Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards honor the best of science fiction and fantasy. They are given out each year at WorldCon – which is the event to attend if you are a fan of scifi/fantasy. It’s also great for writers, too. This year there was a bit of a controversy surrounding the nominees. It has been reported multiple places, and I dare not do the whole story justice by hashing it out here but will try.

There are some folks who felt the Hugos were given to those in inner circles. A conspiracy if you will to cherry pick nominees even though nominations are open to all WorldCon members. So one group set out to make sure that there were some well deserving names on the ballot. This did not sit well with the establishment. Words were said. Accusations thrown around for months. It was pretty ugly especially coming from a community known to be very welcoming of new writers.

The awards were given out this past weekend. When a member votes, they can either vote for a nominee or vote No Award which basically says no one in this category is worthy of the Hugo. This year No Award won five categories – a record for the Hugos. Sad really. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face. No one wins and who is really hurt? Those five empty winner slots and the fans who had filled the auditorium or watched online to see how the voting went.

The award ceremony itself was very venomous as joke after joke was made to this one group of people. It really was like being back in high school as this was the kind of antics you would expect from stupid teenagers and not grown professionals.

As a journalist, I have been amazed at how the media has written about this story. Some articles are balanced but even those seem to sensationalize the story. I have been glad that my husband has been so interested in this. It’s been a big story that we get to talk about. When I was an active journalist, we never talked much about the news so getting to share this story together has been kind of fun. With a lot of news stories especially controversial ones that affect people’s lives, I wish it would not have gotten so big or the name calling so loud. I guess it’s easy for people to forget they are talking about real people sometimes.

We are attending WorldCon next year, and I’m already excited. I hope this story does not have such a negative impact next year. Maybe the backlash from this year’s WorldCon will put a stop to any future shenanigans around the Hugos. Stop thinking in a her mentality and vote for the piece or work. Who cares who nominated/endorsed it? If you like it, vote for it. Maybe that should be the campaign for next year’s Hugos – Just vote.

I can’t get away from writing

My first blog was an experiment. I wanted an easy way to update my website without having to upload a webpage every time I added content. I loved blogging. It was easy, and you would see the results instantly instead of having to ftp changes. I was hooked.

I soon turned my whole website into just a blog and upgraded to WordPress. Before I was using a very simple blogging program that used a file system(read: simple text files) to store blog posts. As I wrote more, I found blogging communities and other bloggers. It was too long after that I learned of opportunities to make money with your blog. I joined every paid blogging site I found and loved making some extra cash for our family, but there was a price.

I was writing paid blogging post but also needed other posts in between them, so it was just paid post after paid post. I was writing a lot and running out of things to say. About a year into this, I was burned out. I no longer looked forward to paid blog posts as it was just getting harder and harder to write.

I gave up paid blogging and continued to blog with no set goals or schedule. I was averaging a new blog post every six months. I thought a nice break would re-engerize me but it didn’t. I still could not bring myself to write.

That was really hard since I loved writing but found it impossible to do. Would I ever write again?

My husband is writing a book which I am thrilled he is doing it. He’s an amazing story teller, so I am sure he will find success. His interest re-ignited my love for writing. Last NANOWriMo(National Novel Writing Month held in November) I wrote 50,000 words. Thrilled with myself, I was finally feeling that my writer’s block was gone. While I have written a few more thousands words since then, my writer’s block isn’t completely gone and probably never will be. But that’s OK. I know that I can write and still enjoy writing. If I set small attainable daily goals then I can get into better writing habits.

It seems that everything I want to do involves writing. There are blog posts and books that obviously need to be written, but there are other projects. I want to write crochet patterns and computer programs. While those are really more technical writing, it will still be hands-on-keyboard-writing. Sometimes I love to just type on a keyboard to hear the sounds of the keys.

Writing is a passion of mine. If I just remember that and remind myself that I really do enjoy the process of writing, I can hopefully keep it up.

Meet the Teacher Night

Tonight we attended yet another meet the teacher night. My little girl is going into the 4th grade. That doesn’t seem possible. This year will be the teacher’s first year of teaching. She was at the school when she did her student teaching, so she must have made a good impression. But also the school district did hire 800 teachers over the summer, and since they are only one of several school districts in the city, maybe they couldn’t be choosy. But after meeting her, I am sure they are confident in her abilities. I joked with Rae not to ruin teaching for her.

This made me think back on Rae’s past teachers. Her kindergarten teacher was a veteran teacher. She was kind but there was just something about her that seemed worn. Her first grade teacher was also a vet with 19 years under her belt. She was best in the morning. By the time the 2:45pm bell rang, she was screaming and just generally annoyed with most of the class.

Rae’s second grade teacher was younger with maybe a few years of teaching if that. She was awesome, and Rae enjoyed her class. She always seemed to have a lot of patience with her students. Rae’s third grade teacher had some experience. She wasn’t mean but she just didn’t make the same impression that the second grade or even the first grade teacher had. Isn’t that amazing how some teachers you remember forever while others just fade from memory? I believe Rae will always remember her 2nd grade teacher. If tonight is any indication of the coming school year, I think she will always remember the 4th grade as well.

Graphic Artist? Me?

Right now we are binge watching Mad Men on Netflix. We are nearly done with season five. This show – I love it. It took about a season and a half to really get sucked into it. Watching the show reminds me so much of my time in television. It’s similar on many levels. Maybe it’s because of watching Mad Men or maybe I am ready to admit to myself that I know what I would love for my next job to be. Graphic Art and/or Design.

Unfortunately I feel that a lot of graphic design jobs would be more layout like newspaper or ads than something else. Although I wouldn’t mind that. It’s just those jobs are few and far between. Newspapers are sill around, right? However, businesses will always advertise, so maybe it’s more web ads than print ones that are being sold now.

Either way I have felt a calling to this for a while. I just wish I had started putting together a portfolio then. Still while this may add something else I want to learn, it’s something that I feel is where I really want to be. My husband is supportive but has reservations about a new career, but I don’t see it that way. I’ve done graphic work before and really enjoyed it. In fact if it hadn’t been for working with PhotoShop cleaning up graphics, I never would have went back to college. So I’m not starting over; just rediscovering I suppose.

I plan to do more graphics and start posting more since I haven’t had any of this work experience in quite a few years. Still it will be fun and challenging also it’s an interest I’ve had for years. It will be nice to finally pursue it with direction.

I am a Writer

I hate to admit how much I enjoy writing. Why? It’s hard to explain because – well – I’m really not sure. If I really give it some thought, I believe it has more to do about my past than my future and maybe by admitting that I can actually move forward.

My first job out of college was at a television stations, and I loved it. I worked in TV for seven years. At different times I did different jobs. Most of my titles required writing in some form or fashion. It was enjoyable. The only real problem was the pay – it sucked. I wanted to make more money, so I went back to college majoring in computer networking.

Now – years later – I find myself dissatisfied with working with computers. I just drives me crazy to sit in front of a screen for eight hours. I can’t take it anymore and am ready to switch to a different line of work. But what? Practically every job these days is tied to a computer. Especially writing. While I do own a typewriter, I do not see me pecking out anything of substance. Writing is more than just writing. It’s planning, thinking, and researching. Researching is a broad term which could be Googling information to staring out the sunset from the back porch. Research to me is also inspiring. I love it but find when I sit down to write, the words do not come. Possibly the reason for this is not acknowledging that yes I do want to write.

I’ve switched jobs and am now in software development. I have really no working experience, so it’s really scary that my employer is paying me to do something I barely know how to do. When I feel overwhelmed, I just think of writing code as just writing. The syntax is basically the style guide that must be followed or expect rewrites. I just ache to write, but I need to focus on other things like development. If I could combine both then that would be perfect. I fear development is not for me although I spent a long time thinking it was. I’m not sure a well written program would bring me the same satisfaction as a well written story. If I am serious about writing then I need to write more. Write in my free time and drive away the distractions.

I plan to write at least 500 words a day. It could be a blog post or a story, I also need to read about writing more. I find when I read more I want to write more as well. We have a shelf full of great writing books.

On this blog I will post a daily update of what I’ve done. I may move to a weekly update if I can prove to myself that I can write without daily accountability. This post will serve as today’s word count of 500. Tomorrow I might work on a children’s book idea and maybe some humor writing as well. I don’t want to schedule too much because I always fall behind and that leads to frustration. This is an exercise in gaining good habits.

More to come tomorrow!

Moving

I really hate the idea of moving again, but with rent going up and other expenses, it’s just not worth it to live here anymore. The problem is the rental house is quite large -at least to us, and we are downsizing to an apartment. We know we will have to get storage space but really hope to mainly keep large items and not too many boxes.

We are moving in three months, so I have a fair amount of time to cull through our belongings. It’s a daunting task that I would much rather someone else do.When we first moved to San Antonio, we brought the essentials plus two storage bins each of whatever we wanted to bring. This worked out great as the apartment was pretty much always clean. The problem happened when we moved into a house and had so much more space. We brought another truckload of stuff from Mississippi. That was a big mistake. A lot of that stuff has just sat in the garage untouched. It’s definitely time to let go of some things.

The garage will be the last area to tackle as I don’t want to make room for stuff from the house. I am going through the house room by room with a goal of getting rid a lot of the stuff we are not using. I have to be honest with myself and just let things go. It’s only stuff – stuff I am not using – and ultimately it’s making me unhappy. Unhappy that my house is a cluttered mess. Unhappy that I bought this and never use it.

Last weekend I worked in the downstairs closet. It was a small task. This weekend is the guest bedroom which has a lot of craft supplies that must be dealt with. I dread it was it could be the most difficult since it is all of my stuff. Time to make some tough decisions.

Housekeeping Boot Camp

A military friend of mine keeps a well organized, always clean home. She can’t help it. She’s in the military and used to strict routines so having a home ‘just so’ is second nature. I envy her. I’ve always lived in clutter and disorganization. I know I lack discipline. Sadly I am too old to join the military, so I cannot get it that way. If only there was a housekeeping boot camp.

Possibly the next best thing is Fly Lady. Fly Lady is a gem of a website that really helps you develop better housekeeping routines. I discovered Fly Lady years ago. I had started the baby steps and enjoyed it. Not sure why I stopped. I probably faltered and never got back on track.

So while thinking about how great a housekeeping boot camp would be, I remembered Fly Lady. The website is still there and content is still free. So today I will start with baby step one. It’s an easy one – shine your sink. Just make sure that kitchen sink is clean before going to bed. I look forward to making this a routine in that I love having a clean sink. It’s amazing how little things can have a big impact.

So while I may not be in an official housekeeping boot camp, I plan to really give more attention to the home. More quality attention that hopefully will produce better results for a clutter-free way of living.

I survived a day out in August in Texas

The heat is ON here in San Antonio. I know it’s a dry heat, but it’s still heat! Today we ate somewhere new and then went to two local attractions: the Kiddie Park and the San Antonio Zoo.

The day started with breakfast at the Mad Hatters tea house and cafe. It’s a charming little place in downtown and very close to the King William district. I didn’t try the tea but did have a bagel. My daughter got a pancake that was as big as the plate and tall as a table. Well not that tall but still a huge, fluffy, sweet pancake. She didn’t like it because of the sweet part but am glad she ate a few bites at least.Some of the other folks we were with feasted on the pancake as well. I meant to get a bite of it to see just how sweet it was.

After Mad Hatters, we went to the Kiddie Park which is a cool little amusement park just for kids with old, metal rides. Today it was half off the regular armband price. Rae rode two rides I think and got her face painted which was extra.

Then it was onto the zoo. It was great to go with people with memberships that included guests! By the time we left the kiddie park, it was already hot. As we walked around the zoo, it just got hotter. We arrived at the zoo at around 10:30am and stayed until 2:00pm. I’m not sure why I wore denim Capri pants, but it was a big mistake. I thought I was going to pass out at the kiddie beach. After the kiddie beach we left but only after I bought a Gatorade since water was doing very little to make me feel better.

Today’s venture just proves I need to be in better shape – lose weight and exercise more. It was a fun day and while the heat is tiring it shouldn’t wipe me out so much. We survived it though, August is usually the month we just stay inside. Now that I know I will not melt, we will have to get out more.

Retiring from Christmas Shopping

It is already August, so you know what that means. Yep, it’s time to plan for Christmas 2015. Last year I crocheted a lot of the gifts which went over really well. In fact I had this grand plan of doing it again for 2015 but starting in January working on one or two gifts a month because I barely finished. Then the months started to pass, and I still hadn’t begun crocheting gifts.

I am hoping to take my crochet ‘to the next level’ and by that I mean actually sell some crochet items. This is a big step for me because I have wanted to do this for a while but was paralyzed by fear that no one would pay me money for something I made. But that’s just silly to think that without at least trying to sell something. With those projects taking up my crochet time, I still haven’t begun making gifts, but then I had a brilliant idea. This year I plan to make Christmas as stress free as possible.

Everyone on my list – excluding my daughter (or maybe ever her!) will get money. Good, old hard cash. Gift certificates are too fussy but cash is king. I could just hit the ATM on the way to the Christmas party and be done. I might pick up some cards to hold the loot. I have bought gifts for years and stressed about more than one purchase. Most gifts are well received – or at least people seem to like it. Without a doubt they will love money.

All family will be getting money. Any dirty santa gifts will come from LootCrate goodies that we aren’t using. That just leaves a few friends to actually buy for. Yes, Christmas is going to be easy this year. Happy Holidays!

Too Many Computers

Being a geeky family, we have never thought we had too many computers. Friends who haven’t been to our house in a while commented on the number of computers we own. What’s funny is that we are thinking of adding another one this fall.

There are three of us. Both my husband and I have desktop computers. Our old desktop (Windows 7) is still in working order. I have a laptop and a Chromebook. We both have Surface Pro. So yeah, we have a lot of computers. My computers serve different purposes. My desktop has become the YouTube viewer for my daughter. My Chromebook is for Internet surfing while on the couch. When I’m working I use the Surface Pro. My laptop doesn’t get much usage but as a learning playground for Linux.

While we may can only use one computer at a time, it’s nice to have different options for different computing situations. So yeah we may have more computers than most people but it works for us.