Jess Mahler’s Upcoming Books 5/13/19: #AmWriting

I realized that since re-starting this blog, I never shared what-all my active writing projects are. It’s probably time and past-time I do that.

At the moment I have 2 projects I am working on regularly and 3 more that I consider ‘active/backburner’. That is — I am keeping them in mind and will work on them when and as the mood strikes. They’re simmering, basically.

I have many many many projects that are ‘in holding’. They are projects that I reached of point of saying ‘no, this isn’t working;’ but think there is enough potential there that I might pick them up again in the future — or might not. (Probably not, if I’m being honest. But maybe.)

Polyamory on Purpose Books

Polyam and Kink

As I’ve talked about elsewhere, my next PoP book will be Polyam and Kink. It’s currently one of the two projects I work on regularly. I don’t actually know what the current word count is — I’m using this manuscript to experiment with eMacs and orgmode. I have to say, I really like eMacs for straight writing, but org mode is giving me headaches on the regular.

Because the writing is scattered across several dozen text docs all linked together through orgmode, figuring out the word count before I’m ready to pull it all together is going to be an absolute pain.

Abuse in Polyamory

Had a blog post about this last month, but tentatively planning for the next PoP book to be Abuse in Polyamory. At the moment, this is more the seed of an idea than an active project. I’ll probably start writing it when I get to the painful part of editing Polyam and Kink.

Jess Mahler’s Fiction

Planting Life in a Dying City

I need to work on this title. I want the final title to be something like this, but not sure if this is too long or not. *shrug*.

Anyway. I’m just past 29,000 words on this one.

I’ve thought of putting one of those progress tracking widgets on the sidebar, but I never remember to update them. So you’ll need to make do with blog posts like this every month or two.

Planting Life in a Dying City is a story of a group of individuals who come together to build a family in a bronze age society where if you don’t have a family, you are nothing. My blogs about generational families and nalbinding were referring to this manuscript. I’ve also got a Quora answer about the magic system that this world will have.

Space Werewolf

I don’t have a title for this one yet. It’s (as the working title suggests) a sci-fi novel with werewolves. (No, not science-fantasy. I’ve got a science-based explanation for having werewolves. It’s no less realistic than FTL drives. 😛 )

I’m pretty sure I haven’t blogged about this at all or discussed the details with anyone other than close friends and family. The two main characters are a werewolf who was is an undercover operative for the (Underground) Railroad and a human/ship entity who botches the werewolf’s op by ‘rescuing’ her.

This one is at around 19,000 words and has been backburnered since last fall. I expect it’ll move to fully active project soon.

Arranged Polyamory

What if, instead of dating and trying to find people to build relationships with, three lonely and lost strangers decided to make a commitment to each other and see what they can build?

At about 6,000 words, I’ve barely started on this one. I’m using it as an experiment in kishōtenketsu style narrative. One thing I’ve struggled with in my romance (and aromance) stories is lack of conflict. Conflict being central to Western-style story telling, but if you have two characters who are constantly in conflict and in a relationship, usually what you have is rather toxic… and I’m realizing that this could be a whole blog post on it’s own, so maybe next week.

Anyway, kishōtenketsu is a narrative style that doesn’t require conflict. So it seemed like a good idea to give it a try.

Thinking and plotting in a completely different manner from what you learned growing up is hard. Hence the very slow burn on this novel.

Historical Space Romance

I admit it, I got lazy.

This was going to be a historical romance set shortly after the Norman Conquest of England. But I didn’t have the spoons to do the research necessary to make it reasonably accurate, and wasn’t willing to not make an attempt to be accurate if I was doing historical.

So I cheated, and it’s now one of those ‘sci-fi’ romances that are set on a colonized world where people lost a lot of tech knowledge and are scraping by and I’m handwaving the ridiculousness of having cultures so similar to Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman because fiction.

The basic idea here was ‘You know all those historical romances where the woman is forced into marriage with a man she doesn’t know/doesn’t like and over the course of the novel becomes a dutiful, submissive medieval wife to her warrior-husband? Yeah, I’m gender-bending that shit.’

It turns out that in Anglo-Saxon England women could do a LOT of things that Norman women weren’t allowed to do. And when the Normans took over they put an end to little things like women holding land in their own right or being their father’s heirs (assuming there was no male heir, of course.)

This one is sitting at right around 10,000 words, written in short bursts as inspiration hits. I’m struggling a bit with this one because i don’t have a general plot arc laid out, beyond what I mentioned above. I’m pretty much purely pantsing is, which is NOT my usual and a challenge. (But obviously not as much of a challenge as kishōtenketsu since I only started it a few months ago and already have this much!)

I’ve shared a few snippets from this one in Jess’ Pack if you want to check them out.

Battling Imposter Syndrome

This week is the first time I’ve actually had to come up with a blog topic, instead of writing about whatever comes to mind as relevant. So I decided to take a look at which of my goals I haven’t written about in a while. And immediately realized that I haven’t addressed the farm at all. And that I am terrified to write about it.

Battling Imposter Syndrome

The thing is, all my other goals are, in some way a natural extension of who I am now. Oh, getting the generational home will take a hell of a lot more money than any of has and I’m a long way from being able to look in the mirror and see the old ‘woman’. But they are still closely related to who I am now. I can see the seed of them in myself, even if it hasn’t come to flower yet.

The farm

Okay. Here’s the hard truth: I’ve had a black thumb since I moved out of my parents’ house.

Growing up, I was always in the garden. I was the one who picked the flowers we’d plant each spring out of the catalogs Dad ordered for me. (LOTS of tulips and later hyacinths. Mom hated the smell of the hyacinths but to me, they smell of spring.) I was the one who pushed to have a vegetable garden and had to be talked about of getting fruit trees because ‘they take years to produce anything!’ (I still don’t see why this is a reason not to try. We had the room for more trees and we could have enjoyed apple or cherry blossoms just as much as we enjoyed the blossoms of the dogwood trees I WAS allowed to get. The fruit would come eventually.) I planted, I watered and weeded. I picked the cucumbers when they were ripe and found the tiny strawberries peaking between their leaves. (Store bought strawberries haven’t tasted right since.)

But after I moved out, I couldn’t even keep a houseplant alive.

So am I actually able to keep a garden, much less a farm, going? Or was it just that I had Dad to tell me what to do, when to do it, and to handle the stuff I didn’t know I didn’t know that made the garden I had growing up possible?

What the hell am I thinking trying to get a farm going when I manage to kill cacti, of all things?!

Looking Past Fear

The only way I’ve found to get past imposter syndrome is to bring logic into it.

First, of course, I needed Dad’s help as a kid — I was a kid. That doesn’t mean the experience doesn’t count or I didn’t learn anything from it.

Second, all my experience growing up was with outside plants. That doesn’t translate well to understanding where to put *indoor* plants for maximum light. Or how often/how much to water something in a pot, never mind stuff like fertilizer, repotting, etc.

Third, half the times I tried to grow anything in the past 15 years, I was in a crisis or survival situation. I could barely able to handle the basics of life and self-care, never mind plant care. Yes, I forgot to water or didn’t make sure the plant was in an area with good air circulation (lack of air circulation combined with too much water is what killed the cacti — mold found a nice home and moved in) in those situations. That does not mean I won’t be able to manage plant care in a healthy situation.

Fourth, in the past few years I’ve learned that I am autistic, have been battling a major B12 deficiency for most of the past decade, have bipolar disorder, and that my PTSD was way worse and more pervasive than I had thought. Untreated medical and mental conditions and no support do not make for good project management of any sort. Especially project management involving living things.

So I can’t take the past as a predictor of the future. I need to start from today. Battling imposter syndrome isn’t easy, but it’s doable. And the main thing it takes is just being stubborn.

I’m good at stubborn.

Starting From Today

Today I have a handful of plants, most of them fairly new. There’s a pansy that I picked up because I wanted to have something that I could enjoy without worrying about how to keep it alive. No matter what I do it’s going to die off in a few months. A hyacinth sort of ‘ditto’. We don’t have anywhere to plant the bulb when the season is over, but I’m hoping to find someone to give it to so it will bloom again next year. I’m nowhere near ready to try coaxing a bulb to grow and bloom out of a pot.

I have a fern that I picked up last week. No clue yet how it will do long term. But I have a spot right next to my desk where it gets the bright (but not direct) light it needs and where I can easily check if it needs water.

Finally, I have my last surviving cactus. It’s actually a cutting from one the cacti I managed to kill over the winter. But it seems to be doing okay, it’s putting down roots and has one new branch.

Recently I realized that pot it’s in is way too big for it. So I’ll be repotting it in the near future. We’ll see how that goes.

I have tentative plans to try to grow some micro-greens this summer. It isn’t exactly hard to get seeds to sprout, and it’ll be a small success I can enjoy (metaphorically and digestively).

Okay, TODAY…

(The annoying thing about writing posts ahead of time and having a buffer is that sometimes things CHANGE before the post goes live…)

The re-potting seems to have gone well. This cactus starting as a cutting from one of the cacti I killed. It is putting down roots and a small branch. No sign of mold or other problems (yet). So fingers crossed!

One thing I forgot to mention is that I kept all the cacti alive for a bit over a year before the mold hit. I moved them to a new location where they both got less light (so water evaporated more slowly) and less air circulation, and, well, yeah.

Re-potting the cactus into a small pot that fit it better left me with a lot of soil from the over-sized pot that had been used only a month or so. I didn’t want to just through it out, seemed like a waste. So instead I checked it pretty obsessively for any kind of mold and went ahead and planted the spinach seeds I had tucked away from the last time I tried to grow spinach (which didn’t go all that well). No, I didn’t plant them in the big pot. I have a tin foil cake pan that got to squashed to make cake with. Spread the soil out in there about a half inch deep, sprinkle with seeds, put it in a spot with good light.

See what happens. Hopefully, if I did (and keep doing) everything right, in a couple weeks I’ll have a nice microgreens salad.

After that, it’ll be small steps. I’m at least a couple of years away from having a yard where I can have an outdoor garden. No need to rush. Just take it a day at a time and enjoy the plants I have.

And keep telling imposter syndrome to STFU.

Season of Moves

The next few months are going to be crazy, but I think worth it.

Ericka and her Nana will be moving up here late May. We found a mostly-wheelchair accessible place. A friend of Bea’s is building a ramp up to the door (with landlord’s full support).

Then, if things go according to plan, Dilip Numitor Amalia Chetana Waller will be moving to the area in June. He’ll be looking for a job and apartment for him, Michon, Kid 2 and Kidlet to move into later this summer.

So if all goes well, we’ll have most of our fam all in the same area before school starts next fall.

Of course, all this is on top of normal life stuff, end of school year rush for Kids 1 & 2, various health issues, Michael being deep in NRE for new relationships, Michon having con-thing and exciting short-term gig…

So yeah, crazy couple months.

But Worth It!

Luckily, Ericka and grandma’s move got pushed back. It was originally planned for the end of April. Which, in addition to being right after Pesach, would have been way to close to some health issues and MORE life stresses to have gone well. (As evidence of how bad this might have been, I didn’t get a post up last week for the first time since re-starting this blog.)

When it’s done, all of us will have a larger *local* support network, much more access to physical intimacy, and (if I have my way!) regular family dinners. The kids will all have more adults involved in their lives on a regular basis as well as being able to spend more time with each other doing kid things. And the folks moving into the area will have access to the surprisingly decent resources for poor and disabled folks in this area.

Last but not least, we will all be better positioned to start working towards having a place where we can all live together. Our (hopefully) generational home.

This Isn’t 1939 Germany — But that doesn’t mean everything is okay

The one thing I am holding to right now is that the fucker got arrested.

As long as these ‘lone wolf’ shooters keep getting arrested and jailed, I have hope. Because as long as enough people stand against their bigotry to keep the justice system running, we haven’t reached a tipping point.

I’m Personally Invested.

Let’s get that out of the way.

Yes, this shooting hits me more strongly than the HBChurches burned in Alabama last month or the attacks on mosques that have been near constant for over a decade.

Yes, I’m writing about this now because of this shooting.

I’m human.

That doesn’t make me wrong.

This is Not 1939 Germany

For years now, people have been comparing the US to 1939 Germany and claiming we are following the footsteps of Hitler. I’ll own it — I’ve done it myself. Technically I’m doing it again here.

Personally, I’ve always come to the conclusion that yes I could see the similarities, but didn’t think a slide in fascism and Holocaust was likely. Possible, but not likely.

I still think it’s possible. I still think it’s not likely. But the ‘not’ has gotten… a bit smaller, let’s say. In plain text, rather than bold.

There are many differences between the US today and 1939 Germany. Starting with the man in the head office. Yes, Trump is a populist strong man who admires dictators and might like to be one. And his speeches are just about as readable as Mein Kampf. That’s where the similarities end.

We also don’t have a large group of disaffected veterans who blame the government for their suffering. We don’t have people standing in breadlines for hours. (Okay, the wait at one of the local food banks can run on hour, but that’s because it’s so slow, not because there’s that many people.) We don’t have runaway inflation killing the value of everyone’s money. We don’t have huge military expansion going on to ‘stimulate the economy.’

We have not seen an equivalent of The Eternal Jew in our museums or Krystallnacht in our streets. (No, ‘lone wolf’ shootings aren’t an equivalent of Krystallnacht.) We haven’t seen citizens expelled for their religion or ethnicity. We haven’t seen concentration camps for citizens set up. (Not downplaying the horror of the ‘facilities’ that were set up for illegal immigrants or the horror and travesty of having parents separated from kids. ) We haven’t had a Rechstag Fire. Our government system is the same as ever, even if it’s creaking a bit more than it used to. We still have a president and not a Fuhrer or equivalent…

There are similarities

and I’m not denying that. We do have a large disaffected population with lots of guns. We do have a messed up economy where a lot of folks are struggling to cover their basic needs. We are suffering a kind of national psychological shock as it becomes more and  more apparent that the US is no longer the sole world power, that American exceptionalism maybe isn’t all it was cracked up to be. And we have a leader who plays to the divisions in our society rather than help mending them.

That’s a bad combo.

But it isn’t 1939 Germany.

Comparing It to 1939 Germany Is Not Helpful

At best, it’s a shock tactic. At worst, it creates deeper divisions as the people who are said to be on the side of the ‘Nazis’ (most of whom want nothing to do with literal Nazis, ever) feel attacked and vilified. Even more so if they know their history and know how specious this comparison is.

A more accurate comparison might be 1929 Germany.

It’s still not a perfect comparison. There hasn’t been any equivalent of Wall Street crash for instance. And unemployment is decreasing, not increasing. but it’s a much better comparison.

If there is any validity to comparing the US today with Germany 80 or 90 years ago, it is that populism, nationalism, and fear are all things, and those things in combination are dangerous things, in any country or time.

I’m Still Scared

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. If we do go the fascism-and-genocide route, it won’t be exactly the same any other country did. Which means there will always be people who can dismiss concerns and say, ‘But this is different from Germany/Italy/etc, that can’t happen here!’

(Pro-tip: the most likely way FOR it to happen is to think that it can’t happen here. It’s the equivalent of looking at the shell of a house ruined by time and thinking ‘that will never happen to my house! My house is properly built’… but not fixing that one annoying leak in the roof because you are so sure that your house is better built and will never come crashing down around your head.)

The truth is that Jews in America have been lucky. Ashkenazic Jews in particular have been able to assimilate and get comfortable and live without threat more in America that just about anywhere else in the past 200 years. And having that comfort shattered is a shock.

But we know our history. Sooner or later, the corrupt leaders need a scapegoat.

I Don’t Think I’m JUST Biased

The thing is, looked at logically, I DO think antisemitism is more of a canary in the coal mine than attacks on Black churches or Mosques. Like it or not, there is a long history of racism in the US, and economic difficulties and political tension has always exacerbated that.

9/11 and the way-to-fucking-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq did happen. Our response was disproportionate, fear drive, and frankly pretty stupid. Which is par for the course when America gets attacked (Pearl Harbor and the Japanese concentration camps, anyone?)

There are reasons — shitty reasons, illogical reasons, stupid reasons — that scared, angry, hurting people in the US who want a target would lash out at Black and Muslim Americans. I’m not excusing it. I’m just saying that it isn’t something that would surprise anyone with a working brain.

But there is no history of violent anti-Semitism or pogroms in the US. We weren’t given refuge here in WWII, but neither were we shipped off to Germany in 1940. Israel is seen as a major US ally. If 5 or 10 years ago you asked random person A if they thought we’d see synagogue shootings in the US, they’d likely have laughed in your face.

This is a change, an escalation.

We should never have let it get this far

We should have found a way to nip it in the bud after the attack on the Oak Creek gurdwara. After the Christchurch shooting.  After Charlottesville. After so many other incidents.

We didn’t.

So now we’re here. And I don’t know how to stop it now, anymore than I knew how to stop it then.

And people are asking of Jews, as they asked of Muslims not long ago, ‘Should the Jewish community in the USA consider leaving the country?

Because it’s apparently reasonable to suggest we leave our homes rather than suggest the people of this nation put a stop to this shit.

I don’t have answers. And that scares me. Because this isn’t 1939 Germany. But that doesn’t mean everything is okay.

A New Idea for Sexuality Labels — I’m Androphillic and Enbyphillic (mostly)

Idea that’s been kicking around for a while and I’ve mentioned here or there. But I think I’m gonna start putting it into practice.

It’s ridiculous that we identify our sexuality by reference to our gender. Why don’t we say who we are attracted to? If we need latin-esque words for sexuality labels, why not:

  • androphillic or androsexual (lover of men)
  • gynophilic/gynosexual (lover of women)
  • enbyphillic/enbysexual (lover of enbies)
  • etc

I’m not saying that folks who are gay or lesbian should feel the need to give up those identities. Do your thing!

But our current sexuality labels do not work once you move beyond the binary.

What is monosexual nonbinary person who is attracted to men? Or a monosexual woman who is attracted to nonbinary people? How do genderfluid people map to our current terminology? It doesn’t work.

Not Everyone Is Monosexual

Labels based on who we are attracted to allow clearer descriptions. Especially for folks who aren’t monosexual. There is no way to say ‘I’m mostly straight but a little bit lesbian.’ The best we have is bisexual. But you can absolutely say ‘I’m mostly androphyllic but a little bit gynophillic.’ Or how to describe someone attracted to nonbinary folks and men, but not women? Again, best we have is bisexual. Doesn’t ‘androphillic and enbyphillic’ work better?

Side note: I realize that not all nonbinary folks identify as enbies. I’m making this up as I go along and am open to other suggestions.

Flexibility Matters

Of course, that’s another good thing about this construction — it’s flexible. You can create new terms and be as specific as you want. There’s nothing stopping you from saying you are agenderphillic or panphillic or sarisphillic (if you happen to have a thing for people whose gender is an ancient Jewish thing almost no one has ever heard of)

Obvious, I lean toward a -phillic construction. It’s distinct from the current -sexual construction and would (hopefully) prevent confusion. But the -sexual construction has the advantage of being recognizable. people who haven’t heard it before will still understand what it’s referring to — someone’s sexuality.

So What’s my Dating Profile Look Like?

Hi, I’m Jess. I’m mostly androphillic and enbyphillic, but there have been a few women who caught my eye, including my awesome girlfriend C. I’m not looking for a new relationship right now, but I wouldn’t say ‘no’ if the right person came along.

Some Useful Adulting Lists

Like many millennial, growing up and moving out on my own meant confronting the fact that my parents hadn’t taught me most of what I needed to know to be a functional adult. Which, of course, is why ‘adulting’ became such a thing for many of us. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day that I confronted my mother about why the hell she expected me to be able to keep an apartment clean when she never taught me to clean anything.

Apparently, she expected me to graduate college and magically get a job that paid enough to higher a cleaning service.

Even before the Recession this was ridiculous.

Anyway, now that my household is in a stable living situation and the worst of health problems are under control, I figured it was time to get a handle on some adulting stuff that had been on my mind for a while. Like having a proper first aid kit for when the kids bang themselves up or the right tools for various household projects (and learning how to use them).

So I put together, using a variety of sources, a few lists. And I’m sharing them here for other folks who aren’t quite sure what they need for a basic kitchen set up or what a good cleaning schedule is.

Household kits check list

Ideal cleaning schedule

Progress Counts: Adulting Version

While there are places you can buy a fully stocked first aid kit or emergency preparedness kit, I’m not saying anyone should do that. And if, like me, keeping the dishes clean is a constant challenge, you shouldn’t immediately try to clean the whole place in schedule every time.

I call it Ideal cleaning schedule for a reason.

Personally, each month that we have the money, I try to grab three more things off of the kit checklists. (I just realized I forgot to put a clean copy together for this post, so if you download the list you’ll see what I’ve got checked off and what I’m still waiting on.)

As far as cleaning, right now I’m working on getting a regular routine for daily and weekly cleaning stuff. Once I have that down, I’ll start integrating monthly and yearly stuffage.

And of course, if you are in a survival situation, maybe don’t open the lists at all. Maybe, as I did, file them and forget them for a while. They’ll be there when you are in a better place.

Polyamory on Purpose Guides — Planning Ahead

I can’t seem to work on books sequentially. Which is why I had already started writing a bit of Polyamory & Kink before I finished Safer Sex.

Now I find myself looking ahead again. I had tentatively hoped to tackle Raising Kids in Polyamorous Homes (Yeah, it’s a shit title. I’m working on it) as the next PoP book. But I find I’m still not in a place where I’m healthy enough to focus on that particular topic.

That plus some of what’s been going on in the polyam community of late has me thinking that maybe the next topic I tackle should be another fraught one, but in a very different way: abuse.

I haven’t made a final decision on this. I’m probably 6 months away from starting whatever book I decide to tackle after P&K. But it’s a strong lean. When I was blogging PoP, I got more positive feedback, more people reaching out to say how much my discussion of abuse helped them, about abuse than any other topic.

So there are several good reasons to put abuse at the top of the priority list. It’s topical (sort of, god knows how topical it will be by the time the book is ready for release 2+ years from now) and I know there are people who would benefit from it.

Interestingly, I don’t know if there will be all that much interest in it. If you had to ask me which book would benefit more people, Pregnancy or Polyam Home, I would have said Polyam Home hands down. But Pregnancy consistently outsells it (not by much mind, but noticeably). So my read on which books will help the most people doesn’t necessarily track to books that most people are looking for.

Random related, making the paperback cover for Safer Sex kind brought home how much of a challenge The Bookshelf is gonna be when most of my books are less than half an inch thick!

My Families

Since I’m going to be talking about my family a lot more than previously, it’s probably time I actually lay out who-all is in my family.

I know family life is always complicated, but mine is a bit more complicated than most, having two families-of-origin and a sprawling overlap of chosen family/polyamorous network.

My families of origin probably won’t be showing up that often, if only because (due to various kinds of distance) they just aren’t an active part of my life these days. Which is a sad.

Family of Origin 1

My birth family, including father, mother (recent deceased), 5 siblings, an aunt, a grandfather, a sister-in-law, and a sort-of uncle (my mother’s brother-of-choice) who I tend to forget exists half the time. (Sorry!)

Family of Origin 2

My adoptive family, including father (deceased), mother, brother, assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins, and apparently soon a sister-in-law.

Chosen Family/Polyam Network

Several of these folks will be coming up regularly. Especially in relation to generational household and old ‘woman’, but also sometimes also the farm. Often enough and enough detail that I went around and asked a bunch of them if they were okay being talked about and what name I should use for them.

  1. Michael — nesting partner, father of two of my children, my BDSM submissive & pet (24/7). She/her. Fursona is a demon.
  2. Michon — cuilmate, mother of two of my children, co-dom to Michael, head of family. Ze/hir. Fursona is a dragon.
  3. Dilip Numitor Amalia Chetana Waller — father of two of my children, Michon’s live-in co-parent, still figuring out where he fits in our weirdness. He/him. Told me to come up with a pseudonym for him, so I used my favorite random name generator. Now he’s stuck with it.
  4. C — girlfriend, LDR. She/her. Fursona is a cat.
  5. Ericka — Michael’s girlfriend & BDSM submissive, my friend. She/her. Fursona is probably a cat.
  6. B — sister-of-choice, auntie to two of my kids, mother to a kid of her own. She/her

Other folks who will also get mention from time to time:

  • The five kids Tween, Kid 1, Kid 2, Kidling, and Kidlet. For those who have been following the blog a while, none of these were part of the custody battle I was involved in several years ago. Tween is B’s kid. The others are mine by birth or by choice.
  • Michael’s brother-by-choice (J)
  • J’s mom, whose become mom-by-choice to me and Michael (MB)
  • Ericka’s Nana

Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous is Available for Pre-Order! (sort of)

safer sex for the non-monogamous coverSafer Sex for the Non-Monogamous is now available for pre-order in ebook on Amazon. Ebook only, because Amazon is annoying like that.

The paperback version is be available as soon as Amazon gets it’s thumb out, supposedly sometime before Thursday.

Paperbook version is now available on Amazon and whatever other etailers KDP does print-on-demand for. Because of Amazon weirdness, the paperbook can be ordered now while the ebook is on pre-order. Meh.

The ebook will be available on other etailers Thursday.

The Farm: Lifetime Resolutions

The sad truth is that to some extent (and I’m not sure how much), I was taken in by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s romanticization of farm life as a child. And the more I learn about both the reality of farming and of Wilder, the more that disturbs me. But if that was the seed to my desire to have a farm, it grew into a very different thing based on experience.

Down on the… Backyard

Not much experience, true. But for most of my middle school and teen years, my father and I kept a small vegetable garden in our backyard. Strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli once — that we didn’t harvest soon enough and went to seed.

And I loved it. I loved almost every part of it — picking out the baby plants or seeds at the store, preparing the ground, watching them grow, watering… okay, not the weeding… but I also loved how the stuff we bought at the supermarket never tasted as good as what we grew ourselves.

Supermarket strawberries were more sour than sweet. Our strawberries were a delicious button of sweetness with just a hint of sour. Store cucumbers were watery and tasteless. Our cucumbers, while still milder than I’d prefer, were crunchy and had a light flavor I could enjoy once in a while. And lettuce. I don’t know what lettuce Mom was buying at the store, but it never tasted anything like fresh picked from out back. We grew leaf lettuce, so instead of harvesting a whole head at a time, I could pick just enough leaves for salad or sandwiches.

The garden was a bit of a sore spot between me and Mom. Dad got into just because Dad liked gardening. But Mom wasn’t one for getting dirty. And she didn’t understand why when I was so picky and didn’t eat half of what we grew, I still wanted to keep growing vegetables. Though she did get into it after a few years and talked about planting a row of corn at the back so we’d have fresh all summer.

Two Goals, One Farm

Michael had always wanted a farm too, but their idea of a farm was more livestock focused. They talk about wanting chickens and goats and pigs (no) and llamas and… They also have a more commercial focus for the farm. Which, they kind of need if they are going to raise livestock. Starting with heirloom seeds or even wild plants, the cost of a large garden/small farm can be more than covered in what we save on groceries. (I have a not-so-short list of native and other wild food plants I’d like to grow.) If I have enough extra to set up a roadside stand or a small boxed-food thing, that’s a bonus.

Animals are expensive, both getting them, feeding them, and caring for them. So Michael needs the farm to be commercial in a way that I don’t. Michon is all about the animals too. Ze and Michael will get into discussions about sheep vs goats and why they don’t want guinea fowl. Honestly after ten minutes I lose interest.

I don’t have anything against raising animals, but it’s not where I want to put my time and energy. I don’t have experience or much knowledge to contribute. I’ll give my opinion if they ask for it and have occasionally put my foot down (no pigs). Michael and I both have ‘Farm’ on our list of 5 things to do with our lives. We have rather different ideas of what we want to do with the farm. If this gets off the ground, we will largely be running in parallel (while pitching in to help each other as we can).

That’s not to say I wouldn’t want the farm to be commercial. I love the idea of doing monthly boxes or similar that folks can sign up for. I spent a fun afternoon brainstorming different kinds of boxes, from basic veggies to a native foods box, to a canned and stewed box for over the winter.

But making it commercial is, for me, a nice bonus. The goal is to have the land, energy, and resources to grow food to feed my family for a good chunk of the year while saving on grocery bills.