This is actually three posts in one. First is an abbreviated version of my normal Monday “Weather in Alaska,” followed by the GUTGAA Meet and Greet biography and questions, followed by seven facts about myself for the Lovely Blog Award. You may wind up knowing more about me than you want to!
North Pole Weather
First, the weather. The sun rose this morning at 6:39 and will set this evening at 8:59, for 14 hours 20 minutes of daylight. Maximum solar elevation today will be only a little over 32°, but tomorrow for the first time we actually have astronomical night, with the sun more than 18° below the horizon. We’re still losing 6 minutes 42 sec a day, and it’s only about 3 weeks to the equinox. The forecasts for the foreseeable future are partly cloudy to cloudy, with showery rain, so I hope we won’t get frosts yet. I’m still hauling oversized zucchini to the food bank.
Meet and Greet Biography
I’ve spent most of my life as a scientist, an atmospheric scientist with a physics background to be precise, at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fourteen years ago I retired, partly because of diabetes-related vision problems that prevented my driving at night. (Up here, that prevents driving in winter except right around noon.)
I started writing poetry in grade school, and did some popular science writing (as well as professional papers) while at the Geophysical Institute. At the same time I wrote quite a lot on canine color genetics and Shetland sheepdog history, much of which went on the web (in Netscape 1) or was published in breed journals.
My fiction writing had a slower start, though I did submit a short story to John W. Campell. (It was turned down as too much fantasy, but with an encouraging personal letter.) I did continue to write science fiction in my head, and started writing it down about 20 years ago. I finished two books and tried sending them out to publishers, but they weren’t really ready then.
Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Time suddenly looked short. And I went to the local Festival of the Book, where I attended a session on self-publishing. I contacted the editor I’d worked with on my popular science articles, and together we reworked the first book I had written, Homecoming. iUniverse gave it Editor’s Choice first round. It later took second place in science fiction in a contest for small press and self-published books. The sequel, Tourist Trap, got me into a fight with the editorial staff at iUniverse. I insisted on having the book my way rather than making it into more conventional science fiction, and standing my ground later earned me a best fiction book of the year award. Both books also have 5 star reviews from ForeWord Clarion reviews—and they don’t give out many of those.
The trilogy I’m polishing now was actually written in rough draft before Homecoming was published, and I’d like to investigate publishing it more conventionally.
Questions for the Meet and Greet
-Where do you write?
A spare bedroom I’ve turned into an office, with four computers, four printers, a large desk, bookshelves, and an overflowing filing cabinet. Usually at least two of the printers are not working, but which two (or three or all four) varies. I usually have things piled on what’s left of the floor.
-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
Blood glucose test kit.
-Favorite time to write?
Generally computer work (blog, twitter, email) first thing in the morning, then writing, mostly blogging now. Being retired gives me more time and freedom, but establishing a platform cuts heavily into the time I actually spend writing.
-Drink of choice while writing?
Diet Dr. Pepper to wake up in the morning, then Clear (fruit-flavored no-calorie beverage.)
-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
I generally prefer silence.
-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
All of my stories have been growing in my head for years. They’ve changed with time, of course—Horizon War was written in a few months after it occurred to me to change the sex of one character. Building the planets comes out of my professional work.
-What’s your most valuable writing tip?
Give your characters a certain amount of freedom. (Unless you’re writing non-fiction, of course.)
Lovely Blog Award
Kenra Daniels sent me the Lovely Blog Award over a week ago. The requirements are to thank the blogger who nominated you, give seven facts about yourself, post the blog award badge on your site, and nominate 11 noteworthy blogs. I am appreciative of the honor, but this last requirement is basically a chain letter/Ponzi scheme without the money. I’ve blogged about this use of exponentials before, so I’ll just link back to my post on how fast the award would increase if everyone actually sent it on to 11 others, and all of those 11 others did the same. It would hit the entire population of the Earth in a shockingly short time. So if you feel your blog is worthy, you are welcome to consider yourself nominated. The 7 facts, however, fit nicely with the theme of this blog: letting you know me. So on to the facts!
1. I am a type 1 diabetic, and have been for 43 years.
2. About the only TV I watch is PBS. I have a rowing machine and stationary bike set up in front of the set, so between television and DVDs I get a fair amount of exercise.
3. Next year I’ll have lived in Alaska for 50 years.
4. I have a Ph.D in geophysics, and wrote my dissertation the year after I was diagnosed with diabetes. Talk bout taking your mind off your health problems!
5. As a child my parents had to pry me off a pony owned by an itinerant photographer. Later I had two horses of my own. Now it takes a strong man to boost me onto a horse!
6. For many years I bred, trained and showed Shetland Sheepdogs.
7. I’m still signing up every spring and fall for adult learning courses.
And I didn’t know it when I wrote and scheduled this, but I became a great-aunt for the 4th time yesterday!