Worst. Birthday Gift. Ever.

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The title is better if you imagine it being read in Comic Book Guy’s voice.

Long and short of my trip to the cast clinic is yes, I have a broken femur, there is apparently no tendon or ligament damage, and no, I cannot have a plaster cast, because my leg is shaped weird.

Yes, you read that right: I have a weird leg. The plaster cast will not stay on it properly, just as the immobilizer of doom does not stay on it properly — but, the doctor says, the immobilizer will likely be more comfortable, and I can take it off from time to time. There’s also a chance my leg could swell again, which would be very uncomfortable in plaster, apparently.

I have to stay off my leg for 6 weeks. I cannot put any weight on it. I can rest my foot on the floor if I’m sitting, but beyond that? Nope. Nope nope nope.

But anyway, besides all that — let’s focus on what’s really important. I have weird legs, guys. WEIRD LEGS. I can’t even argue with the doctor on this one because he’s right. I’m a freak of nature.

legs

See? This is right after it happened, too, so you can see the amount of swelling in the left leg. But that bend inwards at the knee? It’s super pronounced. When standing straight the edges of my feet almost line up with my hips, and the knees bend inwards to touch each other. And the kneecap is super high up. I know, because I saw it on my CT scan. IT WAS WEIRD.

Also there’s the fact that my legs are sort of shaped like cones, with the tiny end pointing down.

WEIRD LEGS, GUISE. ::does spooky arms::

After the cast clinic we headed home, and this is the conversation we had in the car (this was after my crying breakdown in the hospital).

Me: So this is the worst birthday gift I’ve ever gotten myself.

Mr. Katje: That’s what you get for getting it so early! And now you can’t even take it back.

Me: Nope, I’m stuck with it. Buyer’s remorse or what.

Anyway. I am immobilized for six weeks. In 2 weeks I have to see the doctor again so he can see how the leg is doing. But basically, no nothing for Katje until the end of August.

I have some projects to keep me busy while I’m stuck without a working leg. A big one is writing. I’m trying to get my word count up this month. (I’m participating in Get Your Words Out and I’ve pledged to write 150,000 words this year. So far I’m at just over 80,000.)

Things I'm working on today: writing....

Text from a short story I’m working on.

Another big one is editing and publishing — related to the first, of course, but I’m not always editing or publishing my own works, so it deserves a separate category. Right now I’m proofing Broken Sleep by Kaimana Wolff, and editing/revising The Jade Star of Athering, sequel to Bellica.

I’m also trying to get caught up on my reading. I read very slowly, but with not much else to do I might read more than one book this month. One can hope, anyway.

And finally, I’m powering through Stargate SG-1. I adore this show. I am on season 7, please no spoilers in the comments. (I realize it’s 17 years old but I’ve been able to keep myself relatively spoiler free.)

...and Stargate SG-1. (that shld rly say dreamboat tbh. Mmmmm, Teal'c.)

Mmmm, Teal’c.

Anyway, this is my summer. All this, and no showering (at least until I get the shower chair from Oma’s old place). Don’t visit. Your nose will never forgive you.

If you do want to brighten my summer up, however, you can nominate my book, Stranger Skies, for the awards for which it’s eligible! (Assuming you’ve read it. If you haven’t read it, most of the Advance Reading Copy is available to read here. All of the chapters will be released by October 5th.) Details in this post at my Livejournal. The deadline for one of the awards is July 15th, but the others have more time.

Now that would be the best. birthday gift. ever.

-Katje

May Reads

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I actually got back on the reading wagon last month and knocked some books off both my Currently Reading and To Be Read lists. I’m proud of myself.

Instead of doing separate blog posts for each review, I’m just linking to my reviews on Goodreads with an excerpt. (Or, if they’re incredibly short reviews, posting the whole thing here.)

First, the digital books! Not necessarily in order of reading.

BrokenSleepebookcoverfinal400x

Broken Sleep by Kaimana Wolff

4 out of 5 stars

I may be coming from a biased place because my mom is the author and I’m the publisher…but I don’t think that should count against my review. We’re all biased in some form; one of the first lessons of Journalism class was there was no such thing as objectivity. My relation to the author makes me no more biased than the fact that I went through a lot of the events in the book.

A harrowing exposé of abuse…hard to read, as someone who’s lived through it. But a necessary book — if you’ve ever wondered why a victim of abuse stays with their abuser, this book might shed some light on that for you.

My review at GoodReads.

WritePublishRepeatcoverWrite. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant with David Wright.

4 out of 5 stars

Non-fiction I read as part of my ongoing efforts to improve myself as a writer and my author career. 90% of the book I’m on board with, but they lost me near the end.

These guys know their stuff when it comes to writing and marketing, but they should stay away from topics they know nothing about. Dieting and weight loss are billion dollar industries that have nothing to do with individual health, worth, or work ethic.

At this point I won’t be picking up their fiction, though I planned on it, because I don’t know what kind of fatphobic ideas might lurk within. I’ll continue to read their non-fiction because I think they do know what they’re talking about when it comes to an indie author career — and I do think this book is an essential read if you’re an indie author and you don’t really know what the hell you’re doing — but in the end, their ignorance and perpetuation of fatphobic stereotypes has cost them a cross-pollinated (non-fiction to fiction) reader.

My review at GoodReads.

And now, the paperback/hardcover books!

May reads.

Medicine River, by Thomas King

3 out of 5 stars.

I picked it up because I love Thomas King. It’s not my favourite of his work, but I didn’t hate it.

Bottom line: if you’re used to Western (white dude!) literature as the dominant narrative, then you need to erase your expectations when picking up this book. It does not follow the dominant cultural narrative we have around literature: it deliberately bites its thumb at those expectations. It’s different, and that’s not always bad.

My review on Goodreads.

Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom

4 out of 5 stars.

I went into this with the full knowledge that I would likely cry at the end. It’s a very quick read, but that doesn’t lessen the extent to which it tugs on one’s feels.

Well, I cried.

Can’t say much other than: beautiful book, quite touching, do recommend it.

Bloodchild and Other Stories, by Octavia E. Butler

4 out of 5 stars.

A collection of short stories with afterwords by the author, as well as 2 non-fiction essays at the end.

I really liked Speech Sounds. It’s a post apocalyptic story with a bit of hope at the end — basically my favourite type of story. And it’s sad, too. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s good, and I recommend it. Possibly the best story in the book.

My review on Goodreads.

Hopefully I’ll do a similar post for June. I’m trying to actually read the myriad books in my collection instead of just smelling them to get my daily fix of book-scent.

-Katje

The Great Bookening 2014 (or Katje finally unpacks and puts away ALL THE BOOKS)

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Almost all of them. I’ve yet to really unpack Mr. Katje’s books (I did 2 boxes; that’s all), but I’ve done all of my books, which was 30+ boxes so it’s kind of a big deal.

Look, pictures!

The Great Bookening '14: non-fiction and unread fiction.

Non-fiction and unread fiction. Most of the non-fiction is of the sort that will help my writing along (history, culture, books on writing craft, grammar, books of names), but there’s also a lot of theatre and film books on these cases. Also, writing notebooks and proofs. You may notice the cases are overflowing. This is true of most of the bookcases in the house, because I had to sacrifice one when we needed a TV stand.

The Great Bookening '14: God-bothering books.

God-bothering books, as mom calls them. Lots of books on Buddhism, esoteric stuff, spirituality…etc. This is also my meditation corner, hence the Thangka on the back of the door and the little altar/shrine areas.

The Great Bookening '14: read fiction

Read fiction. Double-stacked. Triple-stacked even. (For scale: all these books used to take up five shelves on another bookcase.)

The Great Bookening '14: misc

Misc. mish-mash! This was one of the first cases I filled up and I was in such a “FUCK ALL THESE BOXES” mood that I just jammed whatever the hell up there. Journals at the top, some language books, comics and children’s books, First Nations studies, history, science…the list goes on.

The Great Bookening '14: cooking, crafting, fiction

And the cooking, crafting, herbalism, knitting/crocheting, and Mr. Katje’s books shelves. Not totally full yet — will be when I unpack some more of Mr. Katje’s books.

So I have managed to unpack and put away all my books, and am making a dent in Mr. Katje’s books. It is likely we will have to get another bookcase for the rest of his books.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sleep for forever. Or eat a lot of food and watch NCIS, season 7. (Mr. Katje has gotten me hooked on the show and I expect I will soon catch up to current episodes.)

-Katje

2013 James Tiptree Award Winner and Honor List Announced

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Recently the honor list and winner of the 2013 James Tiptree Award were announced. I’m not sure when exactly this happened; I was too preoccupied with moving since late January and surgery + recovery this week to continue with my obsessive refreshing of the Tiptree website (some of you may remember my book was nominated).

I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to N.A. Sulway, author of Rupetta, winner of the 2013 Tiptree Award.

I’d also like to extend congratulations to the members of the honor list: Eleanor Arnason, Aliette de Bodard, Nicola Griffith, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ann Leckie, Bennett Madison, Sarah McCarry, Janelle Monae, Helene Wecker, and S.M. Wheeler.

I didn’t expect Bellica to win the Tiptree, but I did entertain some hopes of being short-listed. I would be lying if I said my pride weren’t a little bit stung right now.

But I can see the logic. Bellica was my first novel and it was incredibly long. It’s not terribly revolutionary. It’s good, but perhaps it’s not award or short list material. (And who knows — Canada Post says the copies of the book arrived on time, but perhaps they didn’t. That would suck, but it would also be my fault for not getting the books out earlier.)

Bottom line: I’m okay with Bellica not winning or making the list. I think my other books will have a better chance at being listed for awards, even if I never win any (with which I am also okay). I have a lot of faith in my latest book, Stranger Skies, and the rest of the series that will follow.

Though my pride is stung — I am a Leo, after all — I do not harbour any bitterness or resentment towards the judges or the winners. The authors on that list worked hard for this achievement and they deserve it. I wish them well, and I will add their works to my To Be Read list.

I encourage you to do the same.

-Katje

PS: for the record, Stranger Skies is eligible for the 2014 Tiptree. If you feel it should be nominated, you can do so here: 2014 Tiptree Nomination Form.

Please do not nominate it unless you truly feel it deserves to be considered. (This requires that you have read it.)

Book Launch for Stranger Skies this Saturday in Powell River

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StrangerSkiesebookcoverPress

Stranger Skies

Queer Pagan Fiction with a YA Bent

“The scent of death and fear hit her then — she’d found her first Minae wolf….”

A goddess’ fall from grace leaves her on an alien world, bereft of her followers, trapped in a mortal body. Should she strive to regain her godhood or accept her mortality and find love?

Silva, Queen of Wolves, Lady of the True Woods, seeks her only friend Etan, who, along with other deities of the Council of Divinity, has gone missing for reasons unknown. Her search traps her on a world where the wolves have lost faith in her; she becomes a mortal woman whose remaining powers could brand her as a witch.

Through the chaos of war and the turmoil in her own heart, Silva can’t escape a persistent feeling: her fall was not an accident.

~~

Just a brief heads up before I go collapse into a codeine-induced coma:

I am having a book launch for my latest novel, Stranger Skies, this Saturday the 22nd at 4 p.m. It will be held at the café “A Step Above” on the second floor of Quality Foods on Joyce Avenue.

From the event page:

It’s finally happening! Stranger Skies is having a book launch this Saturday in Powell River!

Stranger Skies
First Novel in The Borderlands Saga

“Any reader who loves wolves, woods and wonderful characters will devour Stranger Skies.”
— K. Wolff, La Chiripa

Have your copy of the first volume in this magnificent new science-fiction/fantasy saga signed by Katje van Loon, author of Bellica.

Located at the cafe above Quality Foods in Powell River — “A Step Above”. Go to the end of the cash registers, past the frozen foods section, and take the elevator or stairs up!

Hosted by The Pearl Review, Powell River’s book-lover’s collective.

Cover art by Autumn Skye ART.

You can RSVP at the Facebook event page here.

(Let me know if it doesn’t work; FB continues to mystify me. The event is set to public but who knows.)

If you’re in Powell River this weekend I hope to see you at the launch!

If you don’t live in Powell River, I will be having other book launches for Stranger Skies in the coming months both on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland. It’s an informal book tour — informal, because we’re not planning the entire thing out beforehand and are just doing it as and when and where we can.

However, there will be more notice than a few days’ worth for other towns. We meant to get the word out earlier for this one, but moving + travel + surgery + recovery has kind of eaten our lives.

Speaking of recovery…I’m going to go do more of that, in bed, for several hours. Sleepy time! Codeine is kickin’ in with a vengeance.

Hope to see you on Saturday!

-Katje

Reading more women authors

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This is not actually something I need help with, in the most general of terms. I tend to read women authors by default, and often have to work to seek out male authors.

I consider myself lucky — in this one, small way, my brain has escaped patriarchal programming.

Well, perhaps. I think I still read a disproportionate amount of cisgender, white, able-bodied, women authors, and I often only read the speculative fiction/SFF genres. My defaulting to women authors still does not yield much diversity in what I read.

So I am taking a page from Lilit Marcus’ book, here in 2014, and actively seeking out more women authors — but more specifically, queer and trans* women (including genderqueer folk who are socially classed as women/assumed to be women), women of colour, indigenous women, mixed race women, and women with disabilities. Also, I’m going to attempt to branch away from SFF and read other genres.

I won’t be reading women exclusively — as I said, I already default to reading women authors, so I actually have to actively seek out male authors most of the time. However, if I read a book by a man, I will then read 2 by women.

And I’m not sure how many books I’ll get read. I don’t do much reading these days; I think university killed my joy in it. But I will try; I will work very hard to read several books this year, and to seek out different types of books by more queer, trans*, indigenous, mixed race, WOC, and disabled [women] authors.

Are you participating in #readwomen2014?

(Worth noting: the hashtag was created by Joanna Walsh, and most of the credit for the idea is given to her — but Lilit Marcus deserves credit for the idea, and I’m giving her her due.)

And if you have any recommendations for books by queer, trans*, indigenous, mixed race, disabled, and/or women of colour authors that are not SFF, please let me know in the comments!

 

My best friend today…

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fireplacewarmback

No, not my arm, the fireplace in front of which I am sitting. It is really cold outside right now and this thing is keeping my bacon from freezing.

I’m using bacon as a shorthand for butt, there. I’m not talking about actual food.

Anyway. I am sitting in front of this thing and it is keeping me warm and keeping my pain levels down, which is nice! Because my back does not like moving boxes of books around! At all!

I did finish cataloguing them today, though; I have just under 860. Not as much as my initial guess of 1,000 — but practically speaking, there is no difference. It’s still a lot to sort and catalogue and pack and move.

I just finished packing all the theatre and film ones. There were a lot — I was in theatre for 20 years, and film for about 5. The books tend to accumulate.

There is still a huge pile to go (history, fiction, languages, science, arts and crafts, children’s books, comics and cartoons miscellaneous), so I’m getting back to that now. Tomorrow morning the truck comes to grab the big furniture and the boxes of books (and likely the bookcases).

Oh gods I’m so not ready aaaaauuuugggghhhhhhhhhhh

-Katje

I might have too many books.

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I only say that because today was spent cataloguing and packing them. There are a lot.

The book situ when I started this morning.

The book situ when I started this morning.

That picture doesn’t show the coffee table and the couch, but they’ve also got books on them — the coffee table, a lot; the couch, not so much.

By midpoint it looked like this:

bookpacking2You can see my laptop open because of the ongoing cataloguing work. I’ve now got 717 books in my library on LibraryThing (796 in all collections, which includes books I’ve borrowed and still want to read and my wishlist).

The couch is covered in books that have been inputted into my LibraryThing catalogue, the coffee table in stacks of books yet to be put in.

You can’t see the piles I added to the coffee table today, because they’re balanced on the edge behind the four boxes of books.

Note: this does not include all the books that were not on the shelves because I’ve been reading them or they’ve been travelling with me — they will be packed, but not in boxes. Nor does this include my own books, of which I have several copies lying around — they will get their own box.

I just finished about 15 minutes ago, and now the living room looks like this:

bookpacking3

Yeah, I took down all those bookcases. Only one double-stack remains, just off camera. That bookcase contains my notebooks and journals and such on the top, and my late Oma’s books on the bottom. Oma’s books are going into storage — we’re keeping them, because they’re family heirlooms, but neither mom nor I have any room for them in our personal libraries right now.

I think the couch now has more books on it than the coffee table does, which means the more tedious part of my job has been lessened. Packing boxes of books is not, actually, tedious, but adding them to my catalogue is.

You can see my dinner in the last photo. I am eating it right now, at 11pm, because it’s been that sort of day. I’m exhausted and thinking I have too many books.

You know it’s bad when you think you have too many books. (Hint: the correct paradigm is never enough books!)

Tomorrow, up bright and early to pack up the couch-books and input the table-books and then take down the last bookcase.

The Last Bookcase. Sounds like it could be a fantasy/horror novel.

And that’s the sign I should go to bed.

Yeah, I’m going to do that now. See you all tomorrow.

BYOB(ookworm)

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Today’s daily prompt from the Daily Post:

Write the blurb for the book jacket of the book you’d write, if only you had the time and inclination.

I think responding to this would be cheating. I’m a published author; currently I have out two novels, a book of poetry, a self-published short story and a self-published collection of short fiction.

Time and inclination? Lots of the second; little of the first, but I still get the books done. So it’s not so much an imaginary blurb I’d have to come up with…as just copy and pasting the blurb from Bellica or Stranger Skies. (You can read Bellica online here, by the way, and the advance reading copy of Stranger Skies is being posted here.)

So today, I’m answering the second part of the prompt:

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BOOKS.

Here is a photo I took yesterday, of, yes, my own book — it just arrived in the mail a little while ago and I unpacked the box and put the books on the shelf.

Oh hey look at that, my books are here. Cover art by Autumn Skye Morrison; she's amazing.

And a poem, Water Cycle, which you can find in glasstown.

I am always in a rush in a hurry
to fill up my notebooks with blather –
and maybe
it is because so many empty ones sit
continually staring me in the face
that I feel guilty
for not feeding them –
we’re starving! they cry out
but so is the streambed of my thought
dry for so many years – I sit to write
to enjoy what flows but it’s only a trickle
and so when I can I write

 BIG

or

   l     e      n       g     t      h     y

so that I take up as much
of the page as possible
and I write on both sides
and sometimes I gush
but my hand can’t keep up with my thoughts
and I’ll get distracted and
—oh, fuck, I did it again,
the stream is dry once more;
I’ve thrown this poem on the floor
and resorted to crappy rhyme
to buy some more time
so that my words can spurt forth—
and shine.

But it’s grabbing me, this undercurrent
and I fear I can’t turn it to my will
and soon I’ll be dragged
underneath the weight of my creativity
spitting out the saltiness of tears unshed
choking on the wet juicy areas of my mind:
dark, locked up, till I find
explosives and blow the dam
and I write till my hand might fall off
with the pain
but I can’t stop until I do.

And begin again.

This is why I’m tired today

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I don’t have the spoons for a proper post. This is why:

This is why I'm tired today. Cataloging and packing books.

I’ve spent most of today cataloguing the books that were on that bookcase into my LibraryThing account and then packing them into boxes, in preparation of eventually moving out of this house. (Eventually = in the next few months.) Books take a long time to pack and they’re something I can pack earlier than other things, so it seemed like a good plan.

But that, combined with lack of sleep, means I’m exhausted. More awake Katje tomorrow, hopefully.