Fantasy fiction, The Invisible Moth, writing, Young Adult fiction

Announcements on Publishing (Updates, Changes, and Generally Informative Nuggets)

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So, after a great deal of looking-into, inward-mental-over-and-around, silent debating and evaluating, I’ve come to the following decisions:

A) Volume 2 will start out its published life as an ebook (available through me, copyright me, basically all me for now), probably by August, but the release date has yet to be determined. (I shall request a small donation for this service, but every order comes with a free copy of my short story collection if you wish!)

B) In the interest of increasing sales and exposure with less work by myself, starting most likely by winter, I will be switching my choice of printing/distribution companies. This will mean a reprint of Volume 1 (more on that in a minute), as well as then eventually Volume 2 will be in print (and probably new editions of ebooks will one day come to fruition, too).

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C) I will be on the search for an artist to design my new covers. (This will extend to Volumes 3 and 4 as well.) I’m after a volunteer (since I can’t guarantee payment), whether it be a graphic artist, paint illustrator, or photographer (who would absolutely receive full credit for their contribution). Starting soon, I’ll be holding an open contest for my cover person! So keep your eyes peeled for that.

One reason for all of these changes is the cost factor; another is time; another is certainly keeping my stress level down. For those of you who have been around here for a while, it probably won’t be much of a surprise to hear me say that I really don’t need anything else in my life to stress me out. Doing the shipping myself is a bit tricky; I can handle it, but if I don’t absolutely have to, I’d like to take that option. Same goes for marketing; while that’s sort of an inevitable part of being an independent author, having greater exposure on the website of an actual store or company would help a lot in this area.

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When I started this whole endeavor, I knew very little about self-publishing, and being able to find a local company that was so patient and calm about helping me through the learning curve was, in my view, invaluable. I am so very grateful for having that opportunity. But also, now that I know a lot more, I feel more equipped to broaden my horizons.

And of course I wouldn’t have gotten very far at all without all of you. I remain so intensely grateful for and humbled by all the winning reviews, the support on social media and blogs, the encouraging word of mouth that has helped build me a solid base from which to increase my empire — ahem, I mean, to share my work.

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So, when I have the digital version of Volume 2 (Mach 1.0) ready to go, I will let everyone know! I’m aware that several people are very excited for this sequel, and I’m excited to see the initial responses!

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family, Parenting, reading, Young Adult fiction

On The Subject of Desensitization

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I’ve mentioned how I feel about this topic before. But lately it’s really been bothering me. And apparently it is not just me, as there are a lot of reviews popping up around the online world regarding extreme violence and inappropriate content in books aimed at younger readers.

In the past year, I’ve come across a long list (we’re talking a whole arm here) of novels marketed as YA that I would completely and utterly not let my 14-year-old son read. (Not until he’s 18, because then he’s allowed to make more of his own decisions about this sort of thing.) And honestly, as a parent, I’m really concerned that so many teenagers are reading them. I know a lot of college students and twenty-something adults do read YA as well, and that bothers me a lot less, because if this sort of content is intended for people over 17, then that’s a different matter.

But, seriously, what kind of society do we live in when we, mothers and fathers wanting to protect our children, see something labeled as “Young Adult” or “Juvenile,” and don’t check it out ourselves? And don’t give me the argument of, “Well, it passed the ratings board, so it must be fine.” IT MIGHT NOT BE. Do your own research, folks.

Anyway, so onto my major discussion issue for today: What sort of lessons are we instilling in our culture, our families, our future, when we act like gratuitous violence and sex in our entertainment is considered perfectly acceptable for 11-year-olds to stumble across?

And then when people bring up the very reasonable idea that this type of thing really isn’t cool, we’re called “too sensitive” or “overly emotional” and told to “get a grip” and “stop being such a wuss.”

Well, then, I’m a self-declared sensitive, emotional wuss — and I DON’T CARE what the naysayers think.

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And I truly feel I am not a prude for suggesting this is a healthy cultural approach.

I am not one for censorship. Seriously, I’m not. But I firmly believe there need to be stricter social guidelines — particularly around children — on many of these issues.

Remember when we were young (I remember when the Berlin Wall came down; use that as your rule of thumb for guessing my age), and on Friday nights we’d be allowed to stay up and watch something like an old James Bond movie, back when the sexual references were mostly discreet, the language was reserved, and the violence was so clearly stunt men overdramatically collapsing onto cardboard boxes? And after we went to bed, moms and dads would watch, say, Lethal Weapon, which would, by today’s standards, be rather tame?

So, this is the crux of my biscuit: I firmly believe we need to re-evaluate our standards.

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I am an adult; I am very aware of the horrors the real world knows. But choosing to be polite is far from the same as being ignorant. Wanting to keep my 3-year-old innocent a little longer is not overprotective parenting.

I support teenagers being informed. I do not support them becoming desensitized.

If we’re supposed to be teaching our kids to love everybody, then why are we also suggesting that the best way to deal with a disagreement is to blow up somebody’s house with fancy special effects (and stream it live)?

What’s the point of encouraging kids to wait until marriage for certain levels of physical intimacy, and then publish novels — sold next to the Nintendo games — that include graphic descriptions of such actions (between unmarried 16-year-olds)?

We are sending extremely mixed messages to the next generation. And we need to knock it off.

Having a YA novel with violence in it for context — and carefully selecting how we describe the violence — is not in itself bad. For example, what if part of the point of the story covers terrorism, war, a car accident, or a super-spy like Jason Bourne? And if I’m watching a medical drama like Grey’s Anatomy, I don’t mind fake human innards on an operating table, because the show is about surgeons. But would I recommend a 3rd grader sit down and watch Grey’s Anatomy with me? Dear God, no.

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We need to be disturbed when we drive past a car accident where somebody may be seriously injured. We need to dive under the covers while trying to watch Pet Semetary. (By the way, I don’t watch horror, anyway.) We should be concerned (and not laugh) when a 5-year-old repeats the f-word.

I am becoming more aware that many people who should be disturbed by these things are not. And that disturbs me. When we read a book or see a movie that has a scene graphically depicting the violent death of a child or animal, we need to be angry, heartbroken, and questioning why the writers/directors found it necessary to include that level of detail.

It’s why we root for the Winchester brothers in Supernatural, who are definitely not saints. It’s why we designate James Bond as the good guy — because, while flawed, he certainly is not an evil villain. Why we support Jason Bourne beating up a bunch of guys on his way to find the truth — because his ultimate goal is not pure, malicious vengeance.

Why, when faced with the ultimate Time Lord question, to go back and kill Hitler as a schoolboy, White Fang and I concretely say no — because what if, just this once, he turns out to be good?

It’s why I will no longer watch R-rated movies, or read R-rated novels. Why I am not letting my children near them. Why I am teaching them to respect and love people who don’t look like them, or make choices we may not agree with.

It’s why I won’t support (financially or otherwise) authors that are promoting messages distinctly opposite from this.

And why I will still keep them in my prayers.

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cats, children's fiction, Fantasy fiction, writing

Out of the Wild

Or…my (most likely only) attempt at a Warriors fanfiction…

The woods beyond his housefolk’s garden just seemed intimidating to Toby. For one, he didn’t like to get his paws wet, so he didn’t want to stray too close to the lake. For another, the Twoleg place where his housefolk and their neighbors lived was familiar, comfortable, and safe. At the lake, and in the woods, there were strange animals, and they could be dangerous to kittypets like Toby.

He had heard stories of wild cats living out there, in groups of fierce fighters, not afraid to defend their hunting grounds with tooth and claw. Some of the other kittypets, the brave ones who wandered further than their gardens, and even over the Thunderpath, had seen them. A few had even talked to these wild cats, who called themselves Warriors, and lived in a way most kittypets could never imagine.

But sometimes kittypets went to live with them. When the lake flooded several seasons ago, and some of the Twoleg families had to move away while their nests were being repaired, Frankie and Jessy from down the road had to seek shelter with the Warriors. It was the group called ThunderClan who took them in when their Twolegs had to leave the village. Jessy came back, and then went with her family to a town by the mountains. But Frankie stayed with ThunderClan. He came back to visit every now and again. Except he called himself Stormcloud now.

“Warriors have different kinds of names from kittypets,” he’d explain to anyone who gave him a confused look.

“Can you imagine?” said Rascal, who lived next to Toby. “Having to catch your own food, and sleeping outside in leaf-bare?”

“It’s not so bad,” shrugged Minty, who had stayed with Jessy and Frankie (er, Stormcloud) in the woods after the flood. “The Clans stick together, look out for each other.”

The Warriors hadn’t always lived by the lake. They had come from a forest far away; they had made a Great Journey to reach their new home here, after their forest was mostly cut down to build a new Thunderpath. The thought made Toby sad. He couldn’t imagine having to leave your home in that way, so quickly and against your will.

Because of that, and because some of the wild cats had helped kittypets after the flood, Toby felt sympathy, compassion, and a sort of respect and awe towards the Warriors. He knew Minty felt he wouldn’t be alive without their help.

But still, Toby wondered, if it was him, forced out of his cozy nest, having to hunt for himself, and sleep under the stars, in all kinds of weather, would he be all right? Would he ultimately choose the life of a Warrior, or return to the life he knew?

“One of our greatest leaders was born a kittypet,” Stormcloud told Toby one day. “His name was Firestar. He died before the flood happened, before my time with the Clan. But the stories they tell about him! How he was just like us, living with a Twoleg family and eating their food and wearing a collar. But then he left his housefolk near the old forest, and went to live with ThunderClan, and after many moons he became their leader. He led them through attacks from their enemies, and sickness, and on the Great Journey… He saved them so many times, and they were lucky to have him looking out for them.”

Would he able to do that? Toby wondered. Could he ever be a leader like Firestar?

If the Clans allowed kittypets to become that powerful, maybe they truly weren’t that bad.

British pop culture, history, travel

British vs. American: Part 3

Continuing with this series, today I’ll be waxing longingly about travel around the UK. I just started with the cute cat picture because I simply had to. (It’s been approximately a week since I used a cute cat picture in a post — too long.) It’s a British shorthair, so it also works for the purposes of this post.

And while we’re at it, you’re welcome for the cute puppy picture, too… (A lovely little British bulldog…)

When I lived in England, we were in the Midlands, this absolutely beautiful, hilly, very green in the spring and summer, a little more bleak and wet but still lovely the rest of the year, region between the North and the South of the island (hence the name).

Some of the hot spots for travel in that area include Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon (or, former home of the Bard), canals along the famous River Avon, automobile and airplane museums, various sporting events (such as football and cricket), and some absolutely gorgeous public gardens.

The really great thing about England being so small (compared to, say, America) is that you can easily get awesome day trips in by simply hopping the train to the next town or county. If you have the money, you can travel by coach or ferry to Scotland or Ireland, which are so close, but so magical, and even more gloriously foreign to stuck-in-a-rut Americans like me.

(By the way, I just spent all weekend watching Outlander on DVD, and I didn’t even like the book. But it was so totally worth it for the Celtic scenery and accents.)

Being able to walk out your front door and see countryside like this is just a totally amazing experience for me. Yes, I live in a very tree-filled area of North America, with four seasons and plenty of historical monuments. But none of that changes the fact that the British Isles have been continually settled by more or less the same peoples for the past thousand years. Their history and traditions and culture are so much more rich and deep and complex and long-standing than anything I grew up with.

Not that I would wish to actually be living in the past (like Outlander). What I really love is that the past has such a strong presence in the current lives of British citizens. History isn’t considered “irrelevant” or “unimportant” (did I mention I’m American, and pretty ashamed of what many of my peers here think of history?).

These places are real, not movie sets, or found only in pictures in books. Strolling along the canal, seeing actual castle turrets in the near distance, while you pick wild blackberries growing near the water of the River Avon, is the type of thing many American tourists dream of, the type of outright magical experience that I cherish in my memories and my heart.

I so want to go back. That’s pretty obvious. Before too much longer, I’m going to need to. I need to walk in the woods that inspired Tolkien’s forests of Middle Earth. I need to climb to the top of that castle turret. To embarrass myself at a Renaissance Fair. To eat haggis while searching for Nessie.

(By the way, the Loch Ness Monster is 100% real. I won’t believe any naysayers.)

I need to show all this to my boys. To the one who was so little when we lived there that he doesn’t remember. And to the one who has no idea anything bigger than state route 13 even exists.

There is so, so much on these wonderful, small islands, boys, so much. Go and see, experience, live, be part of it.

cats, children's fiction, Fantasy fiction

Lessons to be Learned from Reading Warriors

Bluestar and Spottedleaf

Lesson 1: Reading this series isn’t just for kids. Yeah, it’s categorized as juvenile to YA, and you’ll find the books in the children’s section of the library and the bookstore. But just like really great children’s literature is supposed to do, this series covers a variety of tough topics that, unfortunately, some kids will have to face, in ways that are developmentally appropriate, without talking down to the reader or trying to force them to understand.

There are allegories galore for racism and prejudice, adoption, divorce, being born out of wedlock, breaking the law and criminal punishment. And these books don’t sugarcoat at all when it comes to death — the cats die from old age, from disease, in childbirth, from accidents and even murder. The reason it’s considered “okay” by the powers-that-be in publishing is because the descriptions of such incidents are limited to what most pre-teens can handle reading, developmentally. And the reason I, as a parent, approve of it is because, sadly but factually, life can be really stinkin’ hard, and some of this stuff will happen to someone you know, and learning healthy ways of coping with it is important.

Grieving is normal, and acceptable, and will help you to go on. Maintaining a positive outlook isn’t just New Age malarkey; it really does lighten your mood and your thoughts and gives you hope and strength. When you lose someone or something, you don’t have to be bitter or resentful. You can choose to honor their memory by loving others the way they loved you. Many cats have to face that, and seeing how some of them carry on is wonderful.

Lesson 2: The choices we make don’t just affect us, they affect others. 

In life, there are many instances when we’re not sure what’s the “right” thing to do, and often it’s not as clear-cut as don’t steal that watch or don’t cheat on that test. Forbidden love is a recurring theme in the series, and it’s not forbidden because “that cat is a majorly horrible jerk, they will break your heart and leave you completely shattered”; it’s forbidden because they belong to a different Clan. It equates to: “I don’t want you to see that person because they’re not from our city/religion/ethnic group.” It goes back to the metaphors for prejudice, and where it comes from, and that it may not be right or wrong, but many people live by it, and may not even realize the impact it’s having on their culture and their family.

Choosing to go against the crowd, when you believe it’s right, can also be daunting, but sometimes vital. When the Clans needed to find a new home and it required a long journey to get there, all four groups, so used to living separately, had to put aside their rivalries and work together to survive. Think about the Caucasians who have stood up for the civil rights of minorities in North America, even when their neighbors and colleagues didn’t understand or agree. Teaching kids that thinking for yourself, and sticking to it, is so valuable.

Lesson 3: There are many different ways to love and be loved. 

Firestar and Spottedleaf

Friendships, romances, marriages, family relationships — all this is love, just in different degrees and varieties. While there’s a very good chance you wouldn’t say you love your bratty little sister who threw a block at your head and won’t stop singing that annoying pop song, of course you do love her. And your spouse will often grate on your nerves, but that doesn’t mean you regret choosing them to share your life. This lesson is presented in a good way for kids to understand; the littermates frequently have squabbles (some of them pretty big), but they know blood forges strong bonds. Some of the pairs of mates (translates to married couple) face tough times, but it’s always clear they still care about each other. Even the concept of unrequited love is addressed; whether you decide to remain friends with someone who is interested in someone else, or whether you hold a grudge; one path leads to finding happiness, the other, well, not so much.

Lesson 4: Don’t dwell too much on the past. Live in the present. Be hopeful for the future.

Regret is a powerful emotion, one that often tears apart entire lives. If you keep beating yourself up for something that you can’t change, all it does is drown you in sorrow and make you bitter and irritable and makes others worry about you. Is regret a difficult thing to live with? Of course. But you don’t have to let your past mistakes define your future.

There are many cats that make decisions that later result in disaster. Sometimes the decisions were made impulsively, without thinking through all the possible consequences; other times the cat was very aware of what making the choice would mean, but they felt it was worth the risk. And more often than not, the decision was a difficult one, and the factors weren’t straightforward right or wrong, good or bad. Basing how you feel about yourself the rest of your life on what you later feel you should’ve done in one moment can be dangerous.

Lesson 5: It can be hard to figure out who to trust; listen to your instincts.

Throughout the series, a common theme is good cats versus bad cats. And we are not talking clawing the furniture and using the rug as a litter box. We’re talking cats who choose to lie, betray, brainwash, and murder their way to power and control. Most of the good cats can see these nasty pieces of work for what they are a mile away. But others aren’t so sure, and they need convincing, and unfortunately, that can lead to really awful things happening. And there’s one cat, a stranger who appears suddenly about halfway through the third series, that’s really hard to figure out. Is he an ally or an enemy? He’s clever and charismatic and easily gets other cats to listen to him. But the cost of believing his treachery runs high. Three of the main characters very nearly get ensnared in his web of deceit, and when they realize what he’s really up to, they not only blame him, but themselves. At least they saw the truth before it was too late.

Lesson 6: Sometimes life will not be what you expected; that’s okay. You can still make the most of the hand you’re dealt.

Starting with the Power of Three series, there are constant allusions to a trio of cats that will rise to become more powerful than any other, former or current, in the Clans. While this makes for great reading, in terms of exciting plot points and character arcs, it’s also very clear that these cats didn’t ask for this power, and it’s a weight on their shoulders. When you possess a skill or ability or condition that you can’t quite explain, or wouldn’t even see as a benefit, this can be a hard road to walk. Others may expect certain things of you; you aren’t sure you can deliver. Maybe you’re not even positive that you want to try.

Try. Just do the best you can. It’s all most people will expect of you. And in the end, you’ll probably not only pleasantly surprise them, you’ll really surprise yourself.

Fantasy fiction, Young Adult fiction

Why I’m A Fantasy Reader And Writer

Some people just don’t understand the allure of fantasy fiction, either reading it, or watching it in movies, and certainly not writing it. While I could spend quite a bit of time feeling sorry for them  getting them to see how wrong they are  discussing the literary tools of employing a fantasy world for addressing real-life problems, I want to be rather self-centered today and focus purely on what I love about this genre.

There are nasty monsters hiding behind the trees, and we need to know how to fight them. “Remember, if it bleeds, you can kill it.” (Bobby in Supernatural).

  • Yes, I’m aware that actual trolls, ogres, evil sorcerers and the like won’t really jump out at me while I’m getting the mail (probably not). But the real world is (sadly) full of terrible stuff, and while I can’t fight all the bullies, injustices, and wrongdoings on my own, I can take inspiration from those who fight (and win) in fantasy stories.
  • Harry Potter became “the chosen one” not because he was specifically designed or fated to kill Voldemort, but because he took control of his own destiny and made the choice to defend the innocent, be brave, and stand up for what was right in the wizarding world.
  • Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings was destined to be king of all Middle Earth, and this was no small task. He could have run the other way, but he knew he couldn’t abandon his friends and the love of his life to the darkness of Sauron. Basically he stared down the whole army of Mordor with only the faith that he was about to die for the right thing.
  • Almathea in The Last Unicorn chased the Red Bull into the sea, in spite of knowing full well it would probably kill her. She’d been human for a long time, and she could have decided to stay in that form, accept the love of the Prince, and forget that she ever knew about the trapped unicorns. But she didn’t; she returned to her true form, and stuck to her plan to rescue her kind.

Believing in the possibility of an unseen world makes everyday life less boring.

  •  No, I don’t think that the next wardrobe I open will actually lead me to Narnia, or that if I fall down a hole I’ll wake up in Wonderland. In some ways, I wouldn’t want to. But I refuse to cut myself off from all the fantastic possibilities — for example, that there’s an afterlife, Heaven, time travel, angels, other dimensions — by nailing my beliefs down to only what’s tangible on planet Earth.
  • So many of us get bogged down by the humdrum routine of work, school, errands, chores, sleep, and repeat. Maybe it’s because I’m autistic and I think differently from most people, but I just can’t stand the idea of that being all there is to life. I’m not hurting anyone by hoping that the Doctor might really exist or that guardian angels do follow us around (not even myself).

Sometimes, even in a corrupted world, we can have a happy ending.

  • June in Legend fought against a dictatorship that wanted to execute the boy she fell in love with. Even after she decided it was too dangerous for them to be together, she managed to save his life, and although it took a long time, they were able to find happiness, separately and together.
  • Harry Potter lived and married Ginny Weasley (excellent choice).
  • Firestar survived the battle with BloodClan, took Sandstorm as his mate, had two awesome kids, three really great grandkids, and a darn cool son-in-law. He gave each and every one of his nine lives for the Clans’ survival, and went down in Warriors history as one of the best leaders ever.

Constantly looking for magic in the back of your mind makes you appreciate the little things more.

  • When I see a beautiful sunset, a rainbow, or a spectacular natural wonder, I’m in awe. The majesty and complexity of creation is truly astounding and, in a way, magical.
  • I have a different definition than some about what constitutes a miracle. The first time my autistic son spoke a full sentence without prompting, I saw God right there in my kitchen.
  • Animals really like me. Somehow I seem to be the cat whisperer. Maybe that’s one of my superpowers.

What if you actually are a secret chosen one/superhero/the next Merlin?

  • Well, I don’t know about you, but I hope I’ll be ready. If the Doctor shows up and needs my help, or a secretive guardian starts following me to begin my training (think Buffy), I’d be shaking in my fashionable boots, but willing. If I’m chosen, then presumably I can do it.
  • A major part of the story is that we’re never sent into battle unprepared. We’re given the ability to blow up our enemies, or the best Elven sword ever, or at least a Sonic Screwdriver and the heart of TARDIS (which is not to be underestimated).
  • The downside is that you’re facing almost certain death. What’s the option? The whole world burning down? How do you want to be remembered? That you went down fighting for your loved ones, like Professor Lupin and Tonks, Gandalf, Bluestar and Yellowfang and Firestar, like the Doctor?

Go for it. Believe in yourself.

 

Autism, health

Autistic Burnout

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So, this is such a very personal post, and I wasn’t even going to bring it up.

I changed my mind. A dozen times. Finally landed here.

I’m suffering from what’s known as autistic burnout. We can all think of a time when we got burned out — like after finishing final exams, or graduating, planning a vacation, a wedding, moving house, having a baby — blah de blah. (Please excuse the sarcasm. There might be a lot of it.)

Anyway, here’s where it’s different for autists. The burnout comes not just after a period of prolonged or intense stress. It affects literally every part of our lives — our sleep, our appetite, temper, patience with children or misbehaving pets, the little annoyances of co-workers/spouses/neighbors/grocery store clerks. We are suffering greatly inside, and it often comes off as we’re being insensitive or rude or just selfish.

We’re not. We don’t mean to be.

The walls are closing in on us. It brings about panic attacks. Insomnia. Depression.

It goes on sometimes for a while. (Like months instead of a few days.)

Basically we’ll start to get control of the immediate situation (like we’ve quit a job, completed a course, taken a vacation, cut back on caffeine), and we’ll feel sort of better for a week, or even almost a month. Then we’ll have a meltdown because there were one too many phone calls that morning, and are back to square one.

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None of this is a choice. It becomes pure physical reaction based on anxiety created from overstimulated nerves.

IT SUCKS.

I have no concrete plan for complete recovery. Oh, there are suggestions — research and support organizations think therapy, or a support group, a vacation, cutting back on responsibilities, learning your limits and sticking to them, not pressuring yourself to “fit in” (pretend not to be ASD), could all help with recovering from/preventing burnout. All of this sounds fine. The problem for me is that my personal circumstances make a lot of it tough — I don’t always have reliable transportation, someone to watch Muffin, limited insurance — blah de blah, you get the idea.

Part of my plan so far includes not taking on anything new (for example, forget Camp NaNo, and not committing to posting more than twice a week for the rest of the summer). Also I’m trying to get my family to understand that I need more alone time, and if I don’t want to go to this event or on that day trip, it has nothing to do with them.

This will be a process. It may be a long one. (I am starting to hyperventilate at the very thought.)

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Sleep would also be really nice, but it’s a rare commodity in my household. Eating well is definitely advised. Not that I feel like cooking a lot of the time. Blah de blah…

I guess the major thing about this feeling is the concern that getting to the light at the end of the tunnel is…well…so–far–off.

Putting in more work on something that has already worn you out is not at all exciting, or even feasible.

I’ve come across a few things on blogs, vlogs, and group pages that suggest this is more likely to happen to autists nearing preschool age, adolescence, or middle age — because these are all times in life when the body and brain are growing or changing quickly, and that means for us we’re exerting even more effort into a process we have to go through, anyway. Our neurons and metabolisms are just exhausted afterwards.

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So, what is the solution? Well, for some of us it might be quitting a job, changing your living environment (everything from redecorating to moving), not participating in that bake sale, taking a hiatus from college. I’ve already cut back a lot, though — deciding not to worry about going back to teaching dance until next year, decreasing the pace on finishing Volume 2-4, not scheduling any appointments for Muffin that can be put off until fall.

But I can already tell just recognizing what would overwhelm me isn’t going to solve it all.

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I think I need not to read anything potentially upsetting for — well, this side of forever. Keep my TBR to re-reads of confirmed favorites and middle-grade fluffy fantasies.

I think I need to avoid potentially upsetting television — so, that’s the news gone. Okay, everything, really, except for Jeopardy! and The Big Bang Theory with White Fang. And kids’ movies.

Probably explore more instrumental music. Burn candles again. Borrow a stuffed animal from my kids for sleeping. Maybe try more vegetarian food.

Make the cat sleep with me every night.

Don’t even attempt to debate anything with anybody on social media.

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So, this has been a rather whiny post, and if you’ve made this far, thank you. (I mean it.)

Please enjoy the re-posts, and your own summers and families. I do love you all, and I so deeply appreciate all your support.

Wh-hine…

Deep breath.

Roar.

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