All posts by eclecticalli

I am finding my way on the meandering, twisting path of life, constantly surprised by what’s around the next bend. Working to embrace and face the challenges inherent with following your dreams, and writing the journey. A writer and dreamer, historian and theologian, academic and fantasy-world-creator, genealogist and gluten-free baker, crafter and reader, poet and life-long learner, constantly questioning and occasionally irreverent. Eclectic Alli is my personal blog, with reflections on writing, life, theology, history, or whatever may catch my thoughts. Disparate Threads is a fantasy-fiction serial-blog, I am trying to break out of the traditional book-format mold of storytelling, taking advantage of the blog format to build a world. Everything on Disparate Threads is considered "Draft," and I WANT reader responses and input! Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram round out my online presence, and I try to do little bits different with each of them.

#WeekendCoffeeShare – Recovery Weekend #1

wordswag_15073188796611453091488.pngWeekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!
Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?
All are welcome! Just add your link to the Linky-List, and be sure to visit others and join in their conversations! The link will be open from April 13th at 7am (Pacific Time) until Monday April 16th at 7pm (Pacific Time) to give us a good range of “weekend”!


If we were having coffee I’d start by sitting back and asking you how things are going for you?
This week has been a bit of a blur – I had surgery on my foot on Monday and have been in recovery this week. They dealt with some bone spurs and cleared out a bunch of inflammation. The first 24 hours of recovery were rough, once the numbness from the surgery wore off the pain was pretty bad. But a system of pain-killers has helped to get through that, and now it’s just a low-key pain. I’m supposed to keep the foot elevated above my heart, so I’ve spent the week laying in bed with my foot up on pillows. Luckily I was prepared so I’ve been doing some reading and movie watching. A couple friends have stopped by to keep me company, which has been nice, and helped the time pass a bit.

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Midnight Monster guarding my non-surgery leg from all dangers.

There really isn’t a whole lot more happening for me. Midnight Monster has been keeping an eye on me, he’s enjoying the extra cuddling time and attention. My mom has also been spectacular – she’s been making sure I have good food, ice, and just been a great caretaker!

This weekend I have a few more friends coming over on Saturday – and I’ll be attempting actually leaving my room. When you’ve been stuck in your bed for a week the idea of even making it to the living room is very exciting.  I’m also looking forward to actually eating food at a TABLE.

Next week I’ve got more surgery, this one to get my gallbladder removed, so I anticipate another week of recovery and not-doing-much… we’ll see what happens!

 

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#WeekendCoffeeShare: Weekend of Getting Ready

wordswag_15073188796611453091488.pngWeekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!
Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?
All are welcome! Just add your link to the Linky-List, and be sure to visit others and join in their conversations! The link will be open from April 6th at 7am (Pacific Time) until Monday April 9th at 7pm (Pacific Time) to give us a good range of “weekend”!

Well, this is the last weekend before my SURGERY WEEKS. Monday, at a time yet to be determined, I go in to have them cut open my foot and help make it feel better. I have bone-spurs, as well as perhaps some other issues going on, so they’re going to be dealing with that. The hope is this will bring me some relief so I can start moving around again. I miss the walking I used to do, and it would be AWESOME to be able to get more of that going come summer.

I’ll have a bit over a week of recovery from that, and then I go in for gallbladder removal. Again, the hope is that it will help me out in the long-run. After missing a week of work (and being in some intense pain) I really like the idea of maybe NEVER having to go through that again.

Because I have so much recovery time coming up, this weekend has been kind of set-aside as “last minute prep” weekend. I’ll be going to the grocery store and stocking up on some things, making sure that I have everything I need (I do have someone able to get things for me and help me out while I’m recovering, but I like the idea of not having to ask them to go buy me groceries and such). Also on the prep list, making sure that the cat toys are easy to get to and that I know where his laser pointer is. Because I know he’ll be wanting some good quality play time, and that’s something I’ll be able to do!

This week my co-workers gave me the sweetest “get well” basket, full of fun things for me to do, some yummy things for me to eat, and other nice things like fuzzy socks and a scented candle. It was super-sweet of them, and I’m looking forward to putting all those things to good use.

Oh! Last weekend!  I haven’t gotten to tell you all about Hamilton yet!!
The show was spectacular – I wish I could see it again! Actually, I will see it again, next time it comes through you can bet I’ll be getting myself tickets! We saw the “Phillip tour“(the two touring casts have been nicknamed the “Angelica” and “Phillip” tours (First and Second Touring Cast, respectively), and I was absolutely blown away by the talent. These performers were spectacular, I may have liked some of them better than I like the voices on the Original Broadway Cast – they made the roles their own — I was particularly fond of Jon Patrick Walker’s interpretation of King George and Nik Walker as Burr.

The set was SO COOL, the choreography was brilliant. One thing that kind of stood out to me too, which is sticking with me, was the way they handled the bows. If you’ve seen shows before, you probably are familiar with the standard curtain call process.  Actors come up on the stage, bow, and then step aside for the next actor to come forward, building up until you finally have the leads bowing at the end.  Then, as a line, they bow together.

Well, that didn’t happen with Hamilton. Instead they all end the closing song standing together in a line and all bow together.  For some reason this really struck me – I hope it was an intentional decision!

What has this week brought for you? What does the weekend hold?

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Pulling Apart The Dialog

wp-1459952198219.jpgThis 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, and be sure to check out the Twitter account and the new Instagram as well!

 

As I mentioned in my recent Weekend Coffee Share – I decided to go ahead and attempt Camp NaNo this month. It’s likely I’ll be chronicling my attempts on twitter (#CabinInTheWords, @Nerissarain). So, be sure to join me if you wanna see just how I manage to juggle editing a chapter that’s been giving me trouble for a few months alongside recovering from two surgeries….

Part of the challenge of this chapter is that it’s a lot of dialog. That, itself, isn’t the issue, it’s that I have characters sharing information with one another, but only determining if it is safe to share that information after they’ve shared it. That doesn’t work.

For those who RP, it’s kind of like when you have a bunch of player-characters walk into a tavern and instantly accept the information the NPC bartender gives them as fact. It just doesn’t quite work, not for people used to approaching every situation with caution, so I need to re-work it some.

I think what I’m going to end up doing is pulling the conversation apart and approaching it like dialog in a play. What is being said (and what is being conveyed that isn’t being said through expression or body language) is pretty important for the story, so I want to make sure those points get across. So what I think I’m going to do is dig out my big tri-fold cardboard presentation folder (you know, the kind that they use for school science presentations) and sticky notes. Each line of dialog will get it’s own note (color coded by character), key points or messages will get a sticky of a different color, and it will all get set out on the board, moved around, added to, and subtracted from, until I get the right flow.

Basically I’m altering the way I tend to organize academic papers to work for my fictional writing — I hope it’ll work!

Has anyone else had success in restructuring dialog? What tricks have worked for you?

#WeekendCoffeeShare: A bit of this, a bit of that

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Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!
Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?
All are welcome! Just add your link to the Linky-List, and be sure to visit others and join in their conversations! The link will be open from March 30th at 7am (Pacific Time) until Monday April 2nd at 7pm (Pacific Time) to give us a good range of “weekend”!

If we were having coffee….

Well, the thing is, I put this coffee-post up Friday morning, which means I just get to jump up and down with excitement about my weekend plans this week — you’ll have to wait for next week to hear all about how it goes.

Why am I jumping with excitement? I’M GOING TO SEE HAMILTON TONIGHT! Friday night tickets, I got them months ago, and am super-excited to see this. I love the music, and am going with a handful of my die-hard Hamilton-fan friends. Should be a great time.

Seriously, what else is there?

Last weekend turned out well. I did a lot of organizing and cleaning, making some real progress in cutting down the amount of STUFF I have. I also met up with my Stitch-n-Bitch group at one of the local coffee shops, I’m going to turn it into a monthly thing. The group has an online presence, and there is a gathering weekly – but it’s on a day of the week that’s a bit of a challenge for me, and it’s across the river (and over the hills) so… basically on the other side of town. This monthly meeting is on my side of town, and on a weekend-day so it’s a bit easier for me to manage.

I’m currently working on another shawl, which I am quite pleased with, and a blanket. At some point I’ll actually get around to sharing pictures of some of the projects I’ve done, and what I’m working on…. Oh! If you’re a fellow crafter and happen to be on Ravelry, hit me up – I’m Eclectic Ali over there.

On the writing front I haven’t made any progress this month. I’ve got a whole slew of excuses, but that’s all they are – excuses. I need to get myself in gear and get back at it – if I have a stall-out every time I hit a challenging revision chapter I’m never going to get far! One of the struggles I’m facing is that I’ve never quite had to do an edit like this. I don’t want to completely rewrite the conversation, but I do need to revise it a fair amount – and that’s a struggle. I’m going to talk more about that on Wednesday so I’ll leave it at that for now.

I did finally decide to go ahead and join up for Camp NaNoWriMo for April. I wasn’t going to, originally, because of the surgeries I have scheduled. I have no idea what the month will end up looking like as far as my ability to actually accomplish anything. But ultimately I decided I could set the goal of 4 hours of editing for the month, join up with one of my writing crews for a Cabin, and see what I can get done. I imagine, if I am writing, I’ll be over on Twitter (@Nerissarain) and tweeting under #CabinInTheWords – if anyone wants to join!

How are things going for you these days? What have you been up to lately? Any exciting plans this weekend?

#TopTenTuesday: Books that take place in another country!

TTT-Big2Welcome to Top Ten Tuesdays!  Started over on The Broke and Bookish, and now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl, this is a fun, low-stakes blog-hop. What would your top ten be?

March 27:    Books That Take Place In Another Country

What a very, very, broad topic.  I’ll narrow it a little by looking specifically at books on my TBR pile that take place in another country. Some of these are for challenges, some are just books I want to read.  I do have a goal of working through some of the books I already own….

  1. Go Well, Stay Well, by Toeckey Jones  
    This is a book I’ve had around for a long time, and think it’s about time to re-read. I actually put it on my re-read list last year after reading Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime.”  Go Well, Stay Well, takes place in South Africa, and I seem to remember liking the story when I first read it.

  2. Listen, Slowly, Thanhha Lai –
    I read “Inside Out and Back Again” by this same author last year, and absolutely loved it (so much so that I had to buy a copy for myself). So when I saw another book by her while browsing through the stacks at Powell’s, I just had to buy it. I really had no choice. The story is about a Vietnamese American girl, going to Vietnam.

  3. Persuasion, Jane Austin
    Getting through this has become something of a matter of pride. This is one of the books on my rather ambitious Classics Club list, and every time I sit down to read it I’m just NOT in the right place. I think I might give this one a go during one of the Dewey’s 24-hour Readathons, when I can focus on it.

  4. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
    Also a Classics Club book, plus one that I’m thinking of using for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.

  5. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
    Hey, would you look at that. Another book that will fit both my Classics Club list AND the Read Harder Challenge.  Fantasy worlds count as “another country,” right?

  6. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
    Classics Club, Book Riot… I’m sensing a pattern here.  I read this one originally in High School, and have been meaning to re-read it ever since. Particularly after I came across one of the papers I wrote about it in High School. Wonder what my thoughts will be now that I’m over twice the age I was when I first read it (wait.. How did I get to be that old already? huh…).

  7. Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Denticat
    This one showed up when I was visiting the library. Darn that Friends of the Library sale-shelf! Turns out it also works to meet a Book Riot challenge too. I bought it knowing nothing about the book – but apparently it takes place, at least partially, in Haiti.

  8. Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingslover
    Another Classics Club. I’ve had this book on my shelves for quite a while and haven’t gotten to it yet, so it really is time. I did start it at the beginning of this year, and was really impressed by the different voices the characters had. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the story I just need to, you know, dedicate some time and energy to reading it when I can pay attention and follow the story (some books just don’t lend themselves well to commute-reading).

  9. Phantom of the Opera, Gaston LeRoux
    Classics-Club, Book-Riot… yup. This will be a reread for me, and I do look forward to digging into the story. I remember that I enjoyed it when I read it the first time (during my Phantom of the Opera obsession in High School), so it will be fun to revisit.

  10. Beyond Safe Boundaries, Margaret Sacks
    Another book that takes place in South Africa in the 1960s. And another book I remember reading when I was younger and decided it was time to reread. It’s one of those books that I am glad I never got rid of the physical copy, because I had a vague recollection of the cover of this book, the topic, and nothing more. Trying to find a book with only that information — not easy!

#WeekendCoffeeShare – More Spring Cleaning

wordswag_15073188796611453091488.pngWeekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!
Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?
All are welcome! Just add your link to the Linky-List, and be sure to visit others and join in their conversations! The link will be open from March 23rd at 7am (Pacific Time) until Monday March 26th at 7pm (Pacific Time) to give us a good range of “weekend”!

Hi! It’s nice to share some coffee with you again. Last weekend was a lot of fun, until it wasn’t. In the ongoing saga of “what kind of health issue can I come up with next,” my body decided to rebel against me starting Sunday night. I ended up staying home sick from work on Monday, but luckily started feeling better by the end of the day and was able to get back to work on Tuesday. It was a busy time at work this week, so I’m very happy to be at another weekend.

I’m meeting up with some folks in my stitch-and-bitch group Saturday afternoon for a bit, and then the rest of the weekend I’ll be relaxing! There is still a little cleaning and organizing that needs to be done, and I’m still hoping to get into Chapter 4 on my novel… it’s been sitting around for a long time waiting for me to revamp it and I really want to make progress on it, I just need to sit down and focus on it a little bit in order to sort out what needs to be done.

I finished a crochet project this past week! Following patterns is something pretty new to me, and this was another pattern project – but one I completed without any help! No pictures here because it’s a gift that hasn’t been given yet, but I love how it turned out. Now I’m working on finishing up some projects I had around before I launch into new ones. Which means I have a shawl, blanket, and scarf to finish up.

One of the things I’m also hoping to accomplish this weekend is get digging into some of the under-bed storage I have of miscellaneous “craft things.” Sort through them, perhaps put aside some to sell and some to give away, and generally make them more accessible so that I can actually use them. All part of my larger “organize, sort, and get rid of stuff” campaign I’m fighting against my room. I also want to figure out how to get more of my books visible… realized I have a few shelves that are still double-stacked with books, and that’s just ridiculous. I can’t even see what I have! So… making space for them, and also putting together some piles of books to read and then give away (thankfully I have some young’uns in my life who are starting to hit the right reading levels to enjoy some of the books I have)!

My life is in a bit of a spring cleaning mode. I’m organizing everything I can, trying to root out things I don’t really use, and committing to use those things I can’t quite part with. A large part of my motivation is that I’ll be stuck in my room for the better part of April due to surgeries. First there’s the surgery on my foot to hopefully deal with the pain I’ve been dealing with there (for over a year). Then, while still in recovery from that, I’ll be having my gallbladder removed so I hopefully don’t have to deal with the pain and inconvenience that caused me. Two weeks of really not doing much of anything, followed by at least a week where I’m anticipating I won’t be up to much after I get home from work.

That’s pretty much me these days.  I do have some exciting things coming up at the end of next week — but I’ll tell you all about that over coffee next time!

 

All the Audio Books

Reading Review Time!

Another challenge I informally set out for myself was to expand how I read. Traditionally I read books either in paper format or as ebooks, and honestly the reading of ebooks has been a slowly-increasing occurrence out of necessity and convenience. My back was not too pleased with me hauling around heavy paper (or hardcover) books everywhere, and I wouldn’t always want to carry a bag JUST to have a book. Not to mention that, if the bus is crowded and I need one hand to hold on to the overhead bar so I don’t fall over, it’s pretty challenging to hold a book with my other hand!

With ebooks on my phone I can read pretty much anywhere, but it’s been an adjustment to read on such a small screen. However, it’s an adjustment I’ve made and I’d say most of my reading now is via ebooks.

But Audio Books… this is a different challenge for me. Part of it has to do with my learning style – I don’t process as well when I’m simply hearing something — seeing the words on a page and reading them helps me get better understanding of what I’m reading. So when I pick up audio books I sometimes forget what I’ve just listened to.  I also have a tendency to get distracted – my mind will wander as my eyes search for something to do and soon I’ll realize I haven’t heard any of the last ten minutes of what’s been said.

I started to try dipping into Audio Books with a few memoirs by comedians in the past year. I find that a story being narrated in the voice of the person it’s actually about holds me better – I’m listening to an oral history of sorts, and that traps my brain in differently.

This year, so far, I’ve listened to THREE audio-books, and one of them was quite the step away from the memoirs.

 

Why Not Me?

Why Not MeWritten and Narrated by Mindy Kaling

First, one of the audio-books more in the style of what I’ve already listened to. I enjoyed The Mindy Project, so thought I’d give one of her books a listen — and it was really fun. There were parts that I wanted to copy down (another disadvantage to audio-books, it’s a lot harder to simply highlight a passage). I found what she had to say to be fairly inspiring, and surprisingly relatable at times. This is one I’ll probably try to get an ebook copy of so I can pull out some quotes for later reflection!

 

Talking as Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between

Lauren

Written and Narrated by Lauren Graham

I hadn’t expected to enjoy this book as much as I did!  I expected to enjoy it — I like Lauren Graham and figured any stories she was telling about herself would be entertaining. I’m also a fan of Gilmore Girls (and Parenthood) so was looking forward to what she had to say about her experience with those shows.

What I hadn’t realized was that she also wrote a fiction book, and there were parts of her story where she was talking about being an author. Again, I wish I could just reach into the book and pull out some of those passages – and I’ll probably have to get my hands on a physical or ebook copy so I can do just that.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Ari and Dante

By Benjamin Alire Sáenza. Narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

A friend had recommended this one.  Because of my challenges with audio-books I was hesitant, but the fact that Lin-Manuel Miranda was the narrator (and I do adore him) was a HUGE selling point for me to give it a try.

There were certainly moments when I had to rewind a bit to pick up bits of the story I’d lost, but I really enjoyed the story. Listening in as Ari learns about his world and himself over the period of a bit over a year, appreciating the style of the writing, and some of those moments of reflection that give a hint of the person Ari might grow into. Again, there were quotes that I want to pull from the story and explore more — but unlike the other two which I borrowed from the library, this one I’d purchased and had the option to “bookmark” passages so I tried that a few times and need to check out how that worked.

I do wonder what my experience would be if I had read it instead of listening to it.  Would I understand the characters differently if my own intonations has been placed on them, rather than being told in another person’s voice? Would different things have stood out to me?

Either way, I would recommend this story. As is often the case when I read stories about people who are pretty thoroughly different than me, I found myself seeing many pieces of thought, moments of interaction and reflection, that could have been plucked out of my head. It’s one of the reasons I like to encourage people to read books about people different from themselves — I feel like it can actually highlight the ways in which we are similar.

Reading Challenge: Beaverton City Library Booking Ahead (Book with a Main Character who doesn’t look like you or live like you).