Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Alina Sayre, Author

If you’re not up to the minute on the global COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably been living under a rock (and for now you should probably stay there). For me, it’s difficult to read any amount of news without a raised pulse. The situation is unfolding moment by moment, especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and each new development seems worse than the last. Today officials in several Bay Area counties issued a shelter-in-place order that will last at least three weeks, so we are all now hunkering down with our stocks of snacks and (oh-so-precious?) toilet paper.

But I don’t need to tell you that.

What I’ve been thinking about, partly to help myself stay calm in the midst of all the anxiety, are the things coronavirus can’t touch. It is easy to feel helpless, to feel defeated, by such a complete global crisis. But one of the…

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An interview with Alina Sayre about The Illuminator’s Test

Not so far from this point last year I was talking with Alina about her self publishing her first novel. Well, shoot if I ain’t here doing it again! This time we’re talking about her second novel, The Illuminator’s Test!

The Illuminator’s Test synopsis

As Ellie and her friends start new lives on the flying island of Rhynlyr, Ellie hopes she’s finally found a home. At the Academy, she learns to wield her gift of Sight and discovers her role in the war against Draaken. But Draaken also wants to control Ellie’s gift. With the help of a blind mentor, an elite bodyguard, and a hostile singer, Ellie must navigate a storm of danger and deception that threatens to cut her off from her friends and corrupt her very self. When disaster strikes, will she find the courage to fight for her friends and the future of the One Kingdom?

A little about the author

Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and is now the award-winning author of The Voyages of the Legend, a fantasy series for readers ages 9-14. Book 1, The Illuminator’s Gift, was a silver medalist in the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and has appeared at a number of schools and literacy events. On December 1 it was joined by Book 2, The Illuminator’s Test, now available on and at select bookstores! When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys photography, collecting crazy socks, and reading under blankets. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.

Upcoming Appearances – Meet the amazing author in person!

12/13 book launch party at Village House of Books! Want to get your paperback copy of The Illuminator’s Test in time for Christmas, have it signed, and hang out with illustrator Amalia Hillmann and me, all at the same time? Then come to the book launch party being held at Village House of Books in Los Gatos! On Saturday, December 13, the new store on 21 W Main Street will stay open for us after hours and we can party! Treats, face painting, and art activities from 6:30-7:30, then a read-along, Q&A session, and book signing from 7:30-8. Stop by for a few minutes or stay all evening! Hope you can make it!

Get a copy of The Illuminator’s Test!

If you’d like to keep up with Alina’s adventures around the net check out these links:

Inktober 2014 Half Marathon

I’ve known about #inktober for a couple of years. Several of the artists I follow participate regularly. Well, I’m gonna do it this year.

Now for those who don’t know #inktober is an artistic challenge – full details here: – the basics are to do a drawing in ink and post it every day. This year I saw the idea to do the “half marathon” which is a picture every other day, which is what I plan to do.

I want to keep consistent on this so I’m gonna lay out a few more parts of this goal so those of you who feel so inclined can hold me to these plans.

  1. Post every odd numbered day starting on the 1st
  2. Post what I have, works in progress are fine. I’m trying to work on my perfectionist tendency, as in getting it to ease up.
  3. Enjoy drawing in ink

I’m planning on spreading these images across my various blogs and social media. Specifically they will be on and then they’ll spread from there.

And then it all changed

July 9th, I got an unexpected e-mail about a graphic design opening at a nearby company.
July 10th I replied to the email with an expression of my interest to learn more.
July 11th I talked on the phone with the CEO of the company.
July 14th I had an interview.
July 16th I had a job offer.

This has been a bit of a whirlwind of events.

So what am I doing now? I am a full-time Graphic Designer for California Pet Pharmacy. This means I make graphics for their website, banners, headers, and other sundry items; I also put together print materials for them.

Even though I’ve only been at this job a little over a full work day, my first day was Friday the 18th, I already feel an immense amount of internal peace and joy about it. The culture of the company is very startup, but with the expectation being that you work hard when you’re there but when the work hours are over … you’re expected to go home. The work area in an open layout and the CEO/owner and his right hand guy are commonly found in the work space with the rest of us.

It is rather difficult to put into words how I feel about this job. I am very thankful, excited, hopeful, and very … relaxed. I guess you could say, it “feels right”. The expectations are things I know I can meet and exceed and I feel like this is a prime opportunity to grow, personally and professionally. The sense of peace and relax-ed-ness (not a “real” word) are possibly the most interesting feelings. It is almost like a weight has been taken off my mind and shoulders. I feel lighter and like my mind has more space to do interesting things, not just drown out the background noise of looking for work.

The short of it all is that I am celebrating the blessing work and eager to see what the future holds!

State of the life

Friday the 10 was my last day of work. It is sad to be leaving a company that is full of amazing and dedicated people. I have had the honor to work on a project that is focused on improving the way medical research and administration is done. I wish them all the best of luck as they go forward. It was a joy to receive positive affirmation of my graphic design skills and to prove that this was an area I can and should pursue.

Alas I am back on the job hunt. Although this time seems like it’s a better time to be looking. I’m finding more opportunities that are in my strenghts and more that look like they fit my experience level too. So overall I’m feeling much more more excited about new opportunities to learn more and to get more experience.

This is not easy, but it’s not like it was before. I’m keeping my chin up and eyes on the goal! I’m gonna strive for the future I want to live in!

A Moment of Self Reflection to Start the New Year

On, December 29, Shane gave a practical example to thoughts and feelings I’ve been having. The example he used is the “Marshmallow Test” or “Marshmallow Challenge”. The basic premise is you tell a child, “Here is a marshmallow for you. You can eat it now, or you can wait and when I come back I’ll give you a second one.” The test is to see how well your child has self control, can they defer reward in the short term for a greater reward later.

Here’s an example of the test

Looking back at myself, I would have passed that test like a boss. But here’s the weird bit, I would have passed that test so hard I would have ended up failing it. I realize that’s a very confusing statement. Consider, the point of the test is to forgo a small reward now for a bigger reward later. For me I’d forgo the smaller reward and then forget that there was a reward. So ultimately I would fail the test. I’d have excellent self control, but nothing to show for it. Thus the self control is almost self punishment.

This how things were for … well for quite some time. But I’m pleased to say that this has been an area of growth! I am now gathering more of the rewards that come from forgoing near rewards. And interestingly enough some of that is actually getting more of the shorter term rewards. One example is my recent phone upgrade. I have gone from a Razr v3 to an iPhone 5s – yes that is quite a jump, from 2008 to 2013. Part of the delay was my rocky relationship with employment over the last few years. And some of it is the inevitable analysis paralysis that comes from having to make a relativity large decision with lots of variables and many good choices. But if I’m really honest with myself the decision was made several years ago when I got my first and the first iPhone. I ain’t about to knock any of the other good choices, just saying for me, I was already committed.

But why wait so long? Well, there’s a weird level of perfectionism but more than anything else it was a misguided belief that there’d be an even better marshmallow later. This is a fallacy and while yes, technology and life move forward and continue to improve, that won’t mean this awesome thing you have now is any less awesome. It just might not be the newest version. But me, I’d hem and haw, look at the other awesome choices, consider, re-consider, second guess the re-consideration, second guess the second guessing, get fed up with the whole affair and push it off to tomorrow, and then repeat. This is a somewhat destructive version of self control. There’s a thing you want, you have the means to achieve it, there is the opportunity to achieve it, and yet you still don’t have it. I’ve learned that when enough pieces line up, puting it off isn’t really a good thing. As someone smarter than I has said, “That thing you want to do, that you love. Go do it.” Sorta like following your bliss but less hippie-dippie.

There is reward in doing the thing/getting the thing that you want. Sometimes the doing of it is even more enjoyable than the getting. If you never do, you can never receive. So action and choice are vital to being rewarded.

A thought about heaven

My wife came back from a beautiful vacation to Hawai’i with her mother. One of the things she values most is spending time with family, and this encouraged my brain into an interesting thought path about heaven.

Perhaps, heaven will be all of us sitting around telling our stories; talking about the things we valued, the memories we treasure.