gwynhefar: (Default)
If you're here to read my stories, here are the links to the sections/chapter for both ongoing works. This post is unlocked, but the entries themselves are friends locked, in case I want to publish these some day. If you're not on my friend's list, but want to read the stories, either friend me and let me know, or email me and I'll send you an electronic copy.

Keeper of Secrets (AKA The Liath Story)

Contents )
Dear Pinny

Contents )

Also, I have recently succumbed to the siren call that is fanfiction. If you want to read my poor contributions in that area, they are over in [ profile] gwyns_fics.

Comments, encouragement, *constructive* criticism, etc. are *always* desired and appreciated! Also, since several people have told me I should, I'm including a Paypal button at the bottom of this page. If you like my writing, and you want to help keep me in a position to continue writing, please feel free to donate. Donations are IN NO WAY REQUIRED to read the fiction. If you're not on my able to access the chapters, either reply to this post with your LJ name or send me an email - I'll see to it that you have access.

gwynhefar: (did you know you could fly?)

Ok, so here is the saga of my car

I took it in to Chevy because it wouldn't turn on and the key got locked in the ignition, which I took, in my ignorance, to mean I was having the problem with the ignition that sparked the massive GM recall.  It now looks like maybe that wasn't the problem in the first place, but we'll get back to that.

The rest )
gwynhefar: (did you know you could fly?)
I have been recognising more and more lately just how deeply I have internalised the idea of mental health issues as being a weakness.  This frustrates the hell out of me because intellectually I don't believe that.  When I have friends who are dealing with mental health issues, I don't think of them as weak, or lazy, or somehow failures at life - I respect the hell out of them for just making it day to day.  But when it's *me* it's different.  Because while intellectually I know that what I'm going through is just as difficult as what my friends are dealing with, and that if I don't blame them for it I shouldn't blame myself, deep down I still *feel* like a failure, a weakling, someone deserving of scorn.

Growing up I lived surrounded by the notion that success in life equaled a good job, a spouse, a house with a yard, and some kids.  Maybe a dog.  Cats were for pathetic old spinsters.  I thought I'd rejected that idea in high school, and intellectually I did.  But deep down a part of me still measures success that way.  When I was growing up, anyone who was past thirty and didn't have that kind of life was considered somehow lesser.  In some cases, it was their fault -- they made bad choices.  They didn't work hard enough in school, they followed an unrealistic dream like playing in a band or being an artist, they were too stubborn to conform to the way the world works.  People with physical disabilities were pitied universally, and scorned or admired based on how they 'dealt' with their disability.  Always, there was to be a sense of mourning for the opportunity for a successful life that was taken from them - because of course whatever they made of themselves could never be as good as the traditional American Dream.

People with mental health issues were also universally pitied, but there was also a sliding scale of scorn depending on the nature of the disease and how close they came to achieving the Dream anyway.  People who were 'crazy' enough to be institutionalised were thought of much the same as those with physical disabilities, but with an added discomfort.  It was easier somehow, more comfortable, to be around someone in a wheelchair than to be around someone who kept talking to the voices in their heads.  The 'less serious' mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, were almost discounted.  It was like the mental equivalent of seasonal allergies.  Yeah, your eyes are itchy and watering and you're sneezing all over the place and you're very uncomfortable but you don't stay home in bed, you take your damn Allegra and go to work like a responsible, mature adult.  If you have depression or anxiety problems, that's too bad, and I'm sorry things are harder for you than for other people, but still, just take your medicine and power through.  Anything less is giving up, letting the disease 'win'.  Anything less is weakness, laziness.

For all that I've outwardly rejected this attitude, more and more I'm finding myself confronted by how much I still hold myself to this standard.  The horrible part is, the worse I feel about myself for my 'failures', the worse my depression gets, and the less I am able to 'power through'.  It's a constantly self-reinforcing cycle.  And I don't know how to stop it.  At any given moment I might tell myself that I'm allowed to take care of myself.  That the overwhelming apathy that keeps me from leaving the apartment some days isn't my fault.  And for an hour or two I might believe it.  And then when I find myself on the couch mindlessly watching old episodes of Castle, I'm suddenly overwhelmed by crushing guilt.  Here I am again, being lazy and self-indulgent, lounging on the couch watching TV when a successful, mature adult would be at work, powering through.  What a disappointment I am.  Am I really that weak that I can't get up and get dressed and go into work like I'm supposed to?  Or am I just selfish and self-indulgent and using my 'disease' as an excuse for yet another vacation day?  What must people think of me?  I was always so smart, I had everything going for me, how did I end up such a failure?

I'm trying so hard not to think like that, but it's too deep.  And I look at my life from the bottom of this deep fissure and I can see 'normal' life up there in the sun but it's too dark down here and the walls are sheer and I can't climb them and I have wings but they're hanging uselessly at my side and I can't muster enough energy to fly.  And I think, I'm stuck down here, and if I don't get out soon, it's going to rain, and I'm going to drown.

I look at my bank account and the money I've had to pull from savings to cover my time off work and wonder what I'm going to do when it runs out.  And I look at my job and I think of how my bosses can't possibly keep being as understanding as they have been, and eventually they're going to get tired of bending over backwards to accommodate an unreliable employee and I'm going to get fired.  And I look at my apartment and I think that it's a good thing I don't have friends over because the place is a mess and hell, if I don't get kicked out for being a slob I'll still have to move when I lose my job because even if I'm lucky enough to get disability it wouldn't be enough to pay the rent and I have to remind myself that I still have my job and I still have money in savings, and things aren't that bleak yet but I can't see any other path for the future.  Or rather, I can see them, but they're all overgrown with roots and bushes or blocked by rocks and cutting through seems impossible.

So this is where I am.  I'm at work today, for once, but other than scheduling a few meetings for later in the week I haven't accomplished anything other than surfing Facebook and reading articles on Cracked.  I don't hold much hope for the rest of the afternoon.  And when I'm done marking time here at work, I'll probably go home and lose myself in playing Skyrim, where I can slaughter bandits and rescue hostages and kill dragons and save the world.  Where I can pretend I'm a hero, and competent, and not a failure - for a little while.
gwynhefar: (fire and ice)
It’s a common scene in fiction. The hero wakes up and for one peaceful moment everything is fine. And then comes the moment of realisation. Yes, that really happened.
Yes, your wife really was murdered yesterday.
Yes, you really are on the run from a secret government agency.
Yes, aliens really did take over the planet.

It works because it’s true. Because that’s the way it happens for most of us. And by ‘us’ I mean ‘typical’ Western society. That fortunate subsection of the world’s population for whom waking up safe, and healthy, and comfortable is a regular occurrence. If we’re lucky, the only realisation we have to deal with is yes, it is a work day. Or that much rarer blissful realisation that no, you have to get up any time soon.

Of course, even our lives aren’t perfect. Sometimes we wake up and when reality reasserts itself it comes with a harsh reminder.
Yes, you really were fired yesterday.
Yes, you really are single again.
Yes, the doctor really did say cancer.
No, she’s really not coming back.
These are the personal tragedies.

And then sometimes reality shifts on a wider scale. Everyone knows the big one. On September 12, 2001, the whole world woke up and the reality that reasserted itself included acts of depravity and acts of heroism most of us in this sheltered country could never have imagined.

And I remember waking up in a dark, sweltering apartment on an August morning and thinking “oh yeah, hurricane,” as if that word could ever have prepared me for the hours I spent filling out simple forms online: ‘first name,’ ‘last name,’ ‘gender,’ ‘age,’ ‘last known location . . . .’ Or the faces of the people who came up to my desk with desperate questions - “What have you heard about my neighbourhood?” “They’re still looking, right?” “Surely there’s another number I can call . . .”

I wasn’t downtown yesterday. I was safe on the other side of the Boston Harbor. All of my friends and family are accounted for. But I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and when reality reasserted itself, there had been a terror attack in my city.
gwynhefar: (did you know you could fly?)
FYI -- I'm fine. Boston friends - if you see this, leave a comment to let me know you're ok (unless I've already talked to you).
gwynhefar: (Hurricane Warning)
Wow, it's been a long while since I've updated. Anyway, just wanted to say that I'm back at work after having yesterday off due to Sandy. The irony of having my first weather-related day off work after moving to Boston from Louisiana be due to a *hurricane* rather than a blizzard is not lost on me. Meira was in heaven, sitting in the window sill watching all the leaves and branches blow by. Poor Robin sat trembling on the couch most of the day, but then again, he remembers Gustav and Katrina. We didn't lose power and our building didn't suffer any damage (the thing was built in 1900, I think we're safe *g*) but there was a lot of detritus on the neighbourhood roads this morning. I absolutely wasted my long weekend playing minecraft and I am so behind on fic updates. Must get to writing!

Anyway, just a note to say I'm alive, even if I'm not around much.
gwynhefar: (Hurricane Warning)
Please keep the folks of South Louisiana in your thoughts as Isaac pounds New Orleans on this the 7th anniversary of Katrina.
gwynhefar: (Default)
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could. --Louise Erdrich
gwynhefar: (fire and ice)
Gone, I say and walk from church,   
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,   
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.   
It is June. I am tired of being brave.
-- Anne Sexton
gwynhefar: (sciatica)
Had nerve pain bad enough to keep me awake most of last night.  And it's pretty bad today too.  It's probably just a flare-up and the pain won't be constant at this level yet but even so, it's progressing a lot faster than the last tumor I had. If it keeps progressing at this rate I'll probably be back on the cane in 6 mo to a year.  Not cool.  

And of course I'm immediately jumping to worst case scenarios cause that's what I do.  I was lucky that the last tumor was on a nerve branch that could be removed without major loss of function - I'm worried this one might be on a more essential section.  
gwynhefar: (Default)
#33 Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 320 pages.

First of all, I can't believe I got this far into my life as a geek without having read this seminal book. And it's not like people haven't recommended it to me before. It's not like I haven't sat in shame when I'm forced to tell other geeks that I've never read any LeGuin, no, not even Left Hand. It's just that hard sci-fi that makes you think is something I'm not often in the mood for. But finally I got around it it.

To be honest, while I can see why it's as well-regarded as it is it didn't bowl me over the way Roadside Picnic did. For one thing, the politics bored me. It was intellectually interesting from a philosophical point of view, but political intrigue has never really been my thing. The gender-stuff, while definitely the best part of the book, isn't nearly as groundbreaking to someone reading it in 2012 as it would have been to readers in 1969.

That said, it *is* a great book, and I'm glad to have read it. LeGuin is a wonderful writer (no surprise there) and I definitely need to make an effort to read more of her stuff.

#34 Rebecca York, New Moon (The Moon Series, Book 6), 336 pages.

Another book in the horrible werewolf porn series I'm addicted to. We've now graduated from werewolves to add psychics, magic-users, and shapeshifters from another dimension. They're like candy corn -- horrible, but addictive.

#35 Kimberley Pauley, Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe), 304 pages.

I would have never believed anyone could do a unique teen vampire novel, but Pauley's pulled it off. Mina Hamilton's parents are blood-sucking fiends. Literally, not figuratively. Actually they're quite nice - they're just vampires. Mina's known for ages, but now the Vampire Council has found out and she has to decide if she will join her parents in undeath - or live a mortal life believing her parents are dead once the Council's mind-wipers are through with her.

#36 Amber McRee Turner, Sway, 320 pages.

Cass idolizes her mom, who does disaster recovery and travels a lot. Cass's life is marked by long stretches of time alone with her boring father in between mom's visits home. But when Mom comes home this time Cass immediately senses something's not right. Seems Mom's decided to get herself another family. Cass blames her father - maybe if he wasn't so boring, Mom would have stuck around. The last thing she wants to do is take a road trip in the beat-up RV her father's been restoring. But Dad's insistent. Cass wants to go convince her mom to come home, not spend time with her boring dad. Then again, maybe Dad's not as boring as she always thought. Enter M.B. McClean and his amazing magical historical soaps.

This is one of those sappy, feel-good books about kids dealing with difficult family issues and learning about what's really important in life. And it's a good one.

Progress toward goals: 102/366 = 27.9%

Books: 36/100 = 36.0%

Pages: 11517/30000 = 38.4%

2012 Book List

cross-posted to [ profile] 15000pages, [ profile] 50bookchallenge, and [ profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (Default)
#32 Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics), 224 pages.

spoilers )

Progress toward goals: 88/366 = 24.0%

Books: 32/100 = 32.0%

Pages: 10237/30000 = 34.1%

2012 Book List

cross-posted to [ profile] 15000pages, [ profile] 50bookchallenge, and [ profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (Default)
The Secret Keeper by Kate Coombs

Good lord! Guess my Liath story isn't really very unique any more.
gwynhefar: (Default)
#27 Gail Carriger, Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate, No. 5), 416 pages.

A satisfying conclusion to the series, with a lot of nagging questions answered, but I'm very sad to say goodbye to this one.

#28 Celia Thomson, The Stolen (Nine Lives of Chloe King), 288 pages.
#29 Celia Thomson, The Chosen, 245 pages.

I think I really just had to get past the huge differences between the books and the TV show. Once I got over the whole different=bad thing there were definitely some things about the books I liked better than the show. Brian not being clueless and having a backbone being one of them. As was the Mai leaders not being . . . perfect. To say the least. Still cheesy teen-wish-fulfillment, but enjoyable cheesy teen-wish-fulfillment.

#30 Barbara Else, The Travelling Restaurant. Barbara Else, 300 pages.

I've definitely got some interesting things to say about this one. So much complexity in a deceptively simple package. One of the things being that it took me halfway through the book to suddenly have this brain flash: This is a dystopian novel! And it is, absolutely. That fact is just a little obscured by the fact that it's not actually a future dystopia -- the world of the Restaurant is not our world at all, but a typical high fantasy world suffering from The Accident in which all magic was lost from a world that depended on it - a loss that coincided with the loss of the rightful rulers leaving the land in the hands of a 'provisional' Queen with a penchant for giving sickly sweet speeches about how wonderful everything is under her benevolent rule and making sure that anyone who doesn't immediately agree and tell her how wonderful she is mysteriously disappears. Said Queen is also determined to remove that pesky 'Provisional' from her title by any means necessary. Enter Jasper, the twelver-year-old son of one of the the kingdom's most eminent scientists -- now permanently reassigned to brewing ever increasing dosages of the kingdom's version of Botox for the Queen. The Queen seems to have taken an unhealthy amount of interest in Jasper and his little sister Sibilla, and in the family's flight from the city Jasper is left behind. What follows is Jasper's quest to reunite with his family and to save his little sister from the clutches of the Evil Queen. As in all good quest narratives, along the way he meets a variety of helpers and antagonists, and some who seem to fit in both categories. Secrets are shared and pasts are revealed, but it's all secondary to the main objective -- get to Sibilla and protect her at all costs.

And this is where I think this book really shines. It definitely falls into the category of 'kid has to save the day because the adults can't be trusted to do it right'. But all the adults in this book are *realistically* flawed. They're not stupid, or naive, but they are all damaged, with emotional and mental wounds that often impair their better judgement. Reading this, you're constantly reminded that the adults *remember* a time when things were good. There is a certain overwhelmed helplessness to their actions - you get the feeling they are constantly looking around in bewilderment -- how did we go from normal to *this*?

For the children, this *is* normal. There's anger, absolutely, but there's none of that paralyzing disbelief and denial. It is this very acceptance -- this almost protective attitude toward the adults -- that is most heartbreaking. I was struck particularly by the scene in which Jasper almost tells his aunt that the man she loves - who she believes is dead - was instead captured alive. He starts to say something, then catches himself. The man was captured. He's going to be dead soon anyway. No need for her to grieve twice. No twelve-year-old should have to think like that.

From my description at this point you're probably imagining some dark depressing narrative along the lines of The Hunger Games. That couldn't be further from the truth. The genius of this book is that the story, in all its dystopian anguish, is told in a straight-forward, fairy-tale style narration that, much like Jasper himself, downplays the darker events in favour of focusing on the next step toward achieving the goal. And, of course, there's quite a bit of humour sprinkled in for some much needed comic relief.

#31 Kate Coombs, The Runaway Princess, 288 pages.

Princess Margaret is incensed. Her father has offered half the Kingdom and her hand in marriage to the prince who defeats the dragon, withers the witch, and beats down the bandits who are 'terrorising' the Kingdom. Honestly, the dragon hasn't eaten anyone since Margaret's great-aunt, the witch is mostly harmless -- good luck charms and love spells and the occasional metamorphosis into a frog, but only for those who really deserve it. And Meg can't help but admire the bandits' whole 'rob from the rich to give to the poor' schtick. Meg doesn't even want to marry a prince -- they're all so boring -- and as a final indignity she is to be 'sequestered' in the highest tower of the castle until the contest is won. As if! However, warning the witch, defending the dragon, and backing the bandits is harder than Meg thought it would be with all those princes in the way, not to mention having to maintain the illusion of her presence in the tower, with only a garden boy, a maid, and an over-eager junior guardsman as accomplices. And then things get *really* complicated . . .

Progress toward goals: 86/366 = 23.5%

Books: 31/100 = 31.0%

Pages: 10013/30000 = 33.4%

2012 Book List

cross-posted to [ profile] 15000pages, [ profile] 50bookchallenge, and [ profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (father)
Yes, this. All the time. Particularly from my father, and to a lesser extent, my brother.
"C'mon, Jen, it's just a joke."
"You're overreacting."
"You're taking this way too seriously."
"I have a right to my opinion."
"Why are you getting upset about this? I'm just trying to have a rational debate."
"You'd make your point better if you didn't take it so personal." And on and on and on and on.

"It's just words, it doesn't mean anything." But yes, oh yes it does. And then they wonder why there's a part of me that dreads every family visit.

The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Made
gwynhefar: (Default)
Meira is a shoulder-kitten. She is sitting on my shoulder as I type this (awkwardly, to keep from jostling her to much). She also likes to eat my hair, and has the cutest little almost-meow ever. I promise to stop talking about the new kitten . . . eventually.


Mar. 21st, 2012 03:44 pm
gwynhefar: (Default)
We've got a kitten! Or we will, tomorrow evening, after she's been spayed. Isn't she adorable?!

gwynhefar: (Default)
#24 Ann Finnan, The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice, 360 pages.

Michael de Lorraine is to be burned at the stake as a sorcerer when he is saved by a strange monk and a conveniently timed rainstorm. Abbot Francis takes Michael back to his abbey in Sainte Felice where Michael discovers that all the monks there are sorcerers, hiding in plain sight under the nose of the Inquisition. But Abbot Francis has made some powerful enemies -- will their luck hold out, or will the Holy Office discover their secret? I really liked this one - it reminded me of Judith Tarr's The Hound and the Falcon trilogy (which I totally need to reread).

#25 Eoin Colfer, The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, Book Two), 292 pages.

Second in the Artemis Fowl series - and already you can see the cracks in Artemis' ruthless facade. Not to mention it's just great fun.

#26 Gail Carriger, Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate), 400 pages.

I'm so sad there's only one book left in this series.

Progress toward goals: 76/366 = 20.8%

Books: 26/100 = 26.0%

Pages: 8476/30000 = 28.3%

2012 Book List

cross-posted to [ profile] 15000pages, [ profile] 50bookchallenge, and [ profile] gwynraven
gwynhefar: (Default)
#23 Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl (new cover), 304 pages.

I'm still trying to decide what I think of this. It's definitely different. It's strange to have a protagonist that is so very ruthless. I am looking forward to reading more of the series though. One thing that really did bother me the whole way through was his name -- Artemis is a *female* name god(dess) damn it!

Progress toward goals: 73/366 = 19.9%

Books: 23/100 = 23.0%

Pages: 7424/30000 = 24.7%

2012 Book List

cross-posted to [ profile] 15000pages, [ profile] 50bookchallenge, and [ profile] gwynraven


gwynhefar: (Default)

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