I now have a channel on Twitch so you have an opportunity to hang out with me while I’m reading antique books, editing photographs, researching photographs, writing, and doing historic document research. As a general warning: my research on primary documents from the 19th and early 20th century can be disturbing. I find out information on what society believed during this time period that may be distressing to some individuals, so viewer discretion is advised.
On occasion I would like to also get our uploading capabilities set such that I can play Steam games with friends, or even Among Us.
Each stream will be titled based on what I am doing. I will get side tracked. In my first stream today I got side tracked with a hand-and-cheek tug-o-war vaudevillian style impromptu comedy performance and it was *fun*. Other interruptions you can expect will include Nyxie playing the piano and Jacob popping into chat.
It’s 2020. I need an excuse to start putting on make up and doing my hair. I need an excuse to start speaking aloud to get used to the sound of my own voice again. I need to interact with human beings outside the house in a way that isn’t potentially life threatening.
I haven’t come up with a streaming schedule yet. Most likely it will be for only a couple hours at a time Monday through Friday. Any weekend hours will be a shocking surprise.
As I work to get this set up, I appreciate patience. At this time, I am limited by frustrations with Spectrum internet being our only option and also *the worst*. Don’t know what I mean?
This is my maximum capability right now.
That’s not really great if I want to interact with people or do much on Twitch. So, we’re working on it. I’m looking forward to being able to interact in real time.
My first stream went live and I hope I didn’t scare too many people away as we were discussing John Cowan, M.D.’s 1915 version of his book “The Science Of A New Life” where we examined an example of the intersection early feminism, the Temperance Movement, the American Eugenics Movement, American Spiritism, Mesmerism, and the many other social movements that were going on prior to the U.S.’s involvement in World War I.
“I want to feel the brass and hold it. Feel the movement of each piece and know I’ll be able to calibrate it for him,” I whine to the cat. The autumn winds blowing down from Alaska drown out my words as they wind their way over the Rockies.
Staring at the pictures, I imagine the heavy brass of my family’s sextant balanced in my clumsy hands as my father lets me look at it. His calloused palms poised to catch the instrument should I falter.
“This one won’t do.” I toss it into the mental pile of surveying and mapping equipment I look at; never purchase.
Who can afford to spend over a thousand dollars on something like this over the internet? I mentally discard another with a fancier, more modern black finish.
I call my parents. “I want to buy Jacob a sextant for his birthday. What’s the story behind ours? Does Dad have any advice?”
Thousands of miles of static and telephone lines crackle. “The one your dad has was your great grandfather’s from the maritime academy. Why do you want one for Jacob?”
I pause and shrug into the phone. “To record our locations for dark sky photography. GPS can’t be trusted out here.” I grasp my forehead and castigate my own thoughts. But I’m the one that knows how to use one for surveying, navigation, and astronomy – that would be a terrible gift.
I stare out at the horizon hidden by mountains and try to find the ocean beneath the curvature of the earth. Jacob doesn’t care about the difference between a mile and a nautical mile. What does he care about?
I catch him and ask about his feelings around flying and clouds pass over the sun – visibility down to less than 5 miles and he gives me a look that says VFR ain’t going to fly. He never got a seaplane rating and this dream is about to try a water landing without pontoons. “I don’t know when the next time I’m going to fly is. Please don’t get me anything that could be related to flying.”
I decide against getting him a sextant and reminisce about when we spent hours talking about the intersection of history where airplanes and ships used the same navigation systems and why. I stare at the stormy sea of sky lapping against the mountain sides and remember our last aerial photography trip. I order his birthday cake and continue to brainstorm better gifts.
Montana now has the highest rate of transmission of any state. Distracted, I stare at the news and try to process how dangerous it is to step outside. This was all predictable based on the behavior patterns of 1918.
Birthdays have to remain special in the face of COVID, so I order wine and check our reservation for the weekend. I check that his favorite decaf pop and breakfast cereal are in the pantry. I try and decide what else we should do to make it a special day about him.
While most of the United States has been living with this since March, Jacob has been living with COVID since it first hit obscure global news last autumn and I brought it home by explaining how diseases follow human behavior patterns. In February I set up forecasting models and told him how to prepare before the preppers drained the stores of paper products, resulting in channeled anxiety and full isolation.
My incredible husband and love of my life sits with me in my mind while I wonder how to celebrate someone as amazing as him. I think of bonfires, quality time, adventures, and our daily lives. I think about these acts of preparation and foresight and how they are gifts and acts of love in themselves.
I buy Jacob 2 books and 2 glass vessels for his birthday following the theme: Scientific Magic. I write a blog post about not buying a sextant and realizing that was a dumb gift idea. I refuse to spoil the surprise while I continue further preparations and celebrate his existence everyday.
Happy Birthday to my amazing partner and best friend, Jacob. I have many best friends, but you are the one I married and the one I celebrate today. My forever partner in adventure 💕
This post is about a black cat named Nyxie. We adopted her 3 weeks ago. She talks. A lot. It’s sometimes hard to get a word in with her full vocabulary of chirps, naws, maws, mows, woas, nos, and other amazing sounds.
Nyxie is settling in well and is now sleeping in the bed most nights. She is a very affectionate cat that will do gentle love nibbles if you stop petting her and she wants you to continue.
She has decided that there is one position that is her favorite to snuggle in. She likes to be attached to my hip. When she was picked up as a stray she weighed 6 lbs, but when we brought her home she was so sick and skinny looking. She spent a lot of time gaining enough weight to look healthy. I’m happy to report she’s back up to 6lbs!
Figuring Out Nyxie’s Personality
I wonder about her history and why she craves so much affection. I don’t know much about cat behavior, so I consult the internet. Cat personality tests are a thing, right?
First in my quest to better understand my cat’s mind I hit up this website I discovered via Google: Meowingtons. They have a list of the Big 5 Cat Personalities they call Neurotic, Extraverted, Dominant, Impulsive, and Agreeable. So I check out their descriptions.
I would absolutely peg Nyxie as neurotic. There’s something absolutely skittish about her. Every time Jacob or the dog flex a muscle in her presence she flies off the bed or wherever she is lounging. In general she’s fairly affectionate with me, but not with many other people.
According to this website neurotic cats thrive on being able to build confidence slowly and having plenty of opportunities to hide so they can do so on their own terms.
Crap. I think I’m neurotic.
Nyxie is absolutely extraverted. She cannot stand to be alone and gets bored very easily. She made friends with Haskell and plays with him, even though he’s in the “I’m angry at not being an only child so I’m going to poop in front of the cat tree” stage. She loves being loved.
It’s noted that extraverted cats need to be kept busy or they could become destructive. Combining this with her extreme dislike of having her toe beans touched (meaning it’s difficult to trim claws) is a bit of a recipe for disaster at the moment if we don’t keep her entertained.
Nyxie is not very dominant. I stand up to Haskell for her because he’s able to chase her off and I’m annoyed at him deciding it’s okay for him to be a little jerk. White dog being a jerk to a black cat right now? I’m not in the mood for that kind of theater.
Nyxie is definitely a little on the impulsive side, but just enough to be useful for problem solving. She likes climbing and getting interesting places. She is very curious about everything and wants to taste all of my house plants.
Interestingly, this website mentions that impulsive cats thrive on routine. Nyxie is a routine driven cat. It’s good to know that this is important to keep up.
Anyone want some succulents? I may need to re-home a few to save their lives.
The Personality Test
So then Jacob and I sat down to do this 2015 Buzzfeed Cat Personality Test. The not-so-scientific listicle experience of cat personality research has us intrigued now. How far can we take this? Time to anthropomorphize our cat to her fullest, purrrrforming potential!
Okay. Surprisingly, Jacob and I both found this as accurate as any human personality test (which is to say, we have our doubts, but it’s fun to play along).
Have You Done Pet Personality Tests?
I’d love to hear from people who have done pet personality tests or have thought extensively about animal personalities. I find every animal very unique and find animals much easier to read and understand than humans. This may be because I like them better than humans, but look at the world and tell me you blame me.
Thank you for taking time our of your busy day to spend a few moments with me. Did you enjoy this post? Please let me know in the comments or by liking this post!
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Unresolved situations are frustrating.
Example: If a character experiences trauma, they will be traumatized and then display signs of trauma as a result of the event.
To not experience trauma in response to a traumatic event indicates something other. This could be used as a literary device. If it is not being used as a device it is distracting and takes away from the work. Make sure all actions have consequences.
Does The Characterization Of Each Character Match Up With The Timeline?
Characters are on a journey. Each character is moving from A to B and some will go on to C or D. Along those paths each character is changed. This creates the timeline of a book. How a character is portrayed in a scene needs to match the point in the timeline a character is at.
Example: A character that is in her twenties thinks about bills and her job as opposed to a character in her teens that is thinking about school. Because of this, the relationships formed around these areas are most important in life and are the most emotionally impactful outside of family and those that might as well be family.
We Didn’t Go Anywhere
When the setting of a story changes it’s important to have some form of transition to show movement of time and place.
There are some stories that don’t include enough details about objective indicators of passage of time and check that they are consistent such that all of the details of the story align temporally.
There are some stories that don’t include them at all and it’s somehow eternal summer somewhere bizarre like Alaska.
There are some stories that include way too much detail. It’s overwhelming and distracting from the story. I am suddenly studying the passage of time and the changing of the seasons instead of the nature of man.
There are some stories that include lots and lots of details. So many details. All the details. But none of them align temporally, so suddenly April was both 6 months ago and 2 months ago with Winter only 3 months away. This is when I start getting headaches. James Joyce does this. A lot.
Characters Have Hidden Lives
It’s Okay To Have “Offensive” Characters
There’s a huge difference between an “offensive” character that upsets readers and an overdone inaccurate stereotyped character that upsets readers because it doesn’t resonate.
The best offensive characters speak to the group they’re offending because they are too accurate and too real. This will be upsetting to some people. That’s the kind of “offensive” I relish. There may be those that demand a content warning. Good – research is showing that content warnings increase the reads a piece gets much like good tagging because people are seeking them out.
I don’t care who the author is – I promise if you have done your research and shaped your character in a way that reveals truths in your observations, I will love your character even if people get really upset with you over it. Cut the wound deep and hit where it hurts, not where it’s been done ad nauseum unless it’s real. Reveal something no one else has, but remember that pen names exist for your protection.
Your Characters Have Conversations The ReaderDoesn’t Know About And Doesn’t See
An author cannot document everything. They are writing down a snapshot of a potential alternate universe that could exist because someone thought of it, right? That means all of those characters have private inner lives the reader can’t possibly know in its entirety. This means characters can have relationships with each other that are implied instead of explicitly stated. All of this helps to create depth.
It helps to come up with a full backstory for every character in a story even if it’s never talked about or mentioned. This will influence how dialogue is written and how hidden relationships between characters are revealed.
Your Characters Have Moods
Depending on your character’s internal state they will have a mood. This mood will translate into action or inaction in response to a stimulus and that will result in some consequence. Moods and energy levels related to exhaustion as an effect of the story timeline should all be cohesive.
Your Characters Of Different Cultures Are Going To Have Trouble Getting Along
Culture clash is real. The minority of people will be peaceful and fine and that’s great, but your characters aren’t the saints you think they are. Nope. They are averse to change and other cultures and view other as dangerous. This goes all ways. Be real – your characters from different cultures are going to be uneasy around each other and hesitant to make friends for legitimate reasons evolutionary wired in (if they’re humanoid).
Settings Are Places That Can Only Be KnownThrough Experience
Setting Descriptions Have A Time And Place With Characters In Them
It is not uncommon that I run into setting descriptions that are detached from the story either by the characters not interacting with the setting features or by the characters existing completely separate from setting descriptions.
By integrating setting details with the story as a whole the sensory experience can be the focus. The integrated sensory experience of the setting provides the reader with a greater sense of passage of time.
Settings Indicate Culture
Think about it – In the United States, if I set a story in the South a reader is going to anticipate a lot of passive aggressive saccharine manipulation straddled by y’alls happening. If I set a story in the Northeast, there’s a more WASPy social norm puppet show expectation.
But that’s based on the dominant culture of an area. What about when you’re writing about an area’s subculture?
I like to refer to framing subculture structures in writing as “country clubs” – it’s exclusive, you need to know someone to be someone, and there are generally specific central gathering places.
Make sure everything makes sense temporally
Ground the reader in temporal details outside the character
Offend by speaking the truth and make very effort to ensure that truth resonates in an effective and impactful way with the audience
Characters have conversations the reader won’t see but totally influence what the final dialogue will be.
Characters have inner lives, states, and energy levels that change as a result of the story. Write that.
Culture clash is real. Observe it and describe it. Be curious and nuanced. This gives a story so much depth.
Details of setting can be added to show passage of time in the story and immerse the characters and action in the location.
Settings indicate dominant culture and can somewhat indicate subcultures.
Thank you for reading! If you like this post on writing please like and let me know. What are things in books that drive you crazy?