Emily C. Skaftun

(skŏf • tŭn) n. A writer of speculative fiction.

Tag: NAW (page 2 of 2)

What, more postcards!?

It’s well past time for another installment of stories on postcards! These are postcards I picked up in Norway that now are going out to backers of the Norwegian American Weekly’s Indiegogo campaign.

 

We start off with a touching family reunion…

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And continue on a (slightly overrated) time travel adventure…

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Survive a possible global catastrophe…

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Brave some extreme road conditions…

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And solve an architectural mystery…

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We hunt elusive prey…

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And finally, a word from a serpent…

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Following the king for a day: eight observations in no particular order

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun Press passes make me feel so official!

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun
Press passes make me feel so official!

1. The king is super punctual. I don’t know if the trains run on time in Norway, but the king certainly does. I was given a fairly detailed press schedule ahead of time, with some non-standard times (7:29 p.m.?). I was thinking of it as more of an estimate, but I’ll be darned if it wasn’t dead accurate.

2. Covering an event as official “press” is boring. I vaguely remembered this from my meager experience pretending to be a journalist (don’t tell anyone, but I am not really much of a reporter), but it reminded me even more of being on crew for a theatrical production—a lot of hurry up and wait. Some of this waiting could have been avoided if I’d known just how entirely punctual the king was, I suppose.

3. Hanging out with the press is even more boring when they all speak a language you’re still just learning. The bus ride to and from Tacoma with the Norwegian press? Nap-inducing. Of course, everyone on the bus could speak English, but also of course they chose not to. Don’t mind that woman in the last row. She’s just napping and definitely isn’t interested in your conversation.

On a personal note, this made me realize just what a long way I have to go with Norwegian. I’m getting close to being able to read and can almost understand simple Norwegian sentences spoken by Americans, but a busload of real Norwegians? Forget it. A word here and there. Pathetic.

4. Journalists are on the same team. You hear about cutthroat reporters trying to get a scoop, and I’m sure that’s the case for certain kinds of stories, but at least on this beat there was a spirit of cooperation rather than competition. However, I could see this being a problem, because…

5. Journalists who travel together all get the same perspective. I’ve read a bit about how this happens, especially on foreign beats, with war correspondents, etc., but sitting in that Norwegian press bus unable to understand the words I could easily see how this happens. When all members of the press are at the same press conferences, shooting photographs from the same angles, typing up their notes while chatting over sandwiches, how different are their final stories going to be? Not very, would be my guess.

6. If there are professional photographers covering the event, unless you too are one, don’t bother trying. Okay, I got a couple of usable shots with my borrowed camera that I barely knew how to use, but I got access to many more by asking the pro photog from PLU to share his shots with me. I got the shots for this week’s story through the Norwegian embassy from the royal press secretary. My time onsite would have been better spent taking notes.

7. Women will never advance in many fields as long as the shoe gap remains in place. The male reporters, photographers, and organizers all wore basic men’s shoes: decent looking and functional. The women all wore heels. There was a lot of walking, including times when we needed to almost run in order to get around a building to the next photo op. Guess who got there first? Kine Hartz, from the Norwegian Embassy, had a little pair of flats in her bag that she switched into a couple of times when things were slow, but the heels always came back out. And switching shoes also slows a person down. What if sensible flats were the accepted norm for woman too?

8. Norwegian VIPs are more “just folk” than American ones. All over the PLU events security boundaries had been set up, all of which the Royal Palace staff wanted to move closer. We were constantly waved closer in, in a way impossible to imagine for, say, President Obama.

The previous Sunday, at Seattle’s Syttende Mai celebration, I found myself at a table with Thorhild Widvey, Norway’s Minister of Culture, and this seemed perfectly natural. Our leaders and politicians don’t seem quite so approachable, and it’s a shame. One gets the sense that even though Norway is a rich and powerful country, it’s also kind of a small town. Or at least I get that sense, as I watch the king laugh and joke with students and reporters alike.

This article originally appeared in the June 12, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Kvikk Lunsj v. Kit Kat: A comparative analysis

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun I decided to see how Kvikk Lunsj and Kit Kat stacked up, literally and figuratively.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun
I decided to see how Kvikk Lunsj and Kit Kat stacked up, literally and figuratively.

Emily C. Skaftun
Norwegian American Weekly

Around this time last year I learned of the Norwegian Easter phenomenon that is Kvikk Lunsj. It seemed that the country went wild, yearly, for this… what was it? I’d never heard of it.

The name threw me at first. It’s a lunch thing? Like maybe an energy bar?

Coworkers scoffed at me. I did more research, turning up photos. Oh, it’s a Kit Kat!

I was informed, by many sources, that I was wrong. Kvikk Lunsj was far superior to Kit Kat. Not even in the same league. That seemed likely, given what I already knew about the relative quality of American versus Norwegian chocolate. I set out to see how the two candies stacked up.

I think it’s pretty clear that in packaging, Kvikk Lunsj wins hands-down. Its cheery red, yellow, and green design is bold and much more appetizing than Kit Kat’s orange (and I love orange). The label is simpler and cleaner.

But Kvikk Lunsj’s advantage doesn’t end on the outside of the packaging. Inside it has “Søndags-turtips,” a description (på norsk) of a hike in Norway. (Which I can almost read; hooray for a year of Norwegian classes!). This is obviously far superior to Kit Kat’s… foil.

At first glance, they remain remarkably similar. The Kvikk Lunsj looks slightly larger, just slightly in every direction, than a regular-size Kit Kat bar. Both are divided into four wafery sticks, but Kvikk Lunsj wins the design competition with Freia’s bird stamp outclassing “Kit Kat” in the chocolate’s embossing. Okay, initial points go to Kvikk Lunsj.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun At a glance, the candies are remarkably similar, inside and out.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun
At a glance, the candies are remarkably similar, inside and out.

The ingredient lists for both are similar, with predictable variations and, one assumes, higher-quality ingredients used in Norway. This last one is pure speculation, of course. No points awarded in this category.

Is Kvikk Lunsj healthier? Of course the serving sizes aren’t the same on their nutrition facts labels, making an apples to apples comparison tricky, but… no. Gram for gram, the Kvikk Lunsj has more protein, but also quite a lot more fat. Points to Kit Kat for health, shockingly.

Taste is, of course, the most important factor in a candy bar. For my money they were close enough to the same as to be almost indistinguishable. However, one thing both I and Molly (whom I roped into my research) noticed was that even though the Kit Kat appeared to have more chocolate covering it, the Kvikk Lunsj tasted a little more chocolatey. For Molly, this made the Norwegian version the clear winner. I’ll go ahead and give Kvikk Lunsj those points.

So all things being equal, it looks like Kvikk Lunsj is outclassing Kit Kat. But things, here in the U.S., are rarely equal. You may not have a handy local Scandinavian store, like I do, where you can pick up a Kvikk Lunsj. Or even if you do, you may find the price a bit of a shock. Mine cost $3.50, versus the Kit Kat’s buck or so price tag. I get it. Importing things from Norway isn’t a cheap proposition. And the Kvikk Lunsj is slightly larger. But it’s not so much larger that three Kit Kats isn’t a lot more.

So here is my Easter recommendation for you (and I realize this is sacrilege to some of you): Buy one Kvikk Lunsj. Unwrap it; eat it; enjoy it. Save the wrapper. Then, anytime you feel the need for a Kvikk Lunsj, wrap the saved packaging around a Kit Kat bar—it’ll fit. Tell yourself that what you’re about to eat is really a Kvikk Lunsj. Save $2.50.

Happy Easter!

This article originally appeared in the April 3, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

What is work/life balance?

Can I tell you a story, hypothetical blog readers? This is the story of my year so far.

January was shaping up all right. My traveling companions and I had planned a trip to Iceland, and that was truly a wonderful week. I owe you many postcards, which you may or may not get to see. Iceland in January turns out to be a marvelous land of fire and ice, with daylight made entirely of sunrise/set glow and steaming hot baths to warm up in everywhere. We even saw a volcano!

Amazing, right?

One of the amazing things about the trip was that I managed to do it at all. You see, the previous year had been largely about learning how to work a full time dayjob, as the Editor-in-chief of the Norwegian American Weekly. This was my first time taking a whole week off, and it went beautifully! I essentially did four weeks of work in three, leaving just a little for my more-than-capable assistant to finish in my absence. The Monday after our trip was press day, and it was one of the easiest ones ever. It was like I finally had this newspaper editor thing under control.

That Monday I had a very welcome, mild jetlag that woke me early feeling terrific. It felt like New Year’s Day–without the hangover. I started writing again. I set goals. I got shit done. Life was going to be good.

That Wednesday, in what I thought was going to be a routine staff meeting, my work life collapsed. The publisher of the newspaper told me that the issue I was already working on would be our last.

A few days later he changed his mind and had us put out more issues, which was a relief in the sense that I was maybe not losing my job–oh, and that 125 years of publishing history wasn’t being flushed down the toilet–but it was also a lot of work. I wasn’t writing in the mornings anymore; I was weeping ugly stress tears.

Two months later, it now looks like we’ll be okay. I feel like I’m starting to crawl out of the hole that chaos dropped me into. Somehow I’ve managed to write one story. I was kind of a bad writer and sent it virtually un-edited to the anthology I wrote it for, because I just couldn’t manage to write it in time to get feedback. Other writers take note: never do this. I will be shocked if they accept the story (but at least it’s drafted, right? sometimes even a missed deadline is useful).

We are running an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the newspaper.
If you’d like to donate, please visit
www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-norwegian-american-weekly.

Tomato, tomat, tómatar

Photo: Henrik Omma / Wikimedia Commons You say “tomato,” I say tómatar.

Photo: Henrik Omma / Wikimedia Commons
You say “tomato,” I say tómatar.

It’s been a while since I worked in education (teaching composition to mostly indifferent first-year college students), and even longer since I was a student in the full-time sense, so today when I think about education I think about language. You see, about a year ago, having begun work at something called the Norwegian American Weekly, I started learning Norwegian.

I never picked up much beyond “tusen takk” and “klem” from my Norwegian family, and when I’d tried as a kid to take Norwegian classes I quit as soon as my parents let me, because it was boring and irrelevant.

Or so I thought, right? I couldn’t have known then how relevant it would later become to me.

At various points I have flirted with languages—French, Bahasa Indonesia, American Sign Language—with very limited success. Weirdly, none of those felt very relevant to me either. Today I feel confident in exactly three hand signs: “thank you,” “awkward,” and “bullshit.” I don’t suppose this will be very helpful in conversation with a deaf person.

Even on the brief trips that I took to Indonesia and France, I got little use out of my very limited language skills.

Fast-forward to about four weeks ago. I was in Iceland, hooray! On one of our first lunches we went to Hamborgarafabrikkan, and as I was staring at that long word something clicked, and I exclaimed to my friends (probably much too excitedly), “It’s the hamburger factory!” On the matseðill, many words looked familiar. And not just words like tómatar, that any rube could puzzle out, but also things like rauðlaukur, which seemed similar enough to a norsk rødløk to mean red onion.

Of course the English version was printed on the other side of their menu (which deserves a whole story in itself), but I was amazed how much even my limited Norwegian allowed me to read (simple) things in Icelandic.

It’s these kinds of connections that make learning relevant, of course, but also fun. If only my English students could have found my lessons on proper apostrophe use as exciting! But perhaps they found it more challenging to find examples of this in their daily lives to relate to.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 20, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Fire & ice: winter tours in Iceland

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun Bárðarbunga from the air

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun
Bárðarbunga from the air.

I recently took a week off to visit Iceland. Iceland in winter. We’d been to the country before, right around the summer solstice, and loved it. So part of the impetus for this trip was to see how we felt about the place when it wasn’t summer—when it was covered in ice, and when the sun barely made an appearance.

The eruption of the Bárðarbunga volcano, with spreading lava field in nearby Holuhraun, began after we booked our trip, but immediately made the top of our list of things to see while there.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun The long view shows just a portion of the vast lava field laid down by the volcano. For scale, the mound that’s been built up is around 70 meters high. The lava field is bigger than Manhattan. I also found it interesting how utterly flat the landscape is that it’s rising out of.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun
The long view shows just a portion of the vast lava field laid down by the volcano. For scale, the mound that’s been built up is around 70 meters high. The lava field is bigger than Manhattan. I also found it interesting how utterly flat the landscape is that it’s rising out of.

Fortunately, this is easy to do, as long as you’re willing to pay for it. The lava field is roughly in the middle of the country, so there are small plane and helicopter tours available from both Reykjavik and Akureyri (in the north).

Costs vary quite a lot, with helicopter tours typically much more expensive than planes. Flights out of Reykjavik also tended to cost more, and since we were going to Akureyri anyway we booked ours from there. The company we went with was called Mýflug (www.myflug.is), and they were great. Before we flew, they checked and double-checked the weather to make sure we’d see something. It was touch and go for a while, but as you can see from the pictures, the day turned out gorgeous. We flew out to Holuhraun, then back and forth near the caldera several times before heading back to Akureyri, and only then did they run our credit cards. I respect that.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun Iceland’s newest volcano sends clouds of smoke to blot out the sun, as seen from the tail window of a Cessna.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun Iceland’s newest volcano sends clouds of smoke to blot out the sun, as seen from the tail window of a Cessna.

Other major companies are Saga Travel, Extreme Iceland, Iceland Travel, Nordic Visitors, and Iceland Unlimited, all of which cost more than ours. Though the cheapest, it was still over $300 per person. We justified the expense as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Of course, the other fire we wanted to see while wintering in Iceland was in the sky: the Northern Lights. Don’t miss your opportunity to go on a tour to hunt this phenomenon. You may think you’ll be able to simply look up and see them, but going with a guide gives you better odds. Most of these tours also come with a guarantee, whereby they’ll take you back out the next night if you don’t see anything.

Be forewarned: this will be the coldest part of your trip. Winter temperatures in Iceland are surprisingly mild, hovering around freezing most of the time. But at night, in some windswept place far from light, when you are just standing around looking up, it’s much colder. Wear thick socks.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun Iceland isn’t all fire; in winter it also has a lot of ice. This is Goðafoss, the waterfall of the Gods, into which all the old Norse Gods were ritually tossed upon Iceland’s conversion to Christianity.

Photo: Emily C. Skaftun
Iceland isn’t all fire; in winter it also has a lot of ice. This is Goðafoss, the waterfall of the Gods, into which all the old Norse Gods were ritually tossed upon Iceland’s conversion to Christianity.

We did manage to see some Aurora on our first night out, though it wasn’t anything you’d put on a postcard. We had a better view, oddly enough, during our flight to Iceland. If you fly Iceland Air, be sure to reserve your seat selection as soon as you can to get a window seat. That too is another article.

Finally, you may wish to see some of the other wonders of Iceland: the Golden Circle, stunning waterfalls, geothermal sites, or even movie sets. Movie sets? A number of things have been filmed in Iceland, most recently and notably, the “beyond the Wall” segments in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. We chose a tour purporting to take us to places featured on the show, and while the GOT-related content was disappointing, the tour itself was marvelous.

I recommend taking a tour whether in the north or the south, because having a guide along helps enhance the experience in a number of ways. One, they know what they’re looking at, and usually quite a lot of history and interesting tidbits about the location. Two, the tours are planned to take you places at times of day that make sense. We self-guided along the Golden Circle, and ran out of light (which is easy to do in the winter). This won’t happen on a tour. Three, the tour guides have support and backup. We did manage to get our tour van stuck at one point, but she was easily able to summon help (perhaps the Hidden People). Meanwhile, when we tried to drive to a farm we wanted to visit, we were turned back by an impassable road.

However you do it, end your tour in one of the many geothermal baths that make Iceland in the winter much, much cozier than we would have guessed!

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 6, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Blame Loki for your bad luck

Today is Friday the 13th, a day for bad luck and fear. Does anyone know why? According to folklorists, there is no evidence for the superstition of an unlucky Friday the 13th before the 19th century. It is though that the belief is a combination of two older superstitions that called 13 an unlucky number and Friday an unlucky day.

The earliest reference to this belief is in the 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who regarded both Fridays and the number 13 unlucky in life, then proved himself right by dying on Friday the 13th.

Why Fridays were ever supposed to be unlucky I may never know. I mean, who doesn’t love a weekend? That particular superstition seems to have been strongest among sailors, who thought that beginning a voyage on Friday was bad luck. So maybe they were just hesitant to give up their weekends, preferring instead to spend those days ashore.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons “Loki taunts Bragi” (1908) by W. G. Collingwood, used as an illustration to Lokasenna in Olive Bray’s English translation of the Poetic Edda. This sort of behavior does lend credibility to the idea that Loki makes a lousy dinner guest, but in my opinion it’s a big stretch from there to “any 13th guest means someone will die in the next year,” and an even bigger leap from there to demonizing an entire number.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
“Loki taunts Bragi” (1908) by W. G. Collingwood, used as an illustration to Lokasenna in Olive Bray’s English translation of the Poetic Edda. This sort of behavior does lend credibility to the idea that Loki makes a lousy dinner guest, but in my opinion it’s a big stretch from there to “any 13th guest means someone will die in the next year,” and an even bigger leap from there to demonizing an entire number.

As for the unlucky number 13, we may have Norse trickster Loki to blame for this one. According to the Skeptical Inquirer: “Norse mythology also has a superstition surrounding thirteen at a dinner table and the bad luck that ensues. … Apparently twelve deities sat down for a meal at a gods’ feast only to have Loki, the god of mischief and disorder, come along and crash the party. He rose the number to thirteen, causing one of the gods to die during the meal.”

This may well be the root of the Christian superstition about 13 at a meal; the idea that Judas Iscariot being both the 13th person to sit at the Last Supper and the betrayer of Jesus mirrors the earlier Norse myth nicely.

But whether it’s Judas or Loki they’re afraid of, people continue to believe that thirteen at a dinner table will mean that one of them will die within the year. This is a great excuse to keep those dinner parties to a manageable size—saying that one more guest will cause someone to die sounds much more serious than “I only have 12 plates.”

Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia, The latter of these, in addition to being a million-point scrabble word, is partially named after Frigg, the Norse goddess from whose name we get “Friday.” There go those Æsir again.

But there is far from an international consensus on which days are lucky and unlucky. In Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is the one you’ve got to watch out for (this makes more sense to me—bad luck is much worse when you can’t sleep in the next day). And in Italy, where 13 is a lucky number, they worry about Friday the 17th. And a few cultures have even celebrated the day. In Finland, for example, “National Accident Day” is always held on a Friday the 13th, and functions to raise awareness of accidents (mainly car accidents, from what I can glean, but if anyone knows more about this, please let me know).

If you are a sufferer of friggatriskaidekaphobia, the good news is that today is the only Friday the 13th we’ll see in 2014. So get through the day and breathe easy, knowing you’re safe for a while—as long as you don’t walk under ladders, spill salt, break mirrors, or cross paths with a black cat. Take this much-needed reprieve, because you’ll need it next year, when we’ll have THREE Friday the 13ths, two of them back-to-back in February and March.

Frigg help us!

This article originally appeared in the June 13, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call (206) 784-4617.

News and things

Hello, neglected blog!

I’ve been busy so far this year with my new job as Editor of a weekly newspaper. As it turns out that is a lot of work, and it’s also taught me some things about being a needy writer type that are probably good for me to remember. In super brief: assume there’s no problem if you don’t hear from an editor! She’s much more likely to find time to contact you if something’s wrong than if all is well. If you’d like to check out the paper, which is a niche publication for the Norwegian American community, visit blog.norway.com.

But, in actual writing news:

• I’m involved in a project called That Ain’t Right: Historical Accounts from the Miskatonic Valley. It has a kickstarter that ends in six days, and even though it’s already funded (woo!) there’s still time to unlock reward tiers and cool stuff.

After Death, an anthology containing my story “Final Testament of a Weapons Engineer,” has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award! This is absolutely in no part due to my story, but it’s still fun to be connected to a project receiving that kind of recognition.

• I still haven’t signed the contract on this last one, so no details yet, but I sold a story to one of the major SF markets. Whee!

 

You have one week to live

How’s that for a sensational headline? But according to some, Ragnarok, the “Viking apocalypse” is due on Feb. 22. The countdown began when the horn of Heimdallr was blown on Nov. 14th in York. According to legend the god himself would have blown the horn to warn that the end was a mere 100 days away. At which point, theoretically, the Vikings would have thrown the biggest party the world had ever seen.

Putting aside the question of who decided it was a good idea to blow Gjallarhorn, I have a few problems with this.

Photo: Wikimedia Heimdallr with Gjallarhorn. Artwork by Lorenz Frølich. Published in Gjellerup’s Edda in 1895.

Photo: Wikimedia Heimdallr with Gjallarhorn. Artwork by Lorenz Frølich. Published in Gjellerup’s Edda in 1895.

One, why isn’t the apocalypse of my people being taken seriously? Mayan civilization hasn’t been a force in hundreds of years, but everyone knew the date of their apocalypse decades out. The Dec. 21 end of the Baktun was big news worldwide, and people gathered at the pyramids for special celebrations and experts repeated over and over that the end of the calendar didn’t necessarily mean anything, and even that the astronomical event it was meant to coincide with had already come and gone.

Where is the hype over Ragnarok? I mean, it’s a pretty great apocalypse. Before the apocalypse proper, all morality will disappear from the world and fights will break out (possibly this has happened already). A terrible winter will last for three years (hmm. Polar vortex?). The wolf Skoll will devour the sun, while his brother Hati eats the moon, causing eternal darkness. Odin will be killed by Fenrir. Then there will be huge earthquakes, the sea will rear up, and the sky will be stained with poison. This sounds a lot more exciting than a plague of zombies, and they get a lot of ink. I’m not even sure, for all the hype, what exactly was supposed to happen on 12/21/12.

Second, at the risk of sounding like a third-rate stand-up comedian, what’s up with the apocalypse, anyway? Does it seem like we’ve faced one after another with barely any space in-between? Is this a statistically high occurrence of apocalypse predictions? I have read that millennia and turns-ofcenturies are always rife with doomsayers. But isn’t it getting a bit old? Perhaps that’s why people aren’t giving Ragnarok the time of day.

Except, no. One look at popular media in the U.S. spoils that hypothesis. You can’t swing a cat without hitting an apocalypse, or a dystopia, or a zombie plague. There’s probably even some sort of cat-swinging apocalypse. Even relatively mundane disasters get apocalyptic names. A couple years ago in Seattle we had “snowpocalypse” when we got a few inches of the white stuff (don’t judge us; we’re awful with snow). And in southern California they had “carmageddon” because of road work (come to think of it, like these other apocalypses, carmageddon was largely hype).

So what is it about the end that we find so compelling? I think it’s a particular kind of solipsism that’s currently common, at least in American culture. We are the only thing that’s important, so how could the world go on without us? It can’t. Our deaths must therefore mean it’s the end. Or, even better, we believe that we will survive the end, to struggle on in whatever wasteland remains. We will outlive civilization! What power!

At least old-fashioned apocalypses like the end of the Baktun and Ragnarok are of divine origin. The more common storyline these days is that we humans will cause our demise. And inasfar as these are used as cautionary tales, I support them. It’s good for us to be reminded from time to time that if we genetically engineer dinosaurs they will probably eat us. But the narrative is also very prideful. We believe we are capable of ending the world. What hubris!

I’m sure Odin and the others will set us straight. Before they die.

The battle begins in just over a week. Even though at the end of it only two human survivors will be left to repopulate the renewed, beautiful earth, which means you will probably die, you may as well make a go of it. I recommend stocking up on batteries for your flashlights. It’s going to be a long night.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 14, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call (206) 784-4617.

This year in narcissism

It feels impossible not to mark each year with a roundup post. The compulsion is too strong! I cannot resist!

2013 saw the sale of four stories, two of which were solicited. That feels really nice, even if the markets soliciting my work aren’t the highest paying or most prestigious. Those two haven’t come out yet; I’ll let you know when they do. The other sales were both to pro markets, Daily Science Fiction and Clarkesworld, and they make pro sales number two and three. This marker is semi-arbitrary but it still meant something to me to hit it. One more and I can officially give up on winning Writers of the Future.

About a year ago, thinking the intervening time would be less chaotic than it turned out to be (ha!), I applied to Taos Toolbox. So I went to that this summer, at what ended up being the worst possible time. I was unprepared and not in the right headspace to take advantage of the workshop, and my feelings on it are mixed. Other writing-related adventures included Norwescon and Rainforest Writers’ Retreat. None are planned for this year yet, but I’ll probably hit Norwescon again, and maybe another con. Who can say?

On the plus side: we did see a bear.

One of the unambiguous positives of Taos was going back to New Mexico. I wish I’d had more time to spend in Santa Fe, but it was a welcome reminder of the bizarre place I lived for a year. Other places visited this year include Alaska, my 42nd state, and Cuba, my 14th country. No big travel plans yet for this year, but I’ve got a few ideas kicking around.

Summer’s chaos was caused by another big change: buying a house and moving into it. This year’s project will be renovating the house, Cthulhu willing. Husband needs a garage, and we could both use a little more space.

And, the final piece of big news is that I start the new year with a new job, as the Managing Editor of the Norwegian American Weekly. Tomorrow is my first day, and I’m pretty excited about it. But instead of speculating now about what this will mean I’ll just wait and see.

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