Summer Reading Challenge – June 18th Update

We’re doing a reading challenge here at Teish Knits this summer, and it’s not too late to join in! You can download the challenge prompt list and bookmarks here. This is a strictly fun, no pressure challenge, so you can interpret the prompts as broadly as you like, and choose to do fewer of them if reading 13 books this summer seems too overwhelming. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my own progress here on the blog, and I hope you’ll stop by and comment either on the blog or social media and let me know what you’re reading!

A book related to your career or goals.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson is one of those books that I read a number of years ago, but never really tried out the advice. (I’m not the only one who does that, right?) I found myself needing to outline the novella that I’m writing for Camp NaNo next month, and I decided to read through the book again and give it a try. I’ve read the Oxygen series that Randy co-authored and enjoyed the writing style, so I decided to give his Snowflake Method a try.

Two great things about this book is that it’s short and it’s not boring! Sometimes practical books are long, and hard to stick with. How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method isn’t a regular how-to book, it’s a how-to book written as a story. The story itself was creative and interesting enough to keep me engaged. Since the story is set at a writing conference where the main character is learning the method herself, it almost felt like I was sitting in on a class. The format didn’t just give me the principles, it also demonstrated a new writer, like myself, applying them to her own writing. The end of the book has a nice summary of the method so that you don’t have to go back through the book to remember the instructions for each step of the process.

I’ve been working through the method for the story I’m writing next month, and I can already see how this method has helped me get a stronger plot and stronger characters in place, even before I start writing. I’m excited to see what writing the story using this instead of my usual index card or traditional outline will be like! While there’s no method that’s just right for everyone, the Snowflake Method is worth checking out.

I’m also nearly finished reading Paul Reigner’s Paranormia, and I’ll be sharing about that in my Tuesday update once it releases!

The Hopes Unfulfilled

Four years ago my heart broke on Father’s Day. Having a parent deliberately cut ties with you is crushing, but when it’s your dad making that choice on Father’s Day of all days… There are some wounds that I’m not sure ever completely heal this side of Heaven, and this may be one of them.

Time is funny. In this case, four years feels like an entire lifetime. These past four years have been filled with some of the hardest battles of my life. I’ve faced difficult truths, made hard decisions, and seen parts of my past with more clarity than ever before. All of those are good things, but hard-won. I heard someone say once, “Feelings buried alive never die.” I’d buried a staggering number of them, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath of years of unhealthy coping mechanisms. It takes time—maybe the rest of my life.

It’s tempting to hate the people who’ve hurt you. I seem to be particularly prone to this sin, and I have to keep taking it back to the cross. In this situation, God has given me a rather interesting thing to combat the hate I’m tempted to harbor: science fiction.

Nope, I haven’t finally lost it, I promise! I used to watch Star Trek re-runs with my dad on a regular basis. Saturday nights were the nights when we gathered in the living room to watch Doctor Who on the local PBS station. I loved those shows as much as my dad. Memories of sitting on the couch with him and watching Star Trek are one of the good memories that I still count as precious.

It wasn’t only science fiction TV though. My dad let me read his Flying and Air and Space magazines. We watched documentaries on aviation and spaceflight together. He bought me the telescope that I still use to gaze at the stars and dream. He’s one of the few people who never insinuated that it was strange for a girl to love airplanes, spacecraft, and astronomy. He’s the reason I had subscriptions to Astronomy and Aviation History in high school. When Aaron took me to the Air and Space museum on our honeymoon, I was in awe of the famous aircraft because my dad told me about them and the stories behind them when I was a kid.

I love all of those things, and I write science fiction today because of my dad. For all of the hard that came out of that relationship, this is one thing that came out of it that I will never, never regret. It’s a part of who I am that is meaningful to me, and it’s something that my dad encouraged, even when people said, “But you’re a girl!” I will always be grateful to my dad for the gift of science fiction, and for being one of the few people in my growing up years who understood just how much the sky and the stars called to me. Because of how much these things mean to me, and because of how much of it I owe to my dad, I can’t completely hate him. I hate some of the things he did to me, to my sister, and to our mom. And yet… I am thankful for the gift of science fiction that he gave me.

Officially, I write science fiction because I love the stars, and I love the genre that allows us to explore deep and complicated things in a way that makes them seem less scary and threatening. Science fiction is an amazing genre with the potential to impact people in a very personal way. Unofficially, I write science fiction because it redeems part of a childhood made up of scary and difficult things. No writer exists who doesn’t owe thanks to the people who have made it possible for them to be a writer. I’ve got my own very long list of people who have encouraged, inspired, and taught me along the way. My dad’s on that list too because he sparked the interest in so many of the things that have made me a science fiction writer.

I think the hardest thing about healing for me has been trying to reconcile the good and bad in the relationship. Nothing turned out the way I expected when I was younger. In some ways that’s a very good thing, but in other ways it’s so very hard. Letting go of what I thought would be is not easy, and it’s weird to grieve the loss of someone still living. I always hoped for that movie moment like at the end of Star Trek IV where Sarek and Spock reconcile at least some of their differences. I wanted that moment, and I really believed that if I could be something enough, I’d get it. Reality doesn’t always work out so well as in the movies, and I had to make peace with the truth of that. Recently though, a quote from Tolkien that I always associated with my mom seems like it might apply to my dad too.

“There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Whether on this side of eternity or the next, God may yet have a miracle in store. For now, there’s something very dear to me in my life because of my dad. In the end, maybe God redeems more things than I ever dreamed He could.

Shattered Honor Blog Tour!

I discovered Anne Wheeler’s books through a speculative fiction writer’s group that I’m part of, and I’m so excited that I get to be part of the blog tour for the release of her third book, Shattered Honor!

Anne was kind enough to offer a little sneak peek at an excerpt for my readers:

It was strange how many people thought the desert was always hot. Windhaven, closer to the Haederan equator than even his thin blood would prefer, was cold in the winter, especially at night. Especially after . . . Well, wasn’t that why he was home? To forget what had happened? Forgetting apparently wasn’t as easy as it used to be, since he’d been watching the sun rise above the faraway mountains for more than an hour now, unable to sleep. The only thing he’d forgotten over the past years was who he really was.

If the glass running from the floor all the way to the flat roof had been thinner, he might have heard the goldcrests perched in the cacti on the other side. Four more alighted on the arm of one giant cactus to peck at it as he leaned his forehead against the window to watch. They would kill the plant sooner or later, but they meant no harm. They just didn’t know any better. How could they? Maybe if he reached a hand out, he could touch their feathers through the glass . . . take some of their innocence for himself.

“Hello there,” he said to the fat one sitting closest to him. The gold-feathered wren chirped silently, accusingly, then flew off in its never-ending search for water. Like it knew what kind of man was speaking to it. Like it saw all the things he’d done. Things he couldn’t think about now. His misplaced loyalties. The blood on his hands. He couldn’t blame the bird for staying away, just like he couldn’t blame the Holy One for deserting him.

Shattered Honor

Space opera will always be my first love when it comes to science fiction, and Anne has done a wonderful job with this series. I was interested as soon as I found out there was a princess who is also a pilot in the books. Asrian Skies did not disappoint, and neither did the sequel, Unbroken Fire. I can’t wait to dive into Shattered Honor, and I’ve already pre-ordered it so I can start reading on release day, which is June 18th. This is the book I’m reading for the “newly released” prompt in the Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge, and I actually included that prompt with Shattered Honor in mind!

Do you know what’s even better than a summer book release from one of your favorite authors? A giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks Anne for sharing an excerpt and the giveaway with the Teish Knits readers! Anyone that hasn’t read the first two books yet still has time to binge read them this weekend so you can dive right into Shattered Honor with me on June 18th!

Summer Reading Challenge – June 11th Update

We’re doing a reading challenge here at Teish Knits this summer, and it’s not too late to join in! You can download the challenge prompt list and bookmarks here. This is a strictly fun, no pressure challenge, so you can interpret the prompts as broadly as you like, and choose to do fewer of them if reading 13 books this summer seems too overwhelming. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my own progress here on the blog, and I hope you’ll stop by and comment either on the blog or social media and let me know what you’re reading!

A memoir or biography

I read The Sky Below by Scott Parazynski with Susy Flory for this reading prompt. If you can read the Kindle version on a color screen tablet, then go with the Kindle version. I’ve never read a book with embedded video, and it blew my mind when I watched a shuttle launch in the middle of a chapter!

The book itself is a fascinating look at a truly accomplished individual. I was only a few chapters into the book when I observed to my husband, “Reading this makes me realize that I’m the most boring person on Earth.” Seriously though, Scott Parazynski’s career is impressive on its own, but add to that the other fantastic experiences he’s had, and it makes for a book that I couldn’t put down. The last few words will stick with me for quite some time:

The summits and calderas and skywalks and other bold life challenges are out there, waiting for you to dust off your dream. Everything is possible until proven impossible, and then you just need to become more creative. The sky is not the limit. And it never will be.

Scott Parazynski

The Sky Below would absolutely appeal to anyone who enjoys reading astronaut memoirs, but I think it would appeal to a wider audience as well. Readers interested in mountain climbing would likely enjoy the read, given how much of that is included in the book. It’s a good length, and held my interest from start to finish. The kindle in motion version is a must though! You don’t want to miss the videos!

I’m currently reading the book that will check the box for the book with a pretty cover prompt, but since it’s an ARC for a book that will be releasing later this month, I’m not going to say more… yet. It’s definitely outside of my usual genre choice for reading, but it’s also by an author who’s books I’ve always enjoyed. I have to admit, I’m rather enjoying the ride! I’ll share more about it once the book releases, so keep following along on my Tuesday reading challenge updates!

What about you? What are you reading this week?

Between Remembered and Forgotten

I’m taking part in the Penprints Flash Fiction Dash! My prompt was to write a cyberpunk flash fiction story based on the song Arrow by Half Alive.

Tag Stanford splashed cold water on his face and stared at the reflection in the tiny mirror. Lack of sleep left dark purple marks under his bloodshot eyes. His calf muscles ached, and his left knee screamed in protest at the extended run he’d taken after his shift at work. Too bad it hadn’t exhausted him enough to let him slip into a dreamless sleep for a change.

He dragged on some decent-looking clothes and stuck a dented metal mug under the drink dispenser. He had to hit the panel twice to get a full cup of coffee out of the stupid thing. He’d have to save up for a new one later. Gulping the lukewarm brew, Tag picked up the note from his employer and read it again. Phrases like, “negatively impacting productivity” and “strongly suggest professional treatment” screamed at him. Employers couldn’t legally mandate any kind of medical treatment, but they could fire him if they determined that his productivity was on a downward spiral. He downed the dregs of what passed for coffee and stuck the mug in the sterilizer. It was hard to be productive when the nightmares started every time you closed your eyes.

A quiet ping from the band on his wrist drew his attention and the reminder scrolled across the tiny screen.

“Appointment at New Mind Clinic in 1 Hour”

Dr. Ataca assured Tag that he’d come through the exact same procedure once before with no problems. Tag couldn’t remember the previous treatment, but then that was sort of the point. Remove those troublesome memories and the memory of the treatment and then just go along with your life like it never happened. The mind is a funny thing though, and the doctor told him that in rare cases the brain starts to remember trauma in the form of nightmares and inexplicable anxiety. Tag could attest to that. A second treatment would take care of any residual memories. He would go the the clinic this evening, then wake up in his apartment tomorrow morning and go to work. He’d sleep through the night again. He gathered up the note from work and the brochure from New Mind Clinic and stuffed them into his pocket. It wouldn’t do to leave those here where he’d find them tomorrow.

The door locked clicked behind him and his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Leisha poked her head out the door to wave. He waved and smiled back, trying not to think about her opinions on the memory erasure treatment. She likened it to the lobotomies her grandmother talked about. Tag looked that up on the internet once and immediately wished that he hadn’t. He got a headache every time he envisioned an ice pick being shoved in his brain. Thankfully, the dark ages of medical care were over.

Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Tag walked the short distance from his apartment building to the mag train. It was only drizzling a bit, so he didn’t bother flipping the hood of his jacket over his head. The crowds waiting at the stop were typical for a Tuesday evening. Most of them were checking messages, ordering take-out, or watching the news on their wristbands. Tag couldn’t focus enough to do anything these days. He would be glad to get this over with; being stuck between remembering and forgetting was the worst place to be.

It wasn’t a long ride to the stop near the clinic. As soon as he finished checking in at the front desk, a medical assistant took him back to a treatment room and handed him a pair of scrubs.

“Just change into these Mr. Stanford and I’ll be back in a few minutes with Dr. Ataca.”

Tag left his street clothes in a neat stack on a chair in the corner and sat on the exam table, studying the pattern of the flooring until the short knock before the door opened.

“How are you doing this morning, Tag?” Dr. Ataca put a hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye.

He rubbed his sweaty palms on the thin scrubs. “Little nervous. Are you sure this second procedure will take care of everything?”

She patted his shoulder. “Of course it will. I’ve been doing this a long time, and we have every reason to be confident that after this treatment, you’ll never have these dreams or memories again. Don’t worry, you’re in good hands!”

Dr. Ataca nodded to the med assistant as Tag settled back on the table. A micro-needle anesthetic patch was applied to his wrist and bio-monitor patches on his chest and forehead. His eyes drifted closed when the drug finally hit his bloodstream. This would all be over soon, and he’d never have to come back to the clinic again.

***

“Is he out?” Dr. Ataca asked.

The med assistant checked the bio-monitor readouts and nodded, “All ready to begin.”

“Good.” She stepped closer to the table and began inputting the parameters for Tag’s memory erasure treatment. “Be sure to make a note in his chart that he needs to be referred every eight months. If his Primary Med Provider’s office hadn’t messed up the scheduling, he’d never have gotten to the point where the memories resurfaced at all. Thank goodness his employer’s HR department picked up on what was going on before it got worse.”

“I’ve set up a reminder to ping his PMP’s office in 8 months if they haven’t referred him yet. Is this really the 16th treatment he’s had?” The med assistant looked up in surprise.

Dr. Ataca nodded, “Yes, Tag was one of our first patients here at the clinic.”

“And he has no idea that he’s been your patient for more than a decade?”

“No, and if we all do our jobs right, none of them ever know.”

Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge

I love books! I wish I could read all of the books, the cool books anyway. Life is too short to read boring books that you don’t like, at least once you’re out of school. The fun thing about reading challenges is that I have to hunt for books to fit the challenge prompts, and this often reminds me of books that have been in my TBR list for way too long. Also, I’m a little bit obsessed with checking things off on a list.

I thought that it would be fun to do a Teish Knits Reading Challenge this summer on the blog! You can download a pdf of the list here. I’ve also created some fun bookmarks with lines for keeping track of the books that you’ve read for the challenge! You can download the bookmarks here. Since there are 13 weeks in June through August, I included 13 prompts for choosing books. I want this to be a no-stress challenge though. If a book a week sounds like more than your schedule can handle, then pick a number of books that you want to read over the summer and highlight that many prompts on the list any only do those.

I picked ideas for the Teish Knits Reading Challenge that can be broadly interpreted. For example, a book about health can be related to any kind of health topic, or even a fiction book featuring a healthcare setting or character. The book related to your career or goals might be a non-fiction book on the topic, or it could be a novel where the main character has the same kind of career or goals that you do. I’m planning to try for a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but you could interpret the prompts to best fit the kind of books you like to read.

Given that this July is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, I had to include a prompt for a book related to astronomy or space exploration. There are so many wonderful books about the people involved in space exploration, but you could pick something focused on the science, or even science fiction if you prefer. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and Hidden Figures are both wonderful non-fiction choices that would fit this prompt if you’d need an idea!

I also included an audiobook, paper book, and e-book in the list. I like all three formats, but sometimes I end up sort of stuck in a format rut. I wanted to remind myself to enjoy books across all three formats this summer.

Of course, I had to include a favorite that you want to re-read. Mom used to say that she was going to quit buying me books for my birthday and Christmas because I always had the stack read within a week or two. I was horrified at the thought and pointed out that since I re-read books, it was hardly a waste of money. Re-reading my favorite books is like comfort food.

Instead of my usual Thoughts for Tuesday posts this summer, I’ll do a Reading Challenge Update each Tuesday. I’ll share which book I’m reading, thoughts on ones I’ve finished, and maybe chat about some of the books I’ll be reading next. I hope you’ll join in with the Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge. Let me know what books you’re reading, and what you think of them throughout the summer! You can comment on the blog, or on my Facebook or Instagram pages. I’ll have weekly Reading Challenge Update posts on both platforms where we can talk about what we’re reading this summer!

Don’t forget to download your Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge list, so you’re all ready to go!

Why Not?

This morning the kids asked me if they could stack up some of the wood pallets our coal is delivered on to use them for a picnic table. In a fit of insanity, I thought, “We could do better than that.” While rummaging around for solid wood to use as table legs, we came across the pieces from an old bed frame. The headboard seemed just about perfect for a table top.

We dragged the pieces outside along with my tool box and my IT staff’s circular saw. Measuring, cutting, building, improvising when plans A through C didn’t go exactly as expected… It was actually a fun project! It is by no means perfect. A real carpenter would cringe at my MacGyver’d table, but I’ve never let that stop me from attempting a project in the past.

It’s not pressure treated wood, or a composite, so we’ll need some outdoor paint to seal it. I told the kids that they can paint it themselves, which will be interesting since only one of them has any experience helping me paint furniture. Since a wonky paint job isn’t exactly going to make the table worse, I figured it was a good practice project.

I’m more likely to say, “Why?” than “Why not?” when the kids come up with a project idea. I’m trying to change that to some degree. Admittedly, sometimes the projects crash and burn. (In the case of a science experiment in the microwave, the burning can be literal.) There are times that the projects turn out fantastic, and then there are times like today when the project isn’t quite fantastic, but it’s still cool. It may have been in a fit of insanity, but I’m glad that my response today was, “Why not?”

Thoughts for Tuesday on Wednesday, May 29th

Outside my windows… it’s cloudy and cold. The lawn is growing nicely, but I’m not sure if it’s still too cold to be planting outside in my flower beds.

Inside my house… the seedlings I started this spring are not exactly thriving. some of them gave up before sprouting. I may have to go visit the greenhouse at some point.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful that my kiddos enjoy being outside and exploring nature!

Prayers of the heart… for the busy summer coming; that we’ll be able to fit in everything we need to and let go of the rest.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Munchkin is trying out my favorite baked mac&cheese recipe, while her brothers are playing a new board game that Grandma introduced us to!

From my playlist… Catchy Song from the LEGO Movie 2. My kids have mixed feelings about this.

From my reading list… I’m actually thinking about which books I want to read for the Teish Knits Summer Reading Challenge! Post about that coming next week, so don’t miss it! (Get a sneak peek at the printables by clicking on the Downloads tab in the main menu.)

From my needlework basket… I’m knitting the hood of my hooded sweater. Once that’s done I’ll just have the sleeves left to do. I’m still undecided about whether I’ll knit them on double-point needles or circular needles.

In the learning room… the kiddos have finished up more subjects for the year, so they are enjoying a little extra free time. They’re hoping for better weather soon!

Random ramblings… Tuesday this week was a little crazy. Thoughts for Tuesday posts are going away for the summer, so I wanted to do one last post in the series, even if it’s very, very late!

Profound ponderings… “I am and always will be–the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes. The dreamer of improbable dreams.” — Quote from Doctor Who

Caught on film…

T-shirt Quilt DIY

I love graphic tees! I had a stack of them that had worn out, had stains, or weren’t very comfortable that I couldn’t bear to part with because, nostalgia! I kept telling myself that I’d make a t-shirt quilt with them. I’ve been saving t-shirts for this quilt for over 15 years. Still no quilt.

Here’s the thing: to do it the “right” way, you need to use woven fusible interfacing to stabilize the t-shirt material, then sew them together with sashing or boarders of some kind, and then you quilt and bind it like a regular quilt. During the Great Sewing Room Clean-Up of 2019, I came across all of those t-shirts and was reminded that I should really make that quilt someday. Then I came across a couple of t-shirt material twin sheets I’d been saving for an undetermined project, and started thinking…

What if I just cut the t-shirts into squares, sewed them together with no interfacing or sashing, skipped the batting, and just used the t-shirt sheets for the backing. It would break all of the “rules” for t-shirt quilts, but they would be nice summer blankets for the living room. I decided that in this case, done was better than perfect.

I grabbed my 12 1/2″ quilting square, centered the t-shirt design, and cut around them with my rotary cutter. I had 40 squares, so I made two t-shirt quilts. One of them, I just grabbed whatever square was next and sewed it onto the row then sewed the rows together without paying much attention to placement. The second one, I laid out the squares and then sewed them together in a particular order. Honestly, I like the way both turned out, so pick which method you like better.

I find that sewing knit material with the even-feed foot on my machine keeps the stretching to a minimum, but you can skip it if you don’t have one or don’t like using it with knits. I did one quilt with a 1/4″ seam allowance and one with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Either one works, just be sure that you keep your seam allowance consistent through the whole quilt. Don’t switch halfway through or it will make things turn out wonky.

After sewing the blocks in a 4 by 5 square layout, I spread the t-shirt sheet on the table with the right side up. Then I layered the quilt on top of it with the right side down. Make sure the right sides of the quilt and backing are touching each other. Pin well along the edge and then sew along the outside using your preferred seam allowance. Leave about an 8″ opening so you can turn the whole thing right side out.

Once you’ve sewed the edges, and turned the quilt right side out, pin the opening closed and top-stitch around the whole quilt. I prefer top-stitching about 1/4″ from the edge, but use what you like best. If you don’t catch the edges of the opening in the top-stitching, you’ll need to hand-sew that closed.

Next, you’ll be sewing “in the ditch” or on the line where the squares meet. This will sort of hold the blanket together while you’re using it. You can do this without pinning the two layers together first. However, I still had some shifting of the backing when I tried this without pinning. It’s not bad, but the quilt where I used safety pins along the edges of the blocks definitely worked better.

And you’re done! This is one of those projects you can easily do in a weekend or just a few evenings. You could make a bigger quilt or smaller one, but I found this size to be perfect for curling up under while watching a movie. Camo was happy to test out this one hot off the sewing machine! I’d just packed up a couple of our winter quilts, so the timing on these was perfect. Nothing says “warm weather” like t-shirts, or a quilt made of them, right?

If you end up making a t-shirt quilt of your own, head over to the Teish Knits Facebook page and share a photo. I’d love to see other examples!

Thoughts for Tuesday, May 21st

Outside my windows… the weather today can’t decide whether it’s going to be rainy or sunny.

Inside my house… I can smell the cookies that Munchkin baked this afternoon.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful for cookies that someone else baked while I worked!

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… going a bit stir-crazy with all of the rain! These kids want to be outside, but the weather isn’t cooperating.

From my playlist… 50s music. There are some unusual hits from that decade.

From my reading list… Grace, Grit, Guts by Tracy O’Malley

From my needlework basket… either sewing in ends on the shawl I finished knitting, or working on a sweater. Depends on which I feel more like working on at the time.

In the learning room… the three younger kiddos have wrapped up their Math curriculum for the year, and all three of the older ones have wrapped up Language Arts. We’ll be working on things through July, but it’s nice to have a lighter schedule for summer.

Random ramblings… “When life’s flight is over, and we unload our cargo at the other end, the fellow who got rid of unnecessary weight will have the most valuable cargo to present the Lord.” — Nate Saint

Profound ponderings… I found a new podcast! It’s perfect for readers or writers of speculative fiction. I’m enjoying the author chats, and learning a lot from listening. Tune in: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-christian-speculative-fiction-podcast/id1463468309

Caught on film…