San Diego + theme parks

Back home from a California vacation, mentally rested but with wincingly sore feet.  We almost had to cancel this trip at the last minute, but fortune smiled upon us.  We spent a lovely weekend with my eldest sister’s family in San Diego, where we checked off my sons’ three requests:  1) go to the beach, 2) tour the Midway aircraft carrier, and 3) make homemade guacamole with their aunt – not to mention spend lots of quality time with their cousins.

The tide was on the high side when we got to the beach.  My sister spotted a bunch of these little butterfly-like shells scattered across the sand, all different colors.

Shells

The aircraft carrier was pretty impressive.  I enjoyed weaving through the labyrinthine forward loop.

AIphone
I’m pretty sure the “AI” on this phone doesn’t stand for artificial intelligence…

And the homemade guac was delicious!  Later everyone surprised me with an equally yummy chocolate cake for my birthday, which was the day we headed out from my sister’s house to our next destination, LEGOLAND.

My other sister had convinced me to stay a night in the LEGOLAND Hotel, and oh my goodness, it was awesome.

LEGOLAND Hotel disco elevator interior
Two words: Disco. Elevator! All other elevators will pale in comparison for me from now on.

We stayed in an Adventure themed room, all ancient Egyptian style.

LEGOLAND Hotel adventure room
I snapped this in the dark. Hopefully the faded look adds to the temple-like ambience and doesn’t just reflect on my lack of photography skills.

We had much fun in the park too, especially getting early access one morning and doing the Ninjago ride three times in a row before the main crowd arrived.  That enabled me to claim two spots on the daily top five scores (apparently using the same moves).  Check it out:

Ninjago Ride high scores
Achievement unlocked.

However, I feel compelled to point out that the number one slot appears to be occupied by… Is that..?

Ninjago Ride high score closeup
A water bottle?!  Achievement rescinded.

Sigh.  Moving on.  We headed up to Disneyland for a couple of days that really put my feet to the test.  So much walking.  This was a week just full of birthdays, because we inadvertently arrived on the day of the park’s 64th birthday.  Plus, LEGOLAND had been celebrating their 20th.

We discovered on this trip that my kids have already surpassed me in the intensity of rides they’re willing to go on.  Not that hard to do, actually, but still.  Good news for my husband.  Also, Disney has really upped their game of character meet and greets.  Spying for stormtroopers in the new Star Wars area?  Playing hide and seek with Peter Pan and Captain Hook?  Yup, my boys had a very magical time.  We all did.

And finally, I leave you with a photo that will make more sense this fall:

Disneyland wishing well
I know it’s a bit hard to see the coin I’m holding, but this one’s for you, Fellscorpe.

Poetry publication: “The Geologist Speaks”

I’m pleased to share that the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review has published my poem “The Geologist Speaks” in their Science & Science Fiction themed issue!  I provided some poet’s notes about the origins of this free verse poem (hint: it involves a geotech—not a geologist, strangely enough—and a dictionary).  I’ve long thought the world needs more science-based poetry in it, so being part of this issue is a real treat for me.  Science offers a wealth of terminology and concepts that beg to be made into crisp imagery and metaphors.

Story link available at Apparition Lit

“Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge” is free to read online now at Apparition Lit, including the Creator Spotlight interview questions at the end.  Want to know who and what inspired this story?  Or see a sample of stats I keep on my submissions, if you’re a data nerd like me?  Or need a word of encouragement if you’re a writer and racking up rejections, like me?  It’s in there.

Please consider buying the ebook of the complete Ambition issue, and be sure to check out the other stories and poems.  Fun fact:  One of the other contributors, Donna J.W. Munro, appeared alongside me in Nothing’s Sacred Vol. 4!

Publication announcement: “Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge”

I’m excited to share that my story “Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge” is out now in the Ambition issue of Apparition Literary Magazine!  This story explores sibling rivalry, VR technology, and games and puzzles.  There’s also an author Q&A where I explain more about the story’s inspiration.

As for the issue’s theme, I’ve been thinking a lot about ambition the past couple years.  The decision to go to grad school didn’t come easily for me, especially due to the impact on my husband and young kids.  When I was growing up, my dad worked very hard and was very fortunate to have a great career, but he always prioritized family.  I’ve always looked up to him for that.  Ambition can be so personal and play out in a number of ways, which I think makes it a fascinating theme to explore in fiction.

San Antonio, Day 3 and photos

After that Sunday morning thunderstorm, we traipsed through the rain in our hoods like good little Portlanders until it got sunny again.  We checked out the Guenther House and walked through the scenic King William historic district, which reminded me of the Garden District in New Orleans with all the mansions.  However, we noticed it was eerily deserted.  Oh, sure, there were cars parked along the streets, but we were the only humans in sight, whether pedestrian, driver, resident, or otherwise.  I commented that either the storm had scared everyone away or we had become postapocalyptic survivors.

That afternoon we caught the river shuttle north, through the lock, and up to the Pearl Brewery area.  It was a peaceful boat ride with lots of interesting murals, bridges, and buildings to see along the way.  I can see why San Antonio is fashioning itself as the Venice of America.  I enjoyed walking through Hotel Emma.  Very cool industrial style.  We were staying in the Menger Hotel, which was super close to the Alamo as well as a major stop on the ghost tour.

That night we watched the San Fernando Cathedral Light Show.  We arrived a few minutes late, but luckily the show lasts quite a while, so we didn’t feel like we’d missed out.  We really enjoyed it.  The images projected onto the cathedral and the accompanying music celebrate the history of San Antonio and the blending of cultures in the city.  There are strong influences from Mexico and Germany all over, from the names on the cemetery headstones to the street and building names.  In fact, our last dinner in San Antonio was at a German restaurant, where my mom told us a few anecdotes about her side of the family; her father, my grandpa, was from Germany.

And here, finally, are photos!

Quevedos in San Antonio
Cruising on the River Walk with my mom and sisters.
quills-vs-pen-e1554841051541.jpg
My sisters had pointed out some quills in the Alamo gift shop. Maybe I should’ve bought one, since I was holding the pen that later died on the boat ride!

San Antonio, Day 2 continued

Since an early morning thunderstorm has taken the liberty of forcing me onto this time zone, I’ll get caught up on yesterday.  The Alamo tour was very informative—did you know the iconic church building didn’t originally have a roof?—and I really enjoyed walking the grounds and seeing the historic walls surrounded by so much greenery.  There was a Turkish festival setting up in the plaza, so we swung by that too.

At the end of our ghost tour last night, the tour guide recommended some local dishes to try.  When my mom, sisters, and I asked her for more info., she said the bus could drop us off at one of the locations.  So, after everyone else had (ahem) departed, we got a personal trip on the ghost tour bus!

I forgot to mention, back home on Friday while going through airport security, as soon as I went through the scanning machine, they pulled me aside.  Turns out they needed to check my hair.  That’s right, my hair is so thick it had to be frisked.

Hmm, technical difficulties are preventing me from uploading any photos as this time.  I’ll have to try again later.

San Antonio, Days 1 and 2

I’m not used to taking a trip that isn’t connected to either a work conference, writing conference, school program, or visiting family.  It’s a nice change of pace.  My mom, sisters, and I arrived in San Antonio late yesterday.  It’s such a treat to be together as a group, including with my sister from San Diego.

We toured the Alamo this morning and took a cruise on the River Walk this afternoon.  I’ve been trying to take diligent notes for story setting ideas, but of course my pen died halfway through the cruise.  That didn’t stop the tour guide from asking me when we disembarked why I was doing so much writing on the boat ride.  Don’t worry, I also took in a lot of the sights.  It’s lovely here.

Tonight, we’re going on a ghost tour.  I enjoyed the one in New Orleans so much, I suggested it to the group here, and they agreed. More to come.

March and April excitement

Apparition Lit is running a subscription drive now through April 15th.  If you want to get in on this, you can get some swag while helping support writers who’ll get to work with this awesome publication (one of the goals is to increase the pay rate).  Find out more info here:  https://www.apparitionlit.com/articles/patreon/

April 15th is also the day my story is coming out in their Ambition issue.

Meanwhile, I’m gearing up to attend the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference next week, right here in Portland.  I always look forward to meeting other writers and learning more about our industry.  Then I’ll be taking a quick trip to San Antonio for my first time.  Should be fun.

Publication announcement: “Origin Story”

I’ve just had a 13-word story published—yes, 13 words—and it’s actually my first of two stories coming out this year themed around virtual reality.  You can find “Origin Story” now at the Story Seed Vault, and keep an eye out for my deeper dive into VR tech in the Ambition issue of Apparition Literary Magazine, coming out next month.

Writing through the tough times, buoyed by the good

When people ask me about my writing, I often explain that I write because I can’t not write.  Forgive that clunky sentence, that double-negative, but it’s so true.  2018 proves it better than any other year thus far.

2018 brought me a lot of personal issues to work through, but through the ups and downs, I also completed more story drafts than in any prior year.  This shocked me when I did the calculation.  A good chunk of them were short even by my standards, but still.  I had to steal time for it.  I had to reclaim that part of me.  And I had to acknowledge the times when I could, in fact, not write, and be okay with that.  I still came away with new experiences to stow for when I’m ready.

Here’s hoping for momentum in 2019—preferably without the emotional roller-coaster.  And here’s wishing for health and wellbeing for all of you!  May the only scares and misfortunes be found in the fiction you consume, and may the pages you read be numerous.