” Who wills,
Can.
Who tries,
Does.
Who loves,
Lives.

—- Anne McCaffery

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Posted in Fiction, Life, Writing

The Infamous Jennisfora strikes back at her allergies…and loses?

Been suffering from allergies or a cold or something for a few days now and I am all ready sick of it. Can’t seem to find anything that really works at getting rid of the symptoms which are not life threatening by any means.

They are just a hindrance. I am taking some time off but I have to catch up on some things and am also doing a fair amount of sleeping which seems to help me get over these things. Just grateful I can be writing and drinking coffee today. I’m over due for a post. I think I will follow this up with a writing prompt and then I may start working on one of my novels. Maybe both. For once I have time. Been working a lot so, I am going to try and not take time too much for granted. You only have so much of it, and when it is gone, it’s gone.

 

Posted in Life, Writing

Spring Is Here… Or Another Post on Renewal

It is now Sunday evening and I have a long week ahead of me working in a new environment which always makes me strangely nervous. I am always most comfortable with routine and the expected but I know part of growing as a person is being able and willing to take risks. Which means getting uncomfortable at times.

I generally like spring. It is a time of renewal, a time for change, and growth and new things coming up out of the ground. The days start to get a little longer, it rains a lot which can be soothing. It isn’t hot or cold, although it can be windy here. It is another opportunity to check in with your life, where you are at and where you want to get to.

Spring cleaning and starting over and getting organized is something I always attempt. Every year I tell myself I am going to do better and more than the year before, but I always seem to fall short. I think this year I will set my goals  more realistically. I want to organize my desk, and grow this blog and make progress on both novels.

Even if it is just a few pages or a few hundred people more, that is something. I am going in the right direction. I would love to eventually make an income with  my writing instead of working myself to death. Here’s to the future. May it be bright and give you all happiness and success to any that pass this way.

I believe in being grateful and hopeful for myself and others. I really believe that a person’s thoughts and actions can have a real effect and power on what happens around them. It certainly can’t hurt, so I do my best at spreading positivity wherever I can.

*Hugs* JennRae.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Inspiration and the Idea of the Muse

I am sure all the writers out there have different ways for finding inspiration. It isn’t a one size fits all type of thing. For me, I often use headphones and music to help me get in the  mood. For action scenes I often use tunes that are taken from soundtracks. These soundtracks are often movies, but also video games or even television shows. Defiance has an amazing score that I can listen to looped. Bear McCreary also did the soundtrack for the Battlestar Galactica Reboot, and I just love how he uses instrumentation with synth type sounds. It just says, “this is sci-fi, buckle your seats.” Defiance Soundtrack.

If I want a more fantasy style drama, anything Lord of the Rings will do. Or Enya, or Yanni, or anything by Yasunori Mitsuda, the composer responsible for the unforgettable and unbelievably amazing ChronoCross score. For those that are  not into video games, or older video games, ChronoCross was a game for the Playstation, a Sony console that came out around the same time as the Nintendo 64. This was the system that launched Sony into gaming and finally gave Nintendo some competition other than Sega.

Mitsuda often mixes almost Celtic style sounds with American Indian, mixed with Japanese and a hint of new age. And it works. Amazingly well. So well, you can still get the soundtrack even though the game itself is not that popular, plus it is like twenty years old or more now. For those that may be curious : Chrono Cross OST

There are a few orchestral versions out there as well, that are very well done. Video Games Live put out a  Through Time and Space compilation that has a beautiful version of Scars of Time, one of the defining songs of the game. Of course, Final Fantasy also has a ton of amazing music that I listen to as well, especially orchestral versions of FF7 and older. I just prefer the oldies. But Chronocross has a special place in my heart perhaps because it is a little more obscure. Video Games Live Scars of Time.

Now, if I want something like a tragic love scene, I listen to everything from Adele, to the Carpenters. I have a sad love song playlist just for this. And, a happy love song list, and a dramatic list, and a more action like list. The headphones also help block out the distractions of the television, the cat and whatever else may be going on. It kinda makes me focus and set aside time that is undivided and just for writing which I find useful.

How do you get inspired? What helps kick start your writing? Do you believe something or someone can be your muse? I have been inspired by people more than once, sometimes they don’t even know they actually inspired me. Actually, that is usually the case.

Overhearing bits and pieces of conversations at coffee shops or in the laundromat is why I love writing in public spaces. But sometimes, a certain person will inspire me more than most. That is my muse, and the music of course always helps. I find I am most inspired when I get inspired by people and the music and life experiences. It all helps. I would say not one person or thing is my muse, but the collective environment around me is usually my muse.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Happy Valentine’s Day — The Day After

I have  mixed feelings this time of year. I miss having a partner or a shoulder to lean on and this particular day always seems to make me more self conscious that I am a single mom. I know if I wanted someone with a pulse I could have someone easily.

I am not bad to look at, I would even call me pretty. I am fairly intelligent. Not the smartest person I know, but I would still think I am above average for sure. I try to be kind, respectful and understanding. Do I always succeed? No, but that is part of being human.

We are flawed, but I have always believed doing your best was good enough and all one can expect. I like to reach for the stars, but I don’t beat myself up for not quite getting there. Because I know that isn’t realistic.

But somehow when it comes to dating and finding someone; I am way too picky, and I just don’t find many people I can relate to. And, often when I do, they are either taken, or not interested, or somehow unavailable emotionally or somehow unable to show affection in some capacity.

I guess my picker is broken as they say. I guess I feel I have to be picky because the last serious relationship I had ended unexpectedly and suddenly for me. The signs were there, if I had been paying attention. Little hints, comments mixed within casual conversation, a sudden edginess or irritability that when I asked what was wrong I was told repeatedly “nothing.”

Of course, something was wrong, but the communication pathways were all ready being shut. The escape plan was all ready set in motion. The replacement was all ready found. When the end came, I didn’t see it. Maybe because I didn’t want to, maybe because he didn’t want me to.

People often don’t want to hurt my feelings because I seem nice. What they fail to understand is, not telling me, not explaining things, walking away without explanation or any sort of closure, does way more damage than hurting my feelings.

Your mind does crazy things when you have no answers. You tend to fill in the blanks with reasons and excuses. You tend to make up reasons, and you wonder what is happening and how all this came to be.

Eventually things fade, and go away, but the damage in this instance was pretty bad. The collateral damage done to my young son lasted years, as the thoughtless promise “I always come back” the young toddler took literally. He waited years for this person to come back. No explanation from me seemed to work, only time has helped and I am still left with some separation anxiety, and worries about abandonment.

I have been on dates since that time. Get back on the horse and try again and all that. But, I am reluctant to get serious because of what happened and have found myself increasingly picky about who passes muster. Perhaps gravitating toward unavailable people is a way of protecting myself from getting hurt, but it hurts all the same.

I hope this year enables me to find someone willing to work with me and see the diamond underneath the damaged exterior and is willing to stand by me as I rediscover my strengths because I do have a lot to offer and I do believe in true love.

I am an optimist at heart and I can’t stop believing somewhere there are people out there who can appreciate a sensitive kind soul who just wants to love and be loved in return. Not looking for someone with wealth or to be taken care of, just someone to share the journey.

Good luck to all, and much happiness to any that pass this way. I love love, but it is a difficult topic for me at times. Most of the time I am not lonely, but this time of year just seems to bring up the bad as well as the good.

But if I have learned anything, it is that things can always change and that the future is full of hope and that life is what you make of it and I am proud of how much writing I have been doing and of what a wonderful person my son is becoming.

Life can be hard but it can also be beautiful and I am learning to treasure the moments and see the light instead of the darkness. Because my life has been pretty blessed and I have to make myself stop and think how it could be always be worse and that my life is only getting better. I have a roof over my head and food and the love of my family and a decent income. My life is actually pretty good. Perhaps I work too much, perhaps I tend to take things for granted, perhaps I could be wiser, or more frugal at times.

Perhaps I can improve. I am trying to focus on me and improve my physical health and organize around the house, and I have been meditating and trying to learn patience and generally be a better person. I don’t know the future, but I know I have learned from my past and I feel it is time to let the past baggage go and try again. So, I am going to be braver, and take more risks.

I am also going to be smarter and think carefully before jumping into things. I am going to take my time. Time is precious but you tend to miss warning signs when you are in a hurry. And, I feel that love is very important. I want to make good memories and have no regrets.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Happy New Year! And a Quick Overview of My Goals and My Fight with Social Anxiety

Another year will die tonight and the new year will be born. I love New Year’s because I love the ability to start over and renew myself and who I am. I always feel like it is a good time to embrace change and forgive myself for my failings. It is a good time; a new time. And, I usually embrace it.

I feel pretty happy with life in general right now. Sometimes I feel perhaps a bit too isolated due to my constant fight with social anxiety and the ability to enjoy life and working way too  much. It is funny but I love one on one interactions, it is the larger groups of people that make me nervous. I know that the crowd won’t hurt me, but the anxiety can be so intense that I have the desire to flee running from the building, and I have. I have actually ran out of more than one building. If I stay, I must really really care. A lot. Because it is sheer terror, so, if I stay for you, yeah, it is something monumental. It means a lot, I don’t do that for many people.

I have been forcing myself to be braver and take more risks and force myself to sit in crowds in church, and other places. It is a struggle, like always, but dealing with irrational phobias usually is because they are irrational by nature.

Sometimes writing in a coffee shop can be energizing because of the conversations swirling around me but then I am separate from the crowd. I am safely ensconced by my computer while they engage in human interaction as I silently observe and take mental notes for future dialogue possibilities or character traits.

Somehow I can stay, maybe the laptop is  magical. Or maybe it is my shield from the world encroaching on me, suffocating me. I am going to attempt to attend a New Year’s party, wish me luck, and partly I am doing this to attempt to end the phobia by exposure to the cause of the fear. Maybe it has helped, but the anxious feeling seems to always be there, it never goes away completely. Maybe it never will.

My motto for this year and my goals are simple. Write more, at least something daily, stay in shape, and strive to be a better human by conquering my fears and experiencing success. I also hope to find love, preferably amazing true love, but you know, maybe I am asking for a bit too much for one year. To all that pass this way, good fortune, and may your dreams come true and much success for you and your loved ones!

*hugs* from JennRae

Posted in Fiction, Life, Writing

Merry Christmas, Happy belated birthday to Philip K Dick and Michael Moorcock, and of course, Humphrey Bogart and any others I may have forgotten —Part 1

Okay, with the title out of the way, this is my belated post that I mentioned I would write. The one where I go on and on about Dick, and mention Moorcock, but mostly talk about Mr. Dick.  I assure you this post is about writing, and ideas, and fantasy and science fiction.

The reason for the Bogart mention, is besides the fact I am a huge fan of his movies, he was also a huge fan of writers and writing. So, I think a happy birthday is definitely in order, besides the old detective genre of movies has definitely affected how Hollywood portrays some of Philip K Dick’s stories. Blade Runner and Total Recall both have a taste of them, Blade Runner especially, has almost a feel of a Maltese Falcon type of feel with the detective/policeman voice over. My brain which is full of associations paused and just thought, ‘Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, Millennium Falcon, Star Wars, Maltese Falcon, Bogart.’ It can be truly wondrous how the brain works as I have recently seen Rogue One, and binged West World, my mind is just full of interesting connections right now.

In fact, Rogue One resurrected Peter Cushing much like an episode of TV did Bogart, to reprise a role. West World owes much in ideas and even its existence to Blade Runner, more than the original West World, which heavily influenced The Terminator which starred Schwarzenegger who starred in Total Recall, which was based on We Can Remember it For You Wholesale by Dick.

My brain is spinning from the universal connections some of these ideas have. To write something that permeates society so deeply and shows up so unexpectedly in so many different ways is I think many writer’s dream. I would say all writers but that begs an arrogance that I don’t possess.

I can’t know what all writer’s want, but I know what I would like. I don’t need fame, money is nice, but being rich has never been a goal of mine except as a child perhaps, but what I do crave is having a sense of permanence. Leaving something behind when I am gone, a deep carving in the rock saying ‘I was here. I lived, and I mattered, and this is what I stood for, this is what was important to me, this is my contribution to society. to my family, to myself, to the world.’

I think from what I have read of Philip K Dick, that he felt similarly. I can’t say the same because I will never know, but from the quotes I found, from the stories I read, he had a deep philosophical bent, which I also like to think I have in my writing, and meaning and legacy seem to have been a big deal. He had an existential streak that I also have, where the meaning of being alive, what it means to be human, what it means to exist was in the background of many of his stories sharing a strong strand of what does it mean to be real, what is reality, another question that I love to deal with. He was so effective at these two questions that I have found them, along with what is true, or the truth,  are the back bone of every story he wrote.

I received as a present a few years back a great book called the Philip K Dick Reader, it has all the short stories in one place. I know I have mentioned this in other posts, but I am a big fan of omnibus volumes.  I had seen the movies, I think Minority Report had come out sometime before I got the book and I expressed a desire to read the story. It always interests me in where adaptations decide to diverge and what they leave out, and add in. I have read Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and complained throughout the Depp movie  that was based on it because it just shared the name pretty much but not much else, so it is a double edged sword, knowing the actual stories, sometimes it ruins the suspension of disbelief that is required to make it real.

But, with Dick, even when it diverges, it is like the essence, the reason behind the story creeps in. Hollywood cannot get rid of the message, it is in too deep. Total Recall is a good example. It has a lot of 80’s action movie and heavy cussing in it, it is a Verhoeven film more than a Dick story, by far. But the thing is, the actual story is so short and I can honestly say they needed to add more to the plot to make it work. It couldn’t be faithfully adapted into a two hour movie, and that is largely the case with Dick’s work.

In the end, the story has an ambiguous ending, you can’t definitively say whether he actually was a secret agent that went to Mars, or whether he was a vegetable at the vacation place, you can interpret it either way, and the movie stayed true to that. Both interpretations work which makes you question what is real, which is the question behind the story, and the movie itself, despite all the explosions and distractions that were added to make it flashy.

Minority Report I felt was mostly true to the story, I expected it to be further removed honestly because that is the trend with Dick’s work, and in general. The movie Adaptation deals with this quite well, actually. Basically it is a writer’s job and purpose to create, to recreate another person’s dream and be totally faithful to it is hard, because in the end we all want to create something new. It is a struggle because is any idea new, then becomes a question in of itself.

I also binge watched season two of The Man In the High Castle. This is an amazon show, so if you have prime it is easy to watch because you have all ready paid for it in a sense by being a member. You don’t have to buy it again, or pay for it and it is all out there to watch, no waiting each week for an episode to air. I didn’t quite enjoy season 1, so I wasn’t eagerly awaiting season 2. In fact, I only watched it because it came out around Mr Dick’s birthday, so I felt like maybe I should at least see it. And, you know what, season 2 was actually very very good.

It even had some Dick-ish themes going along in the background. What is reality? What is the truth? What is good what is evil? Can doing a horrible deed end up being the right thing to do? I haven’t read The Man in the High Castle, unfortunately, I have heard that the series diverges a great deal, and that isn’t surprising. But, I can say, that I felt the message behind it, the feeling, the questions in the background, are true to his work. So, the writers kept that in. I am starting to wonder if it is possible to remove this quality from his stories, as even the most crazy adaptation has it insidiously there, somewhere in the background, you just can’t remove it.

Back to Blade Runner, because it also isn’t a particular faithful adaptation. I have read Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?, it is a great story. Much like We Can Remember it For You Wholesale, it is short, and I can see the need to add much to the plot to make it a full length film. Dick loved Blade Runner, and saw it as an improvement on his story. The fact that it didn’t replicate his story didn’t seem to bother him, he in fact was honored that the creative team managed to spin this story out of his own. Ultimately, the question behind both stories remain, what does it mean to  be human? What does it mean to be alive? West World the TV show deals with the same questions as well as the movie AI, which was based on a Brian Aldiss story, which I have also read.

Yes, the movie again departs heavily from the source, but it is also a series of short vignettes. So, of course it would diverge by necessity.Aldiss was annoyed by the merging of his story with the story of Pinocchio, but again, Pinocchio deals with what it means to be human, to be real, what makes him a puppet and how he eventually becomes a real boy. When there are no more real boys, will the close approximation of one be a real one as it is the most real one in existence?

The same questions are asked and the story of the other, and how we treat who we regard as the other is dealt with similarly. Whoever is considered less than is seen as a threat, and ultimately considered disposable. The African slaves are an example of this in real life, the American Indians, the Australian aborigines, anytime someone is considered the ‘Less Than’ by others they are treated horribly and sometimes eradicated as a perceived threat. We are threatened by things we cannot understand, and robots, computers, androids are good representations of this fear, of this irrational destructiveness we have toward the unknown or the misunderstood of the perceived ‘Less Than.’

We can use science fiction to look at these problems in a way that gets around any programming we may have received in our lives. You can have false beliefs toward a whole group of people than watch someone mistreat a robot on a TV show or in a book, and just maybe it can open your mind, and cause you to question the very belief that you think of as reality even though what you witnessed on TV or in a book is outlandish and far from real.

By taking it out of reality, it allows us as people to question reality. By being supremely unreal and untrue, we can learn real truth.I feel that Dick knew that, and played on that in his works. A Scanner Darkly deals directly with what is real, perceived reality versus a definitive reality. I think what is real is one of fiction’s greatest questions and it can be asked in so many interesting ways.

Posted in Fiction, Life, Uncategorized

‘Tis The Season–Or Another Update…

Life is now getting kinda hectic with work getting heavier and heavier. Just checking in so that you all know that I am breathing and writing the new novel. Have actually written over a dozen pages and have more mapped out. Still trying to decide on a couple different endings. One is bittersweet and the other perhaps a trifle ambiguous. And, then there is the third more saccharine  sweet option, but unless the characters pull me in an unusual direction it won’t be that one. I rarely do sweet.

Maybe because sweet doesn’t feel real to me. My actual experiences may have started off sweet but they rarely end so. Endings that I enjoy writing and reading are the ones that make you stop and go hmm. They make you think or question yourself, maybe teach you something new or make you look at something in a different light. I also love the ones that make you cry or laugh. The ones that tug at the heart strings. Simple and sweet just doesn’t normally make the cut, but maybe I will take pity on my heroine and give her some love for once.

There’s enough death and destruction in the real world, do I really need to punish my fictional people with it too? Like my other novel, I find I have a plan to follow but the passion takes me in new directions making me question some of the planned ideas. The end result will be a mix between the two as I am determined not to let this one derail. I have some handwritten notes to type up and some decisions to be made and I have to write around work and the kid, so, it will be slow going but I will get there. Thanks to all for the support. I hope you are all writing well and had more success at NaNoWriMo than I did.

I will be returning in January for a profile on J.R.R. Tolkein. I will post a short post around the 18th or try to, to say happy birthday to Michael Moorcock, another of my fantasy finds a la thrift store. I will also do a post around the 16th, I may make them the same post, for Philip K Dick. One of my favorite sci-fi authors, I will probably touch on Blade Runner, and Total Recall as they were based on his short stories, as well as Minority Report.

January birthdays that I will cover also include Edgar Allen Poe on the 19th, and Philip Jose Farmer on the 26th. Both pioneers, one  in horror/suspense, the other in sci-fi. Whew, going to be a busy couple of months! Happy Holidays to any that pass this way, and good fortune to you and your loved ones! *hugs* JenRae.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Giving Thanks

As I recover from over eating and begin to think about this holiday of Thanksgiving, which was made a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in an attempt to heal a fractured nation, I ask did it work? I’m not sure, but I do like the essence of this holiday regardless.

I believe gratitude is important and giving thanks is one way of expressing gratitude which I try to do for at least a few minutes each day. I think it is very important to stop and take stock of what you have, why you have it, and to remind ourselves that we are blessed.

That no matter how little material things you may have, the fact that you can read this, that you most likely have electricity and access to the internet, that hopefully you had food in your belly and water to drink is in fact something wondrous. Something as simple as being able to breathe can be taken for granted, but it is something we unconsciously do thousands and thousands of times each day.

Even if we are more privileged than this basic level, if we have a job, and an income, a vehicle or the ability to support a family, that is significant. There is someone out there who wishes they could do this or had that, that is just a dream of theirs but a reality for some.  Others are even more blessed and have a surplus income and what seems like a dream life.

Whether they are happy or not only they can know. I do not have this blessing. Sometimes I wish I had more money because I feel the stress of paycheck to paycheck survival and no matter if I get a raise or a windfall, something seems to always happen where these reserves are suddenly needed and therefore need to be used up.

Life does have a funny way of working out, and I truly believe if you practice gratitude every day you are less likely to take your life for granted, are more likely to appreciate what you have, and are more likely to be happy with your life because you know how lucky you are, or how things could always be worse.

We are all survivors of our own maze which is customized specifically for our trials and tribulations. One person’s journey will not be like another’s, so even if someone lives in a mansion and seems happily married and seems to have everything going for them, it is important to know you do not know their journey, you can’t know what they are going through or where they came from or where they will be in the future. Someone that is begging on the streets may actually be happier and appreciate the sandwich in their hand at that very moment from a kind stranger, whereas the person in the mansion could be a prisoner  of a debilitating depression.

I believe true wisdom comes from learning from our mistakes and withholding judgment. Knowing our own journey, and being the best we can be every day. Doing the right thing even if it isn’t the easy thing, and always thinking of the consequences of our actions and who they might effect and how. But withholding judgment of another’s actions while we refocus on our own.

So what am I grateful for? I am grateful for a family that loves me even when I make a poor choice. They may berate me or roll their eyes, but I know when I am broken down someplace they will answer their phones and help me out in a moment’s notice. Not everyone has that.

I am grateful for a healthy, wonderful ,smart son, even though he can be a challenge but there are some who have not been as lucky. I am blessed that he is healthy. I can only imagine the pain of parents who aren’t as fortunate.

I am grateful that I have a roof over my head with heat and light, a working fridge and food to eat, water to drink, a working car, a decent job, and the ability to write words. And an audience willing to read these words.

I am grateful for my health, for still feeling young at heart, for being able to still love and be loved. I know I am capable of it and able to accept it which is something. I have not been hardened or jaded by the past. Not everyone can say that. I am alive. Every day is a gift. I will try harder not to waste this gift because it is precious and not something which can be replaced.

 

*Hugs to all. And Happy Thanksgiving!*