Home and safe!

We evacuated subsequent to Hurricane Katrina — er, Ida. Ida hit on the 16 year anniversary of that monster storm. You better believe that was pretty hard for south Louisiana to take.

My husband just couldn’t take the heat without AC, and he has a medical device which needs electricity. So we decamped to his parents north of Baton Rouge. They only lost power for a night.

We were there for about a week, but now we are home: cool, dry, and safe.

Sixteen years ago, in Katrina, we lost our home, my job, and everything we ever owned. So believe me, this last week was NOTHING. A minor inconvenience. My heart is with the people who lost. everything this time. I’m angry. South Louisiana should be more prepared. We all know this isn’t going away.

But now I am home with power. You don’t know what a luxury that is until you don’t have it for an extended time. The Internet is spotty, but that’s okay.

I am continuing to work on getting my full paper and ebook copies of THE PONO WAY properly online. Let’s say it’s an iterative process. My friend Charlie is helping me.

So I am good. I feel good. Very grateful and happy to be able to work. Check back with you soon.

Update

Just a quick update. I have to conserve my phone battery.

My family is safe so far. But all of New Orleans is without power. Catastrophic flooding north of Lake Pontchartrain.

Don’t expect to see me online much for a while.

Hurricane Comin’

Hurricane Ida, right on the anniversary of Katrina. I hate how that happens. The end of August is cursed.

Credit: weather.gov

I live in New Orleans and went through Katrina, if you didn’t know. (It affected the drafting of The Pono Way, but that’s another story.)

That is going to affect my rather desultory book launch. As I will shortly run out of power, and possibly have to evacuate. Thank goodness for cloud computing.

I’ll do what I can before the power goes out. We think we can hunker down and ride it out. Where could we go, anyway? Every relative we could go to is in the storm track, some worse than us.

I’f you’re of a spiritual bent, prayers to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the divine protectress of New Orleans, are welcome.

Otherwise, happy thoughts.

I’ll check in tomorrow. The storm is predicted to make landfall Sunday night.

It’s ALIVE!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CKFV48X/

My new book is live in paper on Amazon! Check it out!

Still working on the ebook.

If you want to help me with it, the best thing you can do now is buy a copy. Or, if you’ve already read it, write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Even just a couple lines greatly improves the book’s rep in the eyes of the almighty Algorithm. Especially now that it is new and fresh. 

Incredible feeling. The one thing I actually wanted to accomplish this year is publish this book. And now I have!

Cover Reveal!

Today’s the day! I said I would do it and I am. So happy to be able to reveal the cover for my next novel, THE PONO WAY!

I’m very happy with this cover. I got it pre-made from The Book Cover Zone, with a couple tweaks. Both of my covers so far are pre-made, and I’m very happy with both of them.

For an indie author, a cover needs to signify your genre/subgenre of fiction clearly in a small thumbnail, and I think this cover does that well. If you Google “solarpunk” in Image Search, you quickly understand the aesthetic — futuristic white cities with lots of greenery tumbling everywhere. I think his cover captures that very well.

The PONO WAY should be live early next week! Publishing this book was the one thing I actually wanted to accomplish this year. So I feel PRETTY DAMN PLEASED with myself right now.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Inching Closer

Still a couple fiddly layout bits to fix with my manuscript, and then it will be ready to publish! I’m so stoked! Publishing THE PONO WAY was the one thing I actually wanted to accomplish this year.

Credit: OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

This picture is much what I imagine my island-state, Pono, to look like, although this is a coastal city and my Pono is in the deep ocean. This is an architectural concept of a floating city called Oceanix. It’s synchronistic how it popped up in the news as I was drafting my novel.

Tomorrow I will share the cover reveal! Meanwhile, here is the blurb for Amazon. What do you think?

A refugee crisis tests a utopian island community to its limits.

In 2050, the United States of America finally crumbled.  Jake Weintraub’s family fled the burned-out ruins of Chicago for the safety of the artificial island steading of Pono. Now grown, Jake works as an independent journalist, but the horrors of the Chicago River Riots still haunt him.

As Pono watches, safe in the Pacific Ocean, the successor West Coast state of Cascadia collapses under a further series of catastrophes.  Thousands of desperate refugees arrive on Pono’s shores – homeless, stateless, and hungry.

Jake throws himself into covering their story, even as their plight evokes memories of his own trauma and flight.  Can Pono, a carefully constructed island society, accept this influx of strangers? Or will this crisis tear Ponoan society apart?

THE PONO WAY is a solarpunk science fiction novel in the vein of Kim Stanley Robinson’s THREE CALIFORNIAS or THE FIFTH SACRED THING by Starhawk. Find out what happens by buying your copy today!

Solarpunk Links

Here, as promised, are some links where you can learn more about solarpunk, as a sci-fi genre and as a social movement.

Read this Notes toward a Solarpunk Manifesto from Project Hieroglyph for a better sense of the genre, and the art and politics that arise from it.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry.

A introductory article on Ozy.com.

A reading list on Goodreads.com. (And here’s me on Goodreads while I’m at it, wink wink.)

An image gallery from Deviant Art

And finally I have a Solarpunk Pinterest board you can check out here.

What is Solarpunk?

My new book, The Pono Way, is coming along well. I am preparing the manuscript for publication. It should come in the next couple weeks. It does take a while.

The book is subtitled, A Solarpunk Novel (mostly for the Amazon algorithm.). So what does that mean? What is solarpunk?

Credit: AJ-Illustrated on deviant art.com

Solarpunk is an emerging subgenre of science fiction. You can think of it a a 21st-century evolution of cyberpunk, except hopeful and positive instead of depressive and dystopian. That’s on purpose. Solarpunk focuses on near-future, Earth-based sci-fi, about ways the human race comes to grip with climate change and learns how to work together to live sustainably on this Earth. It is a variety of “cli-fi,” or climate fiction: narratives about confronting, or falling to, the challenge of global climate change. Solarpunk is notable because it insists on presenting workable solutions to the manifold problems the human race faces as the world heats up. It is intended to inspire optimism and give people hope for the future.

If you’re like me, a lifelong fan, you probably love The Expanse, the book and TV series. Imagine solarpunk as between here and there. Humanity struggling to fix its mistakes. In The Expanse, history tells that we didn’t do a very good job. Solarpunk represents a time and place when all is not yet lost.

Credit: Astral_Requin on deviantart.com

I was inspired to write this by an essay by the noted SF author David Brin on IO9.com, stating that it was time for sci-fi to be optimistic again, to give people hope and a vision for the future.And then a close friend of mine said the exact same thing to me just a couple days later, “I’m tired of dystopia. Where’s the hope?” That’s what I’ve tried to do in The Pono Way. It’s hard won, but I do think it shines a ray of hope.

Solarpunk’s aesthetic is both multicultural and nature-based, inspired by Art Nouveau and indigenous cultures around the world. It politics is generally communitarian and anti-capitalist. Here is a cool summation from the clever entry at TV Tropes:

Solar punk works look toward a brighter future (“solar”) while deliberately subverting the systems that keep that brighter future from happening (“punk”).

People quibble about how “punk” — anti-authoritarian and subversive — solarpunk really is..”Punk” is often just used as a tag for a subgenre of science fiction these days, the way “-gate “indicates a political scandal. I guess that’s up to the individual authors. I happen to think The Pono Way is pretty subversive. Growing up in the Watergate era, it was my childhood ambition to get on a government “enemies” list. Because I had heard about Nixon’s “enemies” list (he was famously paranoid), and I figured if you were an enemy of Richard Nixon, you were on the side of right.

That was back when people could still have some privacy, long before the Internet, before total information awareness. I wouldn’t be so sanguine now.

The Pono Way is also informed by my experience as a Hurricane Katrina survivor. I think about things like climate disaster and mitigation A LOT. About failures of government, and how they can be fixed or avoided. And it comes out in my fiction, whether I intend it to or not.

This is getting kind of long, so I will cut it short, and shoot some links in the next post so you can learn more. . In the meantime, Aloha. (Pono’s culture has many Polynesian influences, it being a Pacific island-state.). Thanks for reading!

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My Thoughts on the Pentagon UAP Report

 I’ve always loved weird science. Since I was a little kid reading the TIME LIFE Mysteries of the Unexplained books at the public library.  UFOs, Bigfoot, poltergeists, all of it. The Philadelphia Experiment. “Fortean phenomena.” Weird science. I love it! It fires my imagination.

I’ve been studying the UFO phenomenon my entire life.

So I have some thoughts about the Pentagon report on “Unexplained Aerial Phenomena” that dropped last week.

Much of the “UFO community” are infuriated at what they find to be weak tea, after 70 years of waiting.

But really, anyone who thought the report was going to include high-definition video of classic flying discs was letting their imagination run away with them.

If you read carefully, there are two major changes of policy in this report. 

First, the report says, “UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security.” [emphasis mine]

Since the Blue Book era onwards, the official position has been that UFOs/UAP represent no threat to national security. 

Second, the report suggests the phenomenon requires actual scientific study to increase understanding.

The conclusion of the Condon Report back in the 1960s stated that there was no scientific value to studying the phenomenon. This gave the Air Force the excuse it wanted to shutter Project Blue Book. 

Actually, three policy changes, now that I think of it — there are now formal procedures for the military to report UAPs.  

Previously, doing so could end a pilot’s or a scientist’s career through ridicule and ostracization.

This represents a 180 degree turn from previous policy. For generations, the official government position was ridicule and obfuscation. “Swamp gas.”

Now, suddenly UAPs are a threat to national security requiring rigorous scientific study (and more funding.)

Why? What changed?  

Mind, I don’t think it’s great that the phenomenon is suddenly being couched as a threat, a potential enemy.

But at least “the powers that be” are taking it seriously. 

They’re spoon-feeding us information here. But they ARE feeding us.  That is a huge change. 

Here is the report, so you can read it yourself. It’s only nine pages. Including two appendixes.

Make of it what you will.

Saddling Up and Riding into the Sunset

Concept art from ecological architect Vincent Callebaut
WIKIPEDIA: KOMA MODULAR CONSTRUCTION

The plague year changed things for me. Changed how I think about things. I had a non-Covid-related health scare myself last year — I was in hospital during the spring lockdown. It was rough and scary. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about what I value, what I want to do with my life. Which may not suddenly be as long as I always imagined. (My family is long-lived. I have grandparents on both sides who lived to be 100.)

So when my employer, ravaged by the Covid depression, offered early retirement at the end of the year — I took it.

When my friend Christian Martin moved out to LA a couple years ago to try to break into TV writing, I was happy for him. But I was ravaged by regret for myself. That I hadn’t done the same and given writing my all when I was young. That I had always played it safe.

I should have taken that leap of faith. I should have bailed on one of my succession of shitty McJobs, told my boyfriend (now husband) that he had to support us for a year, and worked full time on writing. Given it all of my energy and attention. Who knows how far I might have gone?

So, when the retirement option appeared, I thought, People don’t often get a second chance like this. A chance to make writing my full focus while I still have some energy and mental focus left.

(Okay, I’m making it sound like I’m at death’s door. I’m not. I’m managing my issues and doing well. But when I first got sick I was in a dark place for a while, and it colored my subsequent thinking.)

So I took it. The chance. It’s not even like I’m throwing myself on the mercy of the universe. I have a pension — that’s unheard of for Generation X! It’s less than I made, but better than I expected. And if things get tight, I can always get another job.

So, this year I have been working finishing my latest book. It is almost ready for publication. The genre is Solarpunk and the title is THE PONO WAY. I’ll tell you more about it in subsequent posts.

Come along with me as I put some actual skin in the game. Wish me luck!