C and C Bonus Cuppa: The Underrated Treasures Blog Hop

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while. It’s time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own..

Do you like to hop? Do you like discovering new treasures? Well, you’re in luck, today!

I love blog hops, because they introduce me to new people I might not otherwise meet, and often challenge me to look at my life in new ways. So, today, as a Coffee and Conversation bonus, I’m participating in Alex J. Cavanaugh‘s Underrated Treasures Blog Hop.



The objective here is to share a favorite, underrated movie, band/artist, TV Show, and/or book.

I’m going to fill the cuppa up to the brim on this one, so there’ll be no need for a half-full/half-empty philosophical debate!

  • First up, my movie pick: Head.

Yes, I hear you snickering, and looking for an X rating on this post. In the days of video stores, I got that same look, every time I tried to track it down.

But it’s not like that.

Head is the Monkees movie, and its not erotica, but psychedelia. It’s a wild romp with a liberal dosing of absurd social commentary thrown in. It’s 1968, in a movie, with the same goofy, off-the-wall humor of The Monkees, made -BIGGER! And it begs the question:

“Who writes this stuff?”

Check out 4:54; 8;15; and 9:33!

  • And now, the band/artist category.

I’m going international since Scotland’s been in the news this week, I offer you the jewel of Gizzen Briggs - a youth group which travels the world. Why not have a listen?

My Accomplice in Mischief and I saw them in Gardiner, Montana, just outside the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. We were about to have a baby, and money was tight, but I was impressed enough to buy their CD, Turas Eile. It was June of 2001 – I might not remember the year, except that I was being pounded from within by my oldest child, who apparently really, REALLY enjoyed Scottish music in utero.

  • OK, back to these United States, for my book selection.

Most people know who Charles Lindbergh was, and the Lindbergh baby abduction has almost attained legendary status amongst unsolved crimes. But did you know that the Lindberghs had five more children? Did you know that Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a writer and a poet, in addition to being the wife of a famous aviator?

Me, by the Atlantic, in 2007. Photo credit: Eden Mabee.

I bought Gift From the Sea for a dollar at a garage sale in my early 20s, and it profoundly affected the way I saw myself as a woman and as a writer. Yes, it was written in 1955, over a decade before I was born, but there is a quiet, contemplative wisdom held in its pages. It’s a little like Walden, a little bit A Room of One’s Own, and entirely a celebration of nature, simplicity, and creativity. I just bought my Kindle copy, and I’m looking forward to settling back with this treasure, which has been a gift indeed, to me.

  • And, so here we come, to my favorite underrated television show: Star Trek: Enterprise, Yes, I went a bit out of order, but, since my show goes way off the beaten path…

Enterprise is a prequel, and space exploration was still new for humans. Enterprise NX-01 is the prototype Warp 5 ship, which can go to ‘Neptune and back in six minutes’; the first ship able to make long-range explorations, after nearly a hundred years of an uneasy alliance with the Vulcans, Starfleet is new, and there is no Prime Directive, no Federation of Planets.

It’s got some of the best elements of the original series and The Next Generation. It has Scott Bakula, and a beagle named Porthos. We get to meet the Klingons, the Andorians, the Tellarites, and the Orions, Doctor Soong, and watch the crew eye their brand-new transporter with a combination of fascination and dread… it tackles social issues in the best Trek fashion – and it’s funnier and sexier than any of the other series (thanks, cable!).

Those are good reasons, but I really watch it for T’Pol, the Vulcan science officer who was involuntarily assigned for an eight-day mission that changed her life, and Trip Tucker, the Chief Engineer who can’t seem to resist a certain pointy-eared challenge.

If you think you might watch the show (Netflix and Amazon Prime both have it), stop here to avoid spoilers!

Be warned, if you get to the last episode -something went very, very wrong. IMO, they would have done better to have ended it with the second to last episode, which ended in a bittersweet and deeply satisfying moment…

They started out here…

But it wasn’t just a gimmick. The writers, directors, and the actors – Jolene Blalock and Connor Trinneer – skillfully wove a subtext of tension, conflict, and a gradual, stuttering friendship…it took three years to get to here…

Think that was a happy ending? Nope. Another year later, we are here…

Yes! A real, complex relationship on Star Trek, with characters that are flawed, strong, and real – it’s delicious. So delicious, it’s inspired me to write a great deal of fan fiction about these two!

I’ve opened my treasure chest of underrated gems for you to enjoy – now, why not hop over to a few of the other blogs, and see what secret treasures you can find there? Or have a cuppa with me, and tell us about your own unsung favorites!

Coffee and Conversation; Disabled Characters: Descriptor, or Definition?


Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while. It’s time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own..

Do you write any disabled characters?

That’s one of the questions posed by Rose B. Fischer‘s Redefining Disability Project.

It really made me think, and, at first, I was a little embarrassed, because I couldn’t think of a single one…

Was I unintentionally discriminating against people who didn’t fit my own image of ‘abled?’ Did I think, on some level, that they couldn’t be interesting characters, with lives and conflicts worth reading about?

And then, I started to remember…

  • Vaara, who is not only mute, but has no understanding of spoken language as a communications device for most of her childhood, and lifelong difficulties in the conversational arena.
  • Liacivaar, like my own secondborn child, Elijah, Liacivaar was born with profound brain damage, and died a short time later.
  • Tisira falls from a tree as the result of a telepathic attack…
  • … and awakens as Nockatee, bereft not only of her memory, but also her self.

After I realized this, I started to feel better. No, I wasn’t ignoring disabled characters. But was I capitalizing upon their disabilities? In each case, above, the disability is a central theme of the character’s story arc. Without the limitations imposed by it, the story could be easily resolved.

So, was I taking advantage of my disabled characters; giving them disabilities only so that I could exploit them?

And that’s where the Kifo Island Chronicles comes in…

Kifo Island is my fictional hospice resort. During the April 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge, I wrote 26 flash fiction stories, each of a man, woman, or child who had come to the island to live, die, or work. Among my cast of characters were more than a few with life-altering or threatening disabilities:

  • Ava has leukemia, and struggles against the control of emotionally unavailable and overbearing parents.
  • Terrance’s heart is failing and being broken at the same time.
  • Donovan, is an albino who finds an unexpected family.
  • Exuberance has metastitic cancer, and a far bigger problem in judging men.
  • Gladys is dying of old age and Parkinson’s Disease, but has a mission to see to, first.
  • Iris has been severely abused and neglected, but sparkles with the capacity for love and joy.
  • Josiah is ravaged by the effects of drug abuse, but has found a reason to live his remaining days well.
  • Linwood suffers from age-related dementia, and a grief too deep to accept.
  • Mauve is an ancephalic infant whose death offers life.
  • Percy has an inoperable and terminal brain tumor, and trains therapy animals.
  • Quincette, in the grip of an eating disorder, saves two lives and changes her own.
  • Robert is on the autism spectrum, and wrestling with life-altering news.
  • Serrah has a congenital heart defect, and misses her Mommy and Daddy.
  • Timothy has cystic fibrosis, and a relationship in trouble.
  • Ubunta was trafficked as a sex slave, and wants what’s best for her unborn child.
  • Wilma is blind, and discovers a body.
  • Xavier has testicular cancer, and beats his wife.
  • Yvette is the victim of longtime spousal abuse, and lives a secret life through art.
  • Zeke suffers from mental illness, which he uses to his advantage as a stand-up comic.

My daughter, age 9, explores disability through adaptive handwear. Journey Through the Body, April 2014.

These characters are different than the ones above. Their disabilities are part of their stories – but only part. Each of them is a person, with a life that is be affected by illness, infirmity, or being at the mercy of others who violate them in some way – but this isn’t the sum of them, only one factor in their reality. It might be an overarching theme – but they are people. Some of them are consumed by whatever condition they have; others try to deny that they even have a disability, and others find a degree of balance with their disability, accepting the real limitations it imposes without allowing it to have a greater impact on their life than necessary.

Just as the people I assisted dealt with life in different ways, according to their natures, so do the characters I write for whom disability is a fact of life. Because they are people, first and always. People who live, love, work, play, and sometimes die – and, just like in the real world, their disability isn’t all they are. It can be a descriptor, but not a definition – just like my being tall means that there are times I have to duck when a shorter person could pass through. It’s my reality, but being tall isn’t the only thing that I am.

If you write, do you have any disabled characters? Does their condition, whatever it is, define them, or is it simply one aspect of their nature?

Do you have any favorite characters with disabilities from literature, television, or elsewhere? I’ll pour the coffee; let’s converse!

An Inspirational Stretch: September 21, 2014

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Do you ever get the feeling your head might explode with the force of all the ideas brewing inside, just waiting to be burst forth and be turned into reality? Like, whatever you do, it comes with three bright shiny new inspirations attached, like colorful leaves whisked along on an autumn gust?

Have I ever mentioned that I love fall?! ;D

It’s been a tumbling of ideas for me, this session. I often have a lull, this close to the end of the round, where I naturally slow down and assess. But this time, the assessing seems to be happening on the fly in a blustery, hurly-burly fashion that feels almost physical, and urges me on. For instance:

  • I had a breakthrough Friday! I discovered the calendar app on my computer, and how to set up a project list. It helped me focus on my targets, and I was more productive, went to sleep knowing what my first projects would be. My dreams were fertile, and I was able to get right into the flow today. I feel like this could be something big in my life…

With only a few days left in Round 3, and a few more before October, how are you feeling?

September Focal Areas:

  • Homeschool Administration (until complete) Target attained!

  • Chameleon’s Dish/ 3 short story Revisions

  • Drafting Perchance to Dream/ Pre-planning and Prep for King of Infinite Space

As always, I list only those goals I moved forward this round.


2014 Blogging:

Build positive blogging habits – post regularly, build queues, answer comments, and share diversely.

Maintain regular posting schedule; queue 3 posts for Coffee and Conversation; prep 3 ahead for WIPpet Wednesday. On target.

  • Second-Serving Sunday: Inspiration Edition!

  • I have two CandC posts drafted (bonus this week!) in my drafts file; and I had an inspiration regarding how to use the Comments Source File I’ve been saving; now 7 pages long. I’m excited to play with the concept, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet! =) 0/3 Queued, but that’s about to change!

  • WIPpet: 1/3 in drafts; 3/3 in revision; and posts tentatively mapped out into October. 0/3 Queued; but gaining on it!

Continue interacting through comments; expand and diversify my blog visits and participation.Target attained!

  • Still moving through, still getting more. Happy times!=)

  • I’m discovering some amazing blogs, and reading them is providing lots of fodder for my own posts. That’s pretty cool!

2014 Writing:

Complete rough drafts of To Be or Not to Be, The Stars Are Fire, and Perchance to Dream.

Write at least 750 words on Perchance to Dream daily until the draft is completed. Target attained!

  • September 17: 761 words.

  • September 18: 850 words.

  • September 19: 885 words.

  • September 20: 793 words.

  • Currently drafting: Scene 49/60.

Draft another novel in the Trueborn duology series, King of infinite Space, as my November NaNoWriMo project.

Print and read-aloud Blood and Breath (rough draft WIP); KOIS will be its duology fanfic. On target.

  • Chapter One and Two read-alouds complete.

  • Chapters Two and Three printed.

Complete pre-planning for King of Infinite Space, through character sketches/bios. On target.

  • Rock Your Plot goal/motivation/conflict section in progress.

  • 3/3 G/M/Cs complete!

  • Began gathering existing material to use in character sketches/bios. Hope to have all three done by the end of the month, so I can have all of October for plotting.

2014 Editing:

First revision pass for Chameleon’s Dish; Readthroughs/notes for Blood and Breath.

Complete first revision pass for Chameleon’s Dish. On target.

  • Scene 13/60 in progress.

  • I’ve got inspiration here, too, and I’m really looking forward to revising this scene! =D

Throughout read-aloud, make on-page pre-revision notes for Blood and Breath. On target.

  • Chapter One: 11/11 pages, and General Chapter Notes. Major revelation regarding theme and subplots

  • Chapter Two: 3/17 pages.

Revise three short story WIPs for October 31 submission deadline. On target.

  • I found the project notebook for these stories. It’s a start! =D

2014 Hometending:

Continue physical and virtual hometending plans – resetting rooms, cleaning files, and inhabiting my study.

Continue reclaiming my study. Target attained!

  • A bit more tidying – and magnet rubble eradication.

Clean email files. On target.

  • I remembered that email is simple to go through on my Kindle, and made great strides on this goal.

Continue the family room reset.Target attained!

  • I‘d been stymied on this for a few weeks; but I’ve had an inspiration here, too – and it’s going to solve at least three different clutter issues! Much more to come on this goal! =)

Develop new habits that support organization and productivity.

Experiment with Daily Writing Frames from Round 1. Target attained!

  • Yes. Blogging, drafting, and revision were the big winners, this round.

  • Hooray for my calendar app! I think I’m in love! =)

Develop Daily Hometending Frames. On target.

  • Continuing a loosely structured plan; gathering resources for a more focused surge.

Set aside time weekly for Adminstrative Frames. Target attained!

  • Email clearing; scheduling; reading review book; setting Halloween plans.

2014 Lifetending:

Continue exploring fitness goals – more on this throughout the round.

Plan a monthly family excursion that involves physical activity. On target.

  • Plans in the works for apple picking and a trip to a local “amusement farm”.

Continue exploring nutrition goals – more on this throughout the round.

Consume minimum five veggie/fruit salads and/or fruit smoothies each week. Target attained!

  • 5/5; 3 smoothies; 2 salads.

Consume Greek yogurt and nuts minimum twice weekly. Target attained!

  • Yogurt: 3/2; nuts 2/2.

ROW80 Sponsor duties:

Visit my “2”s every session. Target attained!

Cheer the ROWers to the finish line!

Second-Serving Sunday: Inspiration Edition!


A weekly peek backwards and a look ahead, in my little corner of the blogosphere

Do you think there’s something magical about the shift from summer into autumn? For me, it’s a time of inspiration that tangles with an urge to do stuff before the long hibernation that is an upstate New York winter.

I have lots of projects going, more in mind, and even more coalescing. I’m taking advantage of this energy, so I’ll keep this intro short and bouncy. Stuff’s happening, I’m inspired, and I hope you are, too! =)

Recently at shanjeniah:

Second-Serving Sunday: I’m Back! Edition”

Coffee and Conversation:

WIPpet Wednesday:

SoCS (Stream of Consciousness Saturday):

  • Average? Well, Maybe Not! I use the prompt “Average” to compare school’s focus on averages and our not-so-average unschooled life.

A Sprinkling of Seasonings: The bits of this and that I added to the mix!

ROW80 Updates:

What’s Next:

My focus for September is on revising my time-travel fantasy novel, Chameleon’s Dish, set in the 1612-13 London area. I’m also drafting another WIP, Perchance to Dream, a Star Trek: TOS/ Enterprise fanfiction novel, and the second half of a duology. Since homeschool administration is finished for the next couple of months, I’ve ramped up the early stages of planning for my NaNoWriMo project, King of Infinite Space, a Star Trek: TOS/Enterprise crossover fan fiction which is the companion novel for my existing fantasy WIP, Blood and Breath, which I’m rereading and making pre-revision notes on.

In the Wilds of Internet-Land:

Monday Blogfest! Still time to join in!

Life Stuff:

  • Homeschool reports done, hometending, yardtending…and lots of living, writing, and blogging.
  • Halloween plans, and new excitements on the horizon…stay tuned!
  • Oh, and I learned how to make PicMonkey collages! =)

So, what have you been up to lately? Do you have anything exciting fall plans? I’d love to hear about it!

SoCS : Average? Well, Maybe Not…

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This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday meme.

The idea is simple – post an unedited stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt – this week’s is to write a post that uses average as a word, or as a theme.




That’s a huge word, in the school world. Grades are based on averages. Each student (no, they’re not simply referred to as people, but students, which relegates them, in some sense, to a product to be acted upon and packaged, rather than a distinct, unique human being with a full set of thoughts, emotions, preferences, aversions, quirks, and memories) is plotted out on a bell curve, and the goal, of course, is to be there, near the middle, near the average -

Grades on a bell curve. Courtesy eCourses.

But not average. Above.

Does that even make sense? Is it fair or kind to the people involved?

Because, if someone is above average – well, it’s a bell curve. Someone ELSE has to be below average.

Maybe that wouldn’t be a problem – except that schools tend to define anything below average as a failure. A C grade is -at least marginally – acceptable. But get a D – well, it’s school. You don’t want to get a D. You certainly don’t want anyone ELSE to know you got one.

But the truth is, in the school world, you might not want to get an A, either.

Other kids taunt those who are too far off the fat center of that bell curve. Yes, “average” is the target, whatever the propaganda might say. The kid who gets a D will be labeled stupid, and the one who gets an A will be labeled a teacher’s pet…


Because the entire nature of the public education system is based upon those grades, and that bell curve, and the law of averages.

I was one of the “smart” kids – but that’s really not fair. What it meant, really, is that my particular brain and personality fit well with the model schools like – I have a word-hungry brain, love reading and writing and engaging with new ideas, and tend to remember things I hear or read pretty near whole.

I didn’t put a lot of effort into schoolwork – instead, I put a tremendous amount into things I was passionate about. School was a game, and a requirement, and I played that game well – as far as the grades went. Socially – well, that’s another story. I was way too far to the right of the fat part of that bell curve, way too often – and, having grown up in a volatile and dysfunctional family, I didn’t possess the skills that could make me likable despite that fact. As one former classmate observed, I “made it easy” for others to pick on me, because I had no idea how to tone down who I was – and no desire to, either…

Defying the law of averages since 2001!

My own children lead a very different life. Averages aren’t how they are defined; they aren’t points plotted out on a bell curve. They don’t strive to get As, not get Ds, or be in the middle of the curve, with a mass of others, safe in the relative anonymity of a crowd.

It’s just after noon on Friday, as I write this. All over the country, kids are watching the classroom clock, wishing the day would end, maybe anticipating weekend plans.

Here, my son is just wrapping up his “day” – he was up all night, playing games, reading fan fiction, and playing a prank on his sleeping sister. He’ll be asleep, now, till well after dark. My daughter is just waking up from a few hours’ sleep – she was up until after 5am, so she might or might not sleep more later, – and she’s negotiating with her father on the timing of acquiring a new cat, and the specifics of her Halloween plans…she’s got a budget, but I’m really not sure she can execute her grand plans on it.

Are they average kids? Well, while I tend to think they aren’t, in many ways; in others, they likely are. They love Minecraft, their trampoline, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and many other things that are popular with other kids their ages. They love their parents, their lives, and each other. They smile and laugh every day. They learn every day.


Does it matter, against the reality of these real people, vibrant with their own individual lives?

Just your average love note?

Loving who she is, as she is!

Not to me. They aren’t part of a bell curve – they’re children, growing into adults, each in their own way and in their own time, and that’s all I need them to be.

I’m guessing that might make me something other than average, but I don’t care.

I’ve been off to the side of that curve most of my life, after all! =)

Where do you stand, on averages? Do you find yourself wanting to measure up, or would you rather stand out? Do you find the average appealing, or bland? I’d love to hear from you, no matter where you are on any bell curve! =D

Enjoy stream-of consciousness writing? Anyone can play, so long as they are willing to follow a few simple rules. See you next week, for another live-streaming look into the lovely chaos in my mind! =)

Join in or read more SoCS posts here!

Lemurs, Suspended Animation, and My Dad: No, I’m Not Making This Up


Discoveries come in many forms – on grand and personal levels. This post explores a man’s research into lemur hibernation, and his daughter’s realization that her dad’s career is something of a sleeper…

Originally posted on Wing's World:

When the fat-tailed lemur becomes the most famous animal in the world, you can say you read about it here first. Unless you read it in Slate.

I got an email from my dad the other day, which turned out to be forwarded from some random person who had sent him a link to something else random. He does that a lot, so I almost deleted it. Then I saw the word “Slate” and “lemur.”

Slate? As in the online magazine? Hip and savvy and mainstream? I clicked. The title said:

Do Lemurs Hold the Secret to Suspended Animation?

What we might be able to learn from our closest hibernating cousins.

Sure enough, Slate had run an article on my dad’s research.

Why should you care? I’ll let David Casarett of Slate tell you:

You know all about suspended animation because it makes an appearance in virtually every science-fiction movie that’s…

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