June Reading Stats

As promised, here are my reading stats for this month. It was a busy month, with lots of school volunteering and finishing up the revision of my MG Fantasy to send to Bri, but I still managed a good number of audiobooks.

For anyone wondering about my health, I’ve managed to score an earlier doctor’s appointment, so maybe (just maybe) I’ll get some answers before September. My hands are still aching, but I’m enjoying my vacation from work.

More in a month.

June Reading Stats:

  • YA Contemporary (12)
  • YA Mystery/Thriller (2)
  • YA Fantasy (5)
  • YA Contemporary with Paranormal elements (not sure how to categorize this one) (1)

June Total: 20

Year to Date: 98 (Almost 100 books and only halfway through the year. Not bad, if I do say so myself)

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Plot Twist in the Book of Life

As you all probably know by now, I’ve been having some trouble with pain and weakness in my hands, which I assumed to be a worsening of my Carpal Tunnel.

The aching has reduced how much time I can spend at the computer each day (more than a little inconvenient for a writer), and the weakness has caused my usual clumsiness to level up (spill half a pot of pasta in the sink: check;  dump a scalding cup of tea down my chest: double check; slice my finger open when I lost control of a knife: also check).

But Carpal Tunnel is manageable with rest, and I expected the doctor to tell me to take a few weeks off from typing, and I’d be good as new.

Here’s where the plot twist comes in: It’s not Carpal Tunnel.

We’re not sure what it is just yet, (although it looks like we’ve ruled out Rheumatoid Arthritis – yay!), and it seems we won’t find out for a while as I’m waiting on a test that’s currently scheduled for early August, with a follow-up to discuss the results in September (boo!).

So…unless this condition decides to go away as mysteriously as it developed, I’m basically looking at not having full use of my hands for at least the next three months.

I’ve already had to make a bunch of changes in my personal life: how I hold pots and cups and plates (without using my thumbs), teaching my kids to do more things for themselves, abandoning pretty much all of my hobbies, and spending less time on the computer.

But it looks like it might be time to make a few changes professionally now, too.

For the next few months, I’m going to cut back on the frequency of my posts here. I’ll still post my reading updates at the end of each month, but consider any other posts over the summer as bonuses.

I’m also going to stop posting on my author Facebook page – this was a hard decision to make, but since I’m not doing any crafts right now (pretty much the only thing I post over there) and the algorithms mean only a small fraction of my followers even see my posts, it seems to be a wasted platform for me right now.

However, since photography is (pretty much the only) one of my hobbies I can do with limited hand strain, I’ve now joined Instagram. You can follow me at k_callard. So far it’s mostly pictures of my fluffy Muppet dog, since I’m still learning the ropes over there, but hopefully I’ll find my groove soon.

You can also still follow me on Twitter.

And maybe one day you’ll see me over on change.org trying to get signatures in favour of changing the phrase “all thumbs” to describe someone clumsy, to “no thumbs” instead.

Seriously, though, I’m kind of looking forward to a summer off work, adventuring with my family and dreaming up new plots to write once I get my hands back.

Hope you all have a great summer!

New “Job”

I’m going to keep this week’s post short and sweet, but I wanted to announce that as of this week I’m officially one of two new Ottawa Area Coordinators for the Canada East chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (aka SCBWI).

It is a volunteer position that will involve organizing meet-ups several times a year and coordinating critique groups. My Co-Coordinator and I are still settling in, but I’m already looking forward to planning our first meet-up (hopefully in September).

I’m fortunate to have so many talented authors and illustrators living in my city, and I’m excited to be a part of bringing us all together.

Is That How You Say That?

As you now, I’ve been listening to a monster-load of audiobooks lately (especially this month, since I’m having so much trouble with my hands). And for the most part, I really like them.

But every so often a narrator pronounces a word in a way that makes me stop and question everything I know.

I find these words tend to fall into three categories:

  1. Regional Dialects: As a Canadian, I’m used to pronouncing words a little differently than the American standard. I don’t even bat an eye anymore at words like “foyer” (US = foy-er, Canadian = foy-ay). But the more audiobooks I listen to, the more differences I find (some may not be an American/Canadian thing, but a more regional distinction). The one that I hear the most often is “shone,” which the narrators pronounce “shown,” but I (and the fellow Canadians I’ve asked) pronounce “shawn.”
  2. Words I’ve Only Ever Read Before: Let’s face it, as an avid reader and visual learner, I recognize way more words than I actually use in conversation. So it’s not surprising that I’m now encountering words that I’ve never heard said aloud before. (I mean, how often do you use the word “ambergris”?)
  3. Words That Are Just Being Pronounced Wrong (fight me!): Seriously, though, 98% of the time weird-sounding words fall into one of the first two categories (or at least, I’m assuming they do). But every so often I hit a word that I know has a standard pronunciation, and the one in my audiobook is not it – and it pulls me right out of the story. (Best example is a very geeky YA, with a male MC who is a huge geek, but who mispronounced the Doctor Who villains “the Dalek” as “day-lek” instead of “dah-lek”.)

So what do you thin? Have you ever been pulled out of an audiobook by a wonky pronunciation? Or have you learned you’ve been pronouncing a word wrong in your head for years?

May Reading Stats:

  • YA Contemporary (11)
  • YA Mystery/Thriller (6)
  • YA Fantasy (7)
  • YA Historical (1)
  • DNF (1) Realized it was a companion book to a series I haven’t read – basically like reading Quidditch Through the Ages if you’ve never read a single Harry Potter  book.

May Total: 25

Yeah, it’s a lot, but it’s a combination of increasing my read-speed to 1.75x and not really being able to use my hands to do anything else.

Year to date: 78

My Body Hates Me

My body and I have never really been on good terms: I hated it for not being as tiny as the bodies of models and actresses, and it tortured me with things like endometriosis and chronic migraines.

But this time it’s finally gone too far.

About eight months ago my hands started falling asleep overnight (to the point I’d have to wake up and shake them until feeling returned).

A couple of months ago I got diagnosed with carpal tunnel and given fancy braces to wear at night. At first it was great – my hands stopped falling asleep after the second night in the braces.

But…then they started to hurt or cramp up when I did things, like type or draw or sew for long stretches of time.

But I could handle that. I just had to make sure I didn’t spend too long at one activity. I made cakes and treats that didn’t require piped frosting, so I wouldn’t strain myself.

None of that helped.

My hands now ache almost constantly (unless I’ve taken migraine meds) and my thumbs have lost most of their strength – so far their random failures have caused me to drop plates of food and dump a scalding cup of tea down my chest.

Even with braces on during the day, I can only type for short stretches of time, so I’ve taken a temporary break from my online crit group, and the goal of finishing this MG revision before school lets out feels like it’s evaporating in front of my eyes.

Not to mention the fact that all my hobbies require prolonged use of my hands: sewing, decorating cakes, playing with modelling clay, drawing, and even photography.

And of course my body isn’t content with just one method of torture – I’m still getting almost-daily migraines, I’m having horrible nightmares every morning, and I catch *every* bug the kids bring home.

Sigh.

Basically I feel like I’m falling apart these days. Like my parents only went for the 39 year-warranty, and now that my birthday’s approaching, everything’s decided to break down.

There are a couple of bright sides, though: I’ve spent more time walking in the forest near my house and volunteering with my kids’ school. And I’ve read (okay, listened to) a ridiculous number of (audio)books this month, since I can’t do much else. [Tune in next week to see the actual numbers]

 

Cosplay Conundrum

In the spirit of embracing my geek brand, I thought I’d take a step away from writing about writing this week, and instead write about something else close to my heart: cosplay* (although since my YA is about a girl with some of the same cosplay reservations as myself, maybe I’m not actually that far from writing about writing after all…)

I’m going to start by saying that I fully believe cosplay is for everyone. I love seeing plus-size cosplays, pint-size cosplays, genderbent cosplays, hijabi cosplays, not to mention people of colour cosplaying traditionally white characters.

But when it comes to my own costumes, I’m a super perfectionist. I want to be as screen accurate as possible, even if that means ruling out a whole slew of costumes because I don’t look enough like the character.

Part of it is my own body image issues. It’s taken me a long time (looooong time), but I’m finally (mostly) comfortable with my body. However, I’m still not ready to cosplay She-Ra in her skimpy white skirt, despite her being one of my favourite characters growing up.

And then there’s my shades. I need to wear them if I want to last more than 5 minutes without a migraine. (Even if sunglass-contacts were a thing, I have trouble with contacts). In past years I’ve just worn my shades, and taken them off for photos, but the problem is most people don’t seem to know who I’m dressed as while I’m wearing them – they completely ruin the effect of the costume.

So, this year I decided to try something different. Instead of dressing as an exact replica of a character (because, let’s face it, there aren’t that many female characters with shades – except maybe for Trinity from the Matrix movies, which aren’t my favourite) I’d do a mash-up that incorporated my glasses.

Which is how I ended up dressing as a Steampunk version of Belle from the animated Beauty and the Beast movie for Ottawa Comiccon last weekend.

For in-progress shots of the construction, check out my Facebook page

It was awesome. Not only did the costume turn out just how I’d imagined it, but it was recognizable, and I got stopped and asked for photos a lot.

I think for me, and my perfectionist soul, this is the way I’m going to do cosplay from now on. (Once again, I’m not speaking for anyone else – if you want to be a screen accurate wheelchair-using Leia or a screen accurate Japanese Wonder Woman, or a screen accurate plus-size Ariel, I want to see your amazing pics!)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and start planning my Steampunk She-Ra costume.

Just Kidding.

Maybe.

 

*For those of you unfamiliar with the word, cosplay means dressing as a character from a movie, book or TV show, usually at an event like Comiccon or a movie release, etc.