There’s nothing like a year-end post in the middle of January. Also: books I read in 2013.

So that’s why I’m doing my end-of-2013 post now. In the middle of January. Because there’s nothing like it. NOTHING. And you can’t convince me otherwise. So don’t even try.

Sorry. I’m having a health-crappy 2014 so far, and it’s making me combative. When I have the energy to get combative, anyway. Which isn’t often, so yay! But boo, this seems to be one of those times. I’m sure you can handle it, though, you thick-skinned things, you.

Anyway, my end-of-2013 post concerns mostly the books I read in 2013 and why there were so few of them. So here ya go:

Books I Read in 2013 — With Little *s to Mark the Ones I Enjoyed Most

1. The Cloud Roads (Books of the Raksura, #1) by Martha Wells*

2. Scalzi Super Bundle from Subterranean Press, by John Scalzi (The God Engines, The Tale of the Wicked, The Sagan Diary, How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story, Questions for a Soldier, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop)*

3. Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee

4. Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna*

5. The Vampire from Hell (Part 1) — The Beginning by Ally Thomas

6. The Girl from Tenerife by Bernard Schaffer*

7. Carnival of Cryptids: An Anthology of Strange and Mysterious Creatures edited by Laurie Laliberte and Bernard Schaffer

8. Passion, Power & Sin — Book 1 by Mike Wells

9. The Final Winter by Iain Robb Wright

10. The Walking Dead, Vol. 13: Too Far Gone by Robert Kirkman

11. The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out by Robert Kirkman*

12. The Walking Dead, Vol. 15: We Find Ourselves by Robert Kirkman

13. Tiny Dragons 1: The Sky Dragons by Bernard Schaffer

14. Ava Delaney #1: Thirst by Claire Farrell*

Just because I didn’t give something a * doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. But the *ed ones were extra fun for various reasons that include well-flowing style, good characterization, attention-grabbing (and -keeping) characters, and excellent world-building.

So, those were my reads for 2013.

Why There Were So Few of Them

Exhaustion. Busyness. The occasional touch of depression. Exhaustion. The “need” to numb my brain via someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet type of internet stuff (which “need” is a surefire symptom of burgeoning depression in Yours Writerly). Exhaustion. Busyness. And did I mention exhaustion?

I have a now-16-month-old. This should explain most of my 2013.

I’m not blaming her, and I don’t resent her for my lack of focus on readerly and writerly pursuits. In this season of my life, I have to make sacrifices. I know, I know, I shouldn’t sacrifice what makes me me, because if I don’t take time to recharge, I won’t be the kind of mother she needs me to be. I get that.

And I live by it as much as I can. But when the baby only naps for 45 minutes in an entire day (this happens frequently), one arrives at the end of the day with two choices: read or sleep. And in order to retain one’s sanity, one chooses sleep. This, as far as I can tell, is an Immutable Law of Nature, the breaking of which results in black holes in my brain.

Plus, I’ve also been having some bad neurocardiogenic syncope symptoms. They’ve been quite troubling lately, and I’ll blog more on them in the near future. But I suspect they’ve been bothering me a lot longer than I originally thought, and that this is part of the reason for The Great Exhaustion of 2013. But, as I said, more on that in a future post.

2013. Tired. Not enough books read. Certainly nothing near my 2012 total of 55, or even my “dismal” 2011 total of 42. Hey, at least in 2011 I had life, the universe, and everything going for me. That’s saying something.

But enough rambling. I’m already off to a good start in 2014. January isn’t over yet, and I’ve already finished five books and have started on my sixth. That’s nearly half of 2013’s total in the first month of 2014. Statistically speaking, I’m on a rockin’ roll.

Let’s see what the rest of the year brings.

Decoding Pregnancy: 5 Secrets Revealed

Hidey-ho, O Faithful Readerly Ones!

In the land of Court Can Write, we have now reached Week 22 of this thing they call Preg Nancy. I don’t know why or how Nancy gained such predominance in the naming of this condition, but there she is and there’s naught I can do about it. We carry on*.

Things have been quiet around the blog lately because what little spare energy I’ve got, I’ve been pouring into painting the cover art for Aaron Pogue’s The Dragonprince’s Heir, as well as finalizing my Monster Epic Fantasy Novel, aka Legend’s Artisans: Schism (working title). I remind me that the so-called MEFaN needs its own full, explanatory post not long hence, since it’s coming out in just a month. BANGERANG for sure — but also, OY VEY.

For now, though, I’ll share with you some recent revelations I’ve had concerning this Preg Nancy thing. I’ve concluded that humanity speaks in code about this, and one doesn’t get to decipher said code until one enters the state of being with child.

Some of these decipherings have come as a great surprise to me, and I wish someone had let me in on the secrets long ago. As I enjoy doing nice, informative things for you, my sweet inklings, I’ve decided to reveal five of the secrets to you, that you might be better prepared for your own future or at least come to a deeper understanding of certain apparently crazy women of your acquaintance (i.e. the pregnant ones). So…

Decoding Pregnancy: 5 Secrets Revealed

1. Glowing Skin
Oh, how the second trimester hormones are supposed to make a woman’s skin extra soft with that dewy glow of fertile, robust youth! A few people — a few, mind you — have said something to me in passing about how I’m “glowing.” But when I look in the mirror, I see a different picture. “Glowing skin,” my dear readers, is code for “acne.” It’s not terrible at this point, but it’s definitely more than the occasional pre-pregnancy zit. Ah, joy.

2. Ultrasound
My first ultrasound took place during Week 5 — quite early, because I was having complications and my doc just wanted to see what was going on. She showed me the screen and pointed to an amorphous blob and said, “Here’s the amniotic sac.” Then, she pointed at a teensy dot. “And that’s your baby.”

At Week 8, the ultrasound showed us a lighter amorphous blob within a darker amorphous blob. Light blob was baby, dark blob was amniotic fluid. This time, my doctor pointed out the “head” and the “rump” and two little protrusions she called “feet.” We nodded wisely. Other than that, the cool part was seeing and hearing the heart beat, which stunned the husband and made me burst into tears.

At Week 19, because I am 35 and therefore of “Advanced Maternal Age” (sheesh), we got to see the high-risk doctor for a 3-D ultrasound. By this time, Amorphous Blob had grown into Indentifiable Tiny Baby, and the 3-D ultrasound showed us an itty-bitty face with actual eyes, nose, lips, and chin.

In the non-3-D part of the ultrasound, the tech got a fabulous shot of my daughter facing the “camera.” Pardon my irreverence, but that shot just looks freaky — because most of what you see is the skull showing through. My child looked like a demonic Halloween mask**.

“Ultrasound” is code for: trust the doctor that what is growing inside you is actually human.

3. Kicking
I first felt movement on the first day of Week 16. At first, it felt like gas bubbles in places where I knew there couldn’t be gas bubbles. Within days, this progressed to little flutters like muscle spasms. On the morning of Week 19, Day 4, I looked down and saw my stomach twitch.

Feeling my baby move inside of me is the most cramazing experience in the entire universe.

It is also what I imagine it would feel like to have a baby alien of Ellen Ripley fame preparing to burst out of one’s abdomen.

4. Tiredness
“You’ll be tired during pregnancy.” = “You will feel like you’re climbing a mountain every day.”

“You’ll get your energy back during the second trimester.” = “We are pathological liars.”

5. Placenta
So, when we went in for the 3-D ultrasound, I asked the tech where inside my uterus the placenta is attached. She told me it’s right under my bellybutton.

And then she said, “It’s about the size and shape of a pancake.”

REVELATION.

In German, most commonly-used medical terms aren’t Latin-based the way they are in English. You don’t have tonsillitis, you have a “Mandelentzündung” — which, directly translated, means “almond inflammation. If you have sinusitis, you’ve got a “Nasennebenhöhlenlentzündung” — an “inflammation of the caves next to the nose.”

If you’re female, you don’t have a uterus. You have a “Gebärmutter,” which means “birthing mother” whether that organ ever births anything or not.

When you’re pregnant, what nourishes your baby is not a placenta.
What nourishes your baby is the “Mutterkuchen.”

That’s “mothercake” to you.

Yum.

* Pun intended? You bet your sweet patootie.

** Don’t be fooled by my cheeky demeanor. If I could, I would totally go in for an ultrasound every single day. Seeing my baby — her face, her arms, her legs, and her incredible little heart — is a joy that beggars description.