Name: Kim Tracy Prince
Web Site: http://www.kimtracyprince.com/about-me/
Bio: I am a writer. Most of my material is on the web, but the best stuff is still in my journal under the bed.
Posts by ktprince:
Fields of Fire, the latest in the Frontlines series of near-future science fiction war novels, is the fifth shot out of writer Marko Kloos’ very big and complicated gun. It is rare for a sequel, and then another installment, and then another, and then another, to capture my attention so completely that I can’t do anything but keep reading to see what happens next. I’m delighted to say that even this volume, a continuation of Earth’s battle with an alien race that seems intent on destroying us, had me wanting to set aside all other activity in favor of racing to the end.
But racing through one of Kloos’ volumes in this story would be cheating myself out of the details of the rich and imaginative world he has created for Earth just a few hundred years in the future. This time, I let the book sit on my nightstand for a few days before I picked it up, because I wanted some good uninterrupted time to savor what I trusted would be an immersive experience. Then once I began reading, I made myself stop at natural points instead of staying up all night reading half the book, or the whole thing. Toward the end, however, there was no slowing down. I finished last night, and I’m excited to tell you about the series in more detail than just “This is a great book!” like I do when I list the latest volume on my “Books I Have Read” page over here.
By Fields of Fire, I feel like I’m old friends with main character Lieutenant Andrew Grayson, a simple main character in contrast to the acronym-laden military spacecraft, weapons, and space travel science Kloos has invented to make the good soldier’s adventures plausible. Kloos himself affectionately refers to Frontlines as his “space-kablooie” series, but it’s the affection that shines through, because the story has a relatable every-man at its center. Grayson joined the military back in the first book, Terms of Enlistment, because he was a poor kid with no other options. Familiar enough scenario, except that when Grayson goes into battle, he wears a “bug suit” with polychromatic camouflage, automatic atmospheric adjustment systems, internal medication dispensers, and computerized links to every other soldier’s armor, the battleships in orbit, and even his weapons that can aim and shoot an enemy without him having to try very hard. Cool.
Fancy space gear aside, like any good hero, Grayson finds himself in the thick of the action, narrowly escaping death every time, and rising to the occasion to become a better fighter and a better person. But at great cost.
The first four books in the Frontlines series lay out the world, the challenge, and Grayson’s personal stakes in the war against the “Lankies,” as the Earthlings call the giant unyielding aliens overtaking colony planets and moons, reversing the expansion of the human race into other solar systems. In Fields of Fire, the battleground is closer to home than ever, and Grayson winds up on the forward edge of a planetary offensive meant to stop the Lankies’ advance toward Earth itself.
The fifth story doesn’t disappoint. The action unfolds with Kloos’ now familiar suspenseful pacing, and I thank him for the occasional pause for Grayson to nap. That kid doesn’t seem to catch too many breaks. In this story, Grayson witnesses civilian casualties at the hands of his otherworldly opponents, although still not close-up, but these details add another element of truthfulness to the reading experience. Even though Grayson has been on the wrong end of a major loss before, this time it seems to affect his emotions more powerfully, affecting the reader as well.
Kloos has an uncanny ability to take his story in unexpected directions. It seems impossible to me that in a fifth book in the same general story, I can be just as engaged as in the first. Frontlines readers will be happy to know that Fields of Fire has just as much story-twisting in store for them as Terms of Enlistment did. It was a pleasure to wonder how an Earthside battle with the Lankies early in the book would be relevant in the later offensive – and sure enough, Grayson realizes a bit too late that thing he saw them do? They’re doing it again on a massive, deadly scale. And some skillful foreshadowing – where are all the human bodies? – pays off in yet another surprising (and kind of gross) way.
Just Like Harry Potter
The ending surprised me yet again, and I’m not giving too much away by saying I was half disappointed and half delighted that it wasn’t an ending at all. I immediately wanted to reach for book 6, but since I had an advance reader copy of Fields of Fire, which doesn’t come out until February 28, (you can pre-order on Amazon already though), I’m guessing I’m going to have to wait a while. I haven’t had this sense of wanting the next volume in a series since Harry Potter. That’s a pretty big comparison, I suppose, but every reader is different, and that’s this reader’s feeling about it. “It’s like Harry Potter, but with giant aliens and bombs and spaceships and much more swearing.”
I was surprised by this series in so many ways. It’s not a genre I would ever have picked up on my own – Kloos is an online friend from the olden days of Twitter, so I was curious about these many books he wrote in just a few years. His intricate language of the military, the futuristic armor and weaponry, and space travel science fiction is unfamiliar and challenging to me, a reader who gravitates toward beautiful flowery language and quiet thoughtful scenes. But boy do I ever love a good story. The Frontlines series tells five good stories. I recommend you read them all.
Fields of Fire
$9.99 on Amazon
(available for preorder, to be released February 28, 2017)
If you haven’t read the earlier four books, start with Terms of Enlistment. I dare you.
There are three reasons I’m sitting down to gather my Favorite Posts of 2016 right now:
- I miss my blog! I haven’t posted since November, and if I wait one more day, December will go by with no post! And then there goes the year.
- I want to continue the “favorite posts” tradition I started last year. It’s sort of funny, I have no idea what I will pick at this moment, but the task shouldn’t be hard because my output this year was much lighter than in years past. I’ve done a lot of work on Agoura Hills Mom, a lot of work on my novel, and I got myself a full time outside the home job. All of this has pulled me away from this online journal and the chronicle of my life as a mother person.
- I also miss writing. Even the other blog and the novel have been neglected a bit over the last few weeks because of the holidays and all the fun IRL stuff I’ve been doing like hanging out in my pajamas on these rare rainy SoCal mornings reading, chatting with visiting family, baking, and unloading the dishwasher.
Okay so now that that’s out of the way, I wonder what the heck I even posted here in 2016, and which are my favorites. I’ll be right back.
My Favorite Posts of 2016
Wow, okay, there’s more than I expected. This is the year I took my family on our first major international vacation, and while I would have included those posts in this roundup, for various reasons the ones below stood out to me as better representatives of how I expressed myself on House of Prince in 2016. Click on the titles to read the posts.
That is not my hairy hand.
Spoiler alert: it is wonderful.
Naturally, the word “fart” is featured.
My “word of the year” by default.
My essay about arguing with a 6-year-old is published in a real-life book!
A very personal update about my family’s new world order.
If you are reading this, and you have read any of the above posts, thank you. Really. It’s especially awesome of you to click over to this site and read any of this stuff, because there are so many thing to read, watch, and rant about on the internet. I’ve been doing this for a hundred years now, and I know most of my readers have moved on to other content, but I keep doing it anyway, even though sometimes it feels like I can’t even get arrested on the internet. This is for me, and if you’re anything like me, or you are going through similar things or feeling similar feelings, it is also for you.
Happy New Year, friends. Welcome, 2017. Here is a picture of our cat in her favorite place:
In my last post I told you about how I was considering two different full time jobs. That turn of events was a big deal because I’ve been freelancing and working from home for several years, and the whole office job thing, being away from the kids after school, was big and scary in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.
I compared the jobs to each other using many different criteria. I tortured my husband with my back-and-forth. I called my mother and cried on the phone. I closed my eyes and imagined my life in this job…and then in that job. I had about two days to make a very big decision. On the morning I was meant to call and accept or reject an offer, I was driving home from dropping off the middle schooler and I said out loud “I need a sign!”
And then it hit me: I already got my sign.
By the time I interviewed for this job, I had been “on the market” for several months, so I was comfortable (if a bit bored) talking about myself. The position was at the school district, where people knew me and I knew people. I’m a big fan of the district so it was a good fit.
This interview was with a panel of six people, arranged opposite me at a conference room table. It seemed intimidating but I looked at each face, registering them, cataloguing whether I knew them or not. One woman looked familiar, and she was staring at me intently with a little smile on her face. Maybe she was trying to send me a message, I wonder now. I asked her, “Have we worked together before?”
“I’m Lisa’s cousin,” she said.
I sucked in my breath and felt chills run up and down my body. Tears sprang to my eyes. I don’t remember what I said, but I knew I had to suck it up and move on, to conduct myself professionally. The woman apologized for bringing up a sad memory, but I said “No, thank you, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Because it was.
Lisa died five years ago today. Suddenly, unexpectedly, at the height of physical fitness and poised to take on the world. Five years is a very long time. Enough that my children barely remember her, enough that she missed world events we take for granted, enough that maybe you, reading here, don’t recall the pain and loss I have poured out on this site.
Two years ago I started writing a novel inspired by my friend, or more accurately, by a vision I had when I was grieving her. One year ago I began revising it. This year, I continue. I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month – this mass movement gives me an energy boost, and I am indeed committed to finishing the story. It’s not really about Lisa, but it’s filled with my love for her, and my missing her. Maybe people will recognize her ebullient spirit in the character. Maybe not. But it will be enough for me to complete what I started.
Writing a novel is no joke, especially now that I have a full time, out of the home job. In fact, I sat down to work on the manuscript last night, but I found myself looking through photos and old blog posts.* I didn’t cry until I got to the pictures of Lisa with my son Kyle, her godson. It’s not just me who is missing out on having Lisa in my life. It’s my kids, too.
On that morning over a month ago, driving on the 101, I remembered my sign. Tears welled up in my eyes again, and I felt a sense of peace. When I got home I called the school district and accepted the offer. I withdrew from consideration for the other opportunity. And now Lisa’s cousin, Carolyn, is the coworker who sits right next to me, who took me around and introduced me to everyone, and even showed me where to get hot lunch at the middle school next door. You know, the important things.
With Carolyn this Halloween. In the office. Obvs.
I suppose it could be a coincidence. I suppose.
*I’ve mentioned Lisa many times here, before and after her death, but it’s her OWN blogs that I cherish. I helped her set up her original site where she chronicled her medical issues, and then she branched out to a general personal site. Now that she is gone, these blogs are treasures. Dip into one of them for bit, and you can almost hear her…
The Pie Life, a new book by work/life balance expert Samantha Ettus, is a shoulder to cry on for working parents everywhere. And I mean that to include work at home parents, and even parents who are not currently working to earn an income, but working solely to care for their children and homes.
Recipe For Success
Using the analogy that your life is a pie and imagining different aspects as the different slices of the pie, Ettus advises women who want to have thriving careers as well as families and rich experiences in every area that is important. For a delicious and satisfying pie, Ettus says, you need to jettison the guilt and be mindful as you work toward your goal.
My take away from reading The Pie Life is a soothing message from Ettus, who has launched herself at success in every aspect of her own life with an organized ferocity, an eye-on-the-prize attitude that has landed her with a very active career, a happy marriage, and three lovely happy children. Plus, she’s fit, has great friends, and is active in her community.
But Ettus herself admits that not everything in her life is always as rosy as it looks on social media, for example, so you can’t even hate her for perfect life. At the end of The Pie Life, she confesses that as she finished this book, she fell ill, suffered personal losses, and events in her schedule piled on top of one another. This experience is an example, though, of how Ettus has learned to take a deep breath and remember: everything is going to be alright.
As I read The Pie Life, that mantra was the message I kept hearing. Ettus’s voice is inclusive of all types of parents, and she shares what worked for her and might work for you: the mom who wants to keep all the balls in the air but could really use a helping hand. She also shares stories from many other women, some who struggled greatly to find the right setup for their own families. So whether you are just starting a family or want to someday, or you have children now and you’re balancing career and family life, or you’re not currently working—for women in any of these scenarios, Ettus encourages you to just start somewhere. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Throw away feelings of guilt.
A Case Study
In fact, I was knee deep in my own search for a new job when a review copy of The Pie Life arrived in my mailbox. Although I have been a working mom all these years, the past few have been spent working at home while the kids are in school or with my husband or a sitter. I’ve had a great flexible schedule, and initially I was searching for more work that I could do this way. I ignored job openings that were full time in an office, because I felt I needed to be at home and available for my kids.
The problem with that goal was that I wasn’t finding anything that fit my needs. My freelance work has been drying up, and while blogging is very lucrative for some people, it hasn’t been so for me in the last few years as I focused on running the parent group at my sons’ elementary school.
So when two very interesting full time jobs opened up near me recently, I fantasized about applying for them, and further, to what life would be like if I took one of the jobs. I’d bring in steady income, and I would be learning, contributing, and working on a team. I love my freelance life, but I have craved human interaction and feedback, too. Still, I hesitated because…the kids! They need me!
The Pie Life helped me broaden my horizons. As I completed an email with a kicky cover letter and my resume attached, I hovered my mouse over the “send” button, and thought of Ettus’s words:
Throw out these three ridiculous yardsticks—juggling, balancing, and having it all—and lose the guilt, too. There is no more useless ingredient, so to bake this pie, we must let it go.
I clicked “Send.” In less than an hour, I had lined up an interview.
Within a week, I was considering two full time jobs. Both were interesting and provided a useful service to people, which is very important to me. They would also utilize my writing, technical, and people skills. I went back and forth and agonized over the choice: which was better for me? Which was better for my family? In the end, I accepted an offer* to work closer to home with a schedule that gets me back to the house only a few hours after school gets out. I hired a beloved caregiver for those hours, and my husband’s academic schedule will allow him to be present during winter and summer breaks.
Everything’s going to be okay. Maybe even great.
Life’s Little Recipe Book
Now that that’s handled, Ettus’s instructions for deciding how I want my pie to be sliced and how to maximize satisfaction and happiness in each one of them will come in handy. Her interpretation of time-tested organization and time management skills using this baking analogy makes me kind of hungry, I’ll admit, but it’s much more pleasant to imagine a nice tasty apple pie than a whiteboard or a post-it note chart. I’ll use my Google Calendar so much it’ll send smoke out of my computer and smartphone, and I’ll find time to bake an actual pie.
The Pie Life is a great read for any person who feels like her life is out of balance. The book will help you let go of the myth that balance is achievable, but that happiness in all areas of your life is a possibility. And that’s a tasty pie indeed.
The Pie Life
$23.36 on Amazon
(available today for pre-order, to be released September 27, 2016)
*Yes, this is big news, considering all my kvetching about being a stay at home mom (or work at home mom, whichever I feel like calling myself on any given day). I start next week. Tune in soon to read more navel-gazing about this enormous life change.
If you’re planning a Costa Rica vacation Arenal Lodge is a place I would recommend.
In June 2016 I made a dream come true—I took my family on an epic vacation in Costa Rica. I am sharing photos periodically, because if I blog about it, I won’t forget.
After three nights at Playa Potrero, we packed up our little rented Hyundai and headed inland to Arenal National Park, a frequently visited jungle area around Lake Arenal, with Volcano Arenal at its eastern end. In this post, I am sharing photos from one place: Arenal Lodge.
View from our room
On the northern shore of Lake Arenal at the top of the hills with a stunning view of Volcano Arenal, this lodge is spread out over acres of land. Our room was in a free-standing chalet. One entire wall was made of glass, facing the volcano, where we sat for hours watching the clouds gather and shift, and lightning storms advancing from the horizon. At the main building we arranged for our activities, found a pool table, and enjoyed a nice caipirinha and a hot tub soak. Everything is overgrown with moss and vegetation, now matter how quickly the staff tries to keep up with nature, so it has a bit of a lonely remote feeling, even though it’s easy enough to get down the hill and to the more populated activities and the local town of La Fortuna.
We could have stayed there much longer. We want to go back. Pura vida!
Just sitting here was our favorite thing to do
This was their second favorite
Ours was the last chalet on the right
Stewart explored the botanical trail
The kids and I went horseback riding
No helmets, and ropes for reins
The guides spoke very little English
Best day ever