Tuesday, May 21, 2019

State of the Schafer, Vol. 5

Oof, it's been a busy 2 weeks since my last post, with some not entirely happy events. My son broke a finger at school while playing "rippa rugby" (kind of like flag football, for all you Americans). Thankfully it's only a hairline fracture and not a bad break, but it's still been pretty painful, and he's frustrated about having to be careful of his hand for weeks as the finger heals.

Meanwhile, I've been having a bit of a flare-up of carpal tunnel, despite wearing wrist braces while typing and using a reasonably ergonomic work desk. Not sure exactly what set it off, but the best cure is to minimize typing and phone scrolling for a while, so this week's post will be on the short side.

Writing Progress:

My draft of The White Serpent is sitting just shy of 25,000 words, and I finally got another chunk ready to send off to both my local writing group and my more distant critique partners. I'd say I'm about halfway through the story. Often I find that the words come faster and faster as I get closer to the end. I'm sure hoping that's true this time...but I won't count on it.

In other writing news, I finally got around to asking the Wanaka library if they'd like to have a donated copy of my Shattered Sigil trilogy. They responded with enthusiasm, hooray! So soon there will be at least one library in New Zealand that has my books. I'm pretty sure there aren't any others, since the books were never released in Aus/NZ. Some Australian libraries ordered them through international channels, but I'm pretty sure nowhere in NZ carries them...until now!

I'm also excited that next week I'll be heading off to Geysercon, this year's iteration of NZ's national SFF convention. (The con moves around NZ; this year it's held in Rotorua, which has lots of geysers and hot springs and other geothermal features, thus the choice of con name.) I'm not doing any panels or anything, but I'll bring some books to sell through the con bookshop, and I'm very much looking forward to meeting and hanging out with fellow SFF people. Plus, I've never been to Rotorua, so that'll be cool. Hopefully I can squeeze in a little sightseeing/hiking.

Skating update:

My back is holding up and I'm having a great time on the ice, woo hoo! Right now I'm working on speeding up my camel spin, so I can have a good strong start for the camel-sit-backsit combination spin in my program. I haven't tried my axel yet, but after fixing my single jump entries, the time has now come to regain it. So I have to decide: suck it up and commit despite the risk of hard falls, or wait until I can get time on the jump harness? The harness can't be used on a public session, and the only freestyle sessions the rink offers are at hideously early hours of the morning, which is a pretty daunting prospect with an hour drive over a potentially icy pass. Decisions, decisions.

Pics of the week:

As cooler weather sets in, Lake Hawea gets really calm, which makes for beautiful reflections

Fall colors in our yard

Snow on Cardrona Valley peaks...the ski season is coming

I spent a lovely day hiking in the Flat Tops Conservation Area near Roxburgh with some friends

Reading Corner:

I finished The Bone People, and I still feel uneasily ambivalent about it. The imagery is beautiful, the style is unique, the depiction of the terrible cycle of child abuse, and how abusers are enabled by their communities, is devastating. Yet like this reviewer, I was not a little horrified by the book's seeming insistence that abused children should not be taken away from their abusers. In talking to Kiwis about it, I realized I am lacking some cultural context; Maori today are still fighting to keep their children from being removed by NZ authorities. One person said something I found particularly interesting: a culture's greatest strength is often also its greatest flaw. According to them, one of the great strengths of Maori culture is the emphasis on acceptance and forgiveness and inclusion for community members, yet in the case of domestic violence and abuse, a tendency toward forgiveness can lead to terribly sad outcomes. On the flip side, that made me consider how individualism has always been heralded by Americans as a great cultural strength, and yet now that focus on individual gain instead of societal good might well destroy us entirely. So anyway...I guess I can at least say The Bone People is quite thought-provoking.

My reaction to Laura Gilman's novella Gabriel's Road, in contrast, was purely positive. I'd been hoping for a satisfying conclusion to Gabriel's arc, and yep, that was nicely done. Plus, the story helped clarify some bits of the Devil's West trilogy ending that I had found a bit confusingly muddy. Most of all, it was pure fun to be back in the Devil's West world. I love Gilman's portrayal of intertwined magic and nature.

Now I'm on to Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire, which I have high hopes for, after seeing a lot of praise from reviewers I trust.

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