The Evil Queen

Yes, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, and I’ll have an explanation for that in a few weeks…don’t want to jump the gun until I have definitive answers. But, I have to share the story of the evil queen.

All my life I’ve had what would likely be diagnosed as REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder – when I am dreaming, the shut-off valve between my muscles and my brain does not work, and I will actually act out my dreams. I have not been formally diagnosed, but perhaps just for the heck of it I’ll go get those diagnostics done while I’m spending tons of time in hospitals already…but, that’s another story.

Anyway, all my life I’ve acted out my dreams with relative frequency…at least weekly if not moreso. My poor husband has suffered years of these late night disturbances, the most memorable of which he will recount to me in the morning because I rarely recall either what I was dreaming or what I was doing. Recently, my pattern of dreaming has changed, though, in a chilling manner.

I am amassing an army and preparing to take over the world with my evil minions.

How do I know this? Because apparently I have repeatedly told my minions not only the fact that they were evil, but also in no uncertain terms identified to them that they must listen to me because I am their queen! And, this is a recurring theme, every time that I’ve had an episode in the past months, I have been in evil queen mode. I wish I could recall the dreams because there has to be a great book in there!

The first time the queen appeared, my husband said I was standing in our picture window in the bedroom, looking out over our lawn, and when he asked me what I was doing, dreaming me answered, “Checking out my army.” I did not identify myself to him at that point.

The next event had me opening our bedroom door and whispering to minions in the hallway telling them that I did not need them yet, that they were evil and did not belong here, and that they had to listen to me because I was their queen. Needless to say, my husband has gotten great mileage out of the evil queen concept. I expect he’s a little freaked out, actually!

Most recently, though, the evil queen was sorting minions…and apparently red-heads were a preferred commodity. I am usually very politically correct in my language, as a foil for my red-necked, foul-mouthed husband, and so would not normally refer to red-headed people as gingers, but when my husband asked the evil queen what she was doing, she said she was sorting out the gingers and sending the rest of the supplicants away. Hmmm. To have a recurring dream with these concepts of amassing armies and leading them…I’ll admit it’s even freaking me out a little!

On the lighter side, at least I’m not strangling my husband when I’m the evil queen…yet. During one sleep behaviour event, my husband tried to gently guide me back to bed by saying “Sweetheart, you’re dreaming, go back to sleep.” I jumped onto his chest, wrapped my hands around his throat, and said “Don’t call me sweetheart.” Then, later that night he tried to direct me to sleep again, a little less sweetly with “Go to sleep, bitch!” Somewhat awake, I replied in a hurt voice, “Why are you calling me names?”, to which he replied “Because apparently sweetheart didn’t work!”.

Sweet dreams, everyone!

Spiralling…upward?

I like to think I’m a strong person, but sometimes things just pile up on you, often a reflection of how busy you are. And, the first things to be sacrificed are those things which are ‘frivolous’ or simple hobbies. Hence the lack of posts here, on Twitter, or Facebook. A bit of a spiral downward but now, hopefully things are looking up.

I’m not looking for sympathy but instead, catharsis! It all started in 2009…

First there was the decline of my in-laws. My husband and I met when I was 16, and so his parents have been a large part of my life for more than half of it. To have Harold retire, and then shortly after suffer a stroke, was heartbreaking because if there was one thing he enjoyed, it was spending time with his grandchildren. The stroke was not fatal, but did rob him of the ability to drive and slowed down his participation in the kids’ lives, our youngest only being 2 and 4 at the time.

Then a …disturbed woman… came along, sporadically driving past our house in 2009 but I guess those drive-bys planted the seeds for what would become an obsession with our family and property.

And I got audited. Not a problem, just stressful.

On the positive, 2009 is when Regression hit the bestseller list on Amazon, back when freebies and purchase books shared the same ranking list, and I hit #149 in the Kindle store. Little positives can go a long way.

But, then came 2010 with a vengeance. The stalker lady began not just driving past our home but stopping right in front, watching our family live our lives, upwards of seven times per day. She stole much of our summer from us, as having the kids outside was awkward with a spectator and even simple things like getting the van loaded to go out was uncomfortable. Then my  mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.  My father-in-law suffered heart failure and required a pace-maker. Christmas 2010 was very hard as both in-laws were in the hospital and we had to take steps toward finding supported living for them while making appearances in court to redirect the advances of the woman who had begun calling our home in addition to her frequent stops outside our door. Had she been a man, the police would have taken it seriously, but apparently a woman is not considered a serious threat by our justice system. But, we did finally manage to free ourselves from her after our days in court. To this day, I cannot see a silver Toyota Matrix without getting squeamish, and whenever a car drives slowly past our home located on a quiet dead-end street, I have a sense of discomfort. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you would imagine, for a number of reasons…

Packing and moving a home full of memories is hard, and trying to sell that home in a flat real estate market is a challenge; sometimes creativity must be used but it did not ease the burden of responsibility for us, just for the in-laws. And then my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly right at the beginning of summer. Mourning and estate dealings consumed the summer of 2011. Anyone who knows teachers would understand that summer is battery recharge time, and I went into the fall semester already on empty.

I had become the target of a workplace bully in 2010, and tolerated it for over a year before speaking out. Christmas 2011 was spent preparing for a different kind of hearing than 2010. But as anyone who has ever been a victim of this type of violence knows, getting relief from it is virtually impossible…instead I found my teaching assignment changed, a form of punishment for having asked to be treated with respect and courtesy. Years of program development discounted and completely new programs having to be learned and developed. Normally I enjoy a challenge, but as the wellness of my in-laws declined, the ease of familiarity would have been helpful. But I am a workhorse, and pull whatever cart gets put behind me…no matter what type of crap may be piled on it. Even when the odds are stacking against me on all sides

Cancer is not a forgiving adversary, and my mother-in-law’s battle with the disease was lost in early July 2012. I hate the fact that in Regression I wrote about Adya’s mother-in-law dying of cancer…I know it has no bearing, but the synchronicity I’ve spoken about so lightly is distressful in this case, especially since I identify so strongly with Adya. In 2008, while writing Regression, I had no idea I would lose my own mother-in-law to cancer a short four years later.

Another summer of mourning, of wrapping up wounds still fresh from the summer before. I won’t even go into the compounding factors from three other directions which made coping that much harder, but suffice to say that our family seems to attract more than its fair share of malingerers (I’ve written a post about that, too). Then on into another semester…

To top it all off, I’ve been suffering weird swallowing problems which all made sense once my father explained he had surgical correction – twice – for achalasia. Of course. A rare disorder to be added to my list of stupid things which happen to me. Doing diagnostics now, but based upon symptoms I’m a textbook case just needing the barium swallow and manometry results to confirm that I’m going to need a balloon put down my throat to rupture my cardiac sphincter. Joy.

Time for a break. I called it, no rubsies. The fact I had not done anything I enjoyed, such as write a blog entry, or truly sit down and compose (I pushed the first two books of Synergy with the last of my energy), tweeted, or anything in a year meant it was time to make a change. So, I’m taking some time for myself. Getting the tests done. Spending a day doing absolutely nothing. And, although only a couple of weeks in, I think it’s working. Look at how many words I just wrote!

Of course, this semester of my absence appears to be heading for a record number of snow days when busses are cancelled. Can’t have the world stop playing its pranks on me just because I called for a time out.

Anyway, glad to be here once again, and looking forward to returning to the dialogues and monologues I so favoured back before the days of distress!

Awesome Alignments…

I’ve been busy working away on Synergy, and needed to verify some of my timelines for the tale, which relates to the Mayan Long Count Calendar.

I made a cool discovery.

When investigating the long count dates, I found some correlations which are eerie…and I’m all about eerie coincidences! This information is taken from Wikipedia’s segment on the Mayan Long Count.

Table of Long Count units

Days Long Count period Long Count unit Approximate solar years
1   1 Kin  
20 20 Kin 1 Uinal  
360 18 Uinal 1 Tun ~ 1
7,200 20 Tun 1 Ka’tun 19.7
144,000 20 Ka’tun 1 Bak’tun 394.3
2,880,000 20 Bak’tun 1 Pictun 7,885
57,600,000 20 Pictun 1 Kalabtun 157,808
1,152,000,000 20 Kalabtun 1 K’inchiltun 3,156,164
23,040,000,000 20 K’inchiltun 1 Alautun 63,123,288

 

Now, it is the last three entries I noticed the importance of…with a little bit of flexibility for the actual timing of events, but still within margins of error. And, working backward from this year as the end of all of the cycles together-which would happen at some point, since they are multiples of each other in the same way that in the year 2000 we reached the end of a decade, century, and millenium together. So imagine that 2012 heralds the end of not only a Bak’tun, but also a Pictun, Kalabtun, K’inchiltun, and Alautun. Counting back from 2012, we find:

Approximately 150,000 years ago – one Kalabtun –  Mitochondrial Eve was theorized to walk the Earth and had a significant influence on what Humanity is today. This is the theory which led me to develop Regression, and is exactly why I started looking into the other dates on the Mayan Long Count, when I noticed the time frame!

3.1 million years ago – one K’inchiltun – Australopithecus africanus developed the major hallmarks of humanity…larger brain casing, a more rounded skull with softer facial features, and female morphological changes to accomodate bipedal pregnancy, so predominantly upright carriage.

Then, we go back even further into human history, as around 63 million years ago – one Alautun-  the first primates evolved.

So, if we take 2012 as the end of the complete and extended long count Mayan Calendar and count backwards, the calendar starts with the first truly bipedal humanoid (although perhaps even some homo species were around at that time but have yet to be discovered, as current theory states homo evolved closer to 2.5 MYA), and each major period coincides with a major development in the evolution of the modern human.

I think that’s really cool. I just might have to fit that into Synergy, although I was not planning on taking the long count back quite that far and the story was fantasy, not science fiction! Just have to see where it heads.

I’m Back…I think…

Well, here’s hoping that I will be able to be in front of the keyboard enough to write some blog entries, make some tweets, do some face time on Facebook, and all that jazz! I’ve been AFK for the past two months for various reasons, the most exciting of which was a trip to Belize!!! For research, of course! I’m overflowing now with incredible ideas for Synergy 2012:Return to Magic, my next project. This urban fantasy is going to draw  upon the 2012 Mayan Calendar renewal, and I literally climbed a mountain inside and out to feed this story!

Thank you so much to everyone who has purchased Regression, Evolussion, and Revolussion. It’s incredible to think that tens of thousands of people have read my words, and many have enjoyed them enough to reach out to me through emails. I so appreciate that support, especially with the challenges we’ve been facing both personally and professionally in our family. The print copy of Revolussion will be coming, as well as an omnibus version, but they will simmer on the back burner for at least a few more weeks.  

I have an exciting new semester at school, teaching senior chemistry as well as an online course, and I hope the energy of the changing session will ride me through composition of Synergy…I’d like to have it ready for spring Equinox. We’ll see if life cooperates…

When is a book finished?

This is such a difficult question to answer, and I’m learning my own response to it!

I re-wrote Regression a number of times, and actually am going to work on an omnibus for the holiday season which includes the first draft (alternate ending) as a bonus. Interestingly enough, neither Evolussion nor Revolussion have alternate endings since the first draft was very close to the completed copy. Why?

Because I learnt that the book will never be finished until I choose it to be finished, because there is always something which could be changed. When I read Regression, I begin to re-write it in my head, while I am more satisfied with the other manuscripts.

So the completion of a manuscript is the point at which you the author think it is finished telling the story. In looking at Revolussion, I know there are the smaller, side story-lines which I could have kept on writing, but I decided that those could be left up to the reader’s imagination. Dawn’s story was over. At least, her story as the mother of humanity. Stew, Nicholas, Hope, Avery…I could continue with their stories, but their roles in the original plot have ended, and I need to take a break from the Infinion Series to test myself against new material. Can I write something else? Fantasy? Science Fiction? Contemporary? I want to try them. And then, I might come back and carry on where Revolussion left off!

Look for news on Synergy 2012: Return to Magic on the blog as I begin a new project!

11/11/11 – Revolussion!

Yes, release date is finally here. I am a bundle of nerves.

See, publishing Regression was easy, because no one had any expectations of me. Actually, as one person said, they ‘didn’t know [I] had it in [me]’. But, for Evolussion and now Revolussion, I know there are people waiting to see how the story plays out and I’m afraid of disappointing them. So I doubt I’ll sleep a wink tonight as the conclusion of the Infinion series goes live on Amazon. I’ll be checking the site all the time, wincing as I slowly scroll down the page to see any new reviews…I suppose if the first one is a negative, it won’t be a surprise because the star rating will show up top anyway. But, I do hope the majority of readers enjoy the story.

And, that is all I can ask for, that most people are satisfied with the ending. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, and I am happy with where the story went. But, that doesn’t change the fact I am anxiously fearful of reader responses telling me they hate it!

I set a deadline for Revolussion, one that made sense based upon the key date in the story. I don’t know if that was a good thing, or a bad thing. Many authors and bloggers say they love the flexibility of self publishing because they don’t work to a deadline, they work to their own pace. To be honest, I likely would not have finished the novel without a self-imposed but publicly posted deadline, because life has the bad habit of stealing my time away from me. But, knowing that people were looking forward to the deadline had me stealing that time right back – often late at night again, just like with Regression. My next project is a fantasy, Synergy 2012: Return to Magic, and I have not set a deadline for completion. I’ll see if the world conspires against me less when they don’t know what I’m doing, LOL!

Off to press publish on the Amazon version of Revolussion…Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Revolussion-Infinion-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B0065SEITA . Apparently it hasn’t propagated through to other etailers yet.

Eco-Guilt Extrapolated

As most readers of Regression have noticed, I’m not really on the environmentalist bandwagon. I reuse. I recycle. I conserve energy. I try to be a good citizen of the planet, but I also don’t buy into a lot of the hype in the media. I have no Eco-Guilt from speculating how my actions will affect the planet. Even though I speculate all of the time. “What if…” is one of my favourite thoughts! No wonder I like to write speculative fiction. Just for fun (and this is tongue in cheek!), I’ve speculated where Eco-Guilt could take us if we decided to let it. Eco-Guilt is the sense of self-loathing experienced by those who feel they are not doing enough to save the environment.

To minimize our ecological footprints (want to know how big yours is? Visit http://myfootprint.org/en/ ), here’s where the world could go…

Singles – would live together in dorms just like at University because that decreases the ecological footprint. Shared kitchens, bathrooms, etc. Shared vehicles or bus transport systems. Thus each person would consume a lot fewer resources in the construction of their residences.

Couples – those who have children, have ALL the children! Fewer resources are required for a family with six children compared to six families with one child.

Divorce is illegal – breaking one household and creating two households violates eco-law because then the country’s footprint gets increased. Unless they moved back into the singles residences, but if they had children they would have to stay together.

Eco-law would force you to live near your work – no, actually, you should live at it. Since the parents would all be busy raising the kids as their jobs, only singles would be performing other jobs and they would live in their dormitories on site. Because that makes the most sense from an environmental standpoint.

No pets. Since pets are a waste of resources from a global perspective, people won’t be allowed that indulgence to stop the diversion of resources.

All vehicles are the same models (I did go here in Evolussion), fuel efficient, small, and identical. This would minimize the need for parts production and storage, if all vehicles had the same batteries, wipers, seats, etc.

OK, I was being facetious up until this point. Although I could never see the things I describe above being enacted because it makes no sense from a human perspective, I actually do think it’s silly to not be able to use tires from car A on car B, nor to be able to interchange engine components. Same with cell phones and other electronic devices – would it not be a huge saving in ‘digital wastes’ if all of our cell phone models used the exact same charger, so when you replace your old phone, you don’t need to replace the charger? True, I am seeing more of that, but there is a long way to go.

If we really want to reduce our impact on the planet, we should be looking at ways to streamline our consumption. We will never successfully eliminate consumption (stopping cell phone use, computer use, automobile use, etc just is not going to happen), and so we should work to minimize the impact. All those non-interchangeable components for our phones, computers, etc…could we not just have one cable type that could plug into all devices? Yes, but then some companies would not make as much money off of their proprietary items. Think about yourself. How many useless chargers and connection cables are sitting in a drawer somewhere in your home? I spent an hour yesterday trying to find anything which would work with my portable DVD player for the car. If the actual plug was the right size, the voltage was off. If the voltage was right, the plug was too small or too large. I recognize that we have to have the right voltage for devices to work properly based upon their draw, but if one charger allowed multiple voltages and all devices used the same sized jack, then we would reduce a significant amount of waste. Think about what goes into each power supply – the plastic, wires, etc – and if they all were compatible we’d only need one or two (since your devices do not need to be charging all the time).

So, although the speculative world mentioned above is completely disagreeable on many levels, I do think if we really, truly wanted to reduce our consumption of resources, companies would be communicating with each other to create compatibility, rather than creating competing products (often at inflated prices) which give the impression they are making a dent in our human impact but are actually insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Behind Regression: The plasmid

Science is cool. Funny, I didn’t necessarily think so in high school, and now here I am teaching science. I was just asked to teach Grade 12 Chemistry…should be interesting!

Anyway, my curiousity about science has led me to devour articles on the internet, and also I’ve used resources for teaching in the classroom, so I was familiar with the plasmid as a vector for genetically modifying organisms (can you say Monsanto, anyone?). When I began to write Regression, I had planned on the plasmid being passive, but as the story evolved the strand literally took on a personality of its own. Especially in light of the fact that the more I refreshed my university genetics coursework/knowledge, the more I saw the parallels between computer program coding and genetic sequencing. So, of course, the strand of DNA had to become a computer!

My husband has been watching quite a few TED videos lately, some of which grab my attention and I lurk over his shoulder (I never have much time to actually sit my butt down so tend to graze the Internet). A recent one spoke to multiple intelligences and creativity being best expressed by people with backgrounds in various areas. I think my writing reflects that, since I am in an unusual position as a teacher (and person, I suppose), straddling the boundaries between not two, but three departments of very disparate subjects. Science is usually paired with math, but instead I have double qualifications in Science and Humanities (Psychology) augmented by computer experience. I think the three areas of knowledge blended together to help me generate the Infinion Series with more richness than if I was just familiar with one domain. I recognize I took that concept to an extreme with the friction between Adya and the scientists, but I also built upon human nature…people excel in one area, sometimes to the detriment of others.

Because of the plasmid taking on a sentient role, the subsequent books headed in different directions than orginally planned. Other posts talk about how unexpected those directions were, but it all points back to the junction point where the plasmid veered off from being a simple vector to becoming an actual character in the story.

Entitlement

I am blessed with a significant amount of success. I use the word blessed, but much of the positives in my life have come about through sheer force of will and immense effort rather than luck. As such, I resent people thinking that because I have found success, I should feel obliged to share it with them.

I’m not talking about people in need. That is different. I’m speaking about people who are contracted to do specific services, or approach me for business, but think because I live in a big house, or because the business I’m contracting with them will make significant returns for me (with significant investment on my part), that they can – in a way – steal from me. A quoted price on the telephone always turns out double once the person arrives at our home. A friend in the business admits he does the same – when he sees a big house, he creates a big price. Price the job, not the person. If you would do work for $20/hour for the guy down the street, then do the same for me. Don’t think that because I look like I have money, that I am easily duped.  I have managed my resources wisely to bring me to where I am, and won’t cut slack for those who think I should give them extra because I appear to ‘have money to spare.’ 

A contractor completing a huge business installation for us keeps throwing out the future revenue figures when justifying his having overbilled us by tens of thousands above the agreed contractual amount. So, does my making money in the future really have to finance his vacation now? Because I built something which will make money for years, he thinks he should get a cut beyond the original installation price? You want a cut in something, then invest the money yourself and take the risk too.

If this were a one time event, I would not think so much of it. But repeatedly and consistently people feel entitled to share in our successes without having put in the time, effort, and yes, money. Because I have a lovely piece of property for sale which someone really, really loves, they think I should discount the price in half to let them live there because they want it so badly. Honestly… thinking I want to hand them tens of thousands of dollars because they want to make their dreams come true but their dreams are bigger than their actual circumstances? Because I breed dogs which are in demand, I should give them away to anyone who really, really loves them but can’t afford one. Honestly…thinking I want to hand over a dog to someone who cannot afford to purchase it just because they love the breed…love doesn’t pay the vet bills.  Because I live in a nice house I should be willing to pay twice as much for plumbers, electricians, and other contractors. Because I invested hundreds of thousands in a business which will makes millions over time, I should be willing to cut the contractor some slack when he cannot provide proof for overcharges and has not finished the work but wants his final payment anyway.

I am always willing to share with those in need and help those with legitimate claims. The fire department and community agency both given health equipment donations from our business. The families who’ve been given bulldogs to help them heal after horrible events. The charities supported with our time and resources. Even students and their families are helped out when in trouble, from my own personal resources. But, I cannot abide by the sense of entitlement so many people have, where they think that if you’ve had success, you deserve to be penalized for that success by paying through the nose. I have worked hard for what I have. They could have it too, if they put the time, effort, ingenuity, and guts into it. This is North America, the land of opportunity. Just because you live here does not mean you automatically qualify for success, though.

I guess this makes me one of the 55%, even though I do not reside in the USA…

Dirty Old Men

When I was a teen (I’m talking as young as fourteen or fifteen years old), it was not uncommon for me to be the subject of pick up lines from men on the street, or at the mall, or elsewhere, who were at least ten if not twenty years older than me. Things like “Do you want to go halves on a baby without the kid” or “I’m giving free moustache rides tonight, are you in?” were par for the course, although not all of the attempts at connecting were quite so vulgar. I was so naïve I had no idea what the second one meant until much, much later, thank goodness, as I think I would have been mortified to understand what was being offered. No, these were not people I knew. These were complete strangers making advances!

It happened to me so often that I actually had a couple of standard comebacks – when I was really young, it was “Hey, Dad, you need to take me home so I can do my homework,” or as I got older it was “So, Dad, can I borrow the car keys ‘cause I have a date tonight”. Both played on the fact the man in question, truly old enough to be my father, was usually surrounded by a bunch of buddies and I could rebuff his offer in a way that got everyone laughing, instead of yelling “Get the F*^# away from me, you perv!” I lost count of how many times I used the lines, but it truly was a regular occurrence right through until I was of legal…drinking…age.

Do I think they were serious? Had I been receptive to any of the come ons, I highly doubt the guy would have said, “Hey, sweetie, I was only kidding.” In fact, I know more than a few fifteen year old girls who had relation(ship)s with guys at least ten years their senior, and at least one twenty years older, back in the eighties when I was a teenager.

Do I think it’s okay? No. Nor in the reverse with a teenaged boy and an older woman. But, it did happen with girls who are truly aged fifteen years. So, in Regression, when a forty-year old woman in a fourteen-year-old body is having a relationship with a man who is a decade older than her, I did not think it was entirely out of the realm of possibilities, because my own experiences in the eighties were that many guys made the attempts, and I’m sure that more than a few of them found success when they tossed out those lines at teenaged girls.

Then again, maybe my experiences with those hound-dogs back then was unusual, but I doubt it! Today, perhaps such behaviour would not be as common (although I’m thinking it is!), but since Regression is set in the eighties anyway, I stand by the validity of the relationship!

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