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I've been trying out a lot of social media venues since word came down that Google Plus, which had been my go-to for years was closing. I don't feel like I'm connecting with many people here on Dreamwidth, and those that I have connected with, I'm also connected to elsewhere. This is probably my own fault, because I haven't done enough outreach while I experimented in several different venues. But for now, I'm going to stop posting here so often, though I'll keep the account and will come by from time to time.

If you're looking for me, try me on MeWe and Pluspora. I think those are going to be my big ones. I'm still on Twitter and Facebook as well.

so long and thanks for all the fish

samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
#smileaday Helping someone along.

I'm doing a fair bit of mentoring these days, formally and informally. Today, I read a story for a beginning writer and offered some advice. That's always tricky. Even when someone asks for your opinion and help, it doesn't necessarily follow that they're open to hearing or using what you have to say. So, I take it on with equal measures hope and trepidation.

Luckily, my advice was well received. Whew!

advice quote oscar wilde

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#smileaday Getting an audiobook.

I do a LOT of my reading in audiobook form, so it's been a bit of a heartbreak to me that my own books weren't available in audiobook. But that's about to change! I had a phone call today with my audiobook narrator to talk some details and she'll start recording THIS WEEKEND! I am so excited guys!

audiobook icon

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#smileaday Lots of sunshine.

I got two walks in the sunlit woods today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, one with my husband and one with one of my daughters (both with the dog). The water sparkled in the light and I felt lit from within. Some time in the outdoors is so important to my peace of mind.

Good light, good company, good places.

my daughter and dog by the river

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game box pandemic the cure#gameaweek Pandemic: The Cure.

We're starting to catch up on our game-a-week now that all the Bryants are healthy again (knock wood). Last night's pick was Pandemic: The Cure, which is a dice based version of the popular co-op board game. Our gaming party was two parents over forty, a college freshmen, and a tween.

All of us were already familiar with the premise and structure of the game from playing the board game. In both the board game and this dice-based version, a player takes on a role such as medic, dispatcher, scientist, or generalist (among others), which comes with certain special abilities regarding freedom of movement or ease of performing different steps. We work together as a team to try to contain and cure four diseases within the time constraints.

This game was tense and exciting, like the original. The dice element made the gameplay faster, eliminating some analysis paralysis since you are limited to using the options you roll. That was good and bad.

The round track you use to track things on was physically awkward, but made good logical sense and was easy enough to read once I understood it.

We won in the eleventh hour, winning the final cure just in time, which is my favorite way for the game to go. So, I don't like it as much as the boardgame overall, but did appreciate the faster gameplay.
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#smileaday Gaming with my family.

Tonight, we had all four Bryants at home, all alert and healthy and doing well, so we jumped on the chance and played a board game together! Tonight was Pandemic: The Cure, a dice-based version of the popular board game. We've all played the regular board game, and my husband and I have played through *some* of the Legacy game. We thought it was thematic, given that our family lost February to various illnesses. :-)

I love co-op games with my family. It's a great chance to work together on something that won't really have consequences if we fail. This time, though, we saved humanity! And at the last minute, too. It was a close one.
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#saturdayscenes #samanthascenes From my work on #thursdayschildren this week:
Sunrise was already starting to come later. Kye’luh sat up on the edge of her bed, groaning as she rubbed sleep sand from her eyes. Her eyes ached and she wondered if she’d slept with them open, or if it was just that she’d slept so little.

She and Jason had sat up talking for hours, and once she’d gone back to bed, she’d laid there waiting for her head to stop spinning on the possibilities, good and bad. She’d probably only had a couple of hours of solid sleep.

She picked up the windup clock at her bedside. Almost eight. When they’d first arrived, the sun burned the sleep from her at closer to six. Winter really was coming. She hoped they were ready for it. She’d never been up the mountain for longer than a weekend in the winter. The cold was going to make everything more complicated.

She picked up her mother’s flannel shirt and pulled it on, noticing that it smelled of liniment now. The minty smelling stuff Alecia used to take down swelling and take care of pain. Kye’luh had used the shirt to prop Jason’s foot up last night, and the fabric must have absorbed some of the scent. It wasn’t a bad smell. It was kind of comforting. It smelled like being taken care of.

She made her way to the outhouse, smiling a little remembering the posh accents and water closet jokes from the night before. She tugged the handle and it resisted. Someone was already inside.

Kye’luh leaned against a nearby tree, letting her head fall back and looking up into the leaves, already changing color and beginning to dry and blow away. She stood back up when she heard the door clatter open. It was Alecia. “Jeez, K, you look awful.”

“Thanks, Leesh.” She pushed past her cousin to make use of the facilities. This part wasn’t going to be much fun when the weather got colder either. The seat was going to be cold and the chinks in the wood that helped ventilate would let in the winter air.

When she came out, Leesh was still standing there, hands on her hips. “Bend down here.”

Kye’luh complied. “I’m all right. I just didn’t sleep enough.”

Alecia felt her head and nodded. “You don’t seem to have a fever, but your eyes are bloodshot. Bad dreams?”

“No. It wasn’t that. I stayed up late talking to Jason.”

Alecia crossed her arms over her chest. “I see.” Disapproval wafted from her with a scent stronger than the outhouse fumes.

“I don’t know what you think you see. I was trying to get him to explain himself, tell me why he was really here, and what he wanted.”

“And did he tell you?”

“He did.” She left out how touched she was by his belief that his father must still be alive and by his determination to save him. She didn’t tell her cousin about the way he made her laugh, describing his misadventures on the way up the mountain. “He was sent by the Underground, by Malcolm. They’re hoping to recruit us to help the mission, to get more kids out.”

“And you believe him?”

“I do.”

Alecia narrowed her light brown eyes. “Why?”

“I don’t know. It’s—well, if he was dangerous, he would be better at it. Don’t you think? What kind of government operative gets lost and loses his food supply?” To a raccoon, of all things.

A thoughtful look softened Alecia’s expression. “There is that. He didn’t exactly arrive ready to overcome us and take over.” She turned to walk back toward camp. “Nyaysia is going to be a hard sell. She doesn’t trust him.”

Kye’luh sighed. “I know.”

Thanks for reading! You can learn more about me and my writing at or follow My Saturday Scenes collection here: There's also a collection for ALL the Saturday Scenes by ALL the participating authors here:
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meant to be meme#smileaday Signs we're meant to be.

It's Friday night and the Retro series we love is playing Alfred Hitchcock films. Normally, that'd be a no-brainer and we'd be there. But we've had a bunch of sick in our house. We're barely recovered. I found myself thinking of the outing with dread instead of joy, but I didn't want to take the fun away from Sweetman, so I hadn't said anything.

Then we went for a walk, and in talking, it became clear that Sweetman felt exactly the same way.

So, not only are we so well matched that we wanted to see the same movie, we're so in sync that we both unusually didn't want to go tonight. Looking forward to going to bed early and getting some energy back for future fun!
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my shoe and the creek#smileaday Sitting by running water.

The thing I miss most about living in Alaska is wilderness. Being able to go someplace where there aren't any other people and all you can hear are the sounds of nature. It used to melt the stress off of me. I didn't know how much I craved it until I came back to the 48 and it got so much harder to get.

In my part of North Carolina, I can get out into the woods pretty easily, and I can usually even get to be alone or nearly alone there. But I can hear the highway everywhere, and that's a mood killer.

I've found one natural place in my town though, where I can't hear the highway. It's at the bottom of a woods loop, alongside a wide creek. If I go sit by the water there, the water itself is loud enough to mask the residual buzz of tires on asphalt.

I went there today and sat on a downed tree letting the water wash my troubled thoughts downstream. It was perfect.
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#smileaday Cooking something new.

I do most of the cooking in our family. Because I teach in the same town we live in, I generally get home 1-2 hours earlier than my husband, so we eat sooner if I cook. Luckily, I like cooking. So, this works out.

However, I get seriously bored if I cook the same things too often. I'm not one of those people who can rotate a small repertoire of dishes. I need novelty to stay interested in cooking.

So, tonight's experiment was orange chicken, a dish I've often ordered at Chinese restaurants, but never made myself. (here's the recipe, for anyone insterested: ) It was delish. All Bryants were pleased.
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balanced rocks#smileaday Finding my equanimity.

It was especially stressful at school today. Hormones have hit sixth grade girls rather hard, and there's a lot of drama and meanness. My mood was tanked after teaching one particular class today and I had a hard time getting back to an even keel.

What usually works is walking, so I took my dog out for Riverwalk. That helped, but I still had a grumpy edge. Dinner helped. Burgers, tater tots, and broccoli tonight.Three favorites. During dinner, we watched an episode of The Dragon Prince. That helped, too. After dinner, we went out for custard at a place that opened a few months ago and we hadn't gotten around to trying yet. Now, I'm alone in my writing room with a cup of Tension Tamer tea, and I'm *almost* not grumpy.

Whew. That one was hard to shake.
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buttercups by the creek#smileaday My doggo's joy on a walk.

The doggo and I went to Riverwalk today. It's our favorite walk when it's been raining because it's paved, but still feels like a wooded path.

There are two paths you can walk: a loop that takes you alongside the river and towards a nearby park and a longer path that take you the other way alongside the river and eventually hooks up with other walking trails.

Generally, we take the loop because it's short enough to do on a time crunch, but today, when we got to the "choose your direction" moment, he stopped and looked back at me and tugged towards the longer path. I looked at those puppy eyes and instantly caved. I said, "Okay, bud-bud, take me to the river."

You never saw such a joyous dog! (no photographic evidence of joyous dog because a tail wagging that fast cannot be captured by a mere cellphone camera).
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me with Captain Marvel poster#smileaday A good girl-power movie with my girls. Went to see #captainmarvel today with my daughters. A very solid and satisfying superhero flick. Much better than the trailer led me to believe. Brie Larson overcame my doubts quickly.

It didn't quite get the leap-out-my-seat clapping feeling that Wonder Woman gave me, but I still pumped my fist in the air more than once. Favorite moments: the "getting back up" montage of Carol Danvers at different ages and the line "I've got nothing to prove to you."

Jude Law was a great antagonist, and Annette Bening was clearly having a blast in both her roles. Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar brought such warmth and love to their roles, really selling the found-family dynamic with Carol. I'm looking forward to seeing this character come back in Endgame.
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art supplies#smileaday Scrap Exchange.

If you've never been to Scrap Exchange, it can be hard to understand what it is. Part recycling center, part thrift store, part artist's refuge, it's a store in Durham, North Carolina, USA. It's both chaotic and well organized. You never know what you're going to find there. Disparate objects are in bins and barrels and you sort through to find what you want to buy.

I was there with my daughters today, which is a triple delight: awesome store + two awesome daughters. The eldest needed some supplies for a project for her Interior Design class, things like fabric swatches, buttons, paint samples, etc. The youngest just loves to be there. A fourth bonus is that *both* my daughters love this place. It can be really hard to find one thing to do that genuinely pleases both an 11 year old and a 19 year old. But we could all wander the aisles digging through fascinating objects and letting our imaginations run wild for days.
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Fated Sky book cover#bookeveryweek The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal.

It's a testament to how much I enjoyed book one of this series [book:The Calculating Stars|33080122] because I jumped right into reading the second book and finished in less than a week, despite having an insanely busy week with very little reading time available. I may perhaps have avoided some things I should have been doing in favor of finding out what was happening on the mission to Mars.

If you're going to read this one, you're going to want to read the first book first. The emotional impact of a lot of moments is much stronger if you know the events and characters of the first book.

One thing I enjoyed in both books is how complex the characters are. Antagonists have admirable qualities alongside their problematic characteristics and our protagonist is realistically flawed. Characterization is even stronger in book two. Everyone feels real. Some sad things happen in this book. I won't tell you what, so I don't spoil it for you, but I will compliment the writing of those emotional moments. I teared up more than once in the reading. I cried for a character I never would have expected to come to care about, too.

I'm often not a fan of "hard science fiction" because the world building can swallow the characters and story elements, and story and character are what I showed up for. If I want to read a science text, then I'll go to the nonfiction section, thanks. This book (and its predecessor) beautifully meld the science with character and story and kept me engaged.

I'm sad there's not another book in this series out there ready for me to read yet. I'm not done lingering with this story.
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#saturdayscenes #samanthascenes I worked on Thursday's Children, my young adult dystopian novel this week. Here's a bit of what I wrote. Poor Malcolm is having a bit of a crisis.
Malcolm climbed into the car, tossing his bag into the back seat. Coach took off before he had even finished fastening his seatbelt. “You’ve got to be smarter than this,” he said, turning a hard left out of the parking lot and gunning the engine to stay ahead of the pickup truck that loomed too close in the rearview mirror. “This is no time to fall apart. There’s too much at stake.”

Trees seemed to blur into a sheet of green alongside the road. Malcolm couldn’t think of anything to say, so he stayed quiet. Coach took a sudden right turn onto a dirt road, throwing Malcolm against the door. He scrambled for the hand-hold. He had barely righted himself when Coach threw the SUV into park, got out of the car and started walking.

Malcolm hurried to follow him. It was an awkward slow speed chase for a few minutes, down a wooded path to a wide creek. Tackett didn’t look back to see if Malcolm followed, but just walked at a steady clip, faster than his usual gait. Malcolm wondered if the man’s limp was real either.

He lost track of Tackett when the path took a bend, but spotted him squatting beside the creek, looking down into the water. He crossed the remaining terrain in a few strides and sat down on the ground next to the man he’d always thought was his enemy, waiting.

“I get that this is confusing for you.”

Malcolm laughed. “You think?” 

Coach shot him a withering look. “We couldn’t just tell you. You were just a kid. We couldn’t be sure you could keep the secret.”

Malcolm opened his mouth to argue, but Coach put up a hand. “Every kid thinks they’re special, but the EBC is no joke. If they took you in and you knew the whole story? They’d get it out of you.”

Hot tears gathered in Malcolm’s eyes and he looked up at the sky willing them to absorb back into their ducts and not embarrass him by falling onto his cheeks in front of Coach Tackett. “So, I was just an errand boy?”

Coach sighed loudly. “You were always more than that. You were—you are our future.”

“But Sheila.”

“Sheila didn’t lie to you. She just didn’t tell you everything she knew. We had to protect you, protect the mission.”

Malcolm stood and walked downstream, watching the water bubble over the creek rocks on its way to the river and eventually to the sea. He wondered if this creek connected with the ones in the mountain pass, if Jason might, even now, be walking alongside this same water.

He’d felt so powerful and sure when he’d sent Jason out there, ready to take the bulls by the horns. Knowing one of the bulls was fighting for the same side he was left him deflated. He hadn’t been getting away with anything, stealing documents for Sheila and ferreting them out of the Center. Tackett hadn’t been trying to stop him. It undercut everything he’d done in the past few years, left him sinking in the quicksand of doubt just when he needed to climb the next peak.

Hurling a rock into the stream, Malcolm turned to walk back to where he’d left the man he’d always believed was his enemy. The riverbank was empty, but Tackett was sitting at the top of the hill, on a wide tree stump. Malcolm trudged over and sat beside him.

“Feel better?” Tackett asked.

Malcolm shrugged. “I guess.”

“Listen, son.”

“Don’t call me son. I’ve always hated it.” If it was time to be honest, then he might as well stop all the games.

Tackett looked surprised and thoughtful. “All right. This doesn’t change anything. Not in the scheme of things.”

“What? This changes everything.”

Tackett shook his head. “No. Your job is still the same. Pass information. Stay one step ahead. Don’t get caught.”

“You don’t get it, Coach. If you’ve been protecting me all this time, then nothing I’ve done counts. I didn’t actually do it.”

Tackett laughed. “You think that’s what’s going on? Jesus Christ, boy. I didn’t know you were the mole until last night. Sheila called me only because she didn’t know how else to save you from your own bullheadedness.”

Malcolm’s skepticism must have shown because Tackett tried again.
“Seriously. It was brilliant thinking on her part, using you to steal documents. I already trusted you enough to let you work in my office. If you ever got caught, I’d have had plenty of room to be shocked and dismayed at the betrayal by a boy I’d known nearly all his life. Beautiful. Nobody can weave a web like Sheila.”

Malcolm considered it. He wanted to believe Tackett, but the very fact that he wanted to believe it triggered doubt. So many confusing emotions were bubbling in his guts that he began to feel like he might throw up. “Gah!” He threw up his hands and shouted at the sky. A flock of dark birds ejected from the tree leaning over the river, their cries angry and threatening.
Thanks for reading! You can learn more about me and my writing at or follow My Saturday Scenes collection here: ; There's also a collection for ALL the Saturday Scenes by ALL the participating authors here:
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
#smileaday Happy children.

My poor daughter has had a lonely month. No playmates due to sickness. Her own, then mine. But tonight, she has a sleepover guest and the giggles coming from our living room right now could make the Grinch's heart triple in size.

grinch heart growing gif

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#smileaday Spoiling myself. I bought myself a birthday present this year. (It's not my birthday yet, but sometimes I celebrate early). One of my former students from Nome now makes jewelry using fossilized ivory and mammoth bone set in beveled metals (among other things: he's also a musician). It's very Alaska meets the Southwest, which come to think of it, is what he's like too.

I know teachers aren't supposed to have favorites, but this student was always a special one, and I love hearing about the interesting life he's living now. And now I've got something beautiful he made. I love that the shape of the piece itself reminds me of Kodiak Island, another of the homes of my heart.

I'm not much of a jewelry person over all. But I do love a piece that means something to me. Happy birthday to me, a month or so early.

me with a new necklace

samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
#smileaday Spring flowers.

Spring makes my head hurt (allergies), but it makes my heart happy. The hyacinths in my garden bed are in full bloom today.

samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
My plan to play a new game every week in 2019 fell apart in February. We were the plague house instead, which is not a game I'd care to play again.

But now that we're nearly all better, I was happy to get back on the gaming horse with a two-player with Sweetman. Spirits of the Wild.

It's a pattern collection sort of game. You earn points by gathering stones (colorful plastic pieces that look a little too much like Skittles to be safe for small children) in different groupings: one of each color, full house, matched pairs, etc, each worth different numbers of points.

Your game options are controlled by a set of cards with prescribed actions (both players have the same cards, but you can use them in any order you want) and access to spirit animal cards that either player can use. The competition comes in using the coyote figure to help block your opponent's progress.

The game play is short, and has a quick and easy learning curve. The pieces and art are pleasing and I found it competitive enough without being cut-throat. I could play this one with my mother or other more casual gamers in my life or as a warmup for more "serious" gaming with my more hardcore crowd.
spirits of the wild boardgame box


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Samantha J Bryant

March 2019

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