01/19/17

Inkster Dispatch: Debut Novel Launching

It’s finally here. My debut fiction novel, Wilderness Rim – Echo Falls Book One, will be available for order within about four days, maybe sooner.  Stay tuned here and on my Twitter and Facebook for when it goes hot and you can speed order it from Amazon.

Here’s a little about the story:

If you’ve ever smelled a Sasquatch, you know it reeks. But what really reeks for C.J. Phillips is that he’s 15 and his mother has more of a life than he does and her life isn’t circling around C.J. anymore. She even missed his parent-teacher conference. He’d be fine with that, but no one in all of Echo Falls -including his mother- seems to appreciate what he does, let alone who he is. Until he takes off for a wilderness camping trip and runs smack dab into Stinky, a teenage Bigfoot, whose own family is suffering, because of some mysterious barrels being buried in the watershed by environmental pirates. Together C.J. and Stinky develop a bond and eventual friendship that helps bring down an illegal dumping operation that threatens everyone – human and Sasquatch alike.

We’ll be having a Sasquatch Debutante for this little creature on February 11 at The Black Dog Arts Cafe in historic downtown Snoqualmie. Everyone is invited — human and cryptid alike. I hope to see you there. Apparently there will be sugary snacks. And bookmarks. Also, the most excellent cover artist, Leslie Nan Moon, will be there with art work to view and procure. I’m trying to arrange a musical guest, too. More on that soon, hopefully. Oh, and copies of Wilderness Rim for purchase and signing.

Please come and celebrate with me.

12/7/16

In The Weeds: Book Review: No Place To Hide…

As the #InfoSec noob that I am, I’ve been reading up on everything and anything that has to do with the digital world. I can’t recall who recommended the book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald, but I’m very glad that they did. This tome has renewed a sense of defense of our democracy I haven’t had in a long time.

I filled an entire notebook full with passages from this, posted such passages on Instagram, and digested this book in a way I haven’t digested a non-fiction book in a long time. It changed my world view even further than my time in the military, my time as a mother, or my time as a journalist.

If you’re working currently in the digital/info security realm and haven’t read this book, you need to. If you are just an average American and are confused about why Snowden was a big deal, or why the Patriot Act has created a beast in the NSA, you need to read this. If you think you have privacy, you need to read this.

When I was a Soldier with a clearance, I learned early on that there was no such thing as privacy. But, the post 9-11 world has taken the no privacy thing to a new level. It’s not just people who commit to an enlistment or a commission or other government service, it’s everyone. That includes you who are reading this.

Writer of No Place To Hide, Glenn Greenwald, who said “I have been to the darkest corners of government, and what they fear is light”

Greenwald takes us through from the very beginning of all the revelations from Snowden — from first contact to those amazing days in a Hong Kong hotel, and the implications for the current surveillance state we’re living in. For every one of my friends who is a conspiracy theorist, a book like this just makes some of their more fantastic claims that much more believable.

Greenwald’s writing is clean and understandable, even in the face of more of the technical aspects of digital surveillance and the laws surrounding what the U.S. government claims is their authorization for mass surveillance and downright spying on American Citizens.

As a mother of children who have grown up with computers and access to the world through ubiquitous handheld devices 24-7,  Greenwald’s assertion that the implications of our current government’s processes is frightful: “Especially for the younger generation, the Internet is not some stand-alone, separate domain where a few of life’s functions are carried out. It is not merely our post office and our telephone. Rather, it is the epicenter of our world, the place where virtually everything is done. It is where friends are made, where books and films are chosen, where political activism is organized, where the most private data is created and stored. It is where we develop and express our very personality and sense of self.”

Sense of self. Those words echoed in me during the days that I read and re-read this book. Is it hard not to understand with great prejudice that my own Government is stealing my sense of self under the auspices of deterring terrorism, for which, as Greenwald’s book points out has not happened. He makes a great point with much evidence that “In fact, mass surveillance has had quite the opposite effect:  it makes detecting and stopping terror more difficult.”

No Place to Hide makes clear that “while the government via surveillance knows more and more about what its citizens are doing, its citizens know less and less about what their government is doing, shielded as it was by a wall of secrecy.”

Given the current political climate, the media and Russian hacking on our election process, Greenwald’s book is a bastion of journalism principles. He even gets into corporate journalists and why they have eroded our democracy and allowed such mass surveillance to occur, including repeating histories on the government gaining mass surveillance grounds and then losing it following revelations. Technology today being what it is, fighting that via journalism is tougher.

What our citizens seem to have forgotten is that “Democracy requires accountability and consent of the governed, which is only possible if citizens know what is being done in their name.” The fourth estate — the press — helps make sure that things hidden are revealed. But, no one can make you read it. I hope that after you see my post here, you’ll pick this book up and read it. Our lives may depend upon it. Sorry to be so mel0dramatic, but as Snowden said to Greenwald, “The true measurement of a person’s worth isn’t what they say they believe in, but what they do in defense of those beliefs… If you’re not acting on  your beliefs, then they probably aren’t real.”

Time to get real. Time to get smart. There’s No Place To Hide, so Time to Fight.

 

Note:  If you want to help, but aren’t sure where to start, consider supporting the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They do good work towards our Internet and privacy freedoms. 

12/1/16

A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 30, 2016

download-7Wednesday came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. A nice little bow on the present I gave myself:  the month-long celebration of my half-century birthday.

I spent the day doing chores, running errands, and desperately trying to get myself organized for Yule. I have a big family (No. 4), and between my husband and I we have five kids, one of which is married, another is engaged, and another with a serious committed significant other. I picked up flat rate boxes at the post office and mailed a little prezzie to a friend (No. 5) of mine. Then I headed to the drug store to pick up a little something to help me with some organization. I had to pick up a RX. Then, I stopped by an ol’ pal’s gift shop looking for a specific thing, but she unfortunately didn’t have it. We caught up a bit, both trying hard not to bitch about the unbelievable crap we’ve had to deal with as of late. We hugged and I bid her adieu.

Then I had to come home and do more chores. I emailed an arts organization to help me with a contact I had lost. And I emailed the artist’s work I was looking for in my friend’s shop.

Then it was time for some lunch and laundry. Then I worked on laying out Wilderness Rim some more, in between keeping the laundry going, doing the dishes, and making sure both bathrooms were clean.

I made turkey hash for dinner for the men in my life. It poured buckets yesterday with 25 mph wind gusts. There was no walking yesterday except for inside the drug store. So, I did a late session of yoga and gave the puppies (No. 3)  a little extra love while I watched the last episode of Gilmore Girls reboot (No. 14).images-4

Hubby and I meditated (No. 8) and I wasn’t going to join my friends at the local pub for a special write-in session, because I felt tired, the weather sucked and I was feeling a bit seasonal-affective over being out in it. But Hubby (No. 1) convinced me that I needed it to recharge my batteries. As always, my life partner knows me way too well. I’m really happy that I did end up going. Wilderness Rim is ready to go except for the cover art. My artist is swamped right now, so until she and I can sit down and meet and discuss the next steps, we’re in a holding pattern of the publishing process, which is totally normal. I’m still trying to figure out launch antics, so, hopefully I’ll be ready when she is.

As part of the evening there was a giant salad and some very yummy local cider, plus many laughs and some conversations that may lead to some helpful events to make my life even more of a seeking joy platform. Time will tell, but the cards on Tuesday said solutions would present themselves very soon. And they did. Potentially. I must be cautiously optimistic, but, there you have it. We practically closed down the place, and I was pretty late getting home, but it was well worth a few hours of lost sleep.

sticker375x360So that was my half-century birthday month celebration. Thirty days of absolute crazy joy, happiness, and introspection and writing. Lots of writing.

In my 50th year, I will live the rest of the year, and hopefully the rest of my days, with the attitude of seeking joy and staying positive. The dark really is the only thing you see if that’s all you look for. I have a long list of things that make me happy, that give me purpose, that make me feel alive. That’s quite a present.

11/30/16

A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 29, 2016

Latest foraging knowledge haul from the library.

Latest foraging knowledge haul from the library.

Tuesday was filled with tacos and treats, although the dark side of #LifewithAutism started the day at 0217 hrs. Since the dawn of his existence MWB has not slept. He swore he took his sleep meds, but clearly his anxiety had other ideas. Night Terrors are a normal part of #LifewithAutism, no young child required. The young child is trapped in the mind of a near 21-year-old.

I did get to nap between 0400 and 0600 hrs.  Get the youngest (No. 2) and the husband (No. 1) off for the school/work day and get daily chores done. There were more wrestling matches with #LifewithAutism before I had to depart for a Buy Nothing pick up and retrieve a new-to-us Yule Tree skirt. It looks wonderful. Then I stopped by the drug store to get ornament hooks because for some reason our supply over the past decade has dwindled. Then it was back home to do more chores, sprinkle in some book formatting (No. 6), and walk with the dogs (No. 3).

At near lunch time, hubby checked in with me and I text’d him a photo of this cute ornament I saw at the drug store. It was a Yule decorated crab trap. Given our love of the ocean and fishing and crabbing (No. 18), he thought I should have procured it. He said, “There’s a lot on the tree that is me, or you, this would definitely be an ‘us’ ornament.” How could I refuse that?

A symbol of an activity we love to do together for our Yule tree.

A symbol of an activity we love to do together for our Yule tree.

So, I headed back out into the world. First stop however was the library (No. 7) and picking up some new books on foraging (No. 17), then I sneaked off to read them over a plate of fried rice (No. 10) at my favorite cheapie lunch spot in the Valley, Got Rice. Then I headed back to the drug store and got the ornament. Back home, I got the freshly washed skirt out of the dryer and put it under the tree and put the new ornament on.

#LifewithAutism was having a banner day and there was more fussing and fighting. I feared there would be a trip to the hospital or someone would call the police — as much as I try to contain his meltdowns indoors, MWB inevitably goes outside to expose the whole world to what I snarkily call the “fun side” of this disorder. Sarcasm is called for because the brand of Autism my child suffers from doesn’t seem to have a fun side, no super power, no sweetness, nothing positive to hold onto. That may seem harsh, but it is a reality for us and we’re one of the cases of Autism that does not become a poster child for Autism organizations, but it exists. Oh, yes, it exists in full-raging, negative spectrum of meltdown colors. So when I need to spend a whole month making a list and checking it off about the joy in my life, it’s easy to imagine why I would so such a thing.

Our new tree skirt procured from the Buy Nothing movement.

Our new tree skirt procured from the Buy Nothing movement.

I de-escalated him to the point of calmness so I could do laundry, hang the other ornaments missing their hooks, and dust and vacuum the house. Then it was back to book formatting until it was time to make dinner. In between then youngest son came home from school. Within 1o minutes of his arrival, #LifewithAutism picked a fight. Clearly it was a pick-a-fight kind of day. So, I carb loaded MWB with some pasta&cheese bake, which calmed him down. Getting him to eat yesterday was another battle.

Then youngest and I headed out to try to catch the hockey game (No. 13) at our local sports pub. It was happy hour so we got tacos and wings super cheap. My son also got a salad and sandwich. Got to have a conversation with my youngest about how NOT to act in public as there was this really loud-mouth blowhard discussing things he knew nothing about and being completely obnoxious about it. He was on the other side of the restaurant from us and we could hear him. I love natural teaching moments (No. 22), and that mansplainer gave me a perfect opportunity to talk to my son about public decorum and the truth about the subjects the man was talking about (current political climate, gender identity, and the economy), along with the fact that public education has created people who think everything they get from shock jocks and radio pundits is truth.

The Red Wings were playing well and we left in the third period (I can’t extend stays too long anywhere when #LifewithAutism is having a bad day). Alas, I had to stop by the drug store a third time this day, because I needed padded envelopes to mail some things on Wednesday and my son needed some supplies, too. Then it was off home where things were calm.

A quick hockey respite from #LifewithAutism with my youngest.

A quick hockey respite from #LifewithAutism with my youngest.

I cleaned up the kitchen and fed the dogs (No. 2) and took them outside. Then started a fire in the wood stove, as the wind had picked up and things were getting cold fast. Then there was an internet-induced eruption from the #LifewithAutism corner of the house. When hubby got home from spending his weekly work night at his father’s homestead (he hung a chandelier I got from Buy Nothing at his dad’s house last night), I made him block facebook again on the computer MWB’s using (my coding skills aren’t there yet, if you’re an #intheweeds fan). I hate to keep social things from him, but he is stuck in middle school. Imagine a middle schooler picking fights online with adult males… yeah (even though the adult males should know better). Fun times.

Then I holed up in my room to work on my book formatting and watch some Gilmore Girls, No. 14 (I’m so a bit disappointed in it thus far, but I’m reserving judgement until I finish the season). Hubby came home and we did our evening chores and headed off to dreamland.

Like life my second-to-last day of my half century birthday month celebration was filled with good and bad. But, when you seek out the light, you can often find it. If you look for the dark, it is all you will ever see. Yin. Yang. Joy. Sorrow. Good. Bad. It’s cyclic and necessary. This is life as a human. Hopefully, I’m blessed with another half-century to experience.

 

11/29/16

A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 28, 2016

The third to last day of my half-century birthday month celebration fell on a Monday. Mondays in Western Culture can be fraught with disappointment and angst. Mine was fraught with #LifewithAutism weirdness (which as I pen this has not subsided), a very long list of chores, and an even longer football banquet.

However, I think I handled it with grace and tried to hold onto the moments that brought me joy, like my Hubby (No. 1) holding my hand as we fell asleep, my youngest son (No. 2) being recognized as a scholar athlete, and being able to provide perfect eggs to members of my community (No. 24). Even though I didn’t get very many photos along the way this Monday.

I also practiced Honesty (No. 23). I wrote a letter to a friend (No. 5). An overdue communique that was raw and real. I felt 5e42ffddd3c58878a68c6a243c71f60bbad afterwards. As has been my habit in recent years, I sat with that regret and examined it. Then I recognized that that was the false facade that society puts on friendships — like it should always be butterflies and unicorn farts. Life is messy. If someone is a true friend, they will understand when sometimes you’re in a mess.

It was at that point in my introspection that I recalled a small epiphany about who I am. Nearly a decade ago, I had a friend tell me that some of my honesty would often make her flinch, and not because I drop the F-bomb in my speech from time to time, but because it was a type of honesty she’d never heard before, “It’s absolutely wrapped in love.” She explained further that I’ll call bullshit when bullshit needs to be called, that she noted also tended to be more about my own behavior than others; but, that I also am the staunchest cheerleader for my friends. When I’m happy for them, when I want something for them, when I encourage them, it’s genuine.

“For me,” she continued, “that’s the most balanced of friendships I could ask for and the truest type.” I held that memory to my heart on this Monday, and had cause later to counsel my youngest with the story, too. He unfortunately gets his boldness and honesty from his Mum. I’m trying to teach him that language can be his best friend when he’s expressing that honesty, and to do it from a perspective that everyone has a hard journey they are making. So, dear friend, if you’re reading this, my apologies for the rawness of my letter; but, because I love you and trust you, I could be that honest with you. I didn’t intend to make you cry, and for that I am sorry. But my words were true.

Monday also allowed me some small moments of entertainment. I got to watch the first episode of the Gilmore Girls reboot (please no spoilers in comments, because it may take me some time to get through the rest of the episodes), and finish decorating the inside of the house for Yule. I purged some holiday decorations from our inventory, as well, which a bit of decluttering always brings me joy.

I also finished the final polish of a manuscript I’ve been working on for too many years (No. 6). Wilderness Rim is as done as done could get and I began laying it out for publication. That’s a huge thing. However, it brought with it the creative downward spiral of “What if no one reads it?”

Today I’m trying hard to figure out a way to get No. 17 on my list in before Thursday. That’s foraging. The mountains now have snow, so many of my foraging spots will be difficult to get to; however, if the weather breaks like they are claiming today, I may just bolt and see what I can find. Winter, however, comes earlier in the Cascade Foothills, and there may be little to forage. So, I may just have to do some forage studying, as there’s still so much to learn.

I haven’t noted No. 25, but I get outside every day and work my microfarm or hang with the ducks, chickens, or dogs. I’m on the trails constantly with the dogs, and I’m uncertain why through the course of the month I haven’t noted it. I reckon it has to do with not being able to do a longer hike. I blame the current weather and #LifewithAutism. As it was, the end-of-year football banquet kept me out of the house for more than four hours last night and that set off a chain reaction in My Wandering Boy (MWB) that the whole household is still reeling from on Tuesday morning (more on that later). But, I do try to get in a 30-minute walk every day. Sometimes I’m alone. Sometimes just one, or two of the dogs, or all three accompany me. I guess it’s so a part of my life like doing laundry or dishes, that I just don’t take better notice of it. But, as a creative individual, that 30 minutes a day is like a muse reset. It’s essential, and I guard it very much as I do my writing time and yoga time. In that sense you could say that No. 25 (Nature and being in it) is very much self-care.

The other thing that seems only partially noted was No. 8 (My Spirituality) for which I actually signed up for a new class to explore some new things. The first lesson just came out yesterday, so I’ll be diving into that in the next week or so. So, it’s there, just not on the surface as much as say No. 10 (Food). It would be difficult to instagram Spirituality. But, it’s there, and it brings me joy, peace, and recharges my batteries.