Thursday, February 14, 2013

She flies with her own wings*

This is both a Valentine's and birthday ode to the state of Oregon, my home state. As states go, I think it's terrific. Please don't move here. ;)

You know, last year, when we got the news that my husband's job was moving to Kent, Washington, we thought about going with it. I tried to keep my chin up about it, but every night, I got teary because as stupid as it sounds, the thought of leaving Oregon makes me cry. (Honestly, when we bought our house in this little suburb of Portland, I cried for two weeks because I didn't live in Portland anymore. [Sidenote: the boundary between Portland and our town lies less than a mile from my house]) Even though I was born in Washington and lived there until I was five years old, my heart is bound to this place.

What's so great about Oregon? Well, first and foremost has to be the fact that no one can own the ocean beaches here. That's right--the entire coastline belongs to our citizens. That sure makes road trips down Highway 101 awesome.

What else is terrific? Well, Oregon has an amazing variety of different environments packed into its borders. If you check out this USDA hardiness map, you can see ten different colors, representing ten very different temperature ranges that affect plant growth. California has ten as well, but it's about twice as big as Oregon! It's a lot easier to visit our bounty than it is California's. And we're pretty much a rectangle, so you can make your drive pretty efficiently.

Another thing that's terrific about Oregon is that we have a lot of really yummy things to eat. Did you know that Oregon is the world's largest producer of hazelnuts AND wasabi? Daaaamn! Those are two of my favorite snack ingredients! I'm not even going to go into details about Portland's food scene, but you shouldn't forget that our bizarre rules about food carts has caused a veritable explosion of weird, cheap, and greasy street foods. (Jeez, I really need some Whiffies right now!)

But what's my favorite thing about Oregon? Damn, but that's a tough question. I think our overall natural beauty is probably the highest of our West coast neighbors--although I think California and Washington both have more individual "jaw-dropping" locations. I think our biggest city has most overall yummy food, even if Seattle and San Francisco and L.A. have more hot shot chefs. I think our state is just as wacky as those guys, too. And by wacky, I probably mean "packed full of hippies, strippers, and rednecks." Which is great. Because they love Oregon, too!

You know, maybe I don't have a favorite thing about Oregon. Maybe I just like it because it's the right place for me.

*"Alis volat propriis" was made the state motto in 1987. I think it's rad!

Friday, February 08, 2013


Two novels with boating in two years is just way too much rigging.

I think that if you squeezed me, manila would come out my ears.

Thursday, February 07, 2013


I'm a lucky lady, because my family can appreciate the same awesome stuff I appreciate. How do I know this? Simple! My brother, husband, and daughter just started playing Pathfinder with me! After years of thinking about how fun it must be to play an RPG like Dungeons & Dragons or Mekton, I am finally gaming it up.

What I've loved best about our gaming sessions is the way our characters have begun to develop. At first, I wasn't sure what I thought about creating people based on a few rules and the roll of some dice. But as we play, the characteristics I "rolled up"gradually began to coalesce into a real personality. Dolingra (my dwarf cleric character) isn't just a bunch of numbers--she's a genuine goofball and I enjoy playing her. Moreover, the other players seem to have a good sense of her and can even predict what she'll do and say!

Playing the game makes me wonder about the ways I develop my characters in fiction. I'm not the type to draw up a complicated chart about my character's past or her interests. The vast majority of my characters seem to spring out of my mind completely developed--once I find their voice on the page, I don't usually have to think much about their pasts or the likes and dislikes. I just know them. The characters I've worked the hardest to figure out are the characters that usually fail. But now I wonder if perhaps I should have spent more time watching those characters in action and given them time to develop. After all, it worked so well for Dolingra!

What are some tricks you've used to help develop your characters? How do you find your characters' voices? I'm interested in hearing other people's techniques!