Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Proofing the Proof

Proofing in between watching my dad do a fundraiser race/relay
"Does it get hard, reading it over and over again?" My mother asked me as she watched me mark up my proof copy of "The Mermaid and the Unicorn."

"Not really," I told her. "It's been awhile since I've been able to just sit down and read it, and it's cool having it in real book format."

I spoke too soon! Three days later and my eyes are blurring. I love this story I've made, but I'm going to be very relieved to have it done. Four years is enough!

Mateo thinks Mummy's book is worth devouring!
I knew there would be some edits to make in the proof copy, but I didn't expect quite so many. In addition to the formatting mix-ups of transfering WORD to INDESIGN for the first time, there is just something different about paper vs. the screen. New things are popping out at me on this read-through, even though I've read those exact words at least four times before, if not many more!

Crazy.

Jansina has been a real comfort this week as she has reassured me that this is very normal, and that our timing will be tight, but doable. So thankful to have her assisting me during this final phase of publication! (I'll be writing up a blog post soon about my whole experience working with Rivershore Books)


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What having a puppy has taught me about God

It's been almost one month since Mateo bounded into our home and it's been quite the adventure. Just now I am trying to balance writing this blog post and keeping him occupied with one of his favorite toys - the broom. It's a joy, but it is also crazy enough to make be grateful that we're waiting a little longer to have kids!

One of the most surprising parts about welcoming a puppy into our family is how much it has taught me about the nature of God. Mateo, for all of his deep Shih Tzu contemplative expressions, is a dog. He does not 'speak human.' And a lot of times there are rules we have to enforce with him that he simply does not understand. He wants to run around wherever and eat whatever, whenever he wants. He doesn't 'get' why we have to say 'no' and take his treasures away or put him in his pen. He whines and it breaks my heart, but I have to be firm because I know what is better for him.

The gap between my understanding and God's wisdom is far greater than that between me and Mateo. And yet, I know that God watches over even the smallest sparrow, so he is certainly watching over me. This year has caused me to act a lot like Mateo - "Why, God? Why, God? Why?" I ask over and over. But as I watch Mateo crying over something that is good for him, I realize... God's plan may not make sense to me, but I still trust him. I may feel distress now, but I believe that he is sparing me from a greater pain later on.

And just as I always do my best to give Mateo what good things are actually good for him, I know that this verse is also true:

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:11

My timing is not God's timing, but I know that it is perfect timing.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Book Business and FAQ's

Wow, but this last week has been crazy. I thought once we got the editing done there would be a bit of a break - but no! Of course, it hasn't helped that Mateo has been kind of sick, so that's added another layer of stress to everything. ;/

This is going to be a bit of a long post. If you just came here for the Book FAQ's, then scroll down to the very bottom of this post, OR check out the dedicated FAQ page over at GeekHausPress. :)

Secondly - if you are just following me on the blog, you are getting posts once or twice a week. However I do post more regularly on Facebook, so please do feel free to follow me there! (Link is in the sidebar). At this point I don't friend anyone I don't personally know because otherwise it gets too hard to manage my real life friends when I'm doing personal parties and stuff, however I love chatting book and geek stuff with fellow-minded folk so feel free to chime in on the posts once you start following and I'll do my best to respond! :) 

Anyhow, last Tuesday we finished up the edits on "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" and sent it to our formatter, Jansina of Rivershore books. She and I traded notes over the next few days, tweaking margins and fonts and page numbers and opacity. Janny has been a long-time friend and writing companion (we have had dozens of coffee shop dates over the course of this book), but I've never worked with her in her professional capacity before and it was really cool to get to see what she does for a living. I have a new appreciation for her abilities now! 

Another friend for whom I have new appreciation is my friend Anthony. Many of you may remember him as "Fish" in our movie version of "The Shadow of the Bear," but you probably don't know that he is also a very talented photographer. He agreed to do my author photos, and although I knew they would be good, I didn't realize just how far he had progressed from our last photoshoot and I am just so excited about the photos I've seen so far! We're still narrowing down to our final pick, but I'll be showing them to you very soon! (He does do professional photography now and I'll include his contact details when I release the official photo). 

I also finally got my sister to be my personal stylist for this photoshoot - but more about that in another post!

Of course, the other part of self-publishing is handling the marketing. This means that I had to get some promotional materials for "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" made up. I originally planned to do bookmarks, but when researching the cost, I realized that it would just not be worth it at this point in the game (I will have some later when I have more books in the series out). So this time I went the good old Vistaprint route and made some business cards for the book. They haven't arrived yet, but based on the digital rendering Vistaprint sent me, they're looking pretty cute!!!

It was also time for me to make up some official author business cards. Up until now I've only had my seamstress confession cards. I'd been holding off on the author cards until I had a book release date. Well, that time is here!


For half a minute I was going to go with a premade Vistaprint design, then I remembered that my plan was totally to use my blog header. So. Duh. But then I realized that I had a cat on it... when now Mateo is my little writing buddy! (I do have a cat, but she lives with my parents cuz she is old, has spent her whole life there, and she can live outside and catch mice when she wants to there). So I found a photo of Mateo and inked in his profile.

Also, yes, I have an email devoted to my writing endeavors now. So if you want to contact me about anything book or blog related. send a message to ElizabethAHajek(at)gmail(dot)com. (Wondering why I don't just spell it out? Spam bots. Seriously.)

My final vistaprint item was a signature stamp. Since my fibromyalgia affects my hands more than any other part of my body, I have found that I can only handwrite a few lines before my fingers cramp up (weirdly, drawing is different, as long as I use brush markers). So I made up a special stamp with my author signature (must be different than legal signature) and a little note. If you order a book from me and ask for an inscription, I will try to add that as well, but for any events I do, I probably won't be able to guarentee that. However I will have my special autograph stamp, and I promise that only I will ever use it - I won't even delegate to Nathan.

So. Marketing materials? Check. Interior of the book? Almost check. I have uploaded the cover and interior and am about to order the proof. After that arrives we will probably have a few more tweaks to make before I'm done. Janny also has to format the ebook version.

I have also sent out digital ARCs to some bloggers who are going to write up reviews of the book and possibly do some interviews with me as well! I will link back here with the blog tour posts when they are up. Pretty exciting! I've been getting comments back from the fastest readers and it's been really fun to see what they think!

My application for a Library of Congress Catalog Number is in. The first part of the process went smoothly, and I should know in a week what the official number is for "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" unless there is a major backlog. I'll write more about that process once it is complete!

I need to add more to GeekHausPress.com and I'm open to suggestions. What info would you like to see on that site? This blog will still be my main hub, but I need to flesh out the publisher website somewhat.

Okay! Book FAQ's! Here are the answers to some questions I've gotten so far, or expect to get soon. If you have any that are not addressed here, please leave them in the comments, on Facebook, or email them to me at ElizabethAHajek(at)Gmail(dot)com.

Please note that this is my first time going through this process and any of these answers could change at any time. I hope to set up an actual FAQ page soon, but would like to get more solid answers first. Right now these are just my best guesses.

Will this be a digital book or an actual paper book?
Both!

Will I be able to buy the book on Amazon?
Yes! The ebook may be exclusive to Amazon at least while I give Amazon Unlimited a try, simply because I think the book borrowing idea is cool. But that could change based on how I like it, and whether there is demand for another format.

The PRINT version will be for sale on Amazon and on GeekHausPress.com. If you order from me at GeekHausPress you will pay a higher shipping rate, but you will also get a signed copy and a bookmark. If you have Amazon Prime, you should be able to order from there with free shipping, but won't get the inscription or bookmark. It's up to you, really. I get paid a bit more if you order from me, but it's also more hassle for me and more cost for you, so I don't honestly care which you do. Whichever you prefer!

How big is the book?
The answer to this keeps changing somewhat as we go through the formatting process! The trim size will be 6x9 (the same size as the Fairy Tale Novels for those of you who own them and want a reference), and right now we are at 338 pages with fairly tight margins. The latest wordcount is just over 127,000 words.

Will I be able to buy the book from my bookstore?
At this point, unlikely. It is difficult to publish independantly and get into a big bookstore like Barnes and Noble. Smaller bookstores (particularly Catholic ones) may choose to carry the book if they get request from readers - (that's you!) - but right now my book probably won't be carried in any publishing catalogs so bookstores won't know about me unless you tell them! And even then I may not be able to offer them a good enough wholesale price for it to be lucrative for them. For now, I am focusing on online marketing and in person appearances. (If you own a bookstore and would like to discuss wholesale terms, please contact me at ElizabethAHajek(at)Gmail(dot)com.)

Will I be able to get the book from my library?
If you request the book, they may decide to carry it. I am applying for a Library of Congress Catalog Number, which will be useful for this aspect. Once the Amazon page is up, it should have all the relevant info for you to request the book from your library. I am very willing to give a discount to any libraries interested in carrying my books. (Contact me at ElizabethAHajek(at)Gmail(dot)com).

Okay, so how much will the book cost?
I'm still nailing down the cost, so I can't say this definitively yet. My hope is to keep it under $15 for the print version and under $4 for the ebook, pre-taxes and shipping.

Will there be a hardcover version?
Not unless there is a LOT of interest. It's more work to pull together, and costs significantly more. I'd do it if there was interest down the line, but it is currently low on my priority list.

Will there be an audiobook?
Honestly, I'm surprised that I've gotten this question, but I have. It's so early in the game that right now I have no plans whatsoever to even think about doing an audiobook. It is a very expensive process, and since I'm deaf, it is not something that I personally can exert much control over, so I am very reluctant to imagine it happening. On the other hand, I know a lot of people in my life love audiobooks, so if the right mix came together, I am not opposed to it. It's just very unlikely.

Are you going to do book signings? Talks? Conferences?
God willing! I certainly intend to do as many venues as I can, as it is a key part of marketing, but right now so much depends on my very unpredictable health. As of right now, I can't schedule anything because there is only a 50% chance that my health would allow me to make it. I'm hosting a launch party for family and friends and that is the biggest commitment I can make right now.

I am, however, very interested in doing blog visits. So if you have a blog and would like to interview me or host a guest post, please contact me and let me know! I would love to discuss ideas with you! I wish I could visit podcasts, but since I am deaf, there are some logistical issues there. ;) Please send me an email at ElizabethAHajek(at)gmail(dot)com if you'd like to talk about visiting your blog!

Is this a series? Will there be more books coming? Are you still connected to that series at Chesterton Press?
Yes, it is a series! "The Song of the Fay" is the official title, and I currently have two novels and a novella planned for sure! (The first draft of the novella is half written). None of these are at all connected to the Chesterton Press series - we connected my book completely from that and I'm now writing in my own universe. This is good because it means you are finally getting to read this book, and it should also mean that the next books in the series come out faster because I'm only coordinating with myself, and not multiple authors.

I definitely still love Chesterton Press and everyone there, and highly recommend their works if you're looking for Catholic Fiction (and of course I recommend the Fairy Tale Novels to anyone and everyone all the time, haha). Everything is very amicable between us all. :) I owe them a big debt for getting me started on this story in the first place, and they continue to be lovely mentors. :)

The book is still Catholic, right?
Yes, it is! It's a little weirder for me now, since I'm no longer writing this series for a Catholic press, but I wrote "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" as a love letter to my wonderful friends at the Fairy Tale Novel Forum, and I'm sticking to that. Also, I find Catholicism easier to portray in print than Protestantism.  I've contemplated doing a spin-off series in this world featuring Protestant characters, but there's nothing fixed about that right now, just ideas.

 Either way, my goal is to portray my characters accurately, and to tell a good story with human truths that resonate regardless of religious affiliation. I think writing characters of all beliefs is a good way to grow as a writer. I just wrote a Star Wars scene with a friend where I had to write a character who was working for the Empire, which was really bizarre, but also made me think really hard about motivation and development. And that, in turn, grows my abilities as a writer.)

Okay, that's all for now, folks! Thank you for reading and please let me know if there are any questions I missed/you want answered. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bane's Eyes (IAM Book 4) by Corinna Turner

"Bane's Eyes," book 4 of the "I am Margaret" series by Corinna Turner,  released in the US last week. If you're been keeping up with the series, you should head on over and get your copy at ChestertonPress.com!

(Haven't read the series? Skip this review and go over to my report on Book 1!)

So, "spoiler free" section first, for those of you who have read books 1-3 and want my thoughts before you head into book 4.

I will be very honest and admit that "Bane's Eyes" read to me more like a coda than a 4th book. "Liberation" wrapped up a very significant amount of the action - all that was really in doubt was which way the vote would go, and honestly we didn't really need a 4th book to tell that story. The result could have easily been included in the end of book 3.

Personally, I have never been tremendously invested in the Bane/Margo relationship, so for me the focus of the first half of the book was rather slow. (More on that in the spoiler section). What kept me reading was the growing friendship between Margo and an old enemy. However, while extremely fascinating from a psychological perspective, it is very different from the action of the first books, so if you were expecting an intense action-packed finale, you'll want to change your expectations before picking up this book. But that's not a bad thing.

Why?

After writing my first draft of this review, I went and talked to someone a bit about it to make sure I'd really written the full picture I wanted to capture here. In doing so, I realized that I forgot to really highlight the main theme of the book, which is forgiveness. And that's what makes this book such an important part of the story. In "The Hunger Games" the story ends after Mockingjay and (spoilers if you haven't read that series) Katniss is so messed up after it that you know her life is not going to be that happy for a long time. The epilogue of that book is a great relief, but it is a very small slice of the picture. The thing about Christianity is that our second greatest commandment is to "love our neighbor as ourself." So, since IAM is a Catholic series, it was crucial that we see Margo deal with the aftermath, and reach a point of forgiveness for those who had harmed her the most. "Bane's Eyes" is a necessary installment to the series, the book that fulfills the Catholic worldview and focuses on that tremendously important step.

I was also asked what I would sum this book up as, the way I called Book 1 an escape story, Book 2 a survival story, and Book 3 a war story. I'd call this one "life goes on after the big adventure." It is, in many ways, what the spoiling of the Shire was to "The Lord of the Rings." The story never is completely over after the "Big Epic Adventure". It may not always be told in the narrative, but it certainly exists. There's no reason why, every now and then, we can't get a story like "Bane's Eyes" wherein the aftermath is told. So - Escape-Survival-War-Life. That's my answer.

Now. SPOILER LAND.

All right, so you know I am not too keen on the depression Bane went through - or rather, the focus on it. Obviously it reads as a very real reaction, and it's definitely in character, but it did not make for terribly compelling interest to me, at least after the action of the previous books. If I had initially been more invested in Margo/Bane, then I think it would have meant a lot more to me. I'm very curious to hear the perspective of those of you who DO love Margo/Bane, and whether you feel differently. I will definitely say, as someone who has had depression and lived with people who have depression, the situation was written very, very accurately.

I loved Lucas. Gosh, he was great. That whole arc made the book worth it, even if the tension of the earlier books simply wasn't there. Sure, he didn't end up being related to Margo, which was a bit of a let-down after all the hype about their similar eyes, but I really appreciated the backstory that was revealed.

Father Mark was an interesting addition, and certainly drove up the stakes, although I wish he'd showed up sooner and gotten that whole plotline moving earlier on.

I do like it when action heroines get pregnant, so I appreciated that bit. I did suspect right away that she hadn't actually lost the baby. I kept wanting to yell at Margo to get an expert opinion, but there were good reasons for why she didn't, so that's not poor writing. Well generated reader frustration, though! ;)

LOVED Bane and Jon taking down the infiltrators in the dark. That was AWESOME. Just. Yes.

Margo being in the dark (kind of literally) during the actual vote... well that wasn't quite so satisfying. I mean, it definitely felt like real life, but from a reader perspective it was a bit of a let down after having the countdown to the vote proceed every new section.

HOWEVER she does get plenty of awesome moments in the book, and I really REALLY loved the "full English breakfast" bit.

Obviously the death at the end was really awful and hard and moving. And it really made sense. It was a shock, but also not a shock. It made sense that this was a choice Lucas would make and while it sucks for Margo to deal with the aftermath, it really works.

I'm not sure how I feel about the recovery of the eyes, however. In real life you work through something like this the way Bane did, and you don't get the reward of getting your missing part back. With my own handicap and experience with depression, it felt a bit like a cheat, and a letdown for me. Yes this technology exists in this world, and so within the story it does make sense that Bane would and could eventually get his eyes back. For me, as a reader with very personal ties to these situations, it was hard to read. It felt, to me, as though the EYES were just a device to force Bane to conversion, and once he had converted, YAY he got to see again. Real life doesn't work like that and those of us with handicaps have to deal with them forever, no matter what choices we make in God's name. ON THE OTHER HAND - well, I see medical advances happening every day and this story reminds me that hey, maybe someday, even within my lifetime, there will be enough advances that I really will be able to hear without my aids again. (And yes, to be fair, I do have aids, which is more than we have yet to accomplish for any of the blind, so I'm still in an advantageous position compared to where Bane was.)

My final feelings on the book are mixed. I liked it, but I felt certain parts could have been stronger, and my personal connection to various aspects is certainly strongly coloring this review. I think that I will read it differently the next time I go through the series and am able to leave behind my previous expectations. Now that I realize that the full point of the story is the forgiveness after the battle, I think it will be a different experience on the second read-through.

I wish to end the review by stating again how much I appreciate what Corinna Turner has done with this series and I am really looking forwards to her next story (which will be a series set in the world of "Someday.")

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thoughts at the Close of June

It's the home stretch, folks. "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" goes to the formatter on July 5th, so we are busy proofing every last page - and revising some of the combat scenes! I got an awesome combat expert to give me some great ideas and advice last weekend. Now I'm hastily revising as necessary, trying to stay ahead of my proofreading husband! We can't both work on the document at the same time, so we take turns editing and doing house stuff/playing with Mateo. I must say, while I love having Nathan so involved with my book, I do miss one-on-one time with him!

Mateo continues to do well, although we need to focus on serious training now. I did give him his first hair trim today and he did quite well! Shih Tzu's have hair, not fur, so he will need regular haircuts every month or so to keep the 'puppy cut' that is the easiest to otherwise maintain. I just ordered a pair of clippers, so we'll see how that goes!

No further flooding in our basement, which is a huge relief. Our garden has really begun producing all manner of vegetables and fruits! We've been eating lettuce, spinich and kale for weeks, but now the raspberries, cucumbers, beets and carrots are coming in, and today I saw a couple squash forming! Radishes and tomatoes are well on their way as well!

I hope to have more reviews up for y'all soon, as well as the first chapter or two of "The Mermaid and the Unicorn," but right now I need to get the book finished and the tea towel shop back up. Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"The Good Wife" is not just your parents' show

Yes, Gilmore Girls. That is "Logan" in the background there.

There once was a show that my parents and their friends loved, and I thought that because it was marketed towards the parental crowds, it couldn't possibly be of interest to me. Then, out of new shows to watch and skimming through the Amazon Prime offerings, I decided to give "The Good Wife" a try. My intention was for it to be a show I'd watch when Nathan was at work - but he happened to be around when I was watching the first episode and all it took was 45 minutes and we were both irretrievably hooked.

In fact, we were so hooked that we watched it to the exclusion of almost everything else, which lost us a few pivotal episodes of "Arrow" - one of our very favorite shows! Talk about addictive! But WHY? Why is this show so great? And why are none of my friends talking about it?

First, a synopsis.

Alicia Florrick is a stay-at-home mom of two - but her life is turned upside down when her politician husband is caught in a sex scandal and sent to prison. Now Alicia heads back to practice law at a prestigious law firm headed up by none other than her former college flame.

Now this might sound like the beginnings of a sleezy soap opera - but trust me folks, it's anything but. "The Good Wife" is one of the most intelligent, superbly executed shows I've ever seen. The writing, camera work, direction, acting and pacing is all top notch. I could seriously use this show as a 'textbook' for a film class, because it contains so many examples of quality filmmaking (even though it is 'just tv.')

"But politics and law - doesn't that make it divisive?" Sure. But it's a balanced divisive. Although the main characters are mostly liberal democrats, I swear there is someone high up on the production who knows and understands conservative values because both sides are always considered no matter what the case or issue. Indeed, the show contains some of the very best portrayals of Christian and conservative characters I've ever seen on television! One series long plotline is the (mild spoiler) the faith journey of Alicia's daughter Grace, who starts the show as a plucky eleven-year-old and grows into a graceful, intelligent young woman with a strong moral compass.

On the other side of the age spectrum is law partner Diane Lockhart, played by Christine Baranski. Although I've never enjoyed Baranski previously, I absolutely adored the grace and conviction she brought to the character here. Although I personally would disagree with many of Diane's views, I admire the deep integrity she has. In a profession where everyone eventually compromises, Diane shows a moral compass that most of the other characters lack.*

Indeed, Alicia herself morphs as the show continues (more about that in the spoiler section), and that bothered many longtime watchers. She was never my favorite character, so I was content to wax philosophical as she changed. People don't stay the same through life, particularly not when going through everything Alicia endures, so I was fascinated just to watch. No idols were destroyed for me.

In addition to the wonderful women on the show,  there are strong male characters as well (so rarely do you get BOTH in a production). Perhaps my favorite is the conniving Eli Gold, a publicity strategist played by the delightful Alan Cumming. He's great fun to watch, especially when his own young daughter matures into her role and plays a quirky foil to his character.

I also greatly enjoyed the reoccurring role of a sneaky, underhand lawyer as played by Michael J. Fox. Fox, of course, is himself disabled, and he plays a disabled character here. I LOVED that his character uses his disability to manipulate others! As a disabled person myself, I so appreciated that he was given a part to play that utilized his disability within the story in a negative way! He wasn't thrown in as a 'token disabled character' but rather given a complicated part that (usually) casts him as a villain!

(Indeed, I have never seen a show that so completely diversifies itself in all ways - religion, race, abilities, etc. It's brilliant.)

Then there is Peter Florrick, Alicia's wayward and repentant husband. Dynamic, powerful, and deeply flawed, he is fascinating to watch. Truly, I believe, the right partner for Alicia, but...

,,, but, well, spoilers. Because nothing is simple in this show. And while good characters are enough to keep many a show going (I only scratched the surface of the amazing cast), this production also carries a strong plot. Each episode contains both a stand-alone story (although with many wonderful repeating characters) and ties into the greater ongoing plot. Never repetitive, they manage to bring a new twist to each new court case, exploring the world of politics and law from angles I never previously considered. I found myself leaving the show with a much greater appreciation for and understanding of our court system.

(Side note - my husband grew up in Chicago where the show takes place - and his best friend's father is a Chicago area judge! Gave a fun personal note to watching it).

Now I have a few spoilers, BUT first let's talk content. It is a CBS network show, but aired late at night. So yes, there is sex. And yes, there is lesbian sex which I know will be uncomfortable for some of my readers so I'm laying it out there. I personally considered the show worth watching despite these elements, but that won't be everyone's cup of tea. Just an FYI.

___________________________________________
Now. SPOILER talk. SKIP this section until you finish all 7 seasons!!! Then come back and discuss!

The show is called "The Good Wife" and it's a good name. Alicia struggles throughout the show with remaining in her marriage to Peter. She took a vow and she takes it seriously... but then she doesn't. She stays nominally in the marriage, but seeks love elsewhere. As a viewer, we understand why she does, but as the show progresses we lose more and more sympathy for her. At first we, like the public, laud her decision of faithfulness. "St. Alicia" the newspapers call her, and she is her husband's biggest asset as he runs for various political offices. But behind the scenes, her halo tarnishes. Eventually there is no reason not to divorce Peter - indeed, Alicia becomes more and more a hypocrite as the show progresses. "The Good Wife" is, by grammatical policy, included in quotes because it is the title. But it should also be in quotes because it is an ideal that fades and twists as Alicia wrestles with it, the truth and the questions growing ever darker. Is she a good wife? Should she continue to be one? Should she continue to appear the good wife?

In the end, she finally accepts that to reclaim her integrity, she must finally relinquish that title and proceed with the long postponed divorce. But not before she makes one last 'good wife' gesture, and in doing so possibly destroys the marriage of the show's true character of integrity, Diane Lockhart. Remember that * I put after my Lockhart paragraph? That's because I believe, at the end of the show, the true "Good Wife" has become not Alicia, but Diane. 
_____________________________________________
END SPOILERS

I loved this show. I doubt it would have appealed to me in the same way when I was in my early 20's, but certainly as I approach the later end of that decade, there was a lot to relate to. If you love good storytelling with complex characters and a lot of deep issues to contemplate while the suspense always keeps you on the edge of your seat... than this is a drama for you to try. I'll warn you that seasons 3 and 4 bog down a little, but after that it picks back up again, so stick with it!


Seasons 1-6 are currently on Amazon Prime (with 7, I'm sure, soon to follow) and all 7 seasons are on CBS's monthly paid streaming service.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Introvert's Date Night

I love going out, enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant, and enjoying a play or film.

But guys,  movie theaters give me migraines. My food allergies make eating out nearly impossible - even before taking budget into account. And then between my deafness, my aspergers and my fibromyalgia, over-simulation is a real barrier to leaving the house for extended periods of time, even when I'm having a good day!

And then I married an introvert. After working all day, the last thing he wants to do is leave the house.

So for us, keeping the romance in our marriage alive is more about connecting over the small things than fancy date nights. Being intentional about the relationship pays off, even in the smallest of ways. However, you don't see many lists for "how to have an introverted/allergen friendly/fibromyalgia appropriate date" so I thought I'd write one of my own.

Here are some ways Nathan and I intentionally create special moments to connect and grow our marriage:

Out and About

- Going grocery shopping together. I can't drive right now, so either Nathan shops alone or a friend shops for us. When we DO make it to the store together, it's a BIG DEAL. We really love Trader Joe's because it's budget friendly, and being so small it is a) predictable (not so overstimulating) and b) short!

- Going to Home Depot together. Since we bought a house, Home Depot has been a really fun excursion for us. We have to spend the money anyhow, so we might as well have fun doing it. Figuring out how to spruce up our home together is pretty exciting!

- Going used book shopping together. We live pretty close to a used bookstore and we love popping over there for an hour or so - especially when they're having a sale!

- Going to a community production together. We have a lot of friends that do theater, so it's not about options, it's about taking in a show at a time when a) I'm well, b) we can afford it, and c) there isn't anything else going on!

- Value car time together. When we're in the car, we talk. Sometimes we're quiet, of course, but some of our most interesting philosophical conversations have happened when we're on the road!

At Home

- Watching stuff together. Like most couples, we have our shows that we watch together, and we make a point to connect over them and discuss them together. Because I can't do movie theaters, Nathan always waits to watch everything with me when it comes out on DVD, and we will often try to make some special food for something really big (like Star Wars!).

- Playing games together. Hobby games have exploded this decade, so that there's something for everyone! Nathan tends to like more complicated games than I do, so we often compromise on just what game we are playing (i.e. I pick the game and he is happy to have someone playing with him). We are both pretty into Catan, although we also love Pathfinder: Skulls and Shakles, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic.

- Writing together. We've done short stories where I'll start and pass to him, and he'll start another one at the same time and pass back to me, and we do this until we're tired of writing. OR we both work on our own projects, but in the same room.

- Relax together. This works especially well when you have a hammock and it takes a little planning to take it outside and take a break from everything else!

- Enjoying take-out together. Because of dietary and budget restrictions, we make about 99% of our food from scratch (except noodles, chips and condiments). However, every now and then my sensitivities fluctuate enough for us to enjoy a chipolte together - even if we have to enjoy it at home! I tell you any meal I don't have to cook is a treat indeed!!!

- Join a small group together. For us, this is our weekly RPG game that we host. Planning it and discussing characters together is a regular point of connection and fun for us - especially RPing scenes with just our characters in between group sessions!

- Make music together. We both love music, and, rather magically, our vocal range and tone complement each other perfectly. I prefer to lead the music, and Nathan prefers to follow, so we make a good team and neither of us are shy about singing together. (Indeed, I make up random songs all the time and Nathan either teases me about it, or provides impromtu percussion in the background...)

- Pray together. If you are religious, I must say that praying together (and FOR one another) is one of the biggest things you can do to grow your marriage. It's not just about connecting with each other - but it's about connecting to the source of LIFE together.

There are other things I dream about doing, but we just don't have the time for. I think of watching Tai Chi or ballroom dancing videos together and learning those moves. I hope someday we will actually write a book together. If my health gets to a better point, we'd probably enjoy going to a Farmer's Market together, or game nights hosted by our friends.

What are your stay-at-home date night favorites?