Monday, January 30, 2012

Meeting Other Writers

It's possible I'm the only writer in the world like this. It's possible that I'm just judgmental, cynical, and socially awkward, and therefore, the only writer in the world who experiences this. But it's also possible I'm not alone, and others among you have the same weird thought processes that I do.

So on Saturday, I went to a Murder Mystery Dinner. The dinner was being hosted by a friend of a friend, and I wasn't an original invitee, since I didn't know these people. But at the last moment, another girl backed out and they needed a girl to replace her. So my friend was like, "I know someone who would love to come!" and thus I got to go to a Murder Mystery Dinner where I knew one couple out of seven people.

Anyway, when I got there I was introduced to one of the other attendees with the following, "Bittersweet, this is Other Writer. Other Writer writes novels. Other Writer, this is Bittersweet. She writes novels, too."

So I shook her hand, but I was thinking, "I wish he hadn't said that." Because I don't like being introduced as a writer or talking to other writers. Because you never know when someone is a real writer or not.

I don't mean a published writer, because that's easy to check. I mean someone who takes writing seriously, who works on it like a craft to be honed but also works on it because not doing so is literally impossible. A lot of people call themselves writers, but I would say only a small portion of them are real writers.

So yes, basically when introduced to other writers, I think "I'm a real writer. Is this person a real writer? Or are they a fake writer?"

I would rather not have that conversation at all, and my first plan of action is to always evade. Change the subject. Do anything else but have them reveal that they got impatient with the publication system to they epublished. (Which isn't to say that there aren't real, good writers going the epublishing route. It's just that, a lot of people e-publish because they don't care to take all the time to hone their craft and are impatient with the fact that writing is a craft, an art, that you must work hard at to become good at).

But I couldn't evade, I was asked point blank what I was working on, so I answered that I was working on the first revision of the book I had just finished. When then caused the girl's husband who was listening to say "oh, you just finished" a little mockingly, as if by saying that I was being high and mighty. In my mind, that was a warning flag that she wasn't a real writer. Which isn't fair. Some writers write one really good novel and that's enough. They spend their entire lives working on it. That's one way to do things. But I would like to make a living as a writer one day, so that's not the way I choose to operate.

The girl I was talking to then said she had been working on the same novel for the past seven years, which then put off another warning flag in my head. Another unfair one, since if you actually count how long I've had the story of Descent in my head, it's been TEN years (though I wrote the first draft just this past year in ten months). And technically, I've been working on Spirit Riddled drafts/revisions on and off for the past six years.

See? I'm being totally unfair. When I meet a writer, I judge them against this measuring stick that even I can't meet. It's ridiculous. Why did this happen? How have I become so judgmental against my own kind?

Turns out this woman is really rather nice. I think I could be friends with her. I don't know where she is in her writing career, but it's unfair of me to judge her so harshly without having read anything she's written.

So yes, I guess the moral of the story is I am judgmental, cynical, and socially awkward. But what I would like to know is if I'm the only writer who has this problem? Am I the only one wary of meeting "my own kind"? The only one who sometimes thinks I'm the only real writer in a world full of phonies? Have any of you dear readers had similar experiences?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Farscape First Watch: I, E.T.

This episode opens with an alarm going off inside the ship. (The ship is apparently named Moya. I thought it was Moira, but wikipedia corrected me). Considering that at the end of the last episode, everyone was on edge and hating each other, I was surprised that something that's merely annoying like an alarm sort of brings everyone together. I would have expected a lot more suspicion--especially suspicion of Aeryn. (I totally got in this episode that her name was something like "Erin" but had to look up the spelling).

Turns out there is a peacekeeper device on the ship that is signaling their position to the peacekeeper forces. And since Moya is alive, removing it will cause her extreme pain and could even kill her. (Which would be bad for the occupants of the ship to say the least.)

Pilot, the pilot of the ship, explains that there is a substance that would dampen Moya's pain, but its a forbidden cargo for her type of ship because it can mess with their functions. But they need it if they're going to get rid of the device.

They head to a nearby planet where John suggests they land--to the surprise of everyone else. Pilot admits it is possible and Moya thinks they can do it, so the ship lands. But the planet is basically Dagobah (seriously, this was my immediate thought), and like Luke's X-Wing, the ship sinks into the muck.

John, Aeryn, and our Klingon friend--who is named Ka D'Argo according to wikipedia--head out of the ship to find the substance they need. (I think its called clorium). John and Aeryn have a discussion where John compares the planet to Louisiana and Dagobah. (Can I just say it's excellent when a show makes me think of something and then the writers acknowledge it should have made me think of that!) John explains that Dagobah is where Yoda lives, and Aeryn is like who is that? John answers that he's a green alien who trains warriors, and Aeryn accepts that as if its real and serious. I love that!

While they're out and about, some inhabitants of the planet show up (though our crew is hidden) and start a manhunt because an alien spaceship just landed on their planet. The crew seem surprised the planet is inhabited. One would think they could have scanned the planet for lifeforms, or at least signs of civilization, but apparently Moya doesn't have that kind of capability.

Aeryn and Ka D'Argo distract the manhunt group, sending John to find the clorium (which he can find because he has a tricorder). John follows the tricorder reading to a barn where he is essentially caught by a little kid. The little kid gets his mom (like any sane kid would) but before his mom can get there he basically tasers John, because he's scared.

Turns out the kid's mom is essentially a SETI employee. She's one of the people on her planet looking for alien life. So she's both excited and scared to meet John.

John convinces her he's a peaceful scientist with a broken ship whose trying to find his way home. All technically true. The kid can't believe that an alien would be lost, but we viewers are used to that idea; hence the name of the episode. John is E.T.

The mom makes dinner for them, and John's tricorder goes crazy. Turns out the seasoning she's using for the meal is actually the clorium John needs. (Also, I loved the mom's little spiel when she was offering John the meal. She basically says she doesn't know if he can eat, needs to eat, or what she's offering will be toxic to him, but it seems impolite to do otherwise).

John is really excited because he found the clorium; however, his plans are foiled when the military shows up. John has to hide in the kid's room.

Aeryn and Ka D'Argo are both wondering where John is at this point. Ka D'Argo sends Aeryn backs to the ship and he goes to find John. When Aeryn gets back to the ship, she finds that they've already started trying to get rid of the device, without the painkiller. The priestess is trying to take away some of the ship's pain but she can only take so much. And the little dude on the flying chair is the one crawling around cutting away the device.

Back in the house, the mom is able to set up a radio/video chat device for John to contact his ship. She says it's broadcasting on a lot of frequencies which leads me to wonder why the military doesn't pick up the conversation. Anyway, Pilot updates John, and the mom is amazed because Pilot is so alien looking.

Then Ka D'Argo shows up at the farmhouse and tries to fight the military. They capture him, and mom sees this as a chance for John to escape. John, though, refuses to leave Ka D'Argo behind.

Mom expresses surprises that Ka D'Argo is so violent when John claimed to be a scientist, and John fesses up to the whole escaped prisoners thing. Really, John? I mean I know its good to tell the truth, but this is a scenario where I wouldn't have. Because why should mom help escaped prisoners? I would have said something like "even scientists need bodyguards." Seems plausible to me.

Anyway, Mom devises a plan. She shows the head military guy the video of Pilot's half of his conversation with John and then lies to the general about where the video originated from, thus sending him off on a goose chase. John then overtakes the last two guards left and sets Ka D'Argo free.

The kid is really excited and shakes Ka D'Argo's hand, which is really cute. John then says goodbye to mom by kissing her on the cheek, which is completely surprising to her and she's like "This is how you say goodbye?" I liked it.

John and Ka D'Argo get back to the ship. The priestess has passed out from all the pain, the little guy in the chair was disconnected the device, and Moya is in all sorts of pain. But they sprinkle the clorium around and make Moya feel better.

Strangely, despite the earlier concerns that clorium is a forbidden cargo because its bad for the operation of ships like Moya, they are able to take off from the planet.

Mom and kid watch the ship take off from their porch. Well, the kid fell asleep and Mom watches with a smile knowing she helped John get off the planet.

All in all, I really liked this episode. It was cute, and John played the lost alien trying to get home perfectly. Every SF show has this kind of episode, and I think Farscape pulled it off nicely. So the second episode of Farscape gets two thumbs up from me. Though I'm still having trouble with the character names.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Eve: A Desire for Knowledge

Eve is the most notorious woman in the Bible. Think about it for a moment. The centuries that women have been labelled as "temptresses" or poor decision makers aren't because of the prostitutes of the Bible or the few non-intelligent women of the Bible. No, it's because of Eve and her disastrous mistake.

Because you know us woman. We're all sultry temptresses with no desire other than to bring down the men around us. (*rolls eyes*)

So let's take a closer look at Eve's story and see if she deserves this label she's been given.

In my New American Standard Version of the Bible the versus about Eve's temptation read as follows (the break up between the versus is my own):
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not east from any tree of the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'"

The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

When the woman saw the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Gensis 3: 1-7)
Now, looking at these versus there are a couple of things that stand out to me, but let's just focus on one for the sake of brevity. How did the serpent tempt Eve?

What did he say that he knew would push her over the edge to disobey God? Was it things that might be viewed as stereotypical of a woman? No. He didn't say, "Look how pretty the tree is." Or "the fruit will make you thin and beautiful" or "the fruit will make Adam like you better."

Eve was a woman in her purist, most innocent form--the ultimate woman--and what did the snake offer her that put her over the edge? Look at it again. He says "your eyes will be opened" and "you will be like God, knowing good and evil." The snake offered her to be like God, and the aspect of God he harped on was his knowledge.

He offered woman knowledge, and that was the temptation that put her over the edge. Eve wanted knowledge.

A desire to learn, a desire for knowledge is not considered a stereotype of women. Women have, if anything, been considered stupid and without a desire or a need to learn for the past several centuries. In past centuries, people have uttered phrases like "it's useless to educate women" or "women have no use for education." But the temptation that led Eve to disobey God was not beauty or music or pleasing someone. It was a desire for knowledge.

I think this is fascinating. I think this says something about women. I'm not condoning Eve's disobedience of God at all. She should not have taken the apple. But I think its a fascinating story that the first woman ever created desired knowledge so much that she disobeyed God.

I must say the desire to know is something that definitely drives me. I'm an engineer, and you don't become an engineer without a desire to know how things work, how they operate. The world has always tried to make me feel that this is a weird desire for a girl to have, but here in the very first story in the Bible about a woman I learn otherwise. If anything, it seems to be a woman's most basic desire.

And I think there is a lesson in this. We cannot let our desire to know to overcome our faith, our following of God. We don't always need to know why He tells us to do the things he does. We must trust. We must understand that our desire to know needs to take a backseat to what God desires. We must obey him.

But we also shouldn't let people tell us it's not womanly to know or learn, that knowledge is someone not a part of who we are. Clearly it is. We just need to learn to harness it for the good side of the Force, for God's will.

Are you a woman reading this? What do you think?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon

So today is the Chinese New Year and its the Year of the Dragon!!!!!

Why is that important you ask? Well, maybe its not, but its appropriate, since the last Wheel of Time book comes out this year.

If you've been reading this blog long, you know I love the Wheel of Time. My fictional crush is a character from the Wheel of Time series, and my favorite living writing is finishing the series. I've been reading it since I was eleven, so all of the characters are like old friends.

Wow, I've been reading the Wheel of Time since I was eleven. In less than a month, I turn twenty-five. I've been reading the Wheel of Time for over half of my life, and this is the year it ends.

So this is a year of excitement and trepidation, because something that's been so much a part of me will be over.

I can still remember being eleven, and my dad coming home with The Path of the Dagger, and saying this looked like a book I would like. I remember looking at the cover and thinking, "Wow, this is so cool!" And I remember sitting on the floor in the living room in the really crappy house we lived in at the time, as my mother sat on the couch and read the prologue of The Eye of the World to me out loud. (She insisted on reading the series before I could, to make sure it wasn't "too adult". But she was so impressed by the prologue, she just had to read it to me right then.)

Unlike the untold thousands of others, I will not reread the Wheel of Time this year. I reread it recently, right before The Gathering Storm came out. I'll probably only reread The Gathering Storm and then Towers of Midnight. Then once I read the final book, then I plan on rereading the series, so I can read the entire thing in light of the ending. This is basically what I did with Harry Potter and I found it extremely enlightening to reread the entire series when I already knew the end.

If you've never read the Wheel of Time before, I implore you to start now. If you start reading now, you can be done with the series in time for the last book to come out. And you should really read the Wheel of Time. It's fantastic. I love love love love this series.

It's the year of the Dragon! "Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Farscape First Watch: Premiere

Today is our first Friday in the Farscape First Watch! Woohoo!! Unsure what this is? Check out this post. But basically, I've never seen Farscape before, so I'm chronicling my first watch of the show. Basically, I'm going to summarize the episode with my feelings and reactions!

We start out with Commander John Crichton, who is an "IASA" astronaut. What IASA stands for, I had to google. It's apparently the "International Aeronautics and Space Agency." Is this a rename of NASA because for some reason they didn't want to use the name of a well known oft used government agency? Possibly. Is this the future and NASA has morphed into a true international organization? I doubt it, because John's father who we meet shortly was an astronaut who walked on the moon and knew Yuri Gagarin, so his father was in his prime in the 60's. My parents weren't even in double digits of age in the 60's and it's 2012, so I doubt this is the future considering how old John's father looked. Another possibility is that it's an alternate Earth: same time we're in now, things just developed differently. This is possible. However, we didn't really spend enough time in this Earth to really determine the truth.

Anyway, John is getting ready for his third time in the shuttle (another reason why it's not the future, they're still using such outdated technology). Strangely, a mission control guy helping him out is a friend from childhood. Why? I have no idea. This adds absolutely nothing to the story, since the emotional connection of a friend can't compare with the emotional connection with his father who works there also and is there to see him off. So, yeah, pointless, not to mention unrealistic friend. (No way to childhood friends would end up as an astronaut and a mission control guy. No way. Trust me on this. I worked at Kennedy Space Center.)

John takes off in the shuttle and when we get to space it is revealed that his experiment is a spacecraft he designed. As if ONE SINGLE person could design a spacecraft. Right. Because John Crichton is an expert in propulsion, structures, avionics, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and every other subset that goes into designing a spacecraft.

While John is in his specially designed vehicle so he can prove a theory--a theory I couldn't quite understand. Is he just slingshot around the planet? Was that a cutting edge theory when this show was created? Because now that's pretty much how every satellite going out to the boonies of the solar system gets where its going. If there was something particular about his theory, I couldn't figure it out.

His friend down in mission control sees a strange electromagnetic wave heading towards John's craft as he's trying to do his maneuver. (Another faux pas. Once launch is over, control of a space mission is given over to Houston. It doesn't stay at Kennedy. But that's besides the point. Let's also forget that every wave is in the electromagnetic spectrum, so...yeah. Mysterious EM wave? What part of the spectrum?) This strange occurrence throws him into what is obviously a wormhole and John finds himself in the middle of a space battle, without Earth in view. So he's definitely traveled some distance away from the Earth, and knowing wormholes in sci-fi he could also be in the future. Though I suppose its also possible that he's in a future where the Earth is merely destroyed, hence it's lack in the field of view of the craft.

Anyway, one of the small fighters hits John's craft, which is doing nothing at the moment, and gets thrown off course and into a nearby asteroid--blowing up. At the time this seemed unimportant. Just another fighter dead in this weird space battle.

The small fighters are attacking a much larger ship, which for some reason attaches a tractor beam to John's ship and pulls him in. And yet no one is there to greet him when he arrives except for a strange little roomba looking thing. John follows the roomba to the bridge where he meets several non-humans. They apparently brought him aboard because his ship is strange and they wondered if it could help them. (Seems a sketchy reason to me. Not to mention, since this is a group of people who live in an obviously spacefaring society, you would think his craft would seem retro or just wrong, not advanced and special).

The attack ends and the fighters leave, though I'm not sure why. Something about a device attached to the outside of the ship. Before all the fighters can leave, the crew of the ship John is on captures one of the fighters.

John is knocked unconscious. The most humunoid aliens hold a conversation from which I took two facts: (1) the Klingon-esque guy is young but doesn't feel like it because he's a warrior and (2) the blue chic is some kind of priestess.

When John wakes up he's naked and in the brig. The small alien who floats on a platform like Yoda's in Episode 1 talks to him and John realizes he's not alone in the brig. A heavily armored person is also there. Turns out its a woman who is a "peacekeeper", the people who were attacking them, who look human but apparently don't recognize the word when John says that's what he is. She's apparently brainwashed into being a peacekeeper, firmly believing everything the peacekeepers stand for.

The aliens on the ship are apparently escaped prisoners. They head towards a nearby planet where a colony lives, and it seems EVERYONE heads down to the planet, leaving the prisoners alone on the ship. (Except possibly the engineer, who we never see except in communications with the main crew). So of course, alone, John and the peacekeeper girl escape. Using a fork. Such fancy technology these spacefaring people have.

They take her ship down to the planet, because she's intent on recapturing the prisoners and she told him the peacekeepers might help him get home. The aliens realize the humans have escaped. The priest alien heads back up to the ship with the Yoda-flying seat alien leaving the Klingon-like alien behind. He then jumps the humans, but then the peacekeepers show up. Turns out the guy that died when he hit John's ship was the brother of the head peacekeeper.

And for some reason peacekeepers who brainwashed Claudia Black (who's fictional name I don't know) didn't brainwash the head peacekeeper enough to not make him take obviously stupid revenge on something that couldn't have been stopped. John's ship was obviously not attacking anyone. His brother obviously accidentally hit it.

The Klingon, Claudia, and John are taken captive by the peacekeepers. Turns out because Claudia spent so much time with John she's been irreversibly contaminated, which is something that makes a lot of sense. If the peacekeepers rely on brainwashing to keep people like Claudia around then over exposure to people who could make her realize she's been brainwashed would be a bad thing for the peacekeepers. I really liked that touch.

John is able to overtake his two guards and get a gun and the keys. He sets the other two three and convinces them all to head back to the ship of the escaped prisoners (our main aliens). Claudia is hesitant, but John and the Klingon make her realize if she stays she's dead. The Klingon doesn't want to take her, but John convinces him to. So all three go back to the ship.

The priest is glad to see them all. The Klingon threatens John. The Yoda-chair dude tries to steal John's stuff. And of course Claudia is still mostly brainwashed. So basically we're given the impression that John is completely alone on this ship.

John makes a recording for his father, promising he'll try to find a way back home, while fixing one of the ship's roombas. The episode ends.

I really wish that end had contained a better sense of John's loneliness. He's in a strange land, all alone, with no real hope of getting home. I don't expect him to be broken (yet), but I do expect him to be really really sad. I expected a little break down and I think the ending would have been more satisfying, made him seem more realistic. I get he's a determined astronaut, but still! He's in a ship with escaped alien prisoners and a peacekeeper who thinks they should all go back to jail. No one has heard of Earth though the peacekeepers look human. Heck, no one has heard of humans. This is ALIEN. And that should be scary and frightening, even for an astronaut.

Anyway, I did like this first episode, though the names of none of the characters (aside from John) stuck with me. I hope they do a better job of getting the names across in the next episode.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The New Schedule!

So I've been thinking about what the schedule should be for a few weeks now. I've had several ideas for different series of posts but was unsure which series could be long term for the schedule. And then a couple of things hit me. So without further ado, here it is:

Monday: Writerly Thoughts
This is the day where I'll discuss topics that relate to my writing, writing in general, and books. This should be a familiar series to anyone who has read this blog for a while. Check out other posts labeled writing or writer to know what I mean.

Wednesday: Women of the Bible
We all know one of my New Year's Resolutions is to have a steady quiet time. I really suck at this sort of thing. I've had this women of the Bible book for a really long time. It's a devotional that focuses on a different woman of the Bible each week. So in order to create an accountability for myself, I will post about the woman of the week every Wednesday, my thoughts about her story like how it relates to my life or things I struggle with or more esoteric aspect of the story.

Fridays: Farscape First Watch
So has several show re-watches running, where someone watches The X-Files or Star Trek: The Next Generation and analyzes the episodes with knowledge of the entire series and society as it is now. These re-watches are fantastic--I've read the entire Star Trek one--and I would eventually like to do something like that for Stargate: SG-1, my favorite show of all time. However, I am also trying to meet a New Year's resolution of getting in shape (so I can survive the zombie apocalypse). The only time I managed to work out regularly was when I told myself I could only watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer if I worked out while watching it. This was my first watch of Buffy, so the episodes where brand new and surprising--and able to completely distract me from the fact that I'm working out.

Sometimes I like to think I've seen every Science Fiction TV show out there, but the truth is that simply isn't true. Whether its because I didn't get the channel or because I was too young for the content of the show, there are several SF shows I haven't seen, one of which is Farscape. So I've decided that is to be the show I'll watch while I work out.

I know absolutely nothing about Farscape other than the actors who play Valla and Cameron Mitchell from the later seasons of Stargate: SG-1 are the stars of the show. Because I'm coming from such a blank slate on the show, I think there is something to be said to chronicle my initial reactions and thoughts, whether they be first impressions or exclamations at how the plot unfolds.

If I only post Farscape episodes on Friday it will take us a long time to get through the entire series. However, for now it will only be Friday because I have no idea how I'll like the show and I don't want this to become the rant against Farscape blog. As I get into a blogging routine, I hope to one day expand to blogging every day of the week, except Sunday, and then I'll probably post two Farscape episodes a week. But for now, it's once a week.

So that's the new schedule! I hope you guys enjoy it! First Farscape post will be Friday, but otherwise things will start up on Monday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Second week back and I've already missed a blogging day? Egad. Sometimes I'm really terrible at this, aren't I?

My only excuse is that I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. After so long without blogging, it's hard to remember it sometimes.

And being done with school means I've been reading books again, and when I get sucked into a book it's like the rest of the world fails to exist.

So forgive me for not posting yesterday, and I will do my best to post on schedule (which currently means Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

Monday, January 9, 2012

What Should This Blog Be When It Grows Up?

My poor little blog here has suffered a lot through my years at school. It has experienced summers where I have blogged literally every day, and semesters where I've let it languish in oblivion. So I suppose it's no wonder I only have a handful of few faithful followers.

Granted, I don't expect to have hundreds or even dozens of followers. What I suppose I really want is a community, people who comment with opinions and perspective that I don't necessarily have, challenging me to think in different ways. Of course, to get that I have to write posts that in turn challenge the readers with my views. In other words, the number one rule of blog writing. To get good readers, you first have to write good posts.

In the past I really haven't paid much attention to this blog, but now I have time. I have a life. (Or hope to have one very soon). I am a real person (finally!).

I have so many ideas for this blog but I do wonder if I actually have the time to execute them. Would dedicating time to this blog take away from writing in my novels? Plenty of writers blog, right?

And honestly, I would love for this blog to have more detailed reviews of books and movies, since I read a lot of books and watch a ton of movies. But is it safe for someone who wishes to be published to give their honest opinion of a book, even if it's bad? On the other hand, isn't that why this blog is anonymous?

Of course, there is the question, why do I want to write this blog at all? Am I merely seeking a readership? I think that's not true, as my faithful (though sometimes sporadic) posting to this blog has always been to get my thoughts and opinions down and the lack of response or few readers has never really been something that has disturbed me.

So what should this blog be when it grows up? What do I want this blog to be? Really, I would like this blog to eventually become a website of multiple blogs. I plan on reviving Rocket Science Revealed, where I delve into the basics and the complexities of science and engineering. I plan on keeping this blog, where I am free to be sort of my goofy self, expressing every thought and opinion that comes across my head. And I would like a blog dedicated to reviews of SF/F books and movies, where anyone can come and get my honest opinion—but I also hope the opinions of others. I have friends I would love to pull into the project of a review site: friends who specialize in cinematography, friends who read different books than I generally do, a few friends who only occasionally read SF/F and can bring interesting dialogue to the table.

Oh the ambitions I have! But I don't want any of these blogs to languish as this one has done in the past, and I want them to all be connected.

For now, I think I will dedicate myself to reviving this blog and Rocket Science Revealed. I think my plan is to wait to open the review blog until I have friends who are dedicated to writing in it with me and I have already written quite a few reviews (so I have a backlog).

But those are my ideas, my ambitions. Do you guys have any thoughts on what you hope to get out of this blog or any others I might have in the coming year?

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 New Year’s Goals

Another new year brings another blank slate of possibilities. What will happen in 2012? Part of me has no idea, because 2012 is a year of scary new possibilities. But I still have goals, and at the beginning of this fresh shiny New Year, I like to write them out and post them. That way I'm held accountable.

So once again I'm going to break up my goals into three categories: Engineer Goals, Writer Goals, and Christian/Personal Goals.Link

Engineering Goals:

  1. Do well at my job.

    We actually have a ton of goals at my job, but it's not necessary or appropriate to hash them all out here. We're hoping to make a lot of changes in how we run and do things in the 2012 year. But my goal, as an engineer, is just to do well. This is my first long term, real job. And I want to do well at it. So during my work hours I plan to do a better job of not being distracted, of devoting myself to my work, and at excelling at what I do.

Writer Goals:

  1. Make the FINAL revision on Spirit Riddled.

    This is a goal that has rolled over from 2011. I really want to get Spirit Riddled done, to stop ignoring it, and to get in a shiny, beautiful final draft that I can be proud of and hopefully query.

  2. Revise The Descent of Chris Chappell.

    I've actually already started working on this. I revised the first chapter and let me tell you—it completely changed. I basically threw out the original first chapter and rewrote the entire thing from scratch. And I think it's much stronger. I have no delusions that this revision will be the final revision. This is Descent's first revision. (Unlike Spirit Riddled which is on revision number six I think). But I don't want this WIP to just languish. I want to continue to work on it and make it better.

  3. Start querying.

    Considering Spirit Riddled is in revision six and Descent is on revision one, you would think I could rewrite this as "start querying Spirit Riddled." But as improbable as it may seem, it's quite possible that in my new life as a non-student, I'll be able to get through several good revisions of Descent this year and bring it up to a querying par. And considering I'm in the middle of my Descent mojo, I may put off Spirit Riddled for a long while. So I think I'll be satisfied as long as I start querying something this year.

  4. Not be a slacker critique.

    I actually think I'm off to a good start on this one. I critiqued someone's first two chapters in a timely and orderly manner over Christmas break. So yay!

  5. Not be a slacker blogger.

    Since I'm not a student anymore, I have no excuse to let this blog die middle of the semester. Hopefully, it'll be like the summers have been in the past, where I blog nearly every day. But we'll discuss this more next week when I discuss the future of this blog.

Christian/Personal Goals:

  1. Actually have a regular quiet time.

    This is another goal that has rolled over from last year, but I'm confident that now that I'm not a student I can actually have a normal schedule in my life. The kind of schedule that doesn't involved people calling me at 9:00 PM to ask me if I've started the Orbital Homework and if I would like to come over and work on it with them. I just need to find a time and stick to it. Though, I think I'll be a bad Christian and not do it first thing in the morning. All I want to do first thing in the morning is take a shower, eat breakfast, and get to work. So it'll probably be an evening quiet time.

  2. Be fit enough to survive a zombie apocalypse.

    This goal is all about getting in shape. Now that I'm not a student, I can actually work out without feeling guilty. I would like to lose weight as well, but that's such a superficial goal, I feel like. I don't want to just lose weight. I want to be healthy. If the zombie apocalypse happens, I want to be able to outrun a zombie. I want to survive.

  3. Start cooking real meals, weekly.

    Seriously, for the past six years I have survived off of microwave dinners. It's kind of disturbing. This sort of fits into my previous goal of wanting to be healthier, but I didn't want to cram it into that goal. This goal is its own thing. It's not just about being healthy. It's about learning to cook delicious things that I'll want to eat. I'm sort of a picky eater and I would like to find recipes I love and love to eat.

So those are my goals! And I guess another goal is I would like to beat my 50% rate of meeting goals that I got last year.

Anyone else out there have some big goals for the New Year?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why I’m Terrified and Excited about Being Done With School

For the past twenty years of my life, I have been in school. Now, suddenly I'm done.

This is incredibly exciting, especially considering how terrible and rigorous college was. It's possible some of my readers out there are long removed from college, have never been to college, or majored in partying at college, so let me explain.

I love engineering. I wanted to learn engineering and don't regret the six years I spent at Georgia Tech earning two degrees. But undergrad sucked, and the two years I spent getting my Master's Degree were the two most terrible year of my life. Seriously. They trumped elementary school.

I have never felt more stupid, more out of my depth, and more overwhelmed than I did in grad school. It was like I was drowning. But even putting that aside, putting aside that grad school utterly sucked, looking at the past six years of undergrad and grad school, there is one feeling that constantly plagued me.


That might come as a surprise, but stay with me.

Every moment of every day for the past six years that I did something fun, something for me, I felt guilty. I shouldn't be watching TV. I should be doing homework. I shouldn't be getting a pedicure. I should be doing homework. I shouldn't waste an hour trying to cook a real meal when a microwave meal takes five and then I can spend those 55 minutes I saved doing homework. Work out? What? I should be doing homework!

I did fun things in college, but while I did them, I felt constantly guilty, because I constantly had work or studying I should be doing. There was always a homework assignment, always research, always some studying I should be doing. Even when I took summers "off" to work at a real job, I knew I should be spending my evenings after the job working on my research, not having fun.

Now that guilt is technically gone. I can watch TV. I can work out. I can cook dinner. I can go shopping (well, mainly because I have money now, but free time plays a factor in that too). And I can do it all without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else, something less fun. This is an incredibly exciting prospect, one that I can barely begin to imagine.

And that's why it's so terrifying. For the past six years "free time" has been Friday night and Saturday morning—and that's pretty much it. For the past semester, free time has been unimaginable. I worked all day, came home and did school work, and then spent the weekends doing school work.

What will I become with free time? What will I do with myself? Write I hope. Read. Work out. Cook. Hang out with friends. All the things I did guiltily before, I suppose, but it's strange.

Being a student has defined me for the past twenty years, and now I'm no longer a student.

I'm a real person.

I have no idea where my life will go from here, how I will spend my hours, or what I might do. It's exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

Essentially, it's an adventure. I don't know if I'm ready for it, but it's here. So I guess there is only one thing I can say:


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 In Review (aka: Did I meet my New Year’s Goals?)

At the beginning of 2011, I posted about my goals for 2011. It seems every year people make goals, but do we ever complete them? Well, in order to figure it out, I'm looking at each of my goals here to see if I met it or some part of it.

I split up my goals into three categories: Engineer, Writer, and Christian. Let's look at them again, shall we?

Engineer Goals:

  1. Graduate in December 2011.

    This one is a technical no but a reality yes. That may not make sense, so let me explain. On December 16, 2011, I finished every bit of work I need to do for my Master's Degree. The following Tuesday I received my grades that let me know I would pass and get said Master's Degree. So done right? Sort of. Because I moved to Albuquerque this year, I had to finish that last semester of school via Distance Learning, and Georgia Tech's Distance Learning office has this really weird rule: a Distance Learning student cannot graduate until the semester after she finishes all her course work. So though I finished everything this past Fall semester, I'm not allowed to graduate until next May. It's very strange. So I'm going to say I completed this goal, though on a technicality I didn't.

  2. Get a job at JPL.

    That's a no. I did not get a job at JPL. However, I did get a job, a job I love, and I started it in June 2011. That's why I moved to Albuquerque, NM. So though this is a no, the heart of goal was still met. I got a job, a great job that I love, a job that enables me to work on satellites. What more could a girl ask for?

  3. Complete my design of R3's ADCS.

    This is a pass. I'm done with my thesis. *does a happy dance*

Writer Goals:

  1. Make the FINAL revision on Spirit Riddled.

    This is a fail. I did not even get through a single revision of Spirit Riddled this year. Working a full time job and trying to finish up a Master's Degree is really time consuming, and so is revising a novel. So this goal is going to have to slip to 2012.

  2. Start querying Spirit Riddled.

    Do I really need to say it? Without that final revision, I couldn't query Spirit Riddled, so this is a fail. But next year. Oh, 2012 is going to be a good year.

  3. Finish a first draft of ANY other book.

    Pass with flying colors! I actually didn't think this would happen at all. But this is the very blog where I posted my sudden inspiration about The Descent of Chris Chappell. Though I had a good start on it, I thought that trying to do the dual school and work thing would make this slip to 2012. But it turns out, writing a first draft is the exact sort of de-stresser I needed while writing my thesis. So to my complete shock, I finished the novel in November. Sure, it's only a first draft. It needs revision. But it's done! I met this goal!

  4. Not be a slacker critiquer.

    I'm going to say this is a fail. I only committed to critiquing for one person this year, a friend of mine who writes SF, but once again, my crazy life got in the way. But now that I have free time (I know, mind boggling) I'm foreseeing that this will be a goal I can meet in 2012. Woohoo!

Christian/Personal Goals:

  1. Be a nicer person.

    I have no idea. It's really hard to judge. But two of my friends asked me to be in their weddings, so that means some people like me? Right? And I moved to a new state where my new coworkers all took to me really well, so I seem to be doing ok. And I got in no major fights over Christmas, though that was due to more of a "keep your head down" policy than niceness. But let's just call this a pass, ok?

  2. Actually have a regular quiet time.

    Fail. I suck at this. I'm going to do better though. This is going to continue into 2012. It's going to happen. I am going to develop good habits!!

In Summary:

I think we can say I met 5 out of my 10 goals. Sure if this was a class, that would be fail, but it's not a class. It's life. I think 50% is pretty good. But we'll aim for better in 2012. We could say that's a New Year's Goal.

So how about you? Did anyone out there meet any of their New Year's Goals?