I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo, but for a good reason

So, I’m not doing National Novel Writing Month this year, but I have an excuse.

This is the first time in…I dunno, a lot of years that I have not even started NaNo. This was a bit of a tough choice, because I like having a streak, but this was a year I knew I would not have the time to dedicate to word count. Not because there’s Thanksgiving or normal stuff, but for a Legit Reason.

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Edinburgh Fringe!

So I went on a trip. Almost an impulse trip, really; my sister Alena and our friend Mark were going to Fringe and asked if I wanted to come.

Edinburgh is home to the original Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a theater arts event that has been running annually for three-quarters of a century. All those Fringe theater events around the world are spinoffs of this OG. It is the largest arts event in the world, and possibly the third largest ticket event in the world (after the Olympics and the World Cup). In the words of the festival itself, it features “theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events.”

Also street food!

This year there were over 2200 official ticketed events (and more unofficial). The Fringe program is literally larger than the phone books of some places I’ve lived (back when phone books were a thing). The entire city becomes a city of theaters, with over 300 official venues comprised of existing theatrical facilities, rented rooms, churches, pubs, classrooms and lecture halls, temporary structures, and converted spaces. There are also unofficial venues, which can be even a gap left in a crowd or a nook between food trucks. An acrobatics performance broke out during our lunch one day.

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I’m Giving Birthday Presents Like a Hobbit ?

I’m having a crHappy Birthday, so I’m fixing it by giving books away.

Your to-do list today:

  1. Get a free story as a birthday present for you
  2. Vote for Kin & Kind, please and thank you

Happy Birthday…?

So here’s the very short version: Today is my birthday, and I was supposed to be traveling through Italy this week, visiting archaeological sites and gathering research vibes.

Instead, I am spending my birthday as day 9 in isolation in a single room with a positive COVID test.

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2020 Part Deux, Vacation Edition

My husband and I (along with family and friend) are on a cruise. It’s been much fun, and our daily update included the fact that we had no known cases of COVID-19 on board in either passengers or crew. That made sense, as we were all vaccinated and everyone tested negative to board. Yay!

Then Jon had a runny nose for a day and a half. Just a runny nose, nothing bad. But he did a COVID test and turned up positive. The cruise ship machine kicked into gear — he was the first known positive — and they escorted him out among disposable scrubs, masks, shields, and a guy following him with a Ghostbusters backpack that misted disinfectant everywhere he walked.

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Cards on the way

Every year I send Christmas cards to readers who want one (and now to my Patreon fam too). I design a new holiday postcard and send it to anywhere in the world it’s requested (barring current USPS international restrictions, thanks DeJoy). It’s fun!

stack of cards, top signed "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Laura VAB"

It is, however, a lot of signing. Every card is handwritten. And, as I mentioned, each year I design a new card. This year, I started signing and realized about 80% of the way through that the phrase I’d chosen to write on the back of the cards was the same as what I’d included on the front of the cards. /facepalm/ Oh, well, at least I’ve emphasized the seasonal message!

It’s fun to see where the requests come from and where the cards go. The United States and Canada receive the bulk, with the UK and Australia coming next. And then there’s Peru, South Korea, South Africa… I think we had 9 countries this year, if I recall correctly. And now I’m getting cards back from readers, which is delightful! This beautiful specimen was the first to arrive:

Christmas card showing Bethlehem, star, and text "A Christmas Prayer"

The process was assisted this year by my new thermal printer. I acquired this to help with shipping, and it’s amazing. Here it is running one stream of address labels:

They’re already in the mail, so watch for your card soon!

If you missed the signup to receive a card, I’m sorry! I do mention it in my newsletter and on social media, and you can watch for the announcement every November. Or if you’re a supporter on my Patreon, it’s automatic, no need to sign up.

If you want to give me more chances to play with my nifty thermal printer and justify my investment, you can order books and swag here directly from me, and I’ll ship it directly to you, signed and everything.

(If you’re wondering what printer I’m using, it’s here.)

“We’ve Got Cows”

(My newsletter subscribers got this story already, but this week I’m adding it to the blog.)

Thursday mid-morning. It was my dad’s mobile number, and when I answered he was short of breath. I thought something was wrong, maybe he or my mom might be injured. But no, he was calling to ask me to help him catch the cows.

Our first catch, definitely the easiest to handle.

Neither Dad nor I own any cows, so this was a good start to the morning.

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Grace Julian Clarke & 2020

On Saturday, I went to the unveiling of a new historical marker. (I know, I know, but not everyone can have my thrilling rock star life.)

This nerd event was special, though.

Grace Julian Clark

Grace Julian Clarke was an author, a journalist, a clubwoman, an activist, and a force of nature. She was also my great-great-great-aunt. She was born in 1865, the daughter of the significant-but-mostly-forgotten congressman George Washington Clarke. Growing up in an abolitionist home, she was well-prepared for a career in social reform.

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Marathon livestream for charity! Please join me.

hands with vote pins
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

November 3 is a particularly significant day in the United States, laying out a path for the future.

But in fact, we can re-write the future every day, with thousands of choices. And you can make me give you an early glimpse of Kin & Kind.

If you’ve been online with me for a while, you know that slavery and trafficking is something I am against — and something we can fight with tiny daily decisions, from the brand of chocolate bar we eat to the clothing we purchase, as well as the more obvious issues like the porn industry.

So on November 3 I will be live-streaming all day to raise money for IJM to fight slavery and exploitation.

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Field Trip! Ice & Steam (& Penguins) (To Write and Have Written)

We take our first Field Trip to explore Iguazú Falls, Ushuaia, Antarctica, the Falklands, and the amazing journey of Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance expedition.

Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires
Ushuaia
Cape Horn
Ice
Penguins

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My Shiny New Office

I’ve never had an office in this house.

We built and moved in in 2005. Even though I worked from home, running Canines In Action, organizing and supporting my KPA workshops, writing seminars, and writing fiction, I never had a separate office. Mostly I worked on my bed or a couch, which was pretty bad for my posture and health, until I acquired my treadmill desk and set that up in a corner of the great room/kitchen, which was a dedicated workspace but not separated.

But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked in 2020.

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