Monday, October 1, 2018

A Few Last Thoughts

Welp, the marathon is in less than a week. I'm as ready as I can be... which is to say I'm really not well trained for this one, but I'm in a better place for it than I was last year and I managed to finish then. So not feeling excited but also not feeling nervous... mostly curious. What will it be like? Each one has been so different.

You'll see plenty of articles talking about setting your A goal, B goal, and C goal for any race. Usually it has to do with time/pace but aside from a vague desire to finish under 6 hours that seems ridiculous for me this year. Here are mine:

A goal - Finish under 6 hours.
B goal - Stay present, be in the moment as much as possible.
C goal - Finish.

And now that I've written them down I see that my middle goal is really my first. At some point in doing these I realized that I can do them, I am physically capable of covering the distance. More than once, as a matter of fact. And so I think the reason I keep doing them (since goodness knows I'm not doing them faster each time) is for the experience of it. In which case my main goal needs to be truly experiencing it, to the best of my ability. All of it, including whatever might come up for me emotionally or mentally.

I think I need to take some time this week to meditate on this and set some intentions. :)

So, revised goals:

A goal - Be present and in the moment, with my thoughts/feelings and my surroundings.
B goal - Finish under 6 hours.
C goal - Finish.

Choosing my music will be a part of setting my intentions. I'm going to stay with what I've been running to all summer, these songs and rhythms have felt intensely personal in a way I'm not going to talk about here, but here's what I've been listening to:

Macklemore - "Genesis"
Michael Blume - EPs "When I Get It Right" and "cynicism & sincerity"
Bomba Estéreo - "Amanecer (Remixed)"
Nakhane Touré - "Brave Confusion"
Fania Studio - "Calentura: Global Bassment"

Plus a whole mess of singles I've found through Spotify over the last couples of months, a lot of club/dance/trance/trap and a lot of it fantastically queer, in all senses of the word.

And then, if I hit a point where I need to not be present for a while, I have episodes of The Adventure Zone lined up. (I don't know how to describe this, it's a live-action Dungeons & Dragons game, yes, but good grief it's so much more. And terribly, horribly funny. I can't actually listen to this while running - I keep stopping and laughing - this is for those times when I can't do anything but walk for a while.)

See you on the other side -
Annie


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

I'm Running A Marathon When?

Oh yeah, in less than a month.

Maybe time for some updates. Even some introduction for those who haven't followed my running before.

First of all, I'm running it because I like training for and running marathons. There isn't anything noteworthy or inspiring about this, this is just what I like to do. Some people travel, some people play video games, some people take intensive classes in their area of interest. I run long.

Second, I'm raising money for Chicago Lights as part of the process because it's an organization I hold highly, all the more so because I get to work so closely with staff. (Not closely in terms of my work but rather physically - my cubicle is surrounded by Chicago Lights staff and I get to hear all kinds of cool stuff that goes on behind the scenes and most people will never even know was a part of the process. But trust me, these programs are in good hands.)

(And if you'd like to contribute to my fundraising campaign - every bit helps! - you can do so here.)

As far as my actual training goes this summer it's been... okay. Better than last year for sure, I've been able to hit all my recent long runs. They've been hard, much harder than in the past, and I'm pretty sure that's because I haven't been getting my midweek mid-length runs in until recently. (All due to scheduling issues - especially the challenge of scheduling morning runs when both The Dude and I are training for this and have similar mileage ramp-ups.) And I had a couple of old injury flare-ups earlier in the summer where I had to back off  of training for a while - luckily that seemed to take care of those.

I think this will be my last road marathon for a while. (I know, I know, I've said that before.) I'm looking forward to more trail running, and also to regaining some speed by training for shorter races. This will be my fifth Chicago Marathon (plus my "rogue" marathon as The Dude likes to call it), and that seems like a good number to pause on.

But first... there's a twenty-miler coming up this weekend and then the insanity of taper. And then...!

Always take the ice bath,
Annie


Friday, July 20, 2018

Little More Action

Midday through summer, and marathon training is going well. I've had to shift my schedule around plenty between travel, work, and family, but I've hit all my long runs and all my speed workouts, so I'm feeling pretty solid. Guess it's time to start fundraising.

Writing is feeling more solid these days too. I signed up again for Camp NaNoWriMo, this time setting my goal in minutes rather than words, since I needed to revise and research and brainstorm above all else. That's been pretty consistent too, and I'm getting interested and excited again vs. just confused and overwhelmed.

My summer is heavily fueled by music, as always. Some familiar albums giving new energy -  Macklemore & Ryan's "The Heist", and Grimes' "Art Angels". Then albums new to me - "Calentura: Global Bassment" (remixes of classic Fania releases), and BombEstéreo's "Amamecer: Remixed". Fantastic electro grooves, perfect for digging into words or steps.

And very grateful for Spotify for introducing me to new stuff I would not have heard otherwise:

Mona Haydar's "Barbarian"


Madame Gandhi's "Top Knot Turn Up"


Lulu Be's "Rude Tings"

FAKA's "Uyang'khumbula"

Hope your summer is treating you well!
Annie

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Where I Am

Well, I had been going to leave an update about my marathon training and about my writing since it's been a while since I posted on either... but then news about the detention centers broke and now SCOTUS and I'm just angry and grieving and have been angry and grieving. And am gearing up to go to small-town Ohio for our annual summer visit next week and having emotions about that.

So.

I don't write about politics here*, but I don't think it's news to anyone reading this that I am pro-immigration (actually pro-open borders but that's a conversation that's nowhere near happening in this or many countries), pro-choice, support Black Lives Matters, support trans rights, queer AF, and, oh yes, have a keen interest in science...

...while also a believer and seeker who worships and works in not one but two religious communities, even though my adherence to organized religion is often strained and my individual beliefs far from creedal.

Just so there's no question where I stand. ;)
Annie

And to leave you with something inspiring, 'cause I got nothing, not today...

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. - Rep. John Lewis

*I write devotions for work and find I am unable to keep my politics out of my Bible reading and thus reflection... but since we're not supposed to get political in those I find ways to veil it. Today's felt especially pertinent (and we write these weeks, if not months ahead of time), but I was apparently feeling more hopeful then than I am today.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Yup, Doing It Again

Marathoning, that is.

This time with The Dude (first time ever).

He's under the impression we're going to run it together... mhmm, we'll see.

But it's fun to plan together and share the process.

I am over the moon happy about training again. No really, the feels are too big for me to get down right now, I just... sigh. Happy happy.

(I'll try to get more coherent about it as we go through the summer, I can't just wave my hands around and squeak every time I talk about it.)

We'll be running it for Chicago Lights - me again, him for the first time. I'll get our fundraising info up soon.

And now to map out this week's long run!

Gleefully,
Annie

Monday, May 21, 2018

Paranormal Romance!

Ana Coqui from Immersed In Books has put together a 30-day list of romance novel recommendations, a different theme for each day. Friday's theme was paranormal, easily my favorite kind.

But I didn't see my favorites in that post or most of the Twitter comments that followed, and I didn't recognize most of the authors listed, so I thought I'd put together my own listing. Originally I was going to do it via Twitter but when I saw the number I'd accumulated... well, a blog post seemed more readable.

Some words about the books on this list:
  • Most of these are m/m, with a few f/f, a few f/m, and some ménage.
  • I'm always on the lookout for more writers of color and also for writers not from the US/Britain/Canada - I've marked these (WOC/INT) and welcome recommendations!
  • There are some short stories/novellas on this list and I've noted those as well.
  • There's some overlap with my list of ghost stories but not a lot. Most of those weren't romances.
There's disagreement about what constitutes paranormal vs. fantasy vs. science fiction, etc. As I think about it, a book is paranormal if people/beings are, or practice, magic (or abilities are so augmented as to appear magical to most people), and the world either feels like this one or outright references this one, whether in current times or historical ones (even if alt-historical). There are a couple of exceptions to this on the list and I've noted those too.

Finally, and this is so hugely subjective (as if this whole list weren't), but when it comes to shifter stories (persons who can shift from one form to another, ie. werewolves), I just don't seem to be able go much beyond coyote/wolf or dragon shifting. I don't know why. I know there's a universe of shifter stories out there beyond that but I haven't read many and don't feel compelled to. But with so much out there to read I'm not going to worry about this. (There's one exception on this list and I have noted that too!)

On to the books! Alpha by author. And, as usual with my lists, I'm not trying to review the books here. If it's on the list, I thought it was at least good enough to share. If you want more of my take on individual ones, I review almost everything I read on Goodreads (I'm not 100% caught up though.)

Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy
A couple of my favorite authors (KJ Charles, Jordan L. Hawk, Jordan Castillo Price) and then an introduction to some new faves (Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling).

Irregulars: Stories by Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Astrid Amara, Ginn Hale
Recognize those new faves I mentioned?

Hell Cop 1 & 2
More stories by Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling, and Ginn Hale. These don't seem to be available any more, I don't know why.

The Druid Stone by Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane

Light by 'Nathan Burgoine
He also has a paranormal trilogy that I've started and like a great deal so far, but I hesitate to call it a romance. As far as I've read, anyway.

Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, particularly the novellas at the end. The whole series is romantic in nature but the novellas are straight out romances.

Caroline's Heart by Austin Chant (novella)

K.J. Charles. Well. Obviously the Charm of Magpies series, but I think I like the Green Men series even more so far (counting The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal as a precursor to that series). Probably mostly because of the time period it's set in, but also the nature of the magic being explored and also the hints at conspiracy.

Elliot Cooper (stories)
     Clockwork Menagerie
     Hearts Alight
     Junk Mage (this is a mix of magic and sci-fi)

Sweet by Alysia Constantine

R. Cooper's Being(s) In Love series (mix of novellas, stories, and novels) and Familiar Spirits series (novellas). Have I already raved enough about her books in other posts? I'm not sure I can. I think you can read the first three of the Being(s) In Love books in any order and then they start building on each other - you don't have to read them in order after that but I'd suggest it. The Familiar Spirits novellas don't have to be read in order. Yet. I'm hoping for more in this line.

Beary Christmas, Baby by Sasha Devlin (WOC) (novella)
Polar bear shifter! And such a cutie. I definitely want more in this world.

Blind Man's Wolf by Amelia Faulkner. First in the Tooth & Claw series.

Kim Fielding's Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs series (novellas)

The Long Past and Other Stories by Ginn Hale. Magic and steampunk and dinosaurs. And you can hear her talk about the research that went into this book at The Hopeless Romantic (this is also a hilarious episode).

Alexis Hall's Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator series. Not available at the moment, but hopefully sometime again in the future. I originally checked the first one out from the library, so that's a possibility.

Jordan L. Hawk's Whybourne & Griffin series and Hexworld series. And they have more too (in particular a ghost series I very much want to read), but I haven't gotten to those yet.

Something to Remember by Elliott Junkyard (story). And there's a prequel to this, available free via his webpage, I believe.

The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune
Okay, this is straight-out fantasy. I include it here though because he has a number of paranormal books I just haven't gotten to yet, including a werewolf one that I know is going to rip up my heart. (Which is why I haven't read it yet... but I will.) I also include this one because it is flat out one of the funniest books I've read in a long time - crying, I was laughing so hard.

Half by Eli Lang

Shelly Laurentson's Call of Crows series. She has several other series as well, and I've looked at them, but... not for me. But I loved this one.

Out Of Her Depth by Pike Martell (story)

Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters by Angel Martinez (WOC) First in the Offbeat Crimes series.

Snare by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese (novella)

Robin Moray's Bonded to the Alpha series (werewolves) and Something Wicked (witches). I think it's the same world in both so I'm looking forward to some resonance between them if not crossover. I came to this author from her BDSM novella series and was thrilled to see she writes paranormal as well.

The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood. First in the series.

E.E. Ottoman (novellas)
     Business Makes Strange Bedfellows
     Selume Proferre

Jordan Castillo Price's PsyCop series. She has more paranormal books and series as well, and I intend to read those too, but I'm still on this one so far.

Seducing Chaos by Luna Quinn (WOC)
This is the first in a planned series and I'm hoping the authors continue! I read the world as a future magical apocalyptical Earth, rather than a fantasy one, but I could be wrong about that.

Darkling by Brooklyn Ray

Water & Air by Janelle Reston (story)

Shatterproof by Xen Sanders (WOC) (also writes as Cole McCade)
I want to gush all over this but I haven't yet read the new edition (which has notable changes). Just. Go read this, and then go check out everything else he's written (but pay attention to his excellent content warnings).

RoAnne Sylver
     Stake Sauce
     Moon-Bright Tides (novella)

Holley Trent (WOC). So many books. So far I'm halfway through the HearthMotelAfótama Legacy, and Norseton Wolves series (these all interweave). Trying to hold off on any of her other series until I've finished these three but I make no promises.

Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon (WOC). First in a series.

Close Quarter & Slow Waltz (this is a follow-up story to Close Quarter) by Anna Zabo

And then there are a few books that aren't romances as such but have such strong romantic elements (oh, the pining!) that I had to include them.

The Glamour Thieves by Don Allmon
Slouch Witch by Helen Harper
Amir Lane's Morrighan House Witches series

And, just because, Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya (INT). You know, if you like your slow-burn paranormal romance stretched out over 12 volumes.

And that is quite enough of that. Though I'll probably have another list equally long by this time next year.

Happy reading,
Annie

























Thursday, May 10, 2018

More Music to Enliven My Morning

One of the things I LOVE about running in the mornings again is listening to music in the mornings while I run. Here are some new (and one old) favorites of mine. 

Miguel, "Pineapple Skies" (from War & Leisure)



Mon Laferte (featuring Juanes), "Amárreme" (from La Trenza)



Macy Gray, "Sweet Baby" (from Stripped, her jazz album)





















Janelle Monáe, "Make Me Feel" (from Dirty Computer)

Happy listening!
Annie