progress, and I revised the outline for the rest of the story, getting some good feedback from Max, so we're solidifying the awesome of here to the end.

* Write one short story.
This one is sneaking up on me fast. I want to have a solid short story ready for a submission deadline on August 1st; my short story writing tends to work in spurts, so there's still hope. I've settled on the idea that I'm going to work on, and if I can get a few hours with no other priorities, I should be able to slam something out in time to actually do revisions before the submission.

* Write multiple book reviews.
Since last week, I've written a PW review, two reviews for Mythprint, and one that will appear here at MtU&E in honor of [livejournal.com profile] m_stiefvater's awesome recent release, Linger. I still have more reviews on deck, but I'm actually making progress here.

* Additional contracted work that's come up has been going reasonably well, also. Lots of copyediting, but also some writing -- I finished a short essay on the Harry Potter books and will be writing four more essays this summer about various notable novels.

Extended goal:

* Write three chapters of the YA novel I'm working on.
Well, you already heard about this one above. Scrapping and starting over.

* Write three short stories (including the one above).
When I was looking at my percolating ideas, I came up with a couple that might be worth following up on, besides the one for the deadline. At least one involves giants.

* Restart the adult novel I haltingly began last year now that it's percolated and I have an idea of where it's going.
I think I'm going to reprioritize this -- meaning that I'm unprioritizing it. I'd rather see what the restart on the YA novel becomes.

* Blog at least three times a week
Ha! Well, that may actually happen this week, but I've not established any sort of pattern, have I? :)
alanajoli: (lol deadlines)
Between the hyphens is a bit that I'm copying over from my Kaz's Summer Camp check-in comment this week, because it'd feel too sad to type it twice.

--

I wrote a book review. Plus column!

Minus column? I realized, in looking at my saved fiction files, that aside from my ongoing role playing games, I've created nothing of my own since last June. A whole year has gone by without any unique creative input from me. (I'm cowriting that novel, which I'm behind on, as seems to be my wont these days, but it's a collaborative effort in someone else's world, not my own. It's a great project and I'm glad I'm doing it, but it's not -mine- in the way that other fiction has been mine...)

I'm hoping this is my hump, that this realization is the one that motivates me forward. I'm hoping.

--

I'm proud to be working on BT, don't get me wrong. I love cowriting with [livejournal.com profile] lyster. But I need to do *something* to get back on the writing horse, to write things that are uniquely mine.

In the meantime, copyediting is piling up and a couple of reference book essays and a slew of obituaries are waiting for me. Here we are, back again to the learning-to-balance side of life. If I get back to blogging this week, I want to talk about priorities, so maybe bouncing ideas off of all of you will help me figure out how to manage my work and writing time better.
alanajoli: (Default)
Egads, June is just flying by! I can't believe we're almost at the end of the month.

My mother and cousins were visiting last week, which was wonderful; we had a wonderful time at Chez Abbott, and also doing local things like taking a Thimble Island Cruise (always one of my favorite things to take guests on). Of course, having company is always problematic for keeping your regular schedule -- my family is so much more *interesting* than my to do list. So I'm catching up on e-mail and the new assignments that just came in (yay work!).

I did turn in an article for Flames Rising's Vampire Week celebration. More on that when it's been accepted, but in the mean time, you can check out vampire related interviews and reviews. This counts toward my Kaz Summer Camp reviews, which is a good thing, since I didn't make progress anywhere else this past week!

Of course, while we're celebrating vampires, The Onion says they're on the way out. Check out the article on what's going to be the "new" vampire.
alanajoli: (Default)


Yesterday was the two week check in for Kaz's Summer Camp, but it's been busy at the Abbott household, with family visiting and writing actually getting done! Here's where I stand so far:

Reasonable goal:
* With my cowriter, finish the draft of our serial novel. (We're at chapter 10 of 20 -- halfway there!)
[livejournal.com profile] lyster has submitted chapter 11, so we're moving right along. It's my turn, and I hope to have that back to him before the next goal check in.

* Complete typesetting on four essays written by other authors (this is contracted, so it's kinda cheating to count it).
Done! All of the typeset essays got turned in to my editor last Friday. There are a couple of paperwork issues to finish up, but otherwise, it's all taken care of.

* Write one short story.
No progress yet on this one.

* Write multiple book reviews (not contracted, but already arranged with the venues in which they'll appear).
One SLJ review got turned in, and I'm working on the mythsoc reading list before diving back into some other reviews.

The only extended goal worth mentioning is:
* Blog at least three times a week.
I obviously haven't gotten on track with this! I'm counting each week as a new week, though, so this will be a weekly goal rather than a summer-long goal.

I'm also adding a new goal:
* Write a joint interview article for Flames Rising.
My questions have already been sent out to various awesome writers, and I'm getting some great responses back (many of them hilarious). Once the article goes over to Flames Rising, I'll talk a little bit more about it here.

Goals

Jun. 3rd, 2010 10:03 pm
alanajoli: (Default)
I've written here about using a few different goals strategies, and about how I particularly liked [livejournal.com profile] devonmonk's reasonable goals combined with above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty goals, as it's encouraging to land somewhere in the middle. I decided to set some for the summer, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kaz_mahoney's Summer Camp. She's doing a writing goals thing (not a challenge, as that sounds too competitive) for the summer months, with a Tuesday check in, starting next week.



To share with you all, here are my summer writing goals:

Reasonable goal:
* With my cowriter, finish the draft of our serial novel. (We're at chapter 10 of 20 -- halfway there!)
* Complete typesetting on four essays written by other authors (this is contracted, so it's kinda cheating to count it).
* Write one short story.
* Write multiple book reviews (not contracted, but already arranged with the venues in which they'll appear).

Extended goal:
All of the above, plus:
* Write three chapters of the YA novel I'm working on.
* Write three short stories (including the one above).
* Restart the adult novel I haltingly began last year now that it's percolated and I have an idea of where it's going.
* Blog at least three times a week.

If you're looking for motivation, do check out Kaz's Summer Camp and join us!
alanajoli: (mini me)
All right, one week to get myself back on my feet, and here I am, returning to ye olde blog. (I was delayed in turning in my short story to my editor, and one of the things I forbade myself from doing was blogging before it was finished and ready to turn in.) But a couple of cool things happened today, and I wanted to make sure to blog about them, and update you guys on my goals from the trip, before Saturday turned into Sunday. (Hopefully, the novel tourism post will go up tomorrow!)

So, first cool thing: my review of Caitlin Kittridge's ([livejournal.com profile] blackaire's) novel, Street Magic, went up on Flames Rising. Matt was kind enough to post it for me on a Saturday, because the book has just hit the shelves, and I didn't want to have gotten an advanced reader copy for nothing! It's a really, really excellent novel, which I expound upon in my review. Check out what I had to say, and look for the novel at your local bookstore!

Second cool thing: I finally got to meet Anton Strout ([livejournal.com profile] antonstrout) (who is, for the record, the most beloved low-to-midlist urban fantasy writer in America, or so I hear) live and in person. He did a book signing up in Pittsfield, his home stomping grounds and not distant from my college stomping grounds. So finally, I have my books signed. Hooray! I decided that bringing him a PEZ dispenser would border on creepy fangirl, so I decided to eschew it and just bring books and questions and a big smile. He did a reading from the first chapter of Deader Still, which was brilliantly creepy and got wonderful reactions from the audience (including me -- I'd forgotten how vivid, and, frankly, gross, that scene was!). The best part, however, was his commentary -- as he was reading, he'd interrupt himself and tell us little bits about the characters or his word choice or things that he liked about the scene, which was a huge enhancement to the story for me. Also (and I hope I'm not blowing his cover), he is super nice in person. Based on his blog and his books, I was expecting more snark, but he was totally gracious and sweet. (And I'm not just saying this because he might find this entry later. These are honest impressions here!)

The Barnes and Noble in Pittsfield is pretty darn great. They didn't have Pandora's Closet in stock, sadly, but I did pick up Red Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells and Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh. The staff was really great, too, but my favorite part was walking in and seeing a young woman reading manga with this huge grin on her face, totally oblivious to anyone walking by. Seeing the power of reading in person like that gives me a little thrill.

So, those are my good things. Now to catch up on my goals... )
alanajoli: (british mythology)
[livejournal.com profile] devonmonk inspired me with her goals system awhile ago, and while I haven't been keeping up with setting them (my to-do list keeps getting longer than my accomplishment list), I wanted to do that whole public accountability thing and set some goals here for the creative work I hope to get done on the England trip.

Reasonable Goals
Take photographs
Read 7 books
Finish one short story
Compose a photo essay for Journey to the Sea
Copyedit one autobiographical essay
Blog at least once

Unreasonable Goals
Take photographs and upload them for sharing
Read 10 books
Finish four in progress short stories
Finish a new short story for Baeg Tobar
Write the first three chapters of my Baeg Tobar serial novel
Write a hundred pages in either of my two WIPs (100 pages split between them would also be acceptable)
Compose the photo essay and an essay on sub-creation for Journey to the Sea
Copyedit both autobiographical essays and update the sketches that go with them
Blog once from every location with wireless internet

Aside from my goals, I'm still plotting out my book tourism.

Highlights of What We'll Be Seeing
British Museum
Stonehenge
Salisbury Cathedral
Avebury
St. Michael's Mount (Penzance)
Tintagel Castle
Cadbury Castle
Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury Tor
Chalice Well

I don't know if I'll have book tourists for all 10 of those highlights -- it's hard to decide what I want to take with me!
alanajoli: (Default)
I was talking to [livejournal.com profile] lyster tonight about philosophy and it occurred to me that I ought to share two of the abiding life lessons that have become my own life philosophies.

The first, and most important, is simple: "Secure your own mask before assisting others."

I've found that many people struggle with the morality of that, but I tend to believe the flight attendants when they say if you don't save yourself first, you won't be able to save anyone else. They're the professionals, after all.

The second is a philosophy for dealing with others, and I usually act it out, because it involves motion. It's a training technique from aikido, but it works with mental motion as much as it works with physical momentum.

Imagine you are facing a friend (or an enemy), and you are butting heads. You're coming at each other from opposite directions. The more you try to move each other, the more you get locked up in the conflict, because you are pushing against each other. If you want your friend, or enemy, to see your side or to move in your direction, sometimes you have to move behind him and walk forward with him toward the goal.

We used this in tutoring: as a tutor, you might see in an essay the eventual shape it would have when it was finished. But you couldn't just tell the student, "Here's where you're going with this," because they'd see it differently and butt heads. You had to go from their perspective and guide them forward toward the goal. Often times, you'd end up some place different than you thought you were headed at the beginning of the paper. And that journey was worthwhile, too.
alanajoli: (Default)
Just a quick post today, because I've been quite sick, so I'm behind on just about everything. (My editors, bless them, completely understand this sort of thing, so my deadlines have been extended and I don't need to panic.)

Do you remember the book Happiness Is a Warm Puppy? It was a great little book of Charlie Brown and the gang, each page bearing a single illustration and a "Happiness is..." quote. Today, I remembered Charlie Brown's Valentine's Day happiness (Happiness is a full mailbox on Valentine's Day, or something very much like it), because in my mailbox was a delightful little frog from Devon Monk ([livejournal.com profile] devonmonk). You'll recall that I posted back on her first Deadlines Dames entry about goals, and that they were a real motivator for me. Since then, she's sent out little reminders to people who participated that even if you lose sight of your goals, you can always get them back. The little frog in the envelope is a Japanese Kaeru Frog--kaeru means both "frog" and "return," so it's a wish to return safely to your destination.

I'm taping him to my computer monitor. (Devon--thanks for totally making my day!)

On goals

Jan. 22nd, 2009 10:16 pm
alanajoli: (Taru)
Two days in a row! It's been awhile since I blogged that frequently.

Since yesterday's commitment on Devon's Deadline Dames post, I've been thinking a lot about the nature of goals, and about the ones I set up for myself at the beginning of the year. It's easy to lose sight of goals when you're not doing anything about them, and I think I was headed down that path. But while studies show that people have a certain amount of willpower, and they have to spend it wisely, I find that sometimes, when I get going down the right track with things, it gets easier to stay focused on my goals.

Or maybe that's just bursts of inspiration. :)

So, I gained some weight over the holidays, and I'm working on bringing that back down to where it should be. (It's a matter of maybe twelve pounds, so it's not a huge issue--it's just something I need to be aware of to stay healthy.) I'm eliminating caffeine from my diet, also, which makes some of my standard techniques for putting off my sweet tooth a little difficult (no Cherry Coke Zero for me!). But otherwise, all of that seems to be going well.

I also started going back to karate this week, after adding playing outside and a little bit longer walking to my daily life. So I'm exercising a good bit more than I had been. And this is a good improvement, too.

Starting on those made me really think about the goal I set for developing a spiritual practice. I'm really bad about saying "I'll spend one hour doing X" or "From 5:00 to 6:00 is going to be my time to do Y." It's too restrictive for me, and I feel like I'm forcing myself to do things, rather than doing them because I want to. (Maybe that's where my willpower runs out!) But I realized last night, well, a girl's got to eat. And she might as well read philosophy and apologetics and books about the nature of faith, religion, and reality while she's eating. So my new idea is to use breakfast, and lunch if I eat at home, reading/studying some book from my spiritual bookshelf. I have quite a number of them. I figure this will also prep me for the England trip this May, where I'll be the TA/chaperon/driver for a myth course. I've been doing a reasonably good job keeping up with the students on the study tours, even though a lot of the material is a bit dated in my head (since I haven't studied it thoroughly since college). This year, I'd like to be a bit fresher on all the material they'll be studying this spring, so I can better delve into (and/or facilitate) conversations while we're at the sites we'll be studying.

Right now, it's breakfast with Barfield. (Better than Breakfast at Tiffany's! Try some in your own home!) I may try to bring in something from Saving the Appearances for my guest blog tomorrow (since I want to get back to doing those). There are some other excerpts waiting for me to get my act together and post them, however, so we'll see who rises to the surface!

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Alana Joli Abbott

July 2017

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