Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Month: September 2018

Drawing a meaningful line

The Artdog Quote of the Week

That old cliche “money can’t buy happiness” may be true, but deep down inside most people don’t believe it. I was talking with a friend recently, about a longtime childhood acquaintance of hers whom she’d once asked, “You’re comfortable. D’you ever plan to relax and enjoy it?”

Her childhood chum just laughed and shook her head. “Oh, no. I want ALL the money!” 

ALL the money. How many of us would say something different, if we answered truthfully? “Enough” is a hard concept for many of us. Contentment is an elusive goal. There’s always a new “something more,” and that’s not always bad. There’d be no new breakthroughs without the goad of discontentment. But as with everything, there’s a balance to strike, or we slide over into unhealthy dysfunction.

Just as a pinch of salt adds flavora lot of salt adds high blood pressure, and too much salt can kill us, We have to stop somewhere. Where have you drawn your line?

IMAGE: Many thanks to AZ Quotes for this illustrated quote from Ray Dalio, who has enough money to know what he’s talking about.

A year of blue tarps and death

The Artdog Image of Interest 

Not all of the blue tarps are even from FEMA. This photo originated from a shout-out to Samaritan’s Purse, via Twitter and Greta Van Susteren @greta.

It’s been a year this week since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and most of the Virgin Islands, 
in the wake of Hurricane Irma
 (Maria neared her peak 9/19/2017 just southeast of Puerto Rico, closing in on the island). About the same number of people have died as died in the 9/11 attacks. Sorry, Mr. Trump, that’s REALITY. We only WISH it was fake.

For another “blue tarp tour,” check the short slide show from the VI Free Press. Too many people are still living in tents and under tarps. Too many people lack access to basics such as power, clean water, medical care. These are AMERICAN CITIZENS. This is just WRONG.

My heart broke all over again when I saw this NBC video on the news. If you think this is disgraceful, I urge you to take action.

Write to Congress, to the Senate, and to anyone else you can think of (or call, since that’s faster), to express your outrage. Get on social media and post something. Then open your purse as well as your heart.

My favorite means of sending direct financial aid to Puerto Rico is The National Puerto Rican Chamber of CommerceThey match every donation dollar for dollar. Think what you may of Franklin Graham (he’s not my favorite Christian), his Samaritan’s Purse organization has persisted in Puerto Rico, and it makes several of the “best places to donate” lists. But so do lots of others. Check them out and choose well.

Also, if you believe in such things, please keep Puerto Rico in your prayers for mercy this hurricane season. If praying’s not your thing, I get it. But whatever you do, do something. Please.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Greta Van Susteren via Twitter for the aerial photo of the blue tarps from last November. Unfortunately, too many of them still remain. I also wish to thank YouTube and NBC News for the latest article about ViequesTheir original piece aired October 15, 2017, and they’ve kept going back. I only hope we all keep going back, till the place is fixed better than before.

Fencon Ho!

Headed for Texas

Ty and I are on the road once more.This time we’re set for the Westin DFW Airport Hotel in Irving, TX, and FenCon XV. It’s a new convention for us, but we hope to make new friends and meet up with some familiar faces. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there! Please note: events on the schedule have been updated since this post was originally published. Please check the online FenCon schedule to make sure you have the most current version!

My Schedule 

Click the links for more details about these panels!

Friday September 21

4:00-5:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – Women Heroes in a Male-Dominated World

5:00-6:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – The Sexes . . . . in Space!

6:30-7:00 p.m. (Pecan Room) – Reading (see below!)

Saturday September 22

12:00-1:00 p.m. (Irving Lecture Hall) – We Can Make Them Faster Stronger … and Better!

1:00-2:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – Yesterday’s Tomorrow

My Reading

As I did at Worldcon, I’ve created a postcard about my reading at FenCon. I’ll read an excerpt (or two?) from my soon-to-be published novel, What’s Bred in the Bone. 

I don’t yet have finished cover art from Jody A. Lee, but she sent me a color comp that gives a pretty good idea how the finished project will look. It illustrates a scene from around the middle of the novel, when Rex and LSA Shiva Shimon, an agent from the Station Bureau of Investigation, venture into the infamous underworld neighborhood known as the Five-Ten.

What’s Bred in the Bone is the first novel of an in-the-works trilogy about XK9 Officer Rex Dieter-Nell, his partner Detective Charlie Morgan, his mate XK9 Officer Shady Jacob-Belle, and their Packmates and friends on Rana Habitat Space Station. Look for it this winter. Subscribe to my newsletter for updates and exclusive extras!

My Artwork in the FenConXV Art Show! 

I laid all my artwork out on a measured-off box on my living room floor–and I think I can squeeze it all in! I’m taking an example of every current piece of paper sculpture in my collection to the FenCon Art Show. Don’t miss:

The Art Show Reception at 8:00 p.m. Friday at the Gallery

The Art and Charity Auction at 6:00 Saturday in the Irving Lecture Hall

Note: you can still buy art on Sunday morning.

This was my display panel at Westercon 71/MALCon 6. Most of these designs will be available at the FenCon Art Show.

IMAGES: Many thanks to FenCon XV for their website header/logo! The color comp for my soon-to-be cover is by Jody A. Lee, and is used by agreement. I took the photo of my own Westercon 71/MALCon 6 display. You may reblog or re-post it with my blessings, as long as you include an attribution and an link back to this post. Thanks!

Not insignificant

The Artdog Quote of the Week

As the Geoffrey Owens case has recently dramatized, we are far from perfectly recognizing this profound reality.

But think about it: many of the most supposedly “menial” jobs are among the most important for maintaining public health and safety. Working hard for the good of one’s self, family, and community also has been found likely to be essential to a feeling that one’s life has meaning.

Ask not: “Are you happy?” Ask: “Does your life and work have meaning?” And let no one around you ever be ashamed of working hard.

IMAGE: Many thanks to YFS Magazine for this illustrated quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Are you ergonomic?

Artdog Image of Interest 

One of my issues, recently, has been finding ways to make my workplace more ergonomically sound. I just finished a multi-week push to finish a novel manuscript. It involved long hours of concentrated effort on my laptop, and toward the end I began to experience small amounts of pain that presaged a repetitive stress injury if I didn’t watch myself!

In response, I’ve changed some work habits, begun doing some exercises and taking more frequent breaks. My body’s put me on notice. Members of my husband’s family have had much more severe carpal tunnel injuries, so I know what I’m risking if I don’t take ongoing steps.

Since I’ve been doing this research, I thought I might as well share. How much does your workplace resemble this poster?

IMAGE: Many thanks for this graphic, to the Environmental Safety and Health webpage of University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Here’s to better workplaces for all!

Shifting focus

I hope Mr. Escher was right, because right now I’ve got a big, chaotic pileup of things that I’ve had on “hold” for weeks on end, and now it’s time to deal with them. So far, producing order hasn’t been all that lovely a task.

Why the pileup? Because something had to give. For these last many weeks, my primary focus had to be consistently, obsessively, compulsively, on One Important Thing.

I spent the weeks between Fourth of July and Labor Day this year embarked on a massive push to fix all the myriad little oopses, flaws, continuity issues, and plot holes large and small that had beset my science fiction novel What’s Bred in the Bone as it went through multiple drafts.

It was daunting, challenging, and ultimately quite exhilarating to see it all come together at last. It helped that I had that wonderfully clarifying imperative, a deadline.

Actually, I try to focus on what matters, as a matter of principle, as much as possible. The exercise of seeking out the most important things and focusing on those can be quite rewarding, and it can make your life amazing.

But practical reality will take its pound of flesh eventually. Every once in a while you simply have to stop and do the dishes. Or feed the kids. Or get up and move your body around. Or pay bills. Everybody’s got something.

My family, it must be said, is amazingly supportive. They’ve stayed busy with their own things and gone off in their own orbits, certainly. But they also covered for me A LOT.

Now it’s payback time.

Shifting my focus is proving to be a bit like turning a battleship, in no small part because I really got used to writing all the time with no other responsibilities, and a large part of me just doesn’t wanna “adult” today. What I really want is to go back to Rana Station.

Soon, I’ll get my chance. But not yet, dang it!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Brainy Quote for several of the quote images used in today’s post: M. C. Escher’s hopeful quote about bringing order to chaosAlexander Graham Bell’s thoughts on focus, and Abraham Lincoln’s advice on the hazards of evading one’s responsibilities. I also appreciate the 101 Inspirational Quotes for Designers post from Web Designer Depot, where I found the “Focus on what matters” graphic. I love you all!

Values statement

The Artdog Quote of the Week 

I long for an America where all of us agree these values are actually valuesmuch less of primary importance. It’s a far cry from what we currently seem to have, but there’s a way to make it happen.

One person alone can’t make the world work hard or look out for one another, but that one person can make sure that s/he works hard and looks out for others–and speaks up with approval and support when s/he sees others who do the same.

One person alone can’t make everyone believe that we’re all in this together or it’s better to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers than only to look out for ourselves. But that one person can try his/her best to embody those ideals–and also can seek out and link up with others who hold the same values, so they can be more effective together.

If I strive to do that, and you strive to do that, and our friends strive to do that, and their friends strive to do that, then pretty soon our community is actively supporting those values.

If our community comes to support those values actively, and other communities see us thrive because of our values, perhaps we can spread them farther and farther into the world.

It’s true one person can’t change the world . . . at least, not without lots of help.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Ozzy Amos’s Formidable Republican Opposition Facebook page, which produced this image, to Picture Quotes, where I first found it, and to former President Barack Obama, for saying it.

Crossing the finish line

Hello. It’s been a while. I’ve been away from this blog for much longer than I wanted to be.

I have prided myself on keeping up with my writing and art, as well as blogging here three (occasionally two) times a week, no matter what else life threw my way. I’ve managed it pretty consistently for a while. But I guess you know what they say about pride.

I hate missing deadlines. But ever since the week after Worldcon I’ve had to let some deadlines go, to meet another. I had a challenging editorial deadline for the please-God-final draft of my novel What’s Bred in the Bone, this past week.

I did it. The manuscript is turned in. Done. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s still not perfect, but I’ve had some indications from sources who seem reliable, that it’s pretty darn good. You’ll get a chance to judge for yourself later this year, if all goes well. Keep following this blog, and sign up for my newsletter for updates!

But Napoleon Hill was definitely onto something with the opening quote up there. Until there’s a deadline, you can go on, and on, and on, and . . . just keep dreaming. It can turn into a trap that means you’re never quite be ready to call a project done.

There’s a saying commonly attributed to Voltaire, that “perfect (more accurate to say “the best”) is the enemy of good.” He was quoting an Italian proverb, but this essential wisdom that you can strive for perfection till the end of time, and never get anything actually accomplished has been a truism in many ages and cultures.

For me, the most helpful variation is the one illustrated here: Perfect is the enemy of DONE. I needed to get on with finishing my book. I’ve got others to write! My new editor and a challenging deadline were just the tonic I needed to get this one DONE.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Brainy Quote for the Napoleon Hill quote-with-image. I haven’t been able to go further back than Pinterest for the “enemy of the done” image!


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