Saturday, November 30, 2013

Another NaNoWriMo adventure

Although I passed the 50,000 word mark late yesterday, I decided to write just a bit more today before verifying my total and ending this year's NaNoWriMo adventure.

The final official (validated) word count: 52,093.

I have now completed at least 50,000 words of a manuscript in NaNoWriMo each November for the past eight years.  Of the three books which do not deal with the Telmaj, I plan to self-publish one for sure--but the other two would probably need major work and probably aren't worth it.

Just for fun, here's some info about the book I wrote this year:

As I said before, I spent this November writing book five of the Tales of Telmaja series; the first book, The Telmaj, is available, and the second book, A Smijj of Adventure, should be available very, very soon (in fact, I hope to have good news about that any day now).

Book Five is about 75% finished at this point.  I am midway through chapter nine of what will likely be a fifteen chapter book; I am on page 176 of what will probably end up at around 285-300 pages total.  I expect the final word count to be around 70,000 words, give or take.

My goal is to complete this manuscript by the end of this year so that I won't have to do what I did this year (which was: spend October finishing book four and then dive straight into book five in November--that was really insane).

I think I'm becoming addicted to writing children's fiction.  It's a good thing. 

:)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

45,000...

...and counting, at least as regards National Novel Writing Month.

When I finish this project, I will have five--yes, FIVE--manuscripts completed in my Tales of Telmaja series.  Yet the second book, A Smijj of Adventure, is still awaiting my final read-through.

Why is writing so much fun, and editing so much NOT fun?  No wonder writers never self-published in great quantities before the Internet made it seem easier than the ordinary publishing route.

(It still is easier.  But sometimes I dream of selling enough copies of my book(s) to justify hiring someone else to do the editing.  Isn't that the dream?)

But this post wouldn't be complete without a shout-out to all of the members of my Advance Reader Team (ART) who kindly read my works while they're still in manuscript form, and find lots of typos and double-words and silly errors that I have missed even on the dozenth reading of the book.  I wouldn't be able to do this without them, and they are wonderful in every way. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My week is getting away from me

Ever have one of those weeks where the calendar is so full that it's scary? 

Yep.  Me too.

A couple of times I've had ideas that might have turned into blog posts, except for the phone.  Or the doorbell.  Or the dentist visit (kids, not mine--is it okay to whisper "Yay!" and try to forget that I've got one coming up in a bit)?  Or the...well, you get the idea.

I'm in my mid-forties, and every time I think I've got this whole "adult" thing figured out, a week like this comes along, and between helping my daughter figure out her college schedule for next semester and doing other various business-like things I start thinking: nope.  I don't.  I'm still faking being a grown-up.  Like I have been since age 20 or so.

Tell me it's like that for you, too.  Even if it's not like that all the time, tell me it's like that for you when you have one of those weeks.

Please?

Friday, November 15, 2013

The failure of diocesan Catholic schools

Over at Rod Dreher's blog, Rod very kindly highlighted a comment of mine about diocesan Catholic schools which is sparking an interesting discussion; I encourage those of you interested in education matters to join the conversation over there.

Any of Rod's readers coming over here might be interested in a few other posts of mine about Catholic education and education in general:

The failure of Catholic education

What's wrong with Catholic schools

The two biggest problems with diocesan Catholic education

The real question is, can Catholic education be fixed?  If so, how?  I don't pretend to know, but would be interested in hearing what others have to say.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Out of the blogging habit

Okay, so on Monday I wrote about how I was going to give up on the blog move for the time being so I could get back to blogging because I missed it...

...is it really Thursday?

Sigh.

I know I've gone through times before when I've had difficulty blogging on anything like a schedule, but this has been a fairly long dry spell for me.  Other bloggers I know have gone through this, and have dealt with it in various ways: blogging more, blogging less, blogging about different topics to stretch themselves a bit, and so on.  Some end up giving up blogging altogether.

I'm not ready to do that, but it seems to me as though there's been a bit of a change in my corner of the Catholic blogosphere.  Since Pope Francis became our pope, it seems as though American Catholic bloggers are lining up in "for" or "against" camps whenever Pope Francis says or does anything; in fact, I'd say that what happens looks something like this:

1. Pope Francis says or does something.

2. American Catholic bloggers lament and wring their hands about how this is yet more proof that Pope Francis is making mistake after mistake and will soon be plunging us back into the nightmare of felt banners, tie-dyed vestments, and anything-goes liturgical abuses.  Not to mention the musical stylings of the St. Louis Jesuits.  The horror.

3. Other American Catholic bloggers challenge the first group and discuss (and sometimes even show, with examples) how what Pope Francis is saying/doing is a) perfectly compatible with Catholic teaching and action and b) was said/done by Pope Benedict XVI and/or any number of his predecessors and therefore c) does not imply any rolling back of the reform of the reform.

4. The first group mutters about ultramontanism and/or complains that when they say that Pope Francis (with his cold dead eyes and unsettling appearance) is the biggest and most serious threat to traditional Catholicism they are speaking from fonts of charity and love that the other blogging Catholics can't possibly understand (especially since everybody knows you never experience that sort of charity and love at those hippy-dippy Conciliar "Masses" with their clapping and chatting and circus atmosphere--and did we mention that Pope Francis hates the Latin Mass?).

5. The second group starts tearing into the first for their rigidity and inability to recognize the workings of the Holy Spirit outside of their liturgically pure parishes and challenges them to wake up and realize that hating on the poor is a sin, too, just like the big issues that get most of the press.

6. Everything degenerates into exchanges of personalities, until

7/1 redux: Pope Francis says or does something. 

The disturbing thing about all of this is not that it's happening--internecine blog squabbling is part of the territory.  The disturbing thing is that this is yet another instance where faithful Catholics end up spending all of our time and energy on these inside baseball fights instead of focusing on the real evils that threaten our world and what we can do about those things.

I'm as guilty of this as anybody, so this isn't a "look at all those silly people over there" post at all.  But if Pope Francis has changed my way of thinking at all, it's that the things I write which make lukewarm Catholics reconsider their faith and lapsed Catholics think about checking things out again and non-Catholics get interested in this whole Catholic thing and non-Christians reconsider whether they've really heard Christ's message and might like to hear it if not are worth far, far more than the things I write where I get into deep arguments with other Catholics about things that, in the grand scheme of things, really don't matter (and aren't, often, the laity's business to muddle in in the first place).

Maybe as I gear up to return to regular blogging, I ought to keep that in mind.  I can't promise no "inside baseball" posts, but I think--I hope!--I'll have better things to say, going forward.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Giving up on WordPress (but not America)

As anybody who still checks this blog knows, I haven't been posting lately because I was trying to move my blog to WordPress.  I may still do that someday, because I haven't been overly happy with Blogger recently (or ever, as long-time readers know).  Still there's that saying about "Better the devil you know..." etc.  And that's where I am right now: too busy with other things to spend the time learning a whole new blogging platform when most of what bugs me about Blogger can be put into the "minor annoyance" basket and ignored.

And I miss blogging.  Oh, sure, I've been averaging about three thousand words a day on my newest book during this year's NaNoWriMo, but it's not the same.  I find myself thinking about policies and issues and matters of faith, and worse, using the time I normally spend daydreaming about fiction daydreaming about non-fiction instead.  It's clearly time for me to get back to the blog.

To give you one example of the kind of thing I've been wasting time thinking about, it's the strange conflict between patriotism and outright contempt for our nation which I tend to feel these days.  On the one hand, I'm proud of the veterans in my family, especially my husband and both his mom and his dad (Happy Veterans' Day!).  On the other hand, I can't believe the state where I was born now insists that two men or two women equal a marriage and anybody who disagrees is a hateful bigot who should be marginalized and excluded from society.  As I wrote elsewhere, when exactly did it become wrong, and dangerously wrong, for an American to say that marriage involves a man AND a woman, a husband AND a wife, a bride AND a groom?  Is that really such a radical, nonsensical, hateful thing to believe?

To many modern people who think gender is a fluid social construct and who can write sentences about how some male persons can indeed give birth to babies once you realize that some male persons live in female bodies and have female reproductive organs, yes, it is.  But to some of us, the people who write such things are so blatantly disconnected from reality, so incredibly distant from sanity, so far apart from reason that all we can really do is humor them (and hope to get to a safe distance before they really lose it).  Unfortunately, it now appears that our government in this country both at the federal and state level is insisting on imposing the trendy new insanity on the rest of us, and they will use the full mechanisms of the rising police state to do it.

However, I have noticed two signs of hope lately.

The first is that more and more people who generally share my views about marriage, family, the intrinsic worth of human life from conception to natural death, and similarly important matters are pointing out that the new trendy insanity is essentially, inherently, fundamentally sterile.  Barren.  Incapable of reproducing itself, both on the personal physical level and the deeply philosophical level.  Raise one generation to believe that concepts like truth, honor, wisdom--and even marriage--are subjective, that is, that they only mean whatever I want them to mean, and the next generation will, without fail, dwindle into a kind of opportunistic cynicism in which those words only mean what actually benefits me right now (and I'm not sure we're not already seeing that generation rise).  On the other hand, the people who believe in eternal verities and transcendent values and who go to great lengths, including personal sacrifice, to witness to these things and to teach them to their children will have the reward of seeing those children take to themselves the safeguarding and the spreading of the light of that eternal flame.

The second is that in a real sense we have not yet begun to fight: "we" being middle-class faithful Christian Americans who have heard the alarms and seen the battles waged elsewhere, but not yet had to fight them in our midst.  It may be that the most radical, most damaging, most effective tactic we can engage in is simply to disengage as much as possible from the rabid consumerism that defines our nation at this time.  Rod Dreher has written before about what he calls the "Benedict Option," the option for Christians to pursue actively and purposefully a simpler, less "stuff-oriented," more communal way of living.  How that would play out I don't pretend to know, but I do know that our increasingly totalitarian state cannot function if the middle class isn't willing to bear most of the burden of providing the tax dollars to pay for the breakdown of the traditional family and the rise of alternative "family" forms which are unstable and much more costly in terms of public funds.  In fact, the state can only afford to impose homosexual "marriage" on our nation if the traditional family continues to absorb all of the costs of the Sexual Revolution--because sexual dysfunctions and depravities are expensive, whether we are talking about contraception for unchaste heterosexuals or prophylactics for unchaste homosexuals or STD treatments for both groups of people (and, in some cases, their innocent and chaste spouses), not to mention all the social services necessary for the children born and raised outside of marriage.  But what happens when the responsible people say "no" to the rising demand to bear most or all of the costs of other people's depraved lifestyle choices?  Who's going to pay for it all then?  The one percent, in between busily recreating the ideal of the immoral oligarchy?  Hardly.

One thing is certain: anyone who predicts that in another twenty or forty or eighty years Christianity will be more or less crushed is not a student of history.  We may be in what Pitirim Sorokin would call the "late sensate age," but what happens next is not further "progress" toward some ideal of the godless secular materialistic state, with the few handfuls of believers locked up in asylums (as many of our contemporaries secretly wish would happen).  In the cycle of history, the collapse of this present age will likely be followed by a much greater age of faith, and a much-diminished belief in the goodness of secular institutions.  So there is still hope for America, even if the signs right now are gloomy.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm still here...

...sort of.

I've been working on the new blog, and don't want to post a lot here until the move because I don't want a lot more posts to export.  But I'm also working on some writing projects (including NaNoWriMo--yay!) so this may take a bit of time.

Thanks for your patience!