Saturday, April 13, 2019

State of the Schafer, Vol 1

They say nobody reads blogs anymore, and in a weird way I find that freeing. I haven't posted here in ages because I thought I should preserve all my time and effort for working on my actual book drafts. Yet recently I've been hankering to keep some sort of journal, a way to record progress and the small events of life without all the dismaying downsides of Facebook and other social media platforms. Ha, and then I remembered personal journaling used to be the entire point of a blog, once upon a time, before so much of the internet became about clicks and likes and pageviews and ways to monetize.

So, I'm going to try a little experiment for myself. A weekly update, about writing and life and whatever I feel like recording, mostly for my own benefit. Something I can look back on to trigger all the deeper memories, plus a way for distant friends and family to check in and see how our lives are going.

Writing Progress:

I'm still revising and reworking my Shattered Sigil novella, The White Serpent (this is the one from Cara's point of view). The revised draft currently sits at 15,973 words (out of an estimated 30-40K). I recently set a goal that every weekday, I want to end up with 500 more words than the day before.

500 words may not sound like much, but I find I work best with small goals that aren't hard to reach. Setting a small goal means I don't stress out about reaching it; I feel good when I make it, and better yet if I surpass it. If I have a day where getting words on the page feels like ripping out teeth, or else a day where a ton of unexpected tasks/issues eat up all my usual writing time, well...500 additional words isn't too hard to manage. I can still get that much done on a difficult day, even if the words are a terrible mess that will get deleted and rewritten the moment I have proper time and brainpower.

But the real test approaches...can I keep adding at least 500 words a day to the draft during the next 2 weeks when my son is on holiday from school? Fingers crossed.

Sad book news:

A little while ago I got an email from Thomson-Shore, the company who prints and sells the physical editions of The Labyrinth of Flame, saying the company is ceasing all print & distribution operations immediately and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Gosh, doesn't this seem familiar. At least Thomson-Shore doesn't hold any of my rights. Sadly, it does mean the illustrated physical editions of Labyrinth of Flame will no longer be available. I guess the few boxes I have leftover from the Kickstarter print run have become rare collectibles!

Skating: The Return

It's been years since I last skated regularly, thanks to injury recovery and then moving to NZ. The nearest rink is in Queenstown, an hour away over a mountain pass, and only opens for half the year. But upon seeing the rink open for the season this past Monday, and reading all the happy posts on Facebook from US skater friends celebrating at Adult Nationals, I could not deny how deeply I still miss the sport. My lumbar spine has been doing pretty well these days, so I contacted the Queenstown Ice Skating Club to ask about freestyle sessions and coaching, and headed over the pass for a trial hour of practice on a public session.

I tried to be very, very careful of my back. No axels, no double jump attempts, no layback spins, only a few low sit spins and change-foot camel spins. I concentrated on easy single jumps, upright spins, and footwork, and I stopped as soon as my back felt tired. The outcome: no sciatic pain (yay!), although my low back muscles were a bit sore the next day. There's just no other type of exercise that works the back in quite the same ways as skating. Yet my soreness didn't feel like squished nerves, more like, "oh gosh I haven't used these muscles like this in ages."

So I am...tentatively hopeful. It was lovely to be back on the ice, and yet also frustrating to see how rusty all my old skills have become after so long away. Oh well, lots of room for improvement, if I can keep my back healthy!

The good news about the rink being so far away is that it'll stop me from pushing too hard. I'm diligently working through core & back strengthening exercises from my old conditioning manuals, and I'll try another skating session next week. The Queenstown club secretary, who's also an adult skater, put me in touch with a bunch of friendly and very helpful skaters--the adult skating community here seems just as close-knit and supportive as the one I left behind, which has me all the more excited about returning to the sport. Fingers crossed my back can hold up to it.

New Zealand Life:

After a very warm start to autumn, cooler temps have definitely arrived. I'm wearing my super thick hoodie-footie pajamas at night again. I look like a giant Ewok, but I'm WARM, darn it.  (Seriously, those pjs are the single most useful thing I brought to NZ.) We've had to use our woodburner for heat in morning/evening, and we've glimpsed fresh snow on the highest peaks. Ski season is coming, albeit slowly. The resorts here don't usually open until late June.

Yesterday was the final day of Term 1 of my son's school year. In addition to all the usual reading and writing and maths, my son's class learned knitting and swing dancing, both of which he hugely enjoyed. I have to say, so far NZ seems to have way fewer hangups over gendered expectations for kids. The little girls here play just as roughly as the boys (which is, um, pretty rough...much rougher than was ever allowed at my son's Colorado school), while the boys are happy to learn knitting, dancing, cooking, etc. It's refreshing to see. As for me, I've never knitted or sewn anything in my life, so my son is quite excited that he can teach me how.

We should have some time for knitting instruction, since the kiddo is on holiday for the next 2 weeks, until the second term of his school year begins. My husband is too busy with his work to take a long break, but we've got some fun short excursions planned.

Less fun is the looming chore of staining the house. Without much of an ozone layer over NZ, the sun here is insanely powerful. Wooden siding will quickly warp and crack if you don't slather protective stain onto it every few years. Our house is in desperate need of restaining; probably we ought to cough up the massive amount of money required for professionals to mold-spray and scrub and stain, but with me not earning much income at the moment, it seems a good time to learn some good old hands-on skills. Besides, that's the Kiwi way: they're very big on self-sufficiency.

Pic of the week:

Glorious sunset viewed from our upper balcony
Currently Reading:

The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton)--award-winning literary historical novel by NZ author, set in the coastal town of Hokitika during the 19th century gold rush days


  1. A little while ago I got an email from Thomson-Shore, the company who prints and sells the physical editions of The Labyrinth of Flame, saying the company is ceasing all print & distribution operations immediately and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Gosh, doesn't this seem familiar


    1. Yeah, sometimes I wonder if there are any publishing-related companies left with healthy bottom lines.