This blog is moving

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I know, I’ve done this before — from WordPress.com to my self-hosted site, then back to WordPress.com. And now I’m doing it again. I’m moving this blog so it’ll be self-hosted again. You can find the new location here.

Why? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about “digital sharecropping.” Ie, putting my content on a site that’s not fully owned by me. And I’m becoming more and more uncomfortable with it.

Sure, this blog isn’t always well written; it’s about as moody as I am. But there is some good content here, and, more importantly, that content is mine. As time goes on I have become increasingly uncomfortable with hosting it at a place that doesn’t really belong to me.

I am using the WordPress.org software on my site and it’s enabled with Jetpack, so you should be able to follow me in your WordPress homepage. And, of course, email subscriptions will still be available, as will standard RSS feeds.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but it’s really the best choice I could have made.

Update your bookmarks here.

Goodbye, WordPress.com. We had some good times. I’ll always remember you.

solong

-Katje

PS: This blog, here on WordPress.com, will stay up for a while, as I’ve still got the lengthy job of updating links to do. No idea when that will be done. But there will be no new posts here, so go to the blog’s new location to stay updated.

Perfectly Broken

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Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression, anxiety, and self-loathing, and I figured I’d talk about it here, because chances are other folks go through this too and it’s always helpful to know one is not alone. General content warning for the post.

So, first: I want to say that objectively, my life is pretty great. And subjectively, too. I’m engaged to a really awesome person who respects me and my career. We live together in a nice place, in a nice neighborhood. I’ve started a new business and my career as an author is going pretty well. Overall our life is a nice thing.

But of course this does not preclude shitty things happening to us, and of course our lives are not 100% great. There are definitely areas that are causing some long-term stress and, for me at least, depression, anxiety, and all those other fun things I get to deal with already for no particular reason. Except now they’re being given a reason, and I’m finding my already fragile mental state being poked at constantly.

The main thing that’s poking the bear of mental illness for me right now is my physical state. Some of you know that almost 3 years ago I suffered a spinal injury. That’s actually not entirely accurate; the injury itself happened in 2009. It didn’t flare up like a fireworks show, however, until 2012, leaving me bedridden and unable to walk for weeks. After a lot of hard work in physiotherapy, I slowly was able to walk with a walker for short bursts, and then longer bursts, and then finally upgraded to a cane. I’ve been walking with a cane since 2012, though there have been times when I’ve been able to go without for a short period of time.

Likely, had I continued with the physio after getting to that state of wellness, I would eventually have gotten to a point where I could walk without a cane, and probably get somewhere near the state of health I was at before the injury knocked me down. Even in the years I had the injury but it hadn’t flared up I was doing pretty well, despite the new, sharp, knife-twisting pain in my lower spine that I had chalked up to “Another weird permutation of the chronic back pain I’ve had my entire life because genetics is a shitty lottery.”

But I didn’t continue with the physio. I quit in 2012. This wasn’t because I wanted to, or because I thought I was done: I wanted to continue and knew I needed more. But I could not find a new physiotherapist when I went back to Nanaimo after staying in Coquitlam for several weeks, and not only that — the price went up. You only get a few visits at the reduced rate with a doctor’s prescription, you see, and I would need to continue to go every week to see progress.

Fifty dollars a week is too steep for me. Then, and now.

So for 2 years I have lived no where near what “normal” is for me, just dealing with the pain, taking a strong painkiller on the days when I can’t move without it, and continuing to do things that are probably contraindicated for my spine’s condition but hey, what else am I going to do? My social life has dropped off considerably and my ability to do a lot of things in a short period of time has gone to zilch, approximately. I now need a few days to recover after an event that wouldn’t have left me winded 3 years ago.

It has been an adjustment, to say the least. I still overextend myself because I am used to a body that can handle more than it can. And though mentally I have gotten better since it first happened, I still have dark nights of the soul.

So when I broke my leg this summer — 3 months exactly as of this coming Saturday — I slipped into depression again.

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Cover Reveal: The Jade Star of Athering

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It’s finally here — cover reveal day! I’m super excited to share with you all the cover for my latest book, The Jade Star of Athering. The gorgeous artwork is by Juan Garcia from Otavalo, Ecuador, and he was gracious enough to allow me to use the painting for my book cover. I’m very grateful to him.

Following the cover is a synopsis and preorder information. I’ve also dropped the price of Bellica to $1.99, and the preorder price for The Jade Star of Athering is the same. After release day, the price of Jade Star will go up to $2.99. Bellica will stay at $1.99.

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The Jade Star of Athering

Book 2 in The Third Age

The gods demand blood, as Athering and Ixtepan stand pitched against each other in war. Dusty prophecies foretell the coming of one who will save Ixtepan and end the bloodshed: Sho-qoot-Bak. Who is she? And will she embrace her destiny before the world is ripped asunder?

Bellica Agate has spent her life seeking privacy–as much peace as a bellica’s life can grant her. She has no desire to look beyond her roles as leader of the Thirteenth Regiment, protector of Athering, and spouse of a good man.

Yet old legends and prophecies haunt Agate’s every step. The voice of a goddess whispers in her ear: You cannot escape what you were born to do. Once Athering is pitted against its southern neighbor, war threatens everything Agate has ever known. She must come face to face with her past to save the future.

Every step of the perilous journey moves Agate closer to the truth she’s been running from, all her life: the gods demand blood. Hers.

Preorder Information

Currently the preorder is available at Gumroad and Kindle. I’m working on Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo, but they might take a bit longer. I’ll be sending a short notice via the newsletter when they’re available, so if you want to be in the know first, you should sign up.

That’s it for now! I hope you like the cover. I know I do.

-Katje

The Jade Star of Athering and other news

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I announced on my Facebook page last night that I had big news to reveal today.

The big news is I finished revising The Jade Star of Athering and sent it off to the editor a few nights ago. This means I can announce the new release date.

November 25th.

It’s a bit later than I wanted, but there’s also a sort of synergy with it — November 25th, 2011, is the original release date for Bellica. Three years later, we have the sequel. Hopefully it won’t be another three years until book 3.😉

The next thing coming up is the cover reveal and setting up pre-orders. I’d like both things to happen on the same day, if possible, so I’m setting a date of September 25th. Expect a post here on that day.

I am really excited about the cover for Jade Star, guys. The art is by an Ecuadoran artist and it’s pretty incredible. I can’t wait to share it with you all.

So that’s the big news I had to share. A few housekeeping notes:

~Comments are no longer accepted here at Amoeba Kat Musings. Moderating them takes precious hours out of my day, and I need those hours for writing. If you want to know more about it you can read my comment policy, but rest assured this is the best decision I could have made.

~Bellica will be going down in price on September 25th in preparation for the launch of The Jade Star of Athering. Tell your friends.

~My thoughts/recaps of True Blood will continue at some point, whenever Mr. Katje and I actually decide to finish watching the season. No, we haven’t seen the end yet. I should probably make him marathon the remaining episodes with me this weekend.

And that’s it! Likely see you next week, unless something makes me mad and I have to rant about it.

-Katje

You’re Not Raising Awareness. You’re Just Being an Asshole.

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October, my favourite month, is coming up and you know what that means!

That’s right. It’s time for those highly annoying, misogynistic, and cis-supremacist bullshit “breast cancer awareness” games to make the rounds on all your favourite social media sites.

It’s also the month I’m not allowed to leave the house with a lighter, because then I’ll burn all the bras they string across the grocery stores.

There are so many problems with the pinkwashing of breast cancer I don’t even know where to begin. There is no beginning; it’s just a clusterfuck of oppressive, awful, bullshit.

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Why I’m going to continue drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and you should too (if you want to)

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Recently a graphic made the rounds on social media. It was from this chick who calls herself the “Food Babe” and it was full of paranoia, propaganda, lies, and bullshit — with a huge, HEAPING dose of food shaming. (I am not sharing the image on this post, because it’s food-shaming and gross and could trigger either eating disorders or an explosion of rage, and I really don’t want to give any of y’all aneurysms.)

You can easily see this image is a crock of crap if you go to Snopes (warning, they do share it). Honestly, I think the world would really improve if peoples’ browsers forced them to visit the relevant Snopes page before they can share any of those fraudulent pieces of BS to their FB pages.

Anyway. “Food Babe” has several problems with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and Starbucks as a company, it seems. She actually appears to be on a bit of a crusade against them, which sends up MAJOR red flags as to whether or not I should trust what she says. She claims to be skeptical, but doesn’t realize that to be skeptical means to neither believe nor disbelieve — ie, be neutral — not hold in outright contempt. (Lots of self-identified skeptics could stand to relearn the definition of the word.)

One of her complaints? “The latte has no real pumpkin in it!”

Well, duh? It’s a Pumpkin Spice Latte, not a Pumpkin Guts or Pumpkin Seeds Latte. Honestly, having pumpkin mash in your latte would be disgusting and not drinkable. I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte, not a flipping smoothie. I’m perfectly okay with that delicious spicy flavour coming from a syrup, not actual pumpkins. (Also, can you imagine the cost? Starbucks is already expensive.)

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Mmm, delicious pumpkin-free coffee on a nice fall day.

The biggest issue with the Pumpkin Spice Latte, according to “Food Babe”, is the inclusion of Caramel Colour IV because it’s apparently carcinogenic. What she fails to note is that the thing that is carcinogenic, 4-MEI, not only occurs as a natural byproduct of cooking some foods, but is in levels so small the FDA has labelled it as safe. Here’s a quote from them:

What is 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI)?

4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) is a chemical compound that is not directly added to food; rather it is formed as a byproduct in some foods and beverages during the normal cooking process. For example, 4-MEI may form when coffee beans are roasted and when meats are roasted or grilled. 4-MEI also forms as a trace impurity during the manufacturing of certain types of caramel coloring (known as Class III and Class IV caramel coloring) that are used to color cola-type beverages and other foods.

Is there a risk from eating foods that contain 4-MEI?

Based on the available information, FDA has no reason to believe that there is any immediate or short-term danger presented by 4-MEI at the levels expected in food from the use of caramel coloring.

See that? It may form when coffee beans are being roasted. So you can’t even escape it by eschewing Pumpkin Spice Lattes and drinking home-made coffee. Don’t think your barbecue is safe, either, because it might form in grilled meats.

Bottom line on this one: the FDA may not be infallible, but they’re also not run by a cabal intent on hiding info to poison the world. Trust them on this one, and not “Food Babe” (whose qualifications are what, exactly?).

She also claims Starbucks is hiding the ingredient list, which is an outright lie, seeing as it’s listed on their website. Though it should be noted, the ingredients for the pumpkin syrup listed on the site is the ingredients for the sold-for-home syrup, which differs from the syrup used in retail locations. Namely, the syrup used in retail locations doesn’t have HFCS, while the sold-for-home syrup does.

Another claim: made with “Monsanto milk!” Yeah, no. Starbucks phased out the use of Monsanto milk products back in 2007.

“Food Babe” also seems to think that 50g of sugar is a “toxic dose”. If nothing else, this should tell you she’s completely ignorant and shouldn’t be trusted. 50g is not a toxic dose of sugar. A fruit salad would send you to ER if it were. “She’s probably talking about processed sugars,” you may shout, desperately clinging to the idea that this woman knows something (hint: she doesn’t). Even if she is, 50g of processed sugar is not a toxic dose. Most North Americans get that level daily, or at least weekly. Most of us would be dead or dying if 50g were a toxic dose.

inconceivable

Also on the list: “ambiguous ‘natural flavours’ that can be made from anything on earth“. OH MY GODS. NATURAL FLAVOURS FROM ANYTHING? IT’S PROBABLY MADE OUT OF BELLADONNA AND HEMLOCK, FOR THAT ZESTY AFTERBURN. Fear-monger more, lady.

Artificial flavours she claims are made from petroleum. Uh, sources please? Oh wait, you probably can’t supply any, which explains why there are none in the blog post and it’s all just a bunch of vague fear-mongering. (Which leaves me wondering about the critical thinking skills of the people who take what you say at face value.)

Preservatives and sulfites that “can cause allergic reactions.” Look, anything can cause allergic reactions. Literally anything. And on that note, Mr. Katje’s mom is allergic to sulfites and she’s able to drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes WITH NO ILL EFFECTS. (So long as she orders it without nutmeg.) So I seriously doubt the levels of sulfites are at a dangerous level.

“Possible pesticide residue from using non-organic coffee beans.” Oh my gods could you be any more pretentious. If you want organic coffee beans, go to a different store, and complain about how much more expensive it is while you talk about how environmentally conscious you are drinking a beverage made from beans that are shipped thousands of miles to make it into your cup regardless if they’re organic or not. Also, sources please? And maybe you could mention what kind of pesticides are used, seeing as there are MANY MANY pesticides that are completely harmless to humans. Oh wait, again, you can’t supply any of this info, because you don’t actually know anything.

Her final complaint? The latte is not vegan even with soy milk options because of the use of condensed milk products. Again: sources, please. Also: you are ordering a coffee from a place that gets hundreds of customers a day. There may be trace elements of something not vegan in your soy-substituted latte. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. It might happen. You may not get 100% precision with your drink made by a rushed barista who just dealt with three assholes and someone under the influence (I salute you, baristas). If you absolutely cannot abide by minuscule trace elements of non-vegan ingredients in your food, then I advise you to eschew lattes at Starbucks, stick to their regular coffee, and bring your own soy or other milk substitute to add. Or just make coffee at home. Or learn to like it black.

This entire sundae of BS is topped off with the words “THINK before you drink!” Not only does “Food Babe”, with her absolute lack of any qualifications in the area of nutrition or chemistry, want to spread a bunch of lies about various foods that people enjoy, she has to shame them for liking them. Food Babe, I did think before I had that Pumpkin Spice Latte. I thought, Man, today would be great for a delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte, and then I enjoyed a delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte and suffered no ill effects from it. Just because I didn’t come to the same (misinformed) conclusions you did does not mean I didn’t think.

While I spent the past several days ranting about this image to Mr. Katje and anyone who would listen, it became clear to me that I’d seen “Food Babe” around before — back when she posted some serious BS about the ~*~dangers~*~ of beer. That was thoroughly debunked by people who actually know chemistry and science. From the link:

Yes, it would appear that the Food Babe got her education from popular books and Google University and somehow got the messianic bug to save the world! Maybe a better way to describe her is the Jenny McCarthy of the food industry. Of course, I don’t mean that as a compliment. Just as Jenny McCarthy has been a prime force spreading fear and ignorance about vaccines, Vani Hari has been a malignant force promoting ignorance about food. Sure, mixed in with all the pseudoscience, antivaccine beliefs, and admiration of cranks like Russell Blaylock, is the occasional bit of good advice about eating more vegetables, avoiding too much processed food, and recipes that, for all I know, might actually be tasty. But the price is too high, buried as the occasional trivial bit of good advice is under the tsunami of nonsense.

Bottom line, Food Babe — or “Fraud Broad” as she’s becoming known — is a quack. She has no qualifications for what she’s talking about, and it shows. Her conclusions are BS and she thinks that “chemicals are dangerous”.

Right. Chemicals are dangerous. I guess we should work to avoid things like Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12), or (2R,3S,4S,5R,6R)-2-(hydroxymethyl)-6-[(2R,3S,4R,5R,6S)-4,5,6-trihydroxy-2-(hydroxymethyl)oxan-3-yl]oxy-oxane-3,4,5-triol (Starch), or (heavens forfend) 3,7-Dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione (Caffeine).*** All very dangerous things that will surely kill us! Live a chemical-free life today: stop eating, drinking, and breathing.

I’m not listening to anything the Fraud Broad has to say, and neither should you. Her stuff is not only fraudulent to the point of being dangerous, it’s food-shaming, too. If you want to read things from an actual nutritionist who won’t shame you, I recommend Michelle Allison.

And keep on drinking your Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I’m certainly not stopping. Not for Fraud Broad nor anyone else sans qualifications, avec a major axe to grind.

(And if you don’t like Starbucks or Pumpkin Spice Lattes or pumpkin, that’s fine too. I am certainly not saying you have to. Just don’t shame people who do, because it will do no good. Every time someone shames me for drinking Starbucks — which happens often — instead of going to a local coffee shop, you know what happens? On my next trip to get coffee from a shop, instead of heading to the local coffee shop (because I do like to go to both! amazingly life is not black and white! I can hold love for Starbucks AND local places in my heart!), I head to Starbucks. Every time you shame someone for ANY of their food or drink choices, period, an angel turns to stone, becomes quantum-locked, and puts you on its hit list. So stop food-shaming people, unless you want to get killed by a Weeping Angel. And you know what? Food-shamers totally deserve to have Weeping Angels come after them. Enjoy living your life in the past where you have to deal with what food is given you.)

-Katje

***No, I did not know those chemical names offhand. I got them from this article.

Updates to the website and other random news

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The other night I spent several hours updating my writer website, instead of working on revisions as I’d planned. I know, I know.

Anyway, I’m really happy with the results. Like, really happy. And I want to make everyone look at the site and tell me how amazing I am. So here’s a screenshot:

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Click on the picture to get taken to the site and see the rest of its incredible beauty. Then tell me how amazing I am in the comments here!

Or not. You don’t have to do any of that stuff, I s’pose. I just wanted to share my really cool site, guise. (There are a few more updates coming but it’s fully operational and REALLY PRETTY.)

Other small updates that don’t warrant posts of their own:

  • My leg is healing really well. Actually, the bone is healed, I just can’t walk normally yet (muscles, ligaments, etc, are not so eager). But I can walk with the help of my crutches and I should be able to walk normally by the end of this month. I just have to take it slow, and be patient and ARRRRGGGG I DON’T WANT TO BE PATIENT WHEN ARE WE GETTING CYBERNETIC BODY PARTS FFS? Ahem. I mean, yes. Patience. Taking it slow. Things I am so good at don’t you know.
  • You might notice a change to the info in the sidebar. Specifically, images for Barefoot Books. I am now a Barefoot Books ambassador and will be selling children’s books to anyone who’s interested. I am pretty excited about this opportunity, as I love books (duh), am interested in championing literacy (double-duh), and the books are really high quality (you’ll have to take my word for this for now). I am probably going to pen a larger post in the next few days, but for now I just wanted to give y’all a small heads up. (Also, don’t worry, I won’t turn into a spam-o-matic.)
  • I submitted 2 pieces of microfiction to a writing contest and I am incredibly nervous. Winners are announced at the end of October. That is a long time away. Someone hold me.
  • There is still time to pre-order Broken Sleep, my mom’s new book! I know, I know, shameless plugging, but I’m serious when I say it’s a good book, and you get a discount for pre-order. So if you want to read the really incredible first book in The Falling Sky Trilogy, go here and click the link of your choice. (Paperbacks ordered from Storenvy will be signed!)
  • I will be doing Fifty Shades of Drinking again starting in a few weeks. My goal is to have the next episode up by October 1st. Hopefully I will be able to stick to that. It depends on how well I can walk by then. (The problem being, of course, that going to the bathroom is such a tremendous effort while one is on crutches that drinking alcohol is a terrible idea. Water I can hold for 4, 6, 8, 12 hours. Coffee about 4 to 6. Alcohol? 1 hour. And then every 15 minutes for a few hours after. That is way too much hobbling for me right now, unfortunately.)

That’s the news in a nutshell, basically. New site look and layout, my leg is doing well, Barefoot Books is a thing that’s happening for me, I am now submitting short fiction and terrified, Broken Sleep is coming out really soon, and Fifty Shades of Drinking’s hiatus is nearing its end time.

-Katje