Running Home

I grew up in the country with cows and coyotes and snakes and jackrabbits. With hay bales to jump, trees to climb, and old barns and acres of woods and pasture to explore. With peace and quiet except for the occasional crack and pop of family and neighbors practicing marksmanship behind the stock-pond. To my five-year-old mind, going to Wal-Mart was tantamount to an expedition, requiring extensive preparation and the decision of the perfect toy or book to pack to pass the time on the (three-mile) drive into Town—and, yes, back then it was capital-T Town.  A trip to “Dallas” aka anywhere west of the neighboring town of Forney, seemed a temporary move.

Now, I live in Town (though I’m sure someone from an urban area would still say I live in the country). I’m serenaded nightly by sirens rather than coyotes, and as a shy, private person I often feel trapped by the transparency of my chain-link fence and the constant presence of people on the street or in the yards. Don’t get me wrong, it has its upsides: like being an easy walk or bike ride from most places I want or need to go; and I’m pretty sure I’ve developed such a dependence on my internet I’d likely go into withdrawls if I had to stay with my parents in the sorry-you’re-about-100-feet-too-far-for-our-internet zone where I grew up.

Despite living roughly three miles from my parents and the home where I grew up, it can sometimes feel like an impassable chasm lies between. The chasm that lies between all of us and our childhoods. I still drive through once a week, if not more; but it’s not the same. I’m not the same.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a runner. Have been a runner in some form or fashion since I was about twelve, because my mom was an avid runner. As a kid, I ran the rock roads around our home, had all the usual distances marked. The mile marker, first driveway around the corner at the end of the road. Mile and a half, the first bend of the S-curve, just past the delineation between rocky dirt and pavement, past the old Nike base. Two miles, where the little country road met Highway 205. The scenery was pretty and there was very little traffic; though the rocks on the road increased the threat of a twisted ankle and I carried a big stick to scare off the dogs that liked to chase and sometimes bite anything—runners, other animals, cars–that passed their houses.

Now, I’ve got favorite running locales all over the area. (And one day I’ll post a list of my top ten favorite.) Last week, I was feeling particularly nostalgic and decided to run my childhood route. 20170502_190311The roads are all paved now. And the S-curve is a single curve that dead-ends where the old county road was converted to a FM road. Very little remains of the old Nike base, which as a child I had believed was an abandoned shoe factory until my dad laughingly explained that Nike was a type of missile they’d stored there during WWII.

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Remains of the old Nike base 2017

And while the traffic is a little heavier, the scenery is still bucolic. So much has changed, and yet so much is still the same.

The smells of grass and soil and cattle—a pleasant yet slightly unpleasant aroma—fill the air. The hum and buzz of insects accompanied by birdsong, interspersed with the crackling of startled animals and underscored by the susurrus of the breeze in the long, prairie grass formed my running mix long before the ipod was unleashed upon the world. And I was pleased to find it still plays on a running loop, with seasonal variations, for the free enjoyment of all.

These simple pleasures brought me joy and peace as a child and they still do today as long as I take the time to slip on a good pair of shoes and get out there. And the best part is that this isn’t some far-off, utopic fairy realm. We can find it all around us in the green places, in the wild places, in the carefully nurtured landscapes and the lovingly tended desk plants. It’s in the life that flourishes all around us, and sometimes in spite of us. It’s something that merits our protection not our consumption. And if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, unplug for a bit, throw on some shoes, step outside and find out for yourself.          ~a.d. guzman

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A pond on my grandpa’s land

TLA 2017 San Antonio, TX

Ever since I visited as a child, I’ve been enchanted by the exotic and yet quintessentially Texan beauty of San Antonio. This visit was no exception. I stayed in The Menger Hotel, a historical landmark as well as ideally located within walking distance of the Convention Center. This was next door to the iconic Alamo, which I could see from my window. And only a couple blocks down, I had access to the famous Riverwalk.

The first night in San Antonio, my co-worker and I enjoyed Tex-Mex at Rita’s and a brief stroll along the Riverwalk. I also managed to take my runs every morning on a Riverwalk void of nearly all its human occupants, but brimming with bird-life to serenade me as I ran. (Who knew you could get lost running beside a river? After that first day, I ran on one side.)

And that was just the host city.

My first experience at TLA was amazing. The sheer size and scope of the conference was intimidating, but the facility housed it all easily, even if I did have trouble finding my way around at times. I enjoyed the panels and luncheons I attended, and I definitely learned a lot from both general sessions with Cory Doctorow and Carmen Agra Deedy.

The best part, however, was–you guessed it–the books! The Exhibit Hall was a bibliophile’s crack-house, with librarians hitting up the dealers each day for their latest fix. Walk up to almost any publisher’s booth and you could pick up a free ARC(advanced reading copy) or free swag. Helpful representatives pointed out their contests and giveaways that would happen later during the conference.

Naive little newbie that I was, I ended up so burdened with books my first walk through I had to hunt down a vendor giving away bags (there were many) because I kept dropping everything. At the end of the conference, I had a good five bags stuffed to the brim with books and swag.

Did I mention the authors? Established greats and debut new comers–so many writers attended, not just speaking and signing their books, but most giving them away when you got into their autograph line. It was a back-breaking, arm-straining, feet-aching heaven–if you like books.

The only thing that will make this event even better is getting to attend as an author and meeting the people who read my stories and, I hope, love them as much I love sharing them.

To see more pictures from my trip, visit my Facebook page TLA album. And if you’d like to chat, feel free to send me an email.

Until next time!

Destination: 100 Books

pexels-photo-300412As sort of a quasi-resolution, I set a goal to read 100 books this year. (A goal I hope to surpass!) I’ve always been a reader, but never bothered to keep track; so I thought it might be fun. And a way to recharge the mental batteries. It’s just as important to read as it is to write–something else I’d been neglecting with my busy schedule. So, here’s my list for 2017 so far:

 

  1.  Crows by Candace Savage
  2. Gifts of the Crow by John Murzluff and Tony Angell
  3. The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  4. Not As We Know It by Tom Avery
  5. Draykon by Charlotte E. English
  6. Lokant ” ”
  7. Orlind ” ”
  8. Llandry ” ”
  9. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
  10. Monster by A. Lee Martinez
  11. Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
  12. Angelopolis ” ”
  13. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  14. A Flight of Angels by Holly Black and more
  15. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  16. The City’s Son by Tom Pollock
  17. Firegirl by Tony Abbott
  18. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
  19. The Last Wild by Piers Torday
  20. Vegas Knights by Matt Forbeck
  21. The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock
  22. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
  23. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
  24. Wool by Hugh Howey
  25. Written in Red by Anne Bishop*
  26. Murder of Crows ” ”
  27. Vision in Silver ” ”
  28. Marked in Flesh ” ”
  29. Etched in Bone ” ”
  30. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
  31. The Cry of the Crow by Jean Craighead George

*This series hit my reading craving at the time so perfectly, I re-read all five books! And super thanks to my friend Edith for the recommendation.

WORDfest Refresh

Nothing is more inspiring than getting out and mingling with fellow writers and artists, and today I had the opportunity to do just that at the first ever WORD(writer’s organizations ’round Dallas)fest. The panels, classes, and breakout sessions were informative and enjoyable, and the venue was wonderful. I hope this type of event will continue to be a free resource for aspiring and established writers alike.

As you know (Bob), I’ve pretty much fallen off the map as far as posting and as much as I blame day jobs #1 and #2, I should do more to prioritize my writing. Attending this event has lit a fire under me again, and I’m making an effort to get more written!

If you’d like to meet up and talk books, writing, great movies, reptiles, or pretty much anything, I’ll be attending TLA in San Antonio this April. A perk to the day job that has killed as much of my creativity of late as it has my time, so I won’t be there as one of the writers unfortunately. I’m dragging my lap top along and hope to take advantage of the short break from mom/house chores to finish up some of the projects I’ve neglected. So hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

And look forward to more from me. I’ve got Chaos Heir: Beholden submitted for edits and final acceptance, and once I get through book fair week and TLA, I’ll start back on book two. So far I’m only a couple chapters in, but there will be some exciting new characters involved with Corbin and Subtle Jewel.

😉

 

Howdy, Folks! It’s State Fair time again.

Ah, the State Fair. An event that manages to combine three of my least favorite things–big crowds, loud noise and greasy food–with the bonus of getting to pay for the experience. This year was only my second ever visit for a reason.

It wasn’t bad, though. We had some fun time as a family, managed to avoid much of the food (by eating out on the way) and the noise, if not the crowds. And we avoided much of the cost by sticking to the free attractions. The (free) bird show, the only part I really enjoy, did not happen this year unfortunately. My youngest daughter’s favorite, the (free) petting zoo, did return with a fairly decent sampling of Noah’s cargo.

Here's my daughter petting a zebra.
Here’s my daughter petting a zebra.

My oldest daughter bought a henna tattoo, which, as with everything in the fair, seemed a bit pricey for what she got. But she chose wisely from the less expensive designs–something I’ve noticed she’s very good at when forced to use her own money for things. And when we got thirsty after sampling the free ice cream, we split a $3 bottle of Dr. Pepper among the four of us. (The term you’re looking for is frugal not cheap 😉 !)

After wandering the sale tents for a while (where I was sorely tempted to toss my budget into the bin and set it afire), we made our way to the Ferris wheel. Now, I have a great head for heights, love them actually, but I’ve never cared for Ferris wheels. Probably because I’ve only ever ridden the tiny specimens of dubious structural integrity that inhabit traveling carnivals and set off my internal caution alarms. I love heights, but I’m not under even the slightest impression that a fall from one would lead to anything but a very unpleasant end.

The State Fair’s Ferris wheel, though, didn’t bother me. The cart didn’t move much and I felt securely enclosed. And the view was spectacular. Say what you will about Dallas, but it does present a unique and lovely skyline.

Dallas Skyline 2015
Dallas Skyline 2015

If it weren’t for the cost of the tickets, I might have agreed with my youngest daughter’s request to stay until dark to ride again and see the lights.*

All in all, it was worth braving a few of my least favorite things to hang out with my husband and kids and enjoy the good weather.

*Interesting fact: where I grew up in the country about thirty minutes east of Dallas, we could see the top of the green-lighted building on a clear night without the aid of any lens. I think today the light pollution from the booming suburbs between here and Dallas makes that impossible.

Author of the Month Quotes

At my library, we’ve started an author of the month display. In honor of the season, the movie and a very prolific children’s writer, I chose R.L. Stine. So, for all my fellow writers out there, here’s some of his wisdom (That second one I really need to work on!):

If you want to be a writer, don’t worry so much about writing. Read as much as you can. Read as many different writers as you can. Soak up the styles.

R.L. Stine
I set a goal for myself everyday when I write – 10 pages a day – and it’s much harder because I’m too dumb to turn off my Twitter and everything so it’s always on and it’s a real distraction. It’s a major distraction.
R.L. Stine

quotes found brainyquote.com

FenCon XII

FenCon weekend is over once again, unless a blue box and time lord pop in. I found this one:

And this portal!
And this portal!
It's bigger on the inside!
It’s bigger on the inside!

But the weekend is still over until next year. I had a blast, though. The panels I attended were interesting, and some downright hilarious, like Yard Dog’s Road Show. I enjoyed Triskelion in concert. Linda, Juli and Julia belly danced.

Yard Dog Road Show
Yard Dog Road Show
Belly Dance at the FenCon Cabaret
Belly Dance at the FenCon Cabaret
Triskelion
Triskelion

And for the first time, I really attended the room parties. Visiting, mingling, not just standing on the wall for a little before retreating to my room. It really helps to have a social friend who knows everyone to go with and break the ice. I’m a little sad and exhausted to have to head back to work tomorrow, but as always, I feel inspired and artistically renewed after  hanging out with other writers and artists and true fans of the genre. Ready to dive back into my own writing and finish up some of the projects that have been neglected due to real life.

A big thanks to all the FenCon staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this another great convention. Already can’t wait for next year.