books · crafty things · writing

4th Doctor Scarf Done, and it went to SiliCon 2021

Doctor Who, 4th Doctor scarf made by Kara

I’m not sure I remember exactly when I started working on this scarf, but it was at least 3 to 4 years ago. I taught myself to knit specifically so I could make this scarf. I used the pattern labeled as ‘original’ from http://www.doctorwhoscarf.com/s12.html , although I just used the yarn that I could easily find that seemed close-ish to the right colors. I can’t share what exactly I used because most of the labels are long gone and I just don’t know. I know it was nothing fancy: Red Heart, Lion Brand, and that sort of thing.

The scarf and I went to SiliCon with Adam Savage this past weekend. Despite the fact that my ‘costume’ if it could be called that consisted only of the scarf, and the hat, I got lots of nice complements. Got lots of head nods and waves from the other versions of The Doctor when we came across one another. In retrospect, I maybe should have asked for some photos with them, but I was so happy to be out having nerdy fun with masks and without crowds. They severely limited attendance. I read somewhere it is usually 30,000, but was 5,000 this year. For example, here I stand outside a main hall, and just look at all those people nowhere near me. It was great.

Kara in her completed 4th Doctor Who scarf.

We attended both days but I only wore the scarf on Sat because, even indoor with air conditioning, this scarf is heavy and HOT.

Other weekend highlights, was getting signed books from Andy Weir and David Gerrold. I also went to the writer panel with was fun and interesting. I saw so many other cool books in Artist Alley and it was painful not to buy something from each, but we have a very pricey car repair we are trying to navigate at the moment. I have notes and will get to them one day. We collectively did cave in a buy a cute game though. It’s called Gosh Darn Bubbles . We played it at length back in the hotel, and much fun was had. All the cards are fun, but ‘Slappa da Bass’ was the family favorite because it was fun to say.

books · cats · crafty things · crochet

The Crafty Kids Have Leveled Up

Black Cat with magical book pipe cleaner art by A. Hartz

My Mother’s Day gifts from the kiddos this year really blew me away. The teen who makes pipe cleaner art created this wonderful cat touching a book with their paw and magical swirls coming out. So amazing. I don’t think photographs really do justice to her sculptures. Even the tiny ears have the perfect kitty shape and bend to them if you feel them. The book pages can turn, and the paw can move.

Amigurumi llama by R. Hartz

Child, the younger, has discovered amigurumi. In the past weeks she has made a ton of cute little bees. Then, in secret, she learned to read a pattern and made this llama for me. All on her own.

I’m a proud Mama Llama today.

books · writing

Story Sale

My quest to start sending more stories out has reaped it’s first victory. My short story “Eye of the Beholder” will appear later this year at Zooscape Zine. I’m so glad this story turned out to be a good fit for them because I’ve been reading over there a bunch lately, and love the animal and fantastical vibe of it all. Go check it out, and don’t worry, I will definitely be reminding you when my story goes live there later in the year.

This is my first reprint sale, and I posted back in January on Submitting Again that I had just had a light dawn that my older stories were available for the reprint market, and I was going to give it a shot. After getting a few stories out there, I had hoped that I would stress about hearing back for each one a little less. Like the stress would dilute somehow. That isn’t how it turned out, but I do have to say that a single acceptance does help take the sting out of other past rejections and gave me renewed vigor to write new words too.

books · writing

Giving Up and Continuing On

I’m sort of giving up on NaNoWriMo this year. I started off behind and stayed there. For awhile I was only a little behind, enough that if I really put in some extra work I could catch up. So I tried to do that. But Last week I started to not feel well, and to sleep poorly. I was having stress about how I would have time to get my extra words in and all the other things I need to be doing. My house was disgusting (even worse than normal).

So I’m no longer going to try to catch up. Now I am making it my goal to continue to write every day until the end. And the past three days have felt much better. I’m getting my life obligations mostly dealt with and I’m making good progress on the novel (but in a 500-1000 word a day pace instead of a 2500 word a day pace I would need to catch up.)

I have won NaNoWriMo once so I know the level of work it takes, and I know I can do it, but I’ve decided the cost is not one I can afford this year. As usual, I’m very happy I signed up and tried, and I’m going to continue working. I’ve gotten far enough in to better understand my characters, and I’m getting to the more fun parts of the story (the first 5000- 8000 will probably get cut). In fact, I might make it my goal to continue the daily writing at whatever word count I can handle each day until the first draft is completed instead of just through November. The NaNo website stat page tells me at this pace I will finish 50,000 words on Dec 18th, but I’m sure I’ll need many more words than that to finish.

So I will still log on for some sprints, still love the community and the goals, but I’m adjusting for my health. I’m grateful that it got me started on a book that I’d kept putting off beginning work on though. That’s worth it.

books · writing

Happy NaNoWriMo 2020


It’s the first day of NaNoWriMo, so naturally, I’m procrastinating by writing a blog post and looking for a fun word progress widget since the official NaNoWriMo website doesn’t have them anymore. I finished up my short outline last night. Just the 7 point plan style, and the last couple points are sort of ‘I don’t know how they get to this point, but here’s what I’d like to happen here’. It will be interesting to play and figure out how to get there along the way.

I don’t try to stay up and start writing at midnight anymore. Not after a full workday. I just don’t have it in me. So I’m starting today.

 

 

13295 / 50000 words. 1% done!

I found this widget here, then I got to do some googling to learn how to get a html code to work on my WordPress blog. Something I guess I hadn’t done before now because I couldn’t get it to work at first. I like learning new things, but time to stop procrastinating and start drafting!

P.S. I’m karabu over at NaNoWriMo.org if anyone is looking for a writing buddy.

books · crafty things

Fun at Home

I’ve seen several posts on Twitter of folks looking for ideas of what to do with their kids while they are all stuck at home together. This has also come up in some of my homeschooling groups as people have friends who normally use brick and mortar schools are asking for advice. The homeschoolers feel like our moment has come! We have insight that can help!

First, I’d say – don’t feel like you have to be doing something educational at all times. The world is stressful right now. If you or your kids need time to decompress, or are unable to focus then you need to just deal with your emotional health. That might be enough for now.

If you are looking for fun things that are also kinda educational to pass some time – I have ideas:

  • Reading. As above, don’t feel like this has to be ‘learning’ type reading. Its okay and good to read for fun. Audiobooks are also great. I get most of mine from my local library via their app (that also includes ebooks). Check out your library system’s website. I bet they have way more remote and digital services than you knew about. Our also has kanopy.com which is streaming movies and documentaries.
  • Art and Science kits. We subscribe to several kiwico.com crates. My 12 year old loves her Tinker and Doodle crates and the older one gets Eureka, but she’s less of a builder so they are hit and miss with how much she gets into them. There are lots of other options. Look around on Amazon for topics they are interested in, or Thames and Kosmos is another one my kids have liked.
  • Just use normal art supplies you have around anyway. Youtube is full of great and often free drawing and painting videos. Also maybe a good time to learn to crochet or do some other craft with the help of Youtube. If there is an art of craft they are interested in, someone has probably made Youtube lessons about it.
  • Other good video stuff: We like Crash Courses on Youtube (science, history, and a bunch of other topics) all fast and fun. BrainPop is also a lot of fun but can be a little pricey for the subscription. They do have a different free video each day though. Tons of topics and very well made. We also watch CNN10 which used to be called Student News – it’s a 10 min news summery each day and while that can get a little heavy they usually work to balance the bad with more upbeat positive stories of people doing good things too, and they always end with a funny (or trying to be funny) pun segment.
  • Board Games! I feel like there has been an explosion of amazing games over the past several years so this is hard to give specific suggestions, but some we have enjoyed are: Timeline (put cards in order of when each event happened in history), Evolution (make your creature the one that survives), Elemento (chemistry), Kloo (Spanish), we also had one that was about the Egyptian Gods and also required multiplication practice that they would even play just for fun, but I can’t find it right now. The point is, just pop your interests into the search bar at an online game store (or on Amazon or Ebay with the word game included) and see what turns up. Like reading, this doesn’t have to be overtly educational either. Exploding Kittens is one of the long time favorites here. All games encourage problem solving.
  • Puzzles too if they enjoy them. They make puzzles about everything. We have the periodic table, human skeleton, various maps, and the tanks of WWII, among many others.
  • Coding. There are probably a lot of resources online for this. All I really know about is Scratch from MIT, but there is probably a lot more out there and varies based on age of your kid. Khan academy might be worth checking out as well. They could be on the computer and learning too.
  • We use Math Mammoth and their website has a few free online math games. Additionally, their small, individual subject workbooks also include a long list on online games and resources for that subject. They were always a nice fall back if the kiddo was sick or tired and not focused enough for workbook work, but still got some math in that day.
  • Cooking – great life skill obviously, but also reading a recipe is learning, using fractions for measuring, etc.

Okay. Believe it or not this was all just off the top of my head, so I have probably left off a lot. If I think of enough additional things, I’ll write a new post. Find out what they are into – what they want to learn about, and help them do it!

If you have specific questions you think I could help with, leave a comment. My kids are in 11th (yikes!) and 7th grades this year and have homeschooled the whole way through. It’s been awhile since they were small, and if anything there is probably even more available out there than we had, but I can try to remember back to help out if needed.

In the meantime, try to walk the tough balance of enjoying the time you have together and not bothering each other too much. (And maybe don’t play the Pandemic board game, especially if anyone in your house is sick. We did that once a couple years ago when my youngest had the flu and she is still a little scared by the experience. )

books · writing

FogCon 2020

This was my second year attending Fog Con. It’s a smaller Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror literary convention in Walnut Creek, California. It’s just delightful. While the books above are the only physical books I left the con with I have a much, much, much, longer list of titles, authors, podcasts and a few games that I will be looking into in the coming months. It was hard to restrain myself in my purchases but I have literal stacks of books falling over because I am out of shelf space. Will I avoid buying more? – HA! of course not. But I’ll be looking mainly at ebooks for a bit.

The most fun part is meeting these amazing authors and listening to them talk about writing, fan over the stuff they love, and learning so much. It’s a small enough gathering that several times I would go to a panel and listen, sometimes figure out that, hey! that person wrote that book I like so much! Then at the next panel I went to, they were sitting next to me in the audience.

I attended panels on Societal Defaults That Carry Into Fiction, Choose Your Own Adventures, How Deep Do We Dig: Research for Writers, Small Scale SFF, SFF Podcasts, The Value of Hopepunk, and I went to a Reading with 3 great authors who made me want to run out and get their horror books even though I usually avoid horror.

I also did a very brave thing for me, and I signed up to attend a lunch get together for a local writing group that I technically joined some time ago, but haven’t actually ever attended any of their meetups. I’m glad I did. I enjoy the company of other writers, they are such interesting people (or maybe just because they clearly love books as much as I do). So now I am also signed up to attend one of their critique sessions and I think the lunch helped make me brave enough to not back out of that. Although I suppose it’s possible it won’t happen, at least in person. We’ll see what state of social distancing we are in come mid April.

Here’s hoping for the best.

And I’m already looking forward to next year’s con.

books

The 4th Doctor

As I was working on my Doctor Who scarf, I reminisced a bit about why I say that the 4th Doctor is my ‘favorite’. This is a thing I see a lot of Who fans talk about. Which Who is their favorite. For many, it seems, their first Doctor is their favorite. The 4th was not my first though.

I remember my first Doctor Who episode. I didn’t understand anything that was happening because I came into it in the middle. It was the 3rd Doctor, but I didn’t know that at the time. It was a rerun on late on PBS. (Maybe not all that late, but I was a kid and it was late for me.) The Tardis disappeared, and reappeared somewhere else and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Now I just had to Google to double check I had the right number for the Doctor I remember seeing, and I did, but all the photos were in color. I distinctly remember the episode in black and white. So I had to investigate further. Apparently the 3rd Doctor was when the show moved to color, but back in the day they didn’t think some sci-fi serial show worthy of preserving so the tapes were wiped and reused. All the 3rd Doctor’s episodes have been restored, but some they could only find in black and white. I think it sounds like they have recolored them as well by now but for awhile they just played the black and white versions in reruns because that’s what they had.

Anyway, I was trying to remember when I first saw Doctor 4 and I can’t remember. What I do remember is a little used bookstore we went to a lot when I was a kid in Ohio. There was a whole shelf of these little (and I mean very small, maybe 100 pages) Doctor Who paperbacks. I don’t remember what they cost, but I think maybe a quarter? I didn’t usually have much money but I remember if I was careful I could afford 2 or even 3! of these books when we went. The books featuring the 4th Doctor were my favorites, so I looked for his picture on the cover first when picking out my books. I loved those books.

I don’t think I actually saw that many actual Doctor Who television episodes because I only caught them on PBS in reruns, and they didn’t run them regularly. Or I wasn’t up late enough often enough to see them or I was a kid too stupid to consult a television schedule. Who knows. I just didn’t. But I had those books.

I’m wondering now if those books were just novelizations of the shows, or if they were new stories of their own. I might have to hunt some down for a fun quick read.