Monday Updates: Week of January 16th

News

The Trump Cabinet nominee’s Senate Hearings have begun. A number of them were rescheduled for later, but some have begun, including Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State,  andJeff Sessions for Attorney General.

Donald Trump held his first press conference this week. It was… challenging… to watch. If you want the highlights, but don’t have the ability to actually read through, or watch the real press conference, you can get some of the highlights from this months SNL cold opening.

(Trump, of course, found it important to tweet about this and how horrible SNL is).

There is a lot to pick through in this news conference, but one of the particularly worrisome ones is his refusal to take a question from CNN. The history of this is that CNN (along with Buzzfeed) released information to claims that there were document alleging that Russia held compromising financial and personal information about the president-elect. As Trump often takes to Twitter when he has been slighted (or perhaps when he feels threatened), such as in response to Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech. When a news source says something he dislikes, he begins to call them “fake news.” It is difficult to not see this as troubling – it is an early step in the limiting of free press.

Trump has also been continuing his pattern of breaking traditions, while it is generally the case that incoming presidents will leave certain key individuals in their positions until a proper replacement can take charge, Trump has ordered that Major General Errol R. Schwartz, who is the commanding officer of the Washington, D.C. National Guard, resign his post in the middle of the Inauguration ceremony.

And a final piece of news, the Senate is taking steps towards their promise of dismantling the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), despite having nothing to replace it with.  There is a rising number of republican voices against the repeal without something to replace it, but it may not be enough to make the difference.

Good News

There are a number of counter-inauguration events in the works, including a Love-A-Thon is occurring, streaming live on Facebook starting at 12:30 pm (ET) on January 20th, Inauguration Day. A number of celebrities will be participating, and money raised will be going to the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Planned Parenthood, and Earthjustice. In addition to protests and counter-performances, a number of individuals are boycotting the inaugural ceremony in protest, including over two dozen members of Congress.

On Saturday the 21st there will be a large Women’s March in D.C., as well as 370 “Sister Marches” around the world. It’s entertaining to note that there have only been 200 bus-parking applications for the Inauguration, but 1200 for the Women’s March! Though not without its challenges, the Women’s Marches have the potential to be powerful, meaningful events and I have personally seen a lot of education and learning happening in some of the groups surrounding them.

Action Items

There are so many things that need to be done – there is no way any one of us can do them all, so find the ones that most call to you, that you hold most important, and take action on those.

Figure out your Inauguration Day plan. Self-care is highly recommended. Even though the TV ratings won’t directly translate, a lot of people are going to boycott watching it in any form, some by being vocal about it, some by attending or watching counter-shows.  Some will be going offline entirely and taking the day outside or with friends.  Figure out what is going to work for you, that day and through the weekend.

If it is possible for you, look at attending one of the Women’s Marches on the 21st. Stand in solidarity with others who are fighting the same fight. Take this time to also learn more about the reason and purpose behind the march, and to start learning (if you haven’t already) about some of the issues that are a part of the reality of activism in this day and age. Look into what “Privelege” means, and what “Intersectional Feminism” is.

This is Martin Luther King Jr Day (observed). Take time today to do something to celebrate – participate in a service project, write a letter-to-the-editor for your local paper on one of the issues that matters to you, read some of MLK’s writings, and take action.

Call your representatives and urge them to act to fully restore the Voting Rights Act.

Continue to call the appropriate senators to oppose the innapropriate caibnet nominations, such as contacting members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee about Betsy DeVos lack of qualifications to be Secretary of Education.

Continue to press the Oversight Committee about the need for Trump to truly divest of his conflicts of interest. Rep. Chaffetz’s office number is 202-225-7751.

Contact the Republican Senators who have broken from the GOP in terms of a fast repeal of the ACA. Share with them your appreciation: Senator Bob Corker (202)224-3344; Senator Lisa Murkowski (202)224-6665; Senator Rob Portman (202)224-3353; Senator Susan Collins (202)224-2523; Senator Bill Cassidy (202)224-5824.

 

Reading GOALS for 2017

That’s right… I’ve got GOALS for reading this year.

Because, why should this year be any different from the previous ones?

Of course, this year I intend to actually meet most of these goals — which I didn’t manage last year. Of course, I did take half the month to even get this posted so, I’m totally on track to for this… really I am….

readmyowndamnbooksbuttonThis year the top challenge is that I’m going to aim to not spend money on books. I don’t expect this to really happen — not sure I’m actually capable of not buying ANY form of books for a whole year — but I am going to make a concerted effort to use the library and read through a lot of the books that I already own.  Because I do own a great many that need to be read. I managed to find someone who is actually hosting a challenge of this, so I’ve decided to join up on that.

 

rhc_cover_pinterestI’m also going to attempt the Book Riot Read Harder challenge again this year — and am starting to brainstorm what books I’ll read for what topics. Because I was at a total loss I decided to start with the first one (probably one of the hardest for me) and tracked something down at the library that will count as a “Sports Book.” I think, for the most part, this wouldn’t be too hard of a challenge this year, if I weren’t trying to also combine it with the “Read My Own Damn Books” Challenge and….

Classics Club LogoTrying to knock more books off of my Classics Club list! I’m totally behind on this, and would like to make some real progress on these books! I stacked up a pretty hefty list but didn’t get through any of them last year.  The Classics Club is a cool group – you should check them out!

I will also, of course, be doing some reading for Banned Book Week again this year  – looking forward to the updated list of most-challenged books of 2016 so I can get started on reading.

What are your reading goals for the year? What kind of books are you hoping to read?

If We Were Having Coffee… Birthday Weekend!!

If we were having coffee I’d tell you how excited I am about my birthday weekend!

It’s been a strange week – but I’ve been loving it! We had a bit of a delayed start to the week due to ice and grossness. Then, on Tuesday night we got SNOW. Lots and lots of snow (particularly for this area). In about 12 hours we got 9 inches of snow at my house. Some places got over a foot in a 24-hour period.

20170111_102113
The beautiful view of snow-covered… everything… in my neighborhood.

Wednesday was a snow day, and I got to play in the snow and enjoy being inside for much of the day. Thursday was also a snow day, and I took a walk through the snow to buy some needed cat food for the Midnight Monster. Luckily the sidewalk on the road I had to walk had been pretty packed down so it was a fairly pleasant walk.

The temperature stayed cold, so the only melt that’s happening is due to the sun – and then it’s freezing again. Friday I had to venture out to go to work, a delayed start but… it was still just 5 degree’s (Fahrenheit) outside when I left to start my commute.  It was NOT a fun trip – the “sidewalk” on the way to my bus-stop was pretty much non-existent – just a large pile of snow.

 

img_20170113_081253_042
There IS a sidewalk under there, somewhere. But walking on it was NOT fun – and stepping into the bike-lane was not a safe option.

The one great thing about having to venture out on Friday was that I was able to stop by the story to pick up some materials for my BIRTHDAY PARTY! I had to cancel a few of my Birthday Weekend plans because the snow is not moving much (other than turning to ice in some places) so it just isn’t safe to be out and about too much for some of us. The car I have access to can’t get out of the driveway at this point, and I just don’t want to deal with the headache of public transit this weekend!

But enough of my friends are close enough in and are going to be able to make it over so I’m still going to have my Mac-And-Cheese party! I’ll have a few different kinds of Macaroni and Cheese, and folks are bringing their own versions (and trying new kinds with different kinds of cheese). We’ll sample them all (and vote, of course, because we can!)  I don’t often have actual parties for my birthday, and am looking forward to this year and glad that the weather isn’t going to have to stop it from happening.

Today I have to do some prep for the party – looking forward to trying to create some new mac-and-cheese flavors!  Then there’s writing (I am ridiculously behind in my writing), and some Jamberry work…. I’ve managed to fill my empty weekend pretty well!

What do you have planned for the weekend? How is the weather where you are? Have you had a good week?

wp-1475343807867.jpg

 

 

Passionate Geeks: Fairy Tales and Once Upon a Time

Passionate Geeks Ad

Today’s Passionate Geek is Sarah E. Boucher, a lover of fairy stories, romance, anything BBC and Marvel, and really, really cute shoes. On weekdays she wears respectable shoes and serves as Miss Boucher, the Queen of Kindergarten. On school holidays she writes stories about romance and adventure. And wears impractical super cute shoes.  Visit Sarah at SarahEBoucher.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebookInstagramPinterest, Amazon, or Goodreads.


Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a Fairy Tale Addict.

06-07-16-sarah-b-square-crop-color

Actually it’s worse than that. I’m a 40-year-old woman who believes in magic, happily ever afters, and the power of sassy heels. The only problems I’ve encountered are the following:

  1.  I’m not a princess in a tower with flowing blonde hair and birds for friends. Mostly because birds are creepy and I’m pretty sure they have a vendetta against me. Blech, beady bird eyes . . .
  2. I refuse to while away the time waiting for Prince Charming to carry me off into the sunset. If he had to pack me off on foot, I’d be worried about giving the poor idiot a hernia. And it turns out I’m allergic to horses.

So I guess what I really am is a Fairy Tale Realist who can’t get enough books, movies, and merch.

The series Once Upon a Time grabbed my interest from the beginning. Even so, there’s at least once per episode when my bestie and I give each other that look and say, “Nope.” and “Seriously, what are they thinking?” and “Yeah, I could have written that better.” Because in addition to Hobbitses, Hogwarts, and Han Solo, Hans Christian Anderson is well represented on my shelves. If only to provide evidence to support my arguments.

That clash between reality and fantasy pushes me to create my own brand of Fairy Tale Fan Fiction. I take the characters I’ve loved since girlhood and drop them into interesting situations to watch the squirm. Because there are always new aspects of a personality to explore.

Here I am, publishing my second Young Adult fairy tale and planning the next one. Or two. Or fifteen. That’s what happens when something captures your imagination for the better part of 40 years. You can’t shake the magic.

And hey, I’ll continue to believe in the power of hot shoes too. Because maybe, just maybe, Prince Charming has a thing for redheads in red peep toe pumps.

 

web-only-promo-book-coverSarah’s second book, Midnight sisters is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

What is it about?  Well, how about a blurb and excerpt?

The words rattled around Jonas’s head. What was the punishment again? Death? Dismemberment? Jonas, the newest addition to the gardening staff, couldn’t recall the exact penalty for breaking the rule. What does it matter anyway? He would never dream of meddling with the Earl of Bromhurst’s haughty daughters.

Until he comes face to face with Lady Ariela, the eldest of the Master’s daughters.

Her elusive smile and open manner cause him to question his convictions. In no time, he’s drawn into Lady Ariela’s world of mystery and intrigue, a world where she and her sisters will do anything—including leaving twelve empty beds at midnight—to escape their father’s strict rules.

Only Jonas can uncover the truth and save them from their father’s wrath and their own folly, if he is willing to risk everything he’s ever worked for.

***

“Jonas—”

I could see the words growing in his eyes.

“You know the cardinal rule.”

I wanted to roll my eyes, but kept my expression bland instead. Showing impatience had consequences for an undergardener.

“Do not meddle with the Master’s daughters.”

I had heard the words so many times my ears felt like they would start bleeding. If Higgins knew how pointless it was to fire them at me time and again, he’d save his breath.

“Understood?” Higgins asked with one eyebrow cocked.

The thought of running back to my family became more appealing with every upward slant of that eyebrow. “Yes, sir.”


blog-tour-bannerHer first book, Becoming Beauty, is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Find Becoming Beauty on AmazonBarnes & Noblebooks & thingsiTunes, and Goodreads. For the duration of the blog tour (January 9-20) Becoming Beauty in eBook will be 99 cents!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

 

Monday Update – Week of January 9th.

News:

Trying to figure out where to even start…. The week started out with a mad rush to try to voice concern and stop the gutting of the House Ethics Committee.  Social Media WORKED to spread the word quickly, and phone calls were made to register displeasure and the effort to demolish the ethics committee was dropped.

Unfortunately, this was just a piece of what was on the docket for the week, and a few other things got through – such as expanding “the power of committee staff to haul private citizens and government officials to Capitol Hill to be questioned under oath — without any lawmakers present, in some cases.” And making it easier to sell off federal land.  At the very least this week started with a strong reminder that we’re going to have a lot thrown at us quickly and it’s important to be paying attention and ready to take action quickly.

There is fast movement happening around de-funding Planned Parenthood, and repealing the Affordable Care Act – without having something else to put in its place. The return of the Holman rule, which “allows lawmakers to lower the salary or eliminate the job of individual federal employees,” and the passing of a provision that will fine members of the House “for the use of an electronic device for still photography or for audio or visual recording or broadcasting….”

And then there is the fact that the confirmation hearings of Trump’s Cabinet picks is being pushed through before they can be subject to a proper evaluation by the Ethics Committee and have been scheduled in a very rushed time frame.

Oh, and Trump has been disparaging the Intelligence offices, and talking about revamping them.

And then there was the “blanket edict requiring politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day,” a break from tradition…. And I’m sure there is more that I’ve missed.  Like I said, a LOT is being thrown at us at once.

Good News

That small victory at the start of the week, where there was clear change based on the actions we all took, was a powerful one.

And there was the attempt of delivering 87,000 petitions to Paul Ryan by volunteers for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. There were security guards called in and were unable to deliver the petitions — but we did get the fun #PaulRyanSoScared hashtag out of it.

And, it seems, more Republicans are standing against the party-line. It’s a small step, but promising, that there are more and more who are expressing concern at repealing the ACA without a replacement plan in place, for instance.

Call to Action:

Call the Senators about the Cabinet appointments. The hearings are THIS WEEK (January 9th at 12:30 EST), so it’s important to get these calls in as soon as you can. This spreadsheet lays out a lot of information for you – the hearing date, the cabinet appointment, the name of the nominee, their background, why they are a concerning choice, which committee they will be appearing before, the committee members and a script option. Also, the twitter handles and tweet-scripts to be used.  Do this if you AT ALL CAN! (This is another form to use if you’d like – more basic for mobile-viewing) These both focus on some key nominations – the Democrats have indicated that they are planning on targeting the eight worst nominations.

One other action of importance, if you can.

15936724_1587731061243714_4141269799208687259_o

From Indigenous Rising Media:

#StandingRock still needs your commitment and solidarity.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has neglected to log their intent to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement. This crucial step will make it more challenging for the Trump administration to restart DAPL construction.

Continue to Stand with Standing Rock and make the call today.
ARMY CORPS COMMENT LINE: (202) 761-8700
http://standwithstandingrock.net/armycorps/

 

Weekend Coffee Share – Another Icy Weekend

If we were having coffee I’d probably have a fire going in the fireplace, it’s a bit chilly out there and there are occasional snow flurries.  Of course, this is supposed to pick up from flurries as the day goes on, and then turn to ice later.  So we’d have to keep it short so you could get home before the weather gets too bad. We’re not terribly known for our ability to drive in bad weather (or to have the infrastructure to be able to properly handle it).

I canceled a few plans for the weekend because of the weather, but that’s okay, I like the idea of getting to hang out at home all day for the weekend — especially since the next two weekends are going to be pretty full!

Not a whole lot has been happening in my life – I’ve been trying to keep on top of the political insanity that is happening… there is so much happening at once that it’s very hard to keep up on and even harder to figure out what to fight – and how to fight it. I’ll be spending some of this weekend mapping out networks, figuring out good information sources, and generally trying to sort things out. The one thing made plainly clear this week is that we’ll be seeing a lot of stuff coming from a lot of angles and will have to keep our wits about us if we’re going to continue fighting hate. 

I have also been trying to get moving on my writing. There are two twitter groups I’ve been a part of: #JanWritingChallenge and #WIPjoy – and they’ve both helped me immensely.  I finally took out that novel that I’ve had sitting on the shelf for quite a while now. Tried to find the most recent copy on my computer and couldn’t. A moment of panic later I found the printed copy, on which I’d scribbled all sorts of edit notes.

Which means that I’m having to completely re-type the entire thing. At first I was unhappy about it but now I’ve realized it’s really a blessing in disguise. It is forcing me to think through each section, each sentence, and make sure it works correctly. Some of the early parts were written near a decade ago, and the story has changed a lot since them. So it’s slow going (like, really slow going), and downright painful (and I haven’t even gotten to the parts of the story I KNEW were problematic), to work through. But I really feel like it is SO going to be worth it!

How are you doing?  What have you been up to this week?

 

wp-1475343807867.jpg

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: January 2017 Writing Goals, with uncertainty

Dang.. how is it already January?

What better way to start this year out than laying out some of my January Writing Goals – particularly, because it is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, in terms of how I’m a bit unsure of myself as I approach them.

Goal 1) For the month of January only I’m going to aim to write at least 500 words every single day. Part of this is a challenge that I’m doing with a few friends (we all have projects we need to make progress on) and part is because I’ve decided to give the monthly writing challenge a try over on Twitter. I’m worried because, while I can pretty easily scribble out 500 words of something daily, I have a goal to make these 500 useful words. Blog posts, fiction writing or rewriting… I am looking to write 500 words of USABLE words a day. Some days this will be simple enough, but I am worried that I won’t be able to make it happen every single day of the month. And if I don’t, will I be able to allow myself to not just give up and throw the entire goal away?

Goal 2) Write more blog posts to contribute to other blog-sites (starting with Comparative Geeks, Part-Time Monster, and perhaps some for Hannah Reads Books, if she’ll have me. I’ve written for these guys before, am welcome to again, but I have to do two things to make it happen.  First, I need to figure out what I want to write for them. Then I need to follow through. I know I can do this, I put together blog posts here pretty regularly after all.  But as soon as I start writing for someone else’s blog, I start to overthink and over-analyze.  Will what I write be good enough for them?  Will they decide I’m a HORRIBLE WRITER and never let me submit anything ever again, and decide that they hate me for it? I mean, I know these aren’t all true (at least I hope not!) it doesn’t make it easier to shut that anxiety-ridden part of my brain off. Which means having to push through that to make the writing happen.  It’s impossible to be told your writing sucks if you don’t actually put it out there. Of course, then you also never get to say what you want to say and the ideas behind the posts never get shared.

Goal 3) Begin to work on the re-writes for The Novel I’ve had sitting on the shelf for far to long. I am feeling drawn to it again, and I desperately want to make the changes I know need to be made so that I can finally get some other eyes on it. I’m nervous about this, though, because it has been on the shelf for over a year.  What if I start in on it and realize that it’s a lost cause?  What if I put in all the work and let a few trusted friends read it, and they think it’s terrible?  Then what?  I know I have to push past these fears, put in the work and make the story what I know it can be… it’s just a hard thing to push myself back into after so long away!

As for the question of the month:

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

This one is easy.

I started writing as an escape during the late Middle School years. By the time I took my first creative writing class (late High School), I’d already learned a lot of the writing basics through my own trial-and-error, and thanks to being a rather avid reader.  The problem was, somewhere before I even thought to consider myself a writer, I heard the rule: Write what you know.

I absolutely hate this “rule.” When taken literally it severely limits the writer, keeps you from being able to really embrace where your creativity wants to take you. I thought it meant that the only writing I could ever hope to do would deal with a girl like me. And a girl like me didn’t have a whole lot exciting to write about.  I later came to interpret it as meaning that I should dig through my own experiences to help inform my characters reactions and feelings. I draw on conversations I can actually imagine happening to help me write dialog (I’m rather proud of my dialog, I’ve been told by a few people over the years that my dialog is very “real,” in a good way. It’s one of those things I hold onto, for when the writing gets tough). I let “what I know” inform my writing – but I certainly don’t limit myself to writing experiences I have actually lived.  It took far longer than I like, but I finally gave myself permission to take these rules that don’t serve me and throw them right out the window.

 

wp-1462383471325.jpg

This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.

There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.

A bit of this, a bit of that, the meandering thoughts of a dreamer.

%d bloggers like this: