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Dystopian Dreams for a Suburban Family

The new doomsday prepping is dystopia survival. So-called "doomsday prep" only works if you have a bug-out plan to somewhere that isn't doomed or if the Walmart reopens after a few weeks. To me, "doomsday" doesn't imply a temporary disaster like a hurricane or an avalanche. It means that the status quo is irrevocably lost. Surviving most big and permanent changes requires building social connections and learning new things, not hiding out in a bunker.

Long-term survival requires a permanent adaptation to a new normal. Because no matter how many SpaghettiOs you hoard, stockpiling alone won't give you enough time to adapt if you haven't started long before the first disaster.

Examples: Here is what it's like to survive a natural disaster, if you are one of the richest and "prep"-piest people on Earth. Below is what it's like to survive a two-week winter power outage in record-shattering low temperatures, if you are a basic suburbani…
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Love in the Season of Hurricanes

If you are able to contribute time or resources to disaster relief, please see the Red Cross website for ways to help those affected by Hurricane Irma.

The following is a (mostly) lighthearted post about folks who got through the weekend safely.

September continues with a beautiful wedding! One of my besties from all the way back in high school married her handsome Southern sweetheart at a gorgeous campsite in the mountains of North Carolina. It was a beautiful weekend despite some behind-the-scenes disasters, plagues, and a looming hurricane. The bride and groom are both trained in wilderness survival, so there wasn't much that could have stopped them from pulling it off.

We're not all as badass as these two, but we managed to do our parts to hold it together. I gave a reading on the canoe lake dock where the ceremony took place, and I didn't cry or fall in the lake. (Just almost.)

The legendary Esperanzita (who recently added "Ghost video extra" to her resume, f…

Saving September

I'm sure you've heard that America has cracked right in half, with one side flooded and the other on fire. And there's not enough money for relief, because it's all earmarked to persecute the only people who actually want to live here. The news, from local reports all the way to the BBC and Al Jazeera, has been awful.

At the last meeting of the esteemed Pigasus Pen (my noveling group), we agreed that the hilarious romance novels created by half of our team, Meika Usher and Christina Mitchell, are like psychological panic rooms where we can escape the horrors of Real Life for a laugh and a swoon that just might save our whole day--and our will to keep on writing. Pigasister Victoria Solomon needs strength to enter the turbulent, poisoned waters of YA lit's mean girls, and I need a little sugar to fuel my epic journey through a tale of serial killers and child slavery.


And romance novels alone aren't going to save the day. They are an essential componen…

Staying in the [Construction] Zone

Welcome, September! My street has been under construction ALL SUMMER LONG. I am eager for the project to be finished so that we will have a lovely sidewalk and bike lane and smooth road surface and upgraded sewer and gas lines (all such wonderful things), and also I am eager for an end to this constant and severe level of noise, house-shaking vibration, dust, fumes, and the uncertainty of where we can park our vehicles each day and whether/how we can enter or exit our street at all. It's been so bad that some of the neighbors, including folks with disabilities or advanced ages, have resorted to evacuating their homes.

I always try very hard to make the best of things and roll with the stuff I can't control--like the weather and other issues that have dragged out this construction work past the first day of school. The work has been starting at about 7:00 a.m., seven days a week, prompting me to get up very early to write (before the house starts shaking and rattling hard enoug…

"To Please the Moon": Fall-ing into a Healthy Routine

The magic of autumn has seized the countryside; now that the sun isn't ripening anything it shines for the sake of the golden age; for the sake of Eden; to please the moon for all I know. ― Elizabeth Coatsworth, Personal Geography: Almost an Autobiography
Oh, is it still August? Well, I can't help myself. Autumn is my favorite season. This isn't just because I have a hard time with summer. This year, I'm feeling extra relieved and hopeful about the transition to fall, for two reasons.

One is that children from families who struggle to provide safe care during school breaks, and families coping with domestic violence, have a much harder time in the summer. School provides safe space for much of the day and connects the children with counseling and intervention professionals. So I breathe a huge sigh of relief when school begins, not just for the usual reasons that all parents do (I feel you, Mom who has booked a spa day on the first day of school!), but because I have …

Dancing with the Storm

This week, it feels like the world is consumed by fire and floods. There are the literal ones. And all over America, hate crimes are on the rise. To illustrate the doom, here is an article posted by a conservative news outlet acknowledging the unprecedented spike in hate crimes this year--and also wrongfully placing blame upon the nonviolent Black Lives Matter movement for inspiring white supremacists to join hate groups and commit acts of violence. It ends by asserting that there is no hope, and domestic terrorism is the new normal for America. [Edit: Here is a way more interesting story about an interview with that guy with the flamethrower.]

Oh, and that's not all.

I'm not just seeing this hatred in the news. It's here, in my own backyard. A local LGBTQ activist's house was set on fire last week, killing her pets. I've heard reports of Nazi propaganda flyers going up in nearby neighborhoods, with razor blades taped to the back for people who reach out to tear t…

It Rubs the Lotion On Its Skin... Despacito

We writers love to talk about the soundtracks we listen to as we write. Romance writers listen to love songs. Writers of fantasy or real medieval times listen to (Try it, it's awesome.) While I wrote The Grove of Thorismud, I listened to that, plus a whole lot of Rammstein mixed with Dead Can Dance, Anonymous 4's 1000: A Mass for the End of Time, and The Tea Party (a gamer-dork Canadian rock band that plays Led Zeppelin riffs on Middle Eastern instruments and has refused to sell the domain name to the American political movement, even for a cool million--rock on, old dudes).

For my new work in progress, Matka Danu Miklagarth, I mostly listen to nothing but early-morning nature sounds from the open window next to my writing desk. (Ahh, so nice.) When I do put on music to drown out construction noise or whatever, I use things like the Vikings TV show soundtrack or something else that nods to the different ethnic backgrounds of the characters I'm w…