Forward into the Past

Of course a science fiction convention is going to be partly about time travel.

Back to the Future got a nod at the 2019 Worldcon last week with a display of the DeLorean, but part of the convention also did some going forward into the past.

The most involved piece in the masquerade ball (which is more of a series of promenades onto a stage than a ball) consisted of costumed rogues and misfits from the future entering a gazebo-like time portal to go back into the Pliocene.

Meanwhile, fans of epic fantasy, and those aspiring to write it, were treated to historians and authors talking about the middle ages on several panels.

There was a discussion of alternatives to monarchies that authors could turn to to add some variety to their stories, and another giving advice on how feudalism worked in reality and how rare it actually was. There was even a panel about a list of misconceptions about medieval times, brought to life with Medieval Myths Bingo.

My personal favorite was a presentation involving weapons often featured in fantasy novels. Because both presenters were swordsmen, they focused on writing about swordplay while demonstrating specifics with each other and willing audience participants.

It was great fun, but I would also have enjoyed learning more about daggers, spears, battle axes and crossbows. Given the enthusiasm of the crowd, these two instructors could probably have conducted a full day seminar on weapons from the past and it would have been well attended. As it was, they invited participants to join them in the hallway after the talk to handle the weapons themselves and many of us took them up on the offer.

Time itself becomes a little fuzzy at an event like this, you know,  as the real world fades away and the surreal world of of nonstop fan activities takes over. One tends to forget if it is day or night, much less what day it is.

Most of us had to laugh when we saw signs like this pop up a couple of days in, but honestly it was helpful.

The past was also present in references to beloved science fiction from long ago. Dublin’s convention center peppered the areas around the escalators with warning messages like the one to the right. It was advice no fan could ignore.

Whenever we ventured out from the convention center, a lovely harp-shaped bridge greeted us. It was a fine reminder of the two prongs of this literature we came to celebrate: the sleek beauty of tomorrow and the magic we so often associate with yesterday.

Read more about my Worldcon adventures at And the winner, she is …., at  An Irish Worldcon: I’m here! at An New Irish Experience,and at Feeling at home.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

We have Groucho Marx to thank for this witty line. It pops into my head every time I think about how time flies.

Most of my life I’ve considered time, not money, to be my most valuable resource. Maybe I should have put it second to love, or joy, but if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t. Maybe I always thought I was going to die young. Lucky for me, I’m getting a little too old to do that ….

If you cherish your minutes like I do, you tend to be busy, focused and impatient. Friends marvel at how much you get done. They also wish you’d learn to relax more.

This last year has been more intense than most, as I seized the day, the week, and the months to re-release new versions of my six novels.  I was often up at dawn (not my normal), driven to get through one more chapter. I had to make these perfect. I had to get them done.

Then, I did. And, I was exhausted.

I had expected to finish a month sooner, and had scheduled some travel to unwind after my big push. Instead, I ended up rushing off on my trip, finally catching my breath on a five-hour cross country flight that was running over three hours late. Sort of like me. I woke up somewhere on the Pacific coast and thought now what?

Now what, indeed. I ate lunch at the beach. Put my feet in the ocean. Went to a party, saw a live show and a movie, and went wine tasting. I even tried my hand at some virtual reality game involving light sabers and music.

There was pizza and french fries for dinner, lots of ice cream, and plenty of wine. Sometimes that wine was drunk in the middle of the day.

I relaxed. I enjoyed myself. I had fun.

Wow.

Should I have wasted all that time?? You bet. You see, time flies like an arrow. Best use some of it to recharge your batteries and enjoy this wonderful gift of getting to exist. As the fruit flies will tell you, there’s no reason part of it shouldn’t be fun.

Day 8. There’s No Place Like Home

I left Kansas when I was 17 years old, and I remain surprised at the number of Wizard of Oz references I still get when I tell someone where I was born and raised. Today I am off the road, enjoying the town I once called home. To my delight, it remains surprisingly familiar.

There is lunch with a childhood friend at a restaurant my family frequented when I was a kid. There is a visit to a small parcel of land my sister and I still own, and to the little oil well on it. I say my thanks for the dribble of extra income both provide

It has been six years since I’ve seen my parents’ graves. I put fresh flowers there, knowing the Kansas wind and August sun will reduce them to nothing by the end of week. It’s the thought that counts, or at least I hope it is.

My cousin takes me on a tour of the town. The college is bigger, there are more hotels and restaurants which he proudly points out. He wants me to know the town is thriving and growing. He doesn’t understand that I’m so happy to know it is still much the same as I remember it.

We drive by the building that used to house my fathers shop, a small electronics business. It was turned into a run down pawn store after his death, and I winced whenever I passed it. But look! It has a new life now, as a pet grooming shop. The grounds are clean and the building looks well cared for and I acknowledge some changes around town can be for the better.

I knew before I began my day what my Rule of the Road #8 would be. Get off the road once in awhile, and look around.

I also knew what my song of the day would be. It really was no contest. Yes, I know it has been overplayed, but trust me, if you had listed to as many dumb jokes about Toto and Auntie Em as I have, you’d want this song here too.

It comes to you all the way from Hawaii, the beautiful home of this artist.

 

If you’d like to read a short blurb from each day of my journey, check out
Day 1. The Journey of 6000 miles
Day 2. Rules of the Road
Day 3. Just Don’t
Day 4. Bloom Here.
Day 5. Yes Aretha. Respect.
Day 6. No Trucks. Just Corn.
Day 7. Cry
Day 8. There’s No Place Like Home
Day 9. It’s Okay to Ask a Human for Help
Day 10. Always Bring an Onion
Day 11. Gimme Three Steps Towards Nevada
Day 12. I Want to Scream.
Day 13. Dusty Virgin
Day 14: Magical ride
Day 15. As Nice as I Want to Be
Day 16. What Rules? What Road?
Day 17. If you get interrupted by a parade …
Day 18. I, Human
Day 19. A Border Crossing
Day 20. Someone to Help Me Get Home
Day 21. Time flies like an arrow and ….
Day 22. Stop, or Else …
Day 23. What’s Your Reality?
Day 24. If it seems ridiculous …
Day 25. Backing Up
Day 26. To Stop a Hurricane
Day 27. Lights Along My Path
Day 28. Grateful

 

More

The logic of time travel is so problematic. Go backwards and you mess up the present. Go forwards, and you’ve negated free will. It’s a message from the universe, a flashing neon sign saying “Forget it. This doesn’t work!”

Yet we do it everyday.

I live nearly half my life in the future, imaging the fascinating ways I prove myself to be smarter, kinder and stronger than anyone thinks I am, including me. The world revolves around me in these imagined scenes, which is probably why none of them has ever come true.

I also live nearly half my life in the past. I don’t mean to, but music hurls me there with a force I can’t resist. A few bars of a song from a certain 1962 Italian documentary no one has ever heard of throws me onto a piano bench where I am 13 years old, at my 8th grade graduation, scared to death.

For some bizarre reason I’ve been coerced into performing a duet for the ceremony, along with my best friend who actually plays the piano well. I’ve been given the easy part, but I am still praying to all the gods I’ve ever heard of for the strength to not screw this up. Absolutely everyone in my young life looks on as I strike that first note. I focus. I breath. I begin to play.

Dates remembered have much the same effect as music. I’m at a qigong retreat right now, and smack in the middle of it is the 10 year anniversary of my mother’s death. This was not an easy, gentle exit, and if I ever do go see a therapist it will be the first thing I’ll tackle. But there are no therapists here, only other practitioners lost in their own worlds, on their own paths. They murmur sympathy when I mention the day’s significance to me, but none ask for details.

It’s not my way to burst into tears or otherwise demand attention, so I muddle through the day, lost in the past, reliving the ten year old question of whether I could have or should have done anything different. I know I need to let go of the memories, and be here now, but then More, the song More, sneaks back into my head as a single note melody. Oops.

It’s my wedding day and I’m stumbling around to this tune in a long white dress while everyone I know watches. My husband of a few hours hands me off to my father; dad and I stumble together. I inherited his lack of rhythm, so we laugh at the silliness of our efforts and I’m glad I don’t know that he’ll be dead of cancer fourteen years later.

Stop it, I tell myself. Stop it. You and your father danced fine. There was nothing better you could have done for your mother. You can’t change anything that has come tumbling down on you since that day you sat at a piano and played More. Which, by the way, you did do and it went fine.

So focus. Breath. Do it in the now.

I force the past from my mind, and at least for a moment, time stands still.

 

Remember My Name

Do you want to be famous? Why?

The idea of strangers knowing who I am and caring about what I do holds no appeal for me, but of course individual tastes do vary. If you crave your ten minutes of fame, or ten years of it, I wish you well.

There is one thing I do want from you, though, although I suppose it makes no more sense than fame. I want you, or a few people in general, to remember my name. Wait, my name isn’t important. Just remember what I said. Remember something I wrote.

I’m tearing apart the reasons I’ve spent years writing novels, as a way to find a path forward for me, the books I’ve written and my future writing. So far I’ve acknowledged that I write for the sheer joy of it and for the massive amount of things I’ve learned. I write for therapy and play money. I write for praise.

Today, I face the fact that one of the reasons I write is to leave something behind.

“Oh, so you want to be immortal?” you ask. No. I’ve studied too much astrophysics to think anything in this universe will last forever, and enough history to know that few humans leave a noticeable footprint more than a few generations into the future.

The key word to me is noticeable.

Somewhere in my heart, I think if you leave something of value behind, it will affect others who will do the same and so on. Yes, I’m enough of a realist to expect the effect to diminish with time, and to recognize our life expectancy as a species probably isn’t all that long, anyway.

So? It’s not an influence that lasts forever I’m after. However, the idea of leaving a little of me here for awhile is something I’m driven to do. Like I said, individual tastes do vary.

“Why don’t you just have children?” you may ask. Excellent question. I did that and they’re wonderful. If all goes well, I will leave them behind. Whether any of them will go on to produce children of their own remains to be seen, but I don’t think my desire to leave something of myself on this planet should be a driving factor in our relationship. They’ve got their own paths to follow, and that may or may not include passing my fine genetic material along.

Years ago I read a book of short stories called Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson. Each tale takes place in an eccentric bar, and involves a mildly sci-fi premise. To the best of my recollection only one character who wanders in is female, which is maybe why her story stuck with me. She’d lived for centuries, long enough to see every one of her descendants perish until finally she had none. The knowing made her sad. Like I said, the story stuck with me.

“Well, you could get out there and do some good works and leave your mark on this world that way,” you could suggest, and a fine suggestion it would be. I think we should all do that, and I’m trying to do my part. But, it’s not the same thing.

We are each driven by what we are. I want to write something that outlives me. Maybe I’ve done it already and maybe it is yet to happen. Either way I’ll probably never know. Based on Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, I see how not knowing can be a better thing.

Whatever the situation is, though, it sounds like I better keep writing.

But first, I’m going to take a minute and enjoy this great video.

 

(Read more about why I write at The Number One Reason I Write Books, My Eye-opening Second Reason for WritingI write because it’s cheaper than therapy, Nothing cool about modest ambitions and I love to be loved.)

 

Review: Duke du Jour

This is my first review here in a while. I hope to do more of this, so see the end of this post for details about my review policy. Why review this book here? It’s a time travel romance, and on this blog I love all things related to the nature of time.

Review Summary: This is a rich and complicated book, fun on so many levels. It is packed with historical intrigue, a surprising amount of humor, and a romance that manages not to be predictable thanks to the time travel factor. I give it a 4.2/5. Details are below.

About this book: This is a reverse Kate and Leopold story, a light-hearted time travel romance where a bewildered modern-day duke ends up in Regency England and meets the girl of his dreams. Jared Langley, present-day Duke of Reston, tumbles into an abandoned fountain on his ducal estate and travels back in time to the year 1816. There, Reston servants and local villagers think him a dead ringer for his namesake and rakehell ancestor–the seventh Duke of Reston, gone missing at the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, Seven got mixed up with French spies out to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, and an unwary Jared ends up in their crosshairs.

Lady Ariana Hart has loved Jared Langley, the seventh Duke of Reston, since she was twelve years old, until the night the rogue broke her heart. Given up for dead, her rakish neighbor makes a miraculous return from Waterloo–only Jared shows up a changed man and reignites all the feelings Ariana had long ago buried.

Jared is in a race against time. He must waylay the suspicions of his quirky servants and neighbors, get to Wellington before the French spies do, fix his fountain–before Seven shows up–so Jared has a way home, and definitely not fall in love with the irresistible Lady Ariana.

About the author: Petie McCarty spent a large part of her career working at Walt Disney World — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” — where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night, including her new series, The Cinderella Romances. She eventually said good-bye to her “day” job to write her stories full-time. These days Petie spends her time writing sequels to her regency time-travel series, Lords in Time, and her cozy-mystery-with-elements-of-romantic-suspense series, the Mystery Angel Romances. Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.  Visit Petie’s web site online at http://www.petiemccarty.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/petie.mccarty.

Giveaway:  Petie McCarty will be awarding an ebook copy of Betting on Cinderella by Petie McCarty (US and International) to three randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Learn more and register to win.

My full review: There was so much I liked about this book.

What I liked best:

  1. It’s filled with details that bring 1816 alive, from doctors with leeches to crowded inns for travelers. The author doesn’t write a love story that happens to take place in 1816, she takes you there. While I didn’t check her facts about the war between France and England, given the amount of information woven into this story, I’m willing to bet it was well researched.
  2. The book is full of corny little jokes, from the ongoing surely/Shirley shtick to the aptly named Mr. Dickman. I like a book that can laugh at itself, and get you to laugh too.
  3. It has a plot worthy of a Russian novel. Seriously, there is war, betrayal, long lost relatives, both loyal and scheming servants, and, of course, a dog. Did I mention gunfights, kidnapping, and romance? Yes, it has those too.  There is even a little brooding now and then. This is complex novel, and the plot will keep you reading.
  4. It has something of a social conscience. The main character develops into a better person, and you can’t help but cheer for this guy as he develops a sense of responsibility, and learns to appreciate friendship, all while lusting after his leading lady.

What I liked least:

  1. While the historical piece of this is strong, and the narrative is well done, the time travel part is weak.  The magic fountain that facilitates the time travel is not explained at all, by either magic or science. The author handles the inevitable “can I go back and change history?” question in her own way, but by the end of the book it doesn’t appear she has given the logical or philosophical quandaries involved in her solution a lot of thought. No spoilers here, I’ll just say that as a science fiction reader, I wasn’t satisfied.
  2. The main romantic interest is gorgeous, of course, and also smart and spirited. You can’t help but like her. None-the-less,  she and the other young women in the novel are cheated a little, I think. Unlike the Duke, our virginal leading Lady Ari doesn’t get the chance to grow into a better person, only to learn to forgive and trust our hero. That is pretty much her entire story arc, making the book about him, not her. The other women in the story (except for the old cook and the aunt) are lusty and sexually experienced, presented in this novel as an unattractive thing. They are also evil and conniving. Guess I would have liked to have seen a little female friendship, too, and at least a nod to healthy female sexuality.

In spite of those flaws, I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it to lovers of history or romance novels. If you happen to like both, I think you won’t be able to put this book down.

Purchase this book at Amazon

The excerpt I liked best:

Jared quietly closed the door and snicked the feeble lock into place.
“That wouldn’t keep a child out,” he muttered.
“Are you worried Dexter can get past the lock?” Ari asked, her cheeks flushing bright pink.
“Now, you are going to accuse me of ungentlemanly behavior, too?”
Even the dim candlelight could not hide the guilt in her eyes. “I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“You’re right. I have given you no reason to think—”
She raised skeptical brows.
“Well, except for those few kisses.” He cleared his throat. “You liked them, too. You cannot deny it.”
Her lips twitched as she fought back the smile that angered him for some reason, and he felt like an errant schoolboy and probably looked like one with his brows indignantly bunched.
“No, I cannot deny it.”
Instead of feeling smug at being right, her words sent his blood racing to places off-limits—at least for now.
“But that doesn’t mean—”
He held up a hand. “Please, no more swipes at my character. I’ve had all I can take this evening.”
She snapped her lips together, then grinned.
“Best take your boots off to be comfortable.” She opened her mouth to object again, and he added, “Since you are unlikely to remove anything else with the two of us locked in here.”
The opportunity to tease him in his misery must have overwhelmed her. “Well, actually I could, but I won’t.”
He groaned. “Do not leave me with that particular movie running in my head and my two-hour first watch to face.”
“Movie? What do you mean? What is a—”
“Did I say movie? I meant movement,” he said before she could finish. He scrubbed a palm over his face. His head had begun to ache.
“Are you all right?”
“Fine,” he bit out. “Just leave—”
“Leave you alone? Fine.” She went over and sat on the bed.
“What I was going to say was just leave your boots by the bed. Close by in case we need to leave in a hurry.”
“That is a lie, but it was sweet of you to be concerned about my feelings. The old Jared wouldn’t have given a baker’s tart about them. Or any other kind.” She giggled at her own humor.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh nothing. Just that we seem to have made a mull of things, I suppose.”
“I do not see anything funny about it,” he grumbled.
“You wouldn’t, but I cannot get these boots off without help. They belong to Aidan, our stable boy, and the fit is a bit too tight.”
“Yes, of course.”
Jared came over and knelt next to the bed, then took her booted foot in his hand. He swore he could feel the warmth of her leg right through the leather, but that was impossible. Tell that to the blood raging through his veins and heading south, like the River Kennet at flood stage.

This review is part of a book review tour sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions.

Read more reviews at:

Emily Carrington
Long and Short Reviews
Two Ends of the Pen
Am Kinda Busy Reading
A Chick Who Reads
Harlie’s Books
Let me tell you a story
Kit ‘N Kabookle

If you are interested in a review from me:

One of my resolutions is to review more books here. I am interested reading science fiction of all sorts, and am particularly interested in anything involving the nature of time. My protagonist in z2 is a history-loving, time-warping high school physics teacher, so I am predisposed to stories that feature physics or have an historical element as well.

I am not interested in reviewing non-fiction, pure romance novels, stories which promote any particular religion, children’s books, or horror of any type. Please do not ask me to review BDSM erotica or books about vampires or zombies.

If you would like to be considered for a review contact me at Alex (dot) Zeitman (at) gmail (dot) com.

Individual Author Links:
http://www.petiemccarty.com
https://www.facebook.com/petie.mccarty
https://twitter.com/authorpetie
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6094579.Petie_McCarty
http://www.amazon.com/author/petiemccarty
https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanie-mccarty-30851412

Final Note:  I received a free pdf of this book, which would never be enough to entice me to write a better review for anyone.

A sense of time

I had a boyfriend in high school who could tell you the time of day off the top of his head within ten minutes or so. He was an aspiring actor (back then) and attributed his unnatural skill to his performer’s sense of timing. Ummm ….. maybe.

I have a husband now who can do the same thing. He’s a former math teacher who considers it an ability derived from his close relationship with numbers. Well …… maybe that, too.

I have less of a sense of time. Hours pass unnoticed when I write, minutes last forever as I stare at a blank page. I attribute this to living more inside my head than out of it. But if hours and minutes confound me, years and decades are worse. Today, I reviewed a book called Deep Sahara. It takes place in 1980, which I shrugged off as being nearly current fiction when I began reading the book. Then characters who lived during World War Two began to play a role.

Geez, WWII was like 80 years ago. What are they doing still alive? Wait, 1980 was nearly 40 years ago, now, wasn’t it? Yeah, it was.

My sense of time (or lack thereof) is front and center this week as I vacation at an old house on the beach owned by my husband’s family. The house was built in the 1850’s and the deck looks out over Charleston Harbor, and directly at Fort Sumter. The first shots of the civil war rang out here, when Confederate artillery opened fire on this federal fort in April 1861. Family members who are history buffs love this fact. I find wars sad, not fascinating, and secretly think the view would be so much more pleasant if it didn’t have a reminder of a bloody, painful conflict right in the middle of it.

The house itself contains an old and a new part. The old portion is lovingly maintained as it looked in the 20’s and 30’s when this was a small beach shack used to escape the summer heat of the city. Creative relatives have decorated the walls with tools used to handle the ice blocks that provided precious refrigeration back then.

The rest of the house is circa early 1990’s, built after hurricane Hugo tore through the area. Parts of this are deemed “worn and in need of replacement” as opposed to historical. The cynic in me thinks that if they just leave the indoor-outdoor carpet on the stairs another forty years, it will become too treasured to remove. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

As I sit here studying the various ages of what I can see, I think I’ve figured out my problem with time. I’m trained as a geologist, fascinated by the formation of the earth 5 billion or so years ago, and intrigued by the first forms of life to emerge over four billion years later.

Old? Rocks formed from tiny creatures in the inland Cretaceous sea are a 100 million years old. In my home state of Kansas, we used that 100-million-year-old limestone to build houses in the mid 1800’s, about the time when shots were being fired over this beautiful harbor and you could have watched Fort Sumter being attacked from this deck.

Maybe I would care more about this if 150 years weren’t mere seconds to a geologist. To those who study the earth, everything that’s happened since 10,000 years ago is pretty much considered debris. It could be I don’t lack a sense of time, I just have another way of looking at it.

(For more of my recent thoughts on time, see my post Spending Time.)