Thursday, March 26, 2020

Books for 2020 - part 2

You would think, will all the stay-at-home warnings that we are observing, I would’ve done a ton of reading by now. We’re two weeks into it and what have I read?

Not one book.


Because I’ve spent my time:
  • putting my course online and fretting about whether it’s going to work or not (thankfully, a student has now posted in several of the discussion threads and it does what it’s supposed to!),
  • canceling all appointments and rescheduling them for the end of April, which means there’s probably another go-round of rescheduling to be accomplished then as I don’t think we’ll be out of the woods yet,
  • getting over a cold. Yes, a cold. Not the virus. Called the doc to check. Plain old nasty cold,
  • downloading and going back into Second Life. It’s still up and running. Going virtual with my classes made me homesick for the place. It’s gotten better and it’s been fun to renew friendships and hear Heath Vercher play in-world again,
  • playing Destiny 2. I still play Skyrim and my daughter and I are creating a mod for that, but my son’s gotten me into Destiny 2. The learning curve is impossible without a mentor (thank you, son, for guiding your mother through the icons and lack of directions!).

((Speaking of Learning Curve – did you know it’s free at Smashwords? So are each of the individual stories that make up 12 Days of Christmas Bondage, and several other former EC Quickies. Stop by and pick up a story or two – full novels are 60% off until April 20th as part of the Authors Give Back initiative.))

I have also:
  • gone for several walks,
  • baked brownies,
  • scrapbooked,
  • raked the yard and gathered up all the fallen sticks and branches,
  • helped my daughter pack her life for her move to her own place,
  • glowered at the new snow on the ground after several 60+ degree days.

But I haven’t taken the time to read. I started Rising Storm, a Derek Storm mystery, but am not liking it very much. Read all the Nikki Heat books and had fun with those, but this one isn’t catching me. Am about 30 pages in – and have been for nearly a month.

While I won’t hoard toilet paper, I do pile up the books To Be Read. Life will settle into routine soon enough and I’ll get back to curling up with a good book before much longer. For now? Too much to take in, too much to do.

Play safe – and stay safe!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Coming up with a new “normal”

Let’s face it; we all have different opinions on what “normal” life is like. Get to meet a new friend and suddenly you’re watching different family traditions, seeing a different way to do dishes, looking at life through a different filter.

Rarely, however, is everyone’s definition of “normal” challenged at the same time. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening around the globe. First one country, then the next; first one state, then the next; first one town, then yours. Like a wave that sweeps in at high tide, we can see it coming, yet want one more day at the beach (for some, literally) before we change our “normal.”

For me, that’s already happened. The change, that is. It began the week of March 8th with daily updates and changes to behavior here in New York State. Our college extended Spring Break by a week in order to give everyone time to let the dust settle.

Yet the dust swirled into a tempest in those two weeks and, while classes are not cancelled, we’ve all gone online. Took me the better part of a week to rewrite my curriculum (I’m teaching Freshmen Comp II this semester) and get it uploaded to Blackboard, our school’s online classroom. I’ve dropped some assignments in favor of others, kept all the Big Papers, and figured out a way to do peer review. I think.

What I’ve kept in mind is something that was passed along when the decision was made that we wouldn’t meet face-to-face with our students for the rest of the semester: don’t worry about creating masterful, engaging, online lessons. You don’t have the training, you don’t have the expertise, you don’t have the time. This is triage learning. What are the essentials? Stick to those and everyone will get through this.

And that’s a good way of looking at the new “normal,” too. This isn’t permanent. It happened fast and humans are notorious for preferring the status quo even to their own detriment. We’ve been forced into a change (I don’t always agree with Governor Cuomo, but I gotta admit, he’s doing a great job right now). Change is hard (I did my Master’s thesis on Change Theory – yeah, hard is too mild a word). But it’s triage. It’s determining what is most important Right Now and leaving the rest to figure out tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month.

My current workspace. You can't see my computer in this pic
(It's in the other half of the room) but can you tell
this space belongs to a writer?
I was thrilled that I was selected as a Writer in Residence at Storyknife this summer. I’m still thrilled, even if I end up not being able to go (they’ve closed for the April residencies – those writers will have those same slots for April 2021). I’m not canceling my travel plans yet (what did I say about humans preferring the status quo?) but I’m aware that not going is definitely a possibility. There’s always my front porch.

My cruise-employed daughter has been home for over a half a year, and has now decided not  to take a new cruise contract (yay!), but has gotten her own place and moved out this past weekend. My son does maintenance and grounds work at a local church and, as of last Friday, still had a job (we’ll see what this week brings). My husband, always a freelancer, has had to cancel all his painting parties and art shows, but is still painting. He’s had a bit harder time of getting his college classes online – part of his courses involve public speaking, so he needs to deal with videos.

So, my new normal takes the word out of the quotations and into reality. I’m mostly retired from teaching (only have the one aforementioned course), so my routine hasn’t been disrupted a whole lot. With my husband no longer going out to teach his classes (he teaches four), he’s around a lot more so we’re figuring out how to do the tasks we want to do (I’m still writing, btw!) without getting in each other’s way.

Some people write up strict schedules and use those to plan and guide their day. Others create day-by-day meal plans and follow them almost religiously. Since I teach, I’m used to creating lesson plans that I stick to (Mostly. One always must take into account the Teachable Moment).

The workspace of an artist.
If you like his work, check out Steve Duprey or DupreyArt
on Facebook!
Except, at home my hubby and I are more free-wheelers. Always have been and we’ve decided that’s still a part of our normal that isn’t changing. I write when I want, he paints when he wants. We have separate work spaces in the house and that allows room for our individual creativity. We eat when we’re hungry, skip meals when we’re not and we manage just fine.

Yet normal is changing even for us. With my daughter gone and just the two of us in the house again, that’s one adjustment. Being over 60 (not by much, thank you very much CDC – I am NOT elderly!) means grocery shopping during “senior hours” – that’s another shift. Not being able to see my Dad or my brother (they’re both in assisted living) is a harder change, but that’s why we invented the phone.

As the saying goes, life goes on….until it doesn’t. And until it doesn’t, change is a part of life (if you noticed, one of the changes I’ve mentioned would’ve happened with or without the virus. Daughters have a tendency to grow up and leave the house).

So curl up with a good book, a good movie, or a good view. Accept the changes, make them the new normal, and, if you’re lucky (like I am – I understand that retirees have the easier part of this), just keep swimming!

Stay and play safe,

P.S. If you haven’t taken a look at the Authors Give Back sale at Smashwords, be sure to take a peek. ALL my titles are 60% off from now until April 20th. And yes, that makes about a half dozen or so FREE!

Updated to fix typos. Thanks, Kim W.!

Friday, March 13, 2020

I'm not panicked...

To say the last few days have been a whirlwind is to discredit the life-upending capability of a whirlwind. You know that ancient curse? The one that goes, “May you live in interesting times?” Guess what…these days are certainly interesting!

I’m not one to panic. When reports of toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages hit the airwaves, I was more puzzled than concerned. Until we were down to our last few rolls of toilet paper and I went to the store to buy more. There were fewer than a dozen packages on the shelves. I bought one 12-roll package, knowing it would do us for a few weeks and hoping there will be more when these run out.

The hand sanitizer also puzzles me. Doesn’t that kill bacteria? And COVID-19 is viral. How is that going to help? Seems to me the Clorox wipes are more useful there. And soap. Thankfully, my husband decided to try his hand at making his own soap this past fall, just because he wanted to learn the process. We’re well-stocked as a result.

But the changes have been coming fast and furious. This is my favorite of the memes and feels like my current mode of operation.

To date:
On Wednesday, classes were moved online at Finger Lakes Community College, where I teach. I spent most of the day getting one class discussion up and ready to go when the students return from spring break – which has been stretched to two weeks instead of one. So one less three-hour session in which to get everything across.

Also on Wednesday, I went to do my normal grocery shopping (see “toilet paper” above). Again, not panicked, but because it was my shopping day. Decided it might be wise to get a package of cold medicine, just because we’re out. Bought both the kind I like and the one my husband prefers. One of each. Stocking up, not hoarding.

My husband, who has spent much of his adult life as a theatre director, took some time to tread the boards in a local production for the first time in several years. The play: Metamorphoses (a dramatization of Ovid’s work of the same name), the part: Midas. It’s been cancelled. The cast met together last night (Thursday) for the last time – on the set that had been built yesterday.

My daughter lost her job this afternoon (Friday) She is an assistant stage manager at Geva Theatre in Rochester, NY – and they just cancelled all performances of both stages. She’d already lost a job she was to start in a few weeks because the University of Rochester has shut down. Unemployment, anyone?

Both my Dad and my brother live in assisted living facilities. They’ve shut down and are allowing no visitors other than the one appointed caregiver (me, in both cases). I’ve made sure they have what they need, but won’t be going to visit unless needed as I don’t want to carry anything to them.
Because that’s the kicker. I could be carrying the virus right now and have no idea. THAT’S the real reason for all the cancellations and postponements. The virus may already be here…and may not. There is no way to tell. By the time you have the chills and fever, you’ve already given it to a hundred others.

So I’m staying home, writing, reading, getting a few of my quickies put into a print book format, playing games on my computer, and teaching from my study. Am I a carrier? Probably not. Do I want to risk infecting others? Absolutely not. Staying home helps “flatten the curve” so our health care system doesn’t get overworked and I’m good with that, too.

Here’s hoping our times get just a little less interesting soon!

Play safe, and buy a good book!

Sunday, March 01, 2020


Smashwords is celebrating "Read an Ebook Week" with a sale and all my books are 25% off. Head on over to my page to fill in your collections!

Yes, EVERY SINGLE BOOK is on sale, even Mystic Shade's and CF. Duprey's (two other names I write under).

This doesn't happen often, so CLICK HERE and get 25% off ebooks in every file type (have a Kindle? No problem! Download the epub file. Read online? There's an HTML file. Pdf, mobi...they're all there and they're ALL on sale!

Play safe!
Diana (who is lovin' the exclamation points today!)