Another quick update

For various reasons, this has to be a quick entry. (Well, quick as I can usually make things — which, when unedited, is not very.) Most of this is related to health; I went to the doctor for a general physical for the first time in [embarrassed mumble] years, and the doctor has been vague about the results, which of course means I am catastrophizing in my mind. Paired with a couple of other emotional blowouts, this whole week has been a wash in terms of me trying to think of anything at all, whether to write about for a blog entry or to write about in general.

(Also: seasonal allergies. They’ve been pretty bad this past week.)

I’ve been trying hard, mostly, to get myself back into the habit of things. I’ve had multiple friends tell me that they’ve always seen me as a person of routine, which honestly I’m pretty glad for. It’s not like I can see how this could be bad for someone who craves adventure and excitement and lots of upheaval, but I’m not that person. I was very aptly named. Terra likes to put down her roots and follow patterns for good habits.

Or at least, I do most of the time. I’ve been pretty bad about it for longer than I care to admit. Some of it is in reaction to bad political climate and trying hard to stay involved without being so involved it wrecks me, some of it is the weather, and some of it is just, I think, sheer human laziness. You get used to a routine, then you think you can give yourself some slack, and then suddenly it’s ALL slack, no discipline.

And there is a part of me that does feel like, I should be allowed to do what I want (within reason, of course) with my life! Let me eat whatever I want, sleep when I want, and enjoy my free time away from my deskjob how I see fit!

But the sad truth is, if I do give in and just indulge in that, I end up feeling pretty bad. It’s not just mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds, or eating that second slice of pie — it’s the fact that I fall down on other habits that I feel make me a better and happier person. Going to bed at a regular time, even if it’s earlier than Teenaged Me ever enjoyed, or eating a lighter breakfast, or keeping up with my hobbies in an orderly fashion, rather than being scattered all over the place. My writing has slowed, and even my other hobbies are slower than I’d like. It feels silly because I have plenty of time after work, even accounting for daily chores, but it also feels like I’ve been in a pretty slow holding pattern.

My hope is that with the better weather (pollen and other allergens aside), I can take advantage of it to accomplish more things. I’ve never thought of myself as someone affected by SAD, but the longer I live up here in the Pacific Northwest, the more I suspect that even if I don’t get outright depressed, I DO feel a lot less energetic and willing to put in effort.

So that’s the goal going forward: to get back into the good routine habits, and to try and get those established by the time winter rolls around again, so that they’re at least ingrained. Cut out soda almost entirely (once in a while I hope is fine, but not as much as I have been), eat smaller portions, and generally be active more. With all that, hopefully I can pull back on health scares, and actually keep myself as a more balanced person.

(Of course, I anticipate it won’t go perfectly. I am certain there will be setbacks; mostly I hope that I can get myself back into the routine enough that I can have an easier time swinging back into it. I’m old enough that a lot of my bad habits are set, but hopefully young enough that changing them will work, even if it takes time and effort.)

And hopefully NEXT week, I can actually get back to less general rambling and more talking about fiction. I’ve been reading again lately! I’ve been looking at open submissions and thinking about my options! That’s even with all the other craft stuff I’ve been working on, so hopefully this is all a change for the better.

Onto next week!

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Another weekly catchup

So, in true vacation style, I only got a few of the things done that I meant to. In review, I’d say it was about 50% successful in terms of “getting non-dayjob stuff done at all.”

I managed to write every day! Which is pretty difficult when you’ve set up shop in the busiest spot of the house and your parents are eager to see and talk to you after having not seen you for a year. It wasn’t as much writing as I’d like (just my bare minimum per day, most days), and some of it was just trying to write an outline for another story, but I’ll take those as victories regardless.

However, I did get some progress done on bead and craft-related things, much to my mother’s amazement. (“They’re so small,” she said, as she watched me. “How can you tell where the holes are?”) I had to work with a limited palette, since there’s no way I could — or would even want to — cart my entire collection down for a weeklong trip, but I got a couple of pieces done. We also discovered a nice little store about 20 minutes away from where my parents live, with some incredibly good deals (I’m amazed at what I came away with), so that felt pretty good. Beadwork is something I can do while listening to podcasts or audio books, so it’s much easier for multitasking during a conversation.

And there were a lot of those. There’s nothing really like coming back to stay with your parents for a short while, after you’ve been away for a year. I could definitely see a lot of my worst habits reflected in them; I can only hope I have some better ones available as well. But that’s probably a topic for another day.

Coming home to Seattle didn’t really help much either, in terms of being a productive person. Friday I mostly spent trying to do small errands and recover from 6 solid hours of travel, and also comforting my cat, who spent half the day being aloof and annoyed, and the other half glued to me. I didn’t even cook! We delivered a care package to a friend and then went out to eat, and I have to admit, I enjoyed having that day to unwind. (I did do my writing to the bare minimum that day as well, as I worked on the writer’s reading edit for something that has been long finished.)

And then Saturday, yesterday, we had a cat health scare in the morning. My roommates had bought some flowers to celebrate my homecoming, because the cat had shown absolutely no interest in any other displays we’d had in the house… and then, Saturday morning, we catch him chewing on a plant that looks an awful lot like lilies.

Which of course are incredibly toxic to cats. The articles I found suggest that if they were day lilies (like we’d suspected), he would very likely be dead within a day or so.

So cue a flurry of phone calls to the local emergency vet (thankfully only a few blocks away, though all uphill) to rush him in. I signed papers and agreed to let them induce vomiting if they needed to, and then… the tech came out and assured me that they weren’t lilies, but a lookalike cousin. I started crying a little at that point, paid the bill (hooray for unexpected bills!) and then took him home. Other than being annoyed and yelling at us for it, he’s no worse for the wear.

I spent most of the day after that alternating between trying to focus on any sort of creative project and fussing over him. He enjoyed the attention up until the point he decided to sleep in the closet instead.

Then in the evening, we went to see Hamilton. Which I might write about later, because for all that it’s a fictionalized presentation of real historical events, and we’re in such tumultuous times in the USA right now… it was still an amazing performance, and it gave me a lot to think about in terms of the staging and the choreography; I loved how the set itself never super changed, just the pieces being utilized, the lighting (and colors of lighting), and the props. I already want to see it again, though the shows are sold out here for the rest of its run (and I mean, rightly so).

But now that I’m back in my proper city, in my adult home, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things — more writing again, walking more, and otherwise trying to handle myself and things better. The weather’s getting nicer! I still have a lot of plans and ambitions!

And hopefully next week, I can start blogging about stuff that isn’t just mundane weekly catchup, haha.

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Home again, home again

You can, in fact, go home again.

(That’s where I am right now, in fact: my parents’ home, my childhood home, on the other side of the country from my usual home. My parents and I agreed a long time ago that trying to arrange traveling during the actual holidays was too much of a pain; and given that they live in Texas, it’s preferable for us to avoid the summer months, of which there are many.)

I only do this once a year, and every year, there are so many things that are the same — the old Walgreens that’s been there as long as I can remember, my favorite local-only sandwich chain, the wide streets that are still so cramped because of the constant, unending construction. The redbrick exterior of my childhood home looks untouched: there are some cosmetic changes to the yard, reflecting my mother’s whims with her gardening projects, but outside it looks exactly the same.

Inside, it’s a little different.

My parents are older and it’s showing; they’ve made updates and changes to the interior to reflect some of that. A year and a half ago, they ripped up all the carpet that’s been in this house since it was made (nearly 30 years ago, whoosh) and replaced it all with hardwood. They installed a new sound system and remodeled their kitchen to update everything. My bedroom is stripped of a lot of what I left behind — there’s a handful of my old books, a couple of stickers I slapped onto the walls when I was 6, and a handful of clothes in the closet.

Even with all of that, the house still looks the same. Every time I walk in, it’s not like walking into a stranger’s home; I know where everything is. I know where Dad keeps the giant baggy of free toothbrushes accumulated from dentist visits; I know where Mom keeps the spare trash bags. I know how life goes in this house, where my parents live in their retirement, where I grew up.

But it also doesn’t really feel like “my home” in the same way. It is, but it isn’t. It’s a lot of house for two people — to be honest, it was a lot for three people, when I was growing up — but my parents have held on for various reasons. Initially, Mom wanted me to have a familiar place to come home to, when I was back from college. Then it became about the garden (it might have always, in some ways, been at least partly about the garden). Mom’s put so much work and money into it over the years, and it shows. It’s practically a sibling to me, in some ways. I know where the little walkways are, where she has the vegetables versus the flowering fruit trees; I know where the little stone Buddha is set and where she’s planted her roses.

I know where everything is; this is still a home to me, even if it is not my home anymore. There are spaces here for me, but they’re the ones left for me, whether by time, familiarity, or a deliberate attempt on my parents’ part.

(I love my parents, but by now it is quite apparent we’re very different in our tastes and preferences in life. I get a lot of the very bemused, “we support you but we don’t understand why you make your choices, and because we don’t understand we’ll be inadvertently pretty insensitive sometimes about the matter.”)

These are not spaces I made for myself. This isn’t the home where I choose to live. Austin is not “my” city, in the same way Seattle is; I’m not familiar with its roads and layouts. I barely know what downtown looks like, because my parents live out in the suburbs. I grew up detached from the city, even as I was considered part of it. People are friendly, but also do things like openly speculate about my race to my face like it’s any of their business, or speak to me slowly and over-enunciated, like they expect me to not understand what they’re saying. Walking through the airport, I am one of maybe ten Asian people period.

That’s not necessarily a fault of the city. People live where they live, whether by circumstance or choice, and Austin has been good to and for my parents, who continue to live comfortably in the home that they built.

But for me, I can go home again, but it’s not really home in some ways. I don’t live here, I just visit.

(For one thing, it’s actually pretty hard to get anything done, because my parents keep hovering even when I’m trying to focus and get things done and talking to/at me. I haven’t even been here for 24 hours and Dad’s made me watch 4 trailers and Mom keeps asking me about what I want to eat as soon as I’ve finished eating. Parents.

Wish me luck in making it through this week without getting into at least one fight.)

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Characterization serendipity

While chatting with my roommates last week, we ended up discussing the idea of character serendipity — which we defined as that moment when a character (or characters) in a story have a consistent and interesting arc and personality, and even if the worldbuilding and plot don’t live up to their promises, the(se) character(s) “reward” someone looking with a great and memorable personality. These are the characters that stick with you even if everything about their greater narrative is forgettable.

And obviously, everyone has a different set of standards for what makes a character memorable and what makes a story forgettable. That’s why serendipity, because it’s all chance and circumstance in the end. I have a friend who’s into strong, tough fighters with buried trauma and a soft spot for a chosen few… and bonus points if they’re missing (or lose) an eye or an arm. It actually happens more than you’d think.*

* The whole losing eyes and/or limbs thing seems to be more prevalent in Japanese media than US media, but we did watch Thor: Ragnarok last night, and there was definitely a point near the end where I laughed inappropriately due to a certain turn of events.

In our conversation, one of my roommates called making this happen partially instinct, which I liked and agreed with as a phrasing. It’s that sense that comes from our experiences with ourselves and others in our lives, and from other characters we’ve seen with story conclusions that have made meaningful sense to us as an audience. One develops a certain sense of what are “realistic” or “understandable” directions for a character to progress.

Again, everyone has a different idea of what makes a good or compelling character. There’s a whole battalion of female characters in big-name franchises who have suffered because their male writers felt that taking their arcs in a certain direction was right, only to create an awkward teenage-boy fantasy to be put into her place. I’ve seen a similar argument made about women writing m/m fiction. There is plenty of discourse on the subject, and I’d rather leave most of that to the people who’ve done their proper research.

The point is that most everyone does have a certain “feel” for how character arcs should go, or how pieces fit together. Writers make their careers, paid or otherwise, in refining that instinct for sharing; it’s their responsibility, so to speak, to keep a consistent traceable characterization throughout the course of a story. And as a writer, I’ve always tried my hardest to do that. Of course my success is variable, because there’s no such thing as a perfect writer or story, but I have at least tried to stay consistently true to the story I am trying to write.

On the flip side, as a reader, it can be quite rewarding to see a character have a nicely-released and fully fleshed out arc that comes together without needing explicit explanation. And for me, at least, a character with their own strong story can bolster or even outright save their larger framing canon.

I’ve definitely fallen prey to overthinking it, too, on both sides of the process. One of my worst habits as a writer is to have something so solidified in my head alone that I forget it hasn’t been translated, even subtly, to actual words. If a character’s arc is a mystery explained by their story, then it doesn’t help to leave out any of the key clues. And as a reader, I’ve definitely grabbed onto little throwaway bits and comments in order to justify why I would characterize someone the way that I do. Of course the character snapped, look at these scattershot hints here and here. Of course they’re in love, look at how they treat each other in this one particular scene. It’s the serendipity of the moment.

Sometimes that’s embarrassing (honestly it’s more when I do it on the writer’s side, and then my girlfriend has to gently remind me that people cannot, in fact, read my mind), but sometimes, it’s just fun. I’m not one for devil’s advocacy a lot of the time, but having a conversation (or two, or many) with someone who either is likeminded or at least open to the ideas you present can get a lot of fun conversation mileage. Why did this bright-eyed idealistic young man fall so hard and fast, but still manage to claw his way back to balanced sanity? Did this character who seemingly died as a villain actually have some sense of her sanity back before the end?

Maybe they’re not things explicitly explained within the context of the series itself, but as far as speculation goes, I am all for it.

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Productivity recalibration

Phew, what a week!

I slacked off, writing-wise, for most of this week. Partly because I had a belated Valentine’s Day date (we went out on Friday instead of Wednesday), but also because I was involved with some stuff with the dayjob that I am both very hopeful and very cynical about. That took a whole of time and mental energy, and it remains to be seen how well that will all come to pass. I have my last pass of reviews to do for Forward the Hunt before it comes out on February 28th (if you preorder, there’s a discount!), but to be honest, I’ve been in such a tizzy over the dayjob stuff that I’ve neglected this.

I’ve still got a few days, though, so I’m not too worried.

We also had a minor scare about the cat’s health, since he stopped eating for a couple of days, but he’s since bounced back into demanding his meals about half an hour before the scheduled time. Even if it’s irritating when I want to sleep in on a weekend morning, I’m grateful that he’s feeling better.

So between all that, trying to teach myself how to properly use my new camera, and trying to both keep up with the news and not go insane with despair over things, it’s been a very productive week! Just not for writing. Technically I did have the raw time for it throughout the week, but I spent most of that decompressing by reading new things and watching art process videos. And I’ve definitely felt bad for this “slacking,” though perhaps not as badly as I “should,” or normally would.

After the slowburn disaster that was my productivity last year, the worry about “not being productive enough” has definitely weighed on me. I’ve talked about it before, but I still both envy and admire the people who managed to continue maintaining a steady output throughout 2017. The idea seems foreign to me. Even now, I’m definitely not back to my own personal height of productivity. After all, the world remains in a terrifyingly uncertain state; I might not be obsessively picking at the anxiety like a scab, but it lingers. The awareness remains that we live in those proverbial interesting times.

But I’ve been trying to forgive myself more if I’m not on the ball with all things at all times. My girlfriend has been pretty key in helping with this; even if she can’t change the world at large (unless there’s some really big secrets she’s keeping from me), she remains a steadfast and practical bastion of support. So I am trying to give myself passes — not so much that they become constant, consistent excuses, but enough that a week with plenty of outside influences and circumstances can take precedence over just being a steady stream of output.

I do this, and sometimes it’s more effective than others. But this has definitely been a week of letting myself roll with those punches. While I still wish I could balance things better, one of my ongoing goals is to work on not blaming myself for being human. Balancing priorities happens.

Some of it feels genuinely difficult because I am not a “fast” writer, at least not by my own standards. On a very good day, when everything perfectly falls into place, I can write about 5000 words in three hours. And I know that’s nothing to complain about, but getting everything to fall into perfect alignment is more serendipity than anything I can control. Most days, I make it to a standard 750 words or so in an hour (give or take distractions both legitimate and lazy), and call it good. Writing a short piece of story every day has helped, but not I’m still envious of people who can make more of their time when they have it.

…On the other hand, one thing I’ve heard over and over is that everyone writes at their own pace. Someone writing 300 words in a day can be just as, if not more, impressive than someone else’s 3000, depending on how they write and their circumstances. It’s one of those things where applying that logic to others is a lot easier than applying it to oneself. At least I am still feeling more positive than last year!

With this upcoming week, I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing. I’m still trying to work with and learn more things to eventually get an etsy shop rolling, but I’d like very much to get working more on the writing goals I have for 2018. Or maybe it’ll continue to be a week where I have more input than output; at this point, I honestly can’t predict.

Either way, fingers crossed it’ll be a good one (and that I’ll hear good news sometime next week!).

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Romantic tropes (to name a few)

If the timing could have been worked out, I would do a post on Valentine’s Day itself to talk about romantic tropes that I enjoy in fiction, both in reading and writing. But I’m trying to keep this blog on a regular Sunday schedule for my own sake more than anything else, and the belated date day my partner and I had set up had to be postponed due to an interview. Certainly we COULD still go on the 14th itself, but we’re old ladies who don’t like dealing with the throngs that are certainly going to be present.

And since Valentine’s Day falls on Wednesday this year, right smack dab in the middle of the week, if I wanted to talk about romantic tropes (spoilers: I do), doing it the Sunday before or the Sunday after doesn’t change things up much.

So since next Sunday I’ll probably be a decompressing mess after my interview, now’s a good time. I’m absolutely not going to cover everything here; I (like most people, probably?) have a lot that I enjoy to varying degrees, and what I remember immediately isn’t really indicative of favoritism or lack thereof. There’ve been plenty of times where I try to make a list, only to come back later — as soon as minutes, as late as months — to be like oh! Why didn’t I remember [x]?! Jeeze!

Therefore I’ll just stick with three. Again, not necessarily my top three, but three that I could talk about, and three that have come to mind while I’m writing this post.

1. Loyalty(/dedication), sometimes to the point of obsession.

This is one of those things that I always feel I have to caveat — of course in real life, between actual people in a relationship, while loyalty is important, there is a certain point where it goes too far. I have had friends stuck in relationships where there’s too much blind acceptance going on, where everyone BUT the person involved can see how toxic the situation has become, and yet that person refuses to hear anything wrong about their partner. As far as a thing that happens to real people, this is one that I’d take with a grain of salt.

But in fiction, where there is the freedom to explore and dig in deep without hurting real people*, I love it. My favorite characters tend to be the ones who are faithful — devoted — sometimes to the point of their own personal detriment. These are the people who wholeheartedly commit themselves to a person, ideal, or position. Maybe they suffer for it, and certainly some of them are punished for it, but ultimately (because we ARE talking about this in a romantic context), they are rewarded.

(* Of course, I also feel I should disclaim that I know sometimes fiction can hurt people. Maybe it’s intentional; maybe it’s not. But I would still argue that overall, fiction is meant to be exploratory, not weaponized. That’s something to discuss another day.)

I like characters who are intensely, incredibly in love with something or someone. It’s one of those things that I can point to in a variety of media and say yes, this character, that’s one I like.

2. Mutual understanding

This one is surely straightforward enough, though — to tie it into point #1 — I do like it when the audience isn’t immediately aware of this, either. And again, there is a fine line between a relationship where it’s mutually destructive and unhealthy and disastrous, and a relationship where the people involved understand each other and don’t need to justify that connection to others… even if “others” in this case is the audience.

Obviously this works better if the balance between the characters is made more apparent in the text. It doesn’t need to be blatantly spelled out, but if the context clues are there, such that a reader (or viewer; I’m not limiting to just written media here) can pick up and put together. Maybe the ice-cold closed-off director treats everyone with apparent disdain, but always checks on his right-hand man first in times of trouble, to make sure he’s okay — or he relaxes some of his posture around this person, even if only a little, in private.

And yeah, that does smack up against veering into “staying with your abuser” territory, which is awful. At the same time, I think that a skilled writer can pull it off — and sometimes one just serendipitously creates a relationship that works out. But when it does work, I have to say, I am honestly all for it.

3. Domesticity

Maybe it’s because I’m a homebody myself. Given the choice, I prefer to stay home rather than go out. Restaurants over bars, home over restaurants. (Especially living in a big city, where the delivery options are plentiful and varied.) But I want to see characters interacting the way they would if plot weren’t happening. I want moments that aren’t fueled by high octane circumstances, internal or external.

If a relationship can only exist in times of strife, where there are forces propelling the relationship, then that’s honestly not a relationship I want to read much about. I want to believe that characters can have quieter moments together — even if it’s not something that I personally would do, I want to see how they’d come together afterwards. I want to see signs that these characters can stick it out and last even when their main story is over. It doesn’t have to be intense — rather, I’d like to see the defusing of that tension, instead.

But when all is said and done, these are only three of many romantic tropes I enjoy in the fiction I pick up, and neither of these are a make or break scenario, either. I’m not going to be upset if you don’t have characters who have intense loyalty as a defining trait; I’m not going to disbelieve in a set of characters forming a lasting relationship if I never get to see them in those softer moments.

I hope that people who are planning on celebrating Valentine’s Day, whether with romantic partners, friends, or taking advantage of chocolate says, have a good and fun one! But let’s be honest, Wednesday is the midpoint of the week for most of us in office jobs, so maybe that’s cause for celebration in and of itself.

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Blowing Bubbles

Here’s a series of convoluted thoughts for you: commentary about Seattle weather led me to thinking about how social bubbles are so, so easy to fall into.

The weather for the past week has been gray and overcast when it isn’t raining. Not hard, nor intense, but it’s definitely wet out there. And yesterday, on an errands-and-shopping outing with my girlfriend, I heard another girl exclaim to her companion, “this is just so Seattle!”

But to me, in my perception, Seattle isn’t nearly as rainy or gray as it gets portrayed. It does have a lot of overcast days, but it’s not all the time. It’s not eternal, like some stories would have you believe. (In fact, as I’m writing this post, the sun has come out for the first time in a week, and everything is beautiful and golden outside my window.) So I boggled a little at the idea that someone would think that.

And that puts me in a minority, I think: my own little bubble, floating along until it bumps up against another. It’s not a bubble I consciously put myself in, but here I am, as easy as breathing.

This isn’t really a new or groundbreaking statement, but it’s one that I periodically find myself reminded of all over the place. The internet especially makes things a lot tighter and a lot looser; you find people all over the world who share your opinions to form an echo chamber, or else you find yourself smacked in the face by dissenting voices when you expected to find a neutral opinion, if not outright agreement. Of course politically this is a big thing in the United States right now, but even on the everyday mundane level, I’ve run into this a lot.

And it does make sense on that social level, too. You find likeminded people through a shared interest and you stick to them. Some people trickle out, but others flow in, and a bubble grows as you share similar opinions and find new media to consume together. At this point in my online life, I think Meredith is the person I’ve known the longest — we’re talking almost 20 years at this point. (Wow.)

You get to know people, and they get to know you, and a community grows around familiar opinions and thoughts. And like any community, outliers exist, but those get ignored, reconciled, or else they move on. Sometimes your bubble bumps up against a different one, and there’s a clash. You’re reminded that even though “everyone” you know has similar (or at least compatible) opinions to you, the world is much, much larger than what you’re accustomed to.

Sometimes this makes a community difficult to break into. If only social bubbles were as easy to break into as real bubbles!

I’ve definitely run into that trouble. And certainly a lot of the blame is on me, because I am often shy and awkward. It’s easy for me to say my pieces in my own space, like this blog, or on plurk, which is my personal social media network. In areas where I am trying to cultivate connections with new communities (like Twitter, which I have been exceedingly bad at keeping up with), I end up stumbling and faltering.

And I think part of that is intersectionality coming to play: obviously, a lot of people who write and read(/consume) queer media are interested and concerned with queer issues. That is 1000% legit and I don’t mean to imply that this shouldn’t be important. But for me, who identifies more with my heritage (Korean-American) and my favorite activities (writing and crafts), and then as being bisexual — as someone who gets more excited to see a Korean person in media rather than a queer one (which I should stress, I’m not not excited to see the latter, just more for the former), it’s difficult to figure out a way to connect with the people I would like to get to know.

It’s just easier, ultimately, for me to be able to say, “hey, so, the new episode/chapter of [series], wasn’t it great?” That’s me as a person.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year about being more social outside of my comfort zones and usual circle. I did decide I wanted to be a better friend to the people already within my bubble, because I do think I fell down on that over the course of last year. But maybe, if February isn’t too late to revise these things, I should try to be more open to trying to meet new people, too.

(Though not right away. Small steps first. There’s still a lot of year left.)

Also eyyyy friends, a final last shilling note that I have a new novel coming out at the end of this month! It has dragons and one of my very favorite protagonists I’ve written, so I hope you’ll at check it out! (ノ´ヮ´)ノ*:・゚✧

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January Retrospective, February Prospective

2018 is (almost) one month down! Good job everyone, we’ve made it this far.

(Or, I mean, I’ve done my best to muddle through. This has been a month of a lot of ups and downs, though at least nothing on a dramatic or troubling scale.)

And because we’ve hit the end of the month, I’m going to try and use this time to assess how well I’ve been doing with my resolutions thus far, as well as look ahead to what my February plans are. It’s almost like housekeeping, though honestly I have an easier time with this sort than the actual act of trying to keep my home tidy. That’s also something we’re trying to work on as a household, but I’ll get to that.

I’m more of an organizer than a cleaner, so if allowed, I’ll let myself categorize and compartmentalize things to ridiculous degrees. In order to cut down on that for the sake of these posts, I’m sticking to four major categories: personal (my own health and mundane everyday), financial (whether or not I’m keeping to my budget), writing, and my journey to an Etsy shop.

So with that in mind! The January retrospective and February prospective!


Seattle implemented a sugar tax starting this month, and honestly I’m glad for that. I like soda, but I’m trying really hard to keep off the wagon for that, and make it more of an occasional thing — something that I can have sometimes when I go out with friends, but not to the point of drinking it regularly, like I have been doing. I was getting better for a while, then kind of slipped back into very easily. But with the extra cost now (even if it’s not THAT much) as well as my finance goals, I’ve been getting back on the iced tea horse. And I like it a lot, it just ends up being extra work. But I can overcome! And I have been.

Other than that, my roommates and I have instituted a weekday “productivity time,” where we pick a few necessary daily tasks and spend the time doing that. Everyone does it, so it’s a sort of peer pressure thing. But honestly, I do need that push, so it’s been helpful for me.

Other than that, I’ve mostly focused on trying to get to bed at a reasonable point, so that I don’t drag myself around so much trying to get out of bed in the morning. That one’s still more of a work in progress.

So January has been mostly hits, and in February I will hope to continue on that same path. Not bad, overall!


Due to various reasons, my income was cut a bit this month — nothing bad, and not anything I can’t handle. My account is fine, and there’s no danger of me overdrawing or anything like that. It does mean that I am technically “over” budget, because I spent more than I earned… but given that this was an off month and I don’t actually foresee there being an issue with my income in following months, I’d say that I’d count this as a success. More than anything, I want to be more mindful of what I’m spending, with less frivolously buying things on a whim. It’s been an adjustment! But I’m in a comfortable position, and I want to be more grateful for that than trying to outlive my means.

February will be more of the same for that! In these first two categories, I’m not pushing terribly hard for dramatic changes. I’m satisfied where they are.


Oh boy. So, I have continued my habit of writing a short 1000-word story a week, and I actually compiled all of them into a post on this blog. I’m trying to utilize both my tubmlr and this blog more frequently, so my hope is that as 2018 goes on, I will be able to crosspost more, and actually keep up with maintaining posting these shorts here in their fully compiled form. You can find those here!

I also have submitted a new story to my publisher, Less Than Three Press. It’s one I’ve been sitting on since about June last year, one victim among many of my general downswing during that year. It’s a fairytale, naturally, though a bit more literally than before: the story of a girl whose prince is kidnapped on their wedding day, and her challenges versus the fairy that took him. I think it’s a fairly cute story, so fingers crossed that Less Than Three will think so as well!

Also in very exciting news, I have a new story coming out in February! I’ll be talking about that some next week. I’ve mentioned it here before, but we’re sliding in closer to release time and I am super excited.

I’ve also been looking into the Fantastic Beasts And Where To Fuck Them open call from Circlet. That one is… finished, but needs a read over from my usual beta before I send it out. I have until January 31st, so hopefully I’ll get that done in time! …But even if I don’t, I am hoping to tidy it up so I can post it here and to my tumblr. Even if I can’t manage it as a professionally submitted thing, I’d like to share it. I hope that either way, it’ll be a fun read for people!

January-wise, I managed to knock out a little bit of my yearly goals with the submission piece, so that’s pretty exciting! If I can get the Circlet submission done by Wednesday, that’s two out of six done! Which is incredibly promising to me, but even if I don’t get the Circlet piece down, that’s still one done. And I’m proud of that. A+ for myself.

For February, since it’s a shorter month, I’m a bit more at odds. I will obviously be continuing my weekly stories. Less Than Three currently has an open call for nonerotic stories of poly families which I would really like to take a shot at, though that deadline isn’t until the end of April. But if I want to do it and get it betaed and tidied up by then, I really should spend February working on that, outline and writing, so I’ll start working on that once the Circlet deadline passes.

Other than that, I have my finished-but-in-dire-need-of-reread stories to work on. My hope is to make some good progress on the one I’ve started; 10K words of reread at least, though who knows how much rewriting. It’ll be a bit of a crunch, but I do have some confidence that as long as I don’t goof off, I can easily hit that goal.

The Journey to Etsy

In the best news, after hearing about what I wanted to do, my mom offered to buy a camera for me! If I did the research and found a decent one in a reasonable price range. That was one of the things that I was waiting on, since I wanted to take better photos of what I’m making, and not just rely on my camera phone. (Not that it’s a bad camera by far, but I want something a little more professional than just those phone snaps.)

Other than that, I’ve got several bracelets ready to go, and am hoping to finish up a couple more by the end of the month. They’re all easy, but they do take time and concentration to keep up with their particular patterns. It’s been a very soothing way to spend my evenings.

And then yesterday, I spent some time experimenting with making paper flowers. I’ve honestly been very happy with the results, and the preliminary responses have been very positive. I do need to find a way to make these flowers waterproof (given that I live in Seattle — which is not as rainy as advertised, but still pretty damp — this feels like a must), though I’ve got a few ideas for that. That’ll also have to wait until February, though, when my budget refreshes.

To be honest, I’m really excited about all of this. I’m also incredibly nervous — the Etsy market is just as (if not more) competetive than the writing market, and I’m starting from scratch here. I’ve got a whole lot of imposter syndrome going on, but I’m also enjoying myself. So far I’m still determined to power through this, just maybe a little more shyly than usual. In February, I hope to get a couple more bracelets done as well as get my camera, so I can hopefully start an Instagram to share more of my work.

Overall, I feel pretty good about what I’ve gotten to do this month. With luck, February can be more of the same. Good luck myself! And good luck everyone else!

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2018 Weekly Stories: January

Spinning Dreams | Vanishing | Darkness | Salvation

Back in October 2017, I started writing one short story a week, 1000 words a week, and posting them in 200-word segments a day. I’ve been pretty bad about crossposting them from my tumblr, which is where they will continue to be posted daily, but I am resolved in 2018 and onward to be better about crossposting the whole things once a month. If you enjoyed any of these, please feel free to leave a comment! If you’d like to support me (for which I would be incredibly grateful), I have a Ko-Fi account.

But either way, I hope you enjoy!

Continue reading

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Anywhere but here (and back again)

The other day, a friend asked what one’s favorite and least favorite setting tropes in fiction. Just casually, the way one does on social media.

And to be honest, that’s not something I think about very often or hard — when it comes to media I want to consume, it’s a lot easier for me to get drawn in by character and plot tropes instead. Tell me that there’s a pair with unhealthy loyalty issues that they are either addressing or running away with, or about the closed-off character that is reluctantly learning to connect and make friends, and I’ll be there. Drop a hint that there will be villain families or a mystery involving supernatural aspects, and I’m definitely going to be listening. I have dozens of pings (some of which I don’t really think about until they pop up) when it comes to characters and plotlines.

But settings? I rarely think specifically about “I want to read something that’s set in a specific location.” When she asked the question, my first thought boiled down to, “anywhere but here.”

My secret, inasmuch as it is one, is that I’m not a fan of contemporary settings.

Of course there are definitely exceptions! I’ve definitely consumed media that takes place in “our” world with nothing strange or supernatural to it, and enjoyed myself. I won’t dismiss something immediately out of the gate just because it’s contemporary fiction… but I will be less enthusiastic about it. I always want something a little more, something that’s not going to be familiar except through the writer’s ability to convey that comfortable feeling. Contemporary paranormal stories are closer to my preference, because I enjoy that extra element. How does a werewolf handle a dayjob while juggling the full moon? How, if at all, have the fae adapted to this modern world of iron and steel? Do these otherwoldly creatures coexist amongst mundane humanity, or alongside it, a step away without everyday direct interaction? Things like that.

And maybe some of that is just how I, personally, interact with the world. I have a busy and involved social life, but it involves hanging out at apartments and homes or going out to eat. I’m content with my everyday life, but it isn’t anything I’d brag about as exciting or dramatic; it’s a nice sort of story to live, but not really one I feel compelled to write about.

When it comes to consuming media, I prefer an extra element of escapism. I like a world that has taken a couple of steps away from my normal, where parallels definitely exist, but I couldn’t namedrop a city like Seattle and have the characters know anything about it. I want to see a different society exist in the worlds of someone else’s story, whether it’s humans that have built themselves a different world, humans living aside some sort of supernatural or alient one, or a story set completely within a nonhuman society.

None of these things really fit into the idea of a “contemporary” story, as far as I’ve ever experienced. There’s nothing I think is inherently wrong with the subgenre, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my preferences; it really is just solely a case of different tastes.

Within my own writing, I never think about setting first. Instead, I start with the characters. Usually it’s the one who becomes the narrator and their partner, with the rest of the cast built from there. And often by developing the main characters I can figure out the plot (which may or may not be directly tied to the conflict between the characters; I’d consider myself foremost a romance writer, after all). Sometimes that’s easier than not; Simon’s Cat is explicitly a retelling of Puss in Boots, so that was done “for” me, as it were.

Everything else, though, tends to move in an outwards spiral. Only once I have those down do I start building the world around the characters. Ravenhearth began because I was turning around the idea of “Beauty and the Beast meets Bluebeard.” And while the final story didn’t quite follow that (though I think it came close), that was the seed that I build the rest of the story around. And since then, the world itself has stuck in my mind; I know exactly what caused the miasma and the events that led up to that, as well as some of the immediate fallout when that occurred. I’d like very much to go back to that world someday, when I’ve got more concrete ideas in mind.

In the end, to answer my friend’s question, I did say “anything but contemporary” as my least favorite (though I didn’t really have a favorite to mention, either). But I’ve been mulling over that ever since; even if the answer itself is straightforward, I’m not sure how satisfied I am with it.

With 2018 being the year I want to try stretching myself further, I do think that I’d like to at least try branching out into this genre I have such little experience with. Both in consuming media and in writing, I do think it’d be fun to try.

(And of course, if anyone has recommendations for the media, I’d be happy to hear them. °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°)

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The keyword is try

So far (knock on wood!) my resolution to write more in 2018 has been holding up!

“It’s only been two weeks,” you might say, but considering how poorly 2017 as a whole went, I’ll take it. There have still been hiccups — getting sick for five straight days over last weekend notably — but I’m still doing my best. I no longer sound like a series of tortured cracks and squeaks when I try to talk, for which I’m glad. In the deepest throws of my sickness self-pity I did wonder if I’d ever get over that. My worst melodramatic tendencies come out when I’m physically ill. Thank goodness for my very patient girlfriend coaxing me to remember that not everything in our lives is doom and disaster and yes, the coughing and sore throat and headaches will eventually go away.

This week, to celebrate feeling better, I started working on a submission for Circlet’s “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Fuck Them” open call. A friend of mine linked me a while back and I do enjoy some mythical monsters, though this means trying something completely different for me. Once upon a time 10,000 words seemed like a very long story; now I need to do my best to keep within 7,000 without leaving anything out. That part I feel a little shaky on, but I am enjoying my characters quite a lot. They’re kind of throwbacks to one of my most beloved old fandoms in terms of what they are (a human and a supernatural being, a cynic and a performative optimist, a soldier and a writer), but they’re still uniquely themselves. I’ve been working on figuring out character quirks and voices as I slowly shake off the fog of sickness, and it just feels good. While a lot of 2017’s fatalistic ennui still feels like it’s weighing on me, I’m finally feeling good about writing again, and I can’t help but be happy for that. It’s only been two weeks, but whatever! I want to believe this is a good sign.

Honestly, I’m both excited and nervous about this whole process. This will be the first thing I’ve worked on for submission in over a year at this point; a lot of what I worked on last year was almost strictly all editing, both for a story already accepted and for two separate stories I would like to submit to Less Than Three. One of these has a lot left to work out (including some pretty serious rewrites later on in the guts of the story itself), but one of them is pretty much ready. I just need to format it and do the actual submission… which to be honest, is the hardest part for me. But I’ve got this short story rolling to, as a brand new thing to a publisher I’ve never worked with before. It’s scary! But I want to at least try, because I am nothing if extremely good at kneecapping myself for opportunities.*

(* I have also decided, however, in the event that the story does not get picked up, I will still post it here on the blog. As it stands, it might not fit the anthology’s call or the editor’s specific preferences, but as far as the story and characters are thus far — the piece is only about half-finished at this point — I’m very fond of it. One way or another, I’d like to share it. Either way, I hope that people will enjoy it!)

I haven’t forgotten my other writing resolutions, either. Three pieces specifically to Less Than Three, three pieces for self-pub, and then whatever other things I can write in between. I don’t think this is an impossible thing for me to do, either. I’ve got some things I need and want to follow up on that I let slide last year — maybe I’ll need to restart the process, but at least I want to be able to give things a shot.

Ideally this year can make up for last year in terms of productivity. Maybe that’s too big of an expectation to set for myself, but I’m hoping to ride this positivity wave as long and far as I can. I want to actually try this year, and maybe I’ll only make it so far. I don’t know yet. I can’t know yet! But if I can bounce back from being pretty unpleasantly sick to optimism, then my superstitious self wants to take that as an indicator for the year to come.

In the meantime, I decided to take a few steps about some other things. I juggled my finances (and I’ve been sticking to my budget strongly, of which I am very proud — it’s difficult, when you live in a bustling city and you and your best friends live together and like going out for food), I’ve got a couple of commissions done, and I went ahead and signed up for a Ko-Fi. I have no idea how successful this will be, or how noticed, but like so many things whirling through my head right now — I wanted to give it a try. So if you can, or if you’re willing, please consider clicking and helping me out.

Buy Me a Coffee at

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All my best laid plans

Nothing like getting sick to completely knock you down off your resolution high horse, huh?

To be honest, it’s only knocked me off two days so far — I woke up Friday with the ticklings of a sore throat, which progressed by the time I got off work to full-fledged pain. I ended up going to bed at 9pm and sleeping (almost) straight through to 8:30am. There were a couple of unfortunate incidents, like when the cat begin to hurk up right next to my head and I woke up enough to blindly shove him away, or when I got way too warm to stay asleep, and the unpleasant, persistent reality of my sore throat.

At least by this point in my life, I know how to handle them. Sore throats used to happen like clockwork in my childhood: anytime the weather fluctated more than 5 degrees, there I went. So I did spend most of Saturday resting, dosing myself with EmergenC, hot tea, and the occasional warm saltwater gargle (which let me tell you, is disgusting, but it does help with the pain). I had enough other symptoms of a cold (bodyaches, oversensitive skin, and a persistent lingering headache) that I did in fact spend most of my day in bed sleeping.

And I ended up having to cheat some on my writing for that day, in that I just sort of rambled incoherently until I hit my daily minimum and called that good.

Friday didn’t fair much better, though I did at least spend my time writing out a plan for my weekend… a plan that didn’t at all come to fruition with the onset of sickness. Oh, well. On the one hand, I’m annoyed that it took me less than a full week into the new year to fall down on my resolutions; on the other, one of the things I promised myself was that I wouldn’t tear myself apart over things that were outside of my control. It’s not like I wanted to get sick; I’m still unsure whether I’ll call in to my dayjob tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to the tedium that comes from being too sick to have energy and focus, but too healthy to be able to just sleep in three-hour chunks at a time.

Still, the week hasn’t been a total wash. Writing still happened! Compared to most of last year, I managed to accomplish more this week than most given weeks in 2017. Some of that time I spent editing for Forward the Hunt, which drops on February 27th. (Preorders are always 15% off, so now’s a great time to buy!) I wrote my first 1000-word flash fiction story for the year. Progress was made on one of the pieces I would like to submit to Less Than Three sometime this year, but requires some retooling and rewriting before I feel comfortable enough sending it to a second round of betas, let alone the submission process.

On top of all that, I made progress into another side project that I have been building towards for a couple of years at this point. My other major hobby is beadwork, and I’ve had friends consistently encourage me to set up an etsy shop for a while now — and I decided that 2018 would be my year of side hustle. I still have my dayjob and (as far as I know, as far anything can be right now) it’s quite stable. There’s no shakeup on that horizon as far as I can see. But I did decide I wanted to ramp up my writing, and sometime in 2018 (hopefully by October, my birthday month, which is quite some time away but also gives me time to really pull things together) I’ll be launching a small etsy shop for themed jewelry. Right now I’m working on building up the stock (pride flag bracelets as well as Hogwarts Houses), but I did commission an artist friend for the banner and icon. The negotiations and work on that happened throughout last week.

She sent me the final files for that on Friday as well, and they’re so cute I’ve been metaphorically punching myself in the face over it. I’m really excited to get that going! Even if it doesn’t do spectacularly, I want to try and learn from it as best I can. I’ve set up a small savings account for that, retooled my budget overall, and now it’s just a matter of me being able to put in the work for it. That has me excited, my writing has me excited, and I am super hype to do everything I possibly can!!

…Once I am over this whole sore throat lightheaded low-energy illness thing, at least.

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2018 Goals

New Year’s Goals!

Because honestly, why not? I’m one of many people who likes to time starting afresh on goals and ideas with a new turnover — a week, a month, a year. And this is definitely something that’s been on my mind for the whole month. The end of 2017 feels disjointed in a lot of ways: the world is still in terrible shape and the people in charge remain greedy and obstinate, but people are pushing back. There has been some positive change even in the wider world. My own mood has bounced back, even if my energy is still trying to recover. There’s still a lot I want to do, and things that I want to do to achieve them. (And there are elections in 2018 in the US, so hopefully we’ll see some change. Hopefully 2018 will be better.)

So that being said…


1. I hope to continue writing one short 1000-word story a week. I will definitely allow myself some time off, especially if life circumstances get in the way, but overall I think it’d be nice if I could come to the end of 2018 with 52 individual short pieces. I don’t expect them to be fantastic, but I would like them to be entertaining. I hope to learn from them, and expand my range. I want to get better at being able to write shortform as well as long form! And honestly, I want the freedom to dabble.

1a. Relatedly, I’d like to be better about actually posting those short stories on this blog. I fell off the wagon with that in 2017 in a hard way. My guess is because the Hawaii trip happened right when I started out and trying to juggle between the two on my Chromebook was a pain. But this year! This year, I want to do better about that.

2. Submit at least three novel(la)-length pieces. While it sounds ambitious, I do in fact have one piece pretty much ready to send, and another that I am in the process of editing and rewriting. I have yet another that is finished, though I haven’t done my readthrough edit pass. And that’s not counting any open calls that come along to catch my attention. I know I’m capable of steady productivity, and though I lost a lot of that in 2017, I want to get back on that horse.

3. Get back into some self-pub stuff. I’ve got a long list of things I’d want to write that aren’t exactly a great fit for my usual market. And honestly, I do enjoy just writing, and I think it’d be a lot of fun to have some more consistent bigger releases available. One a month is probably too ambitious for me when I’m out of practice, but maybe one every two months? Right now, though, I think my goal will be three self-pub stories, possibly also of novella length. That’s plenty.

4. The faintest of pipe dreams is starting some kind of ongoing serial. Right now, though, this is pretty much just a puff of smoke in the wind. Maybe 2018 will be the best year for it!

5. In order to make all this happen, I have to go back to the writing schedule I initially had, which was to write for about 30-45 minutes after my dayjob is over. If I just take my Chromebook to the couch, versus working at my desktop computer (where I do most of my casual internet surfing), I think this should work out just fine. Especially because of some thoughts in the money section.


1. Open an etsy shop! I have a name picked out, and I’ve commissioned a very talented artist friend to help me with the header. I’ve been working steadily on making things, and at least among my social media group, the response remains pretty positive. I don’t know how successful this will be, but it won’t hurt me to try. I can save a little extra money from the dayjob to fund the start, and my ambitions remain fairly gentle. Mostly what I make are bracelets and hair pins, with the occasional pendant for a necklace; my theme is half split between pride colors and fandom colors. (Hogwarts Houses are always quite popular, it seems.)

2. Actually use up some of what I’ve got! Like a lot of crafters, when it comes to beads, I have some (thankfully very minor) hoarding tendencies. Mostly, I need to make myself use the colors that I bought and haven’t actually pushed myself to try, because sometimes those come together in very interesting combinations. I will buy new findings and chains as I need them, and I will replenish beads that I am running out of, or if a specific project calls for something — but overall, I want to buy far less beads this year than I did last year.

(Though to be fair, my favorite beading store closed its physical location this year, and the clearance was 50% off…)


1. Stick to my revised budget. I revamped it earlier this month to be a little more flexible, but honestly as it stands, I should be sticking to it. It gives me a fairly generous allowance out of my dayjob, plus the rent. I know I can stick to it, so I just need to be more diligent. I’ve even built in a way to splurge every couple of months, so there’s really no excuse for me wandering off the course.

2. Get my mortgage down to 30%. At this moment, going into 2018, I have it down to about 37%! Based on math from previous years, 30% should be doable. 25% is the big dream, but for now, I’ll continue to pay down extra and apply gift money to that total. The sooner I can get this done and off my plate, the sooner I’ll have more freedom to both play and save!

3. Which means I want to save more in my investment accounts, because I have laughable dreams of early parttime retirement. At least as it stands, I’m doing pretty well to be on track for a “traditional” retirement from the dayjob, but more and more I think I’d like to be able to work at home with my writing and my crafts rather than office positions. But I also like having money and being able to pay my bills, so we’ll have to see how this year goes.


1. I want to be a better friend to people. Both to the friends I already have — a lot of whom had far worse years than I did — and to new people I meet along the way. I’m in a good position in a lot of ways, and I want to be able to be better support to the people around me, who’ve made my life better. My friends deserve it! People deserve it! So hopefully I can manage it, to the extent that they deserve.

2. Be better about my sleeping schedule. It’s been a bit over six months since I switched to an 8-4:30 schedule (after 10 years of a 9-5:30 schedule) and I still don’t quite feel like I’ve adjusted. I’ve heard that you need less sleep as you get older, but I haven’t quite hit that stage yet. So if I can be in bed with my phone down and off by even 11:45 (versus the midnight-ish I’ve been doing), I think that will help me. Maybe 11:30! I’m an old lady now.

here’s to a good 2018 for all of us. I hope that you all out there have a safe and happy new year.

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2017 In Review

A cup of chamomileThe Year In Review

As mentioned (many, many times), 2017 was definitely a rough year for me. From what I’ve seen, the same can be said for most people. Looking back on the year in broad review feels like one long stretch of mediocre to bad to okay in varying levels.

In some ways, saying so (for me in particular) feels kind of disingenuous, because all things considered, I’ve been very lucky. No major health disasters for me and my loved ones, I’m not living anywhere that got hit by natural disasters (beyond the smoke that hit Washington state from the forest fires around us), and even as far as the political climate, I’ve been safe. My parents, living in Texas, are safe. Other than some anxiety — which honestly is just always a mild thing — I haven’t encountered anything awful or weird.

But I don’t live in a vacuum, either. None of us do. And it’s been scary and unsettling to try and keep up with the news. Even when things are fine for me at my personal level, there’s a definite sense of oh boy, what’s been screwed over today on the national level?

To be honest, that’s a big part of why I’ve had trouble getting myself back onto twitter. A lot of my unfiltered news comes filtered from there, so while I’ve been reading when I can, participating feels incredibly daunting. That in turn feels pretty discouraging for my personal goals. You can’t throw a metaphorical rock on the internet without finding advice columns talking about how useful twitter is for authors and how it is THE platform for those who want to be in the writing community. Which obviously I do, but even after two years, I’m still trying to figure out how to properly participate. I’m genuinely envious and admiring both of the people who can do this regularly. I hope I can get myself to eventually emulate them.


On the plus side, I think I’ve managed to start pulling myself out of the hole I was in when the November 2016 election happened. I’m nowhere near the same levels I was before then — see above for political climate fears — but I’m no longer quite at my lowest point anymore. There are still nights where writing is the most difficult thing in the world, but I’ve managed to find a way to muddle through, even if it’s only in putting down a lot of directionless yelling about the world.

But there were some other highlights!

In November I had a short story released, about a man who wants to be a knight and finds a rather roundabout way of accomplishing his goal.

I also have a new novel that is now out for preorder! This is the story I submitted shortly after the 2016 election, but I still feel quite good about it. My editor has been nothing but kind and encouraging, my betas have given positive feedback, and my girlfriend has told me she thinks it’s one of my best. I’m excited for that! (I guess technically this is 2018 stuff, but as far as a 2017 review goes, the preorder still counts. The edits are happening in 2017!)

In October I also started writing a short 1000-word story a week, posted in 200-word chunks a day on my tumblr. Some of these are obviously better than others, but I’ve been enjoying the challenge. There’s been one a week since the first week of October, which means I’ve done twelve of them so far. I’m taking this next week off, but when the new year starts, I’ll be rolling in on that again.

And honestly, working on those short stories has given me a little more confidence and desire to try doing some other more serial type work. I don’t think it would be daily, not like I’m doing them now, but perhaps weekly. Perhaps monthly? I’d really like to try doing a serial story for 2018 in some capacity, so I’ve been idly brainstorming ideas for that.

My loved ones are doing relatively well, too; there are some minor hiccups and health problems as happens, but my parents, my girlfriend, my other best friend, and my cat are all healthy. We’re all muddling through together, which is far more preferable than going alone.

Tomorrow I’m gonna take some time to relax and be glad for my loved ones, and the day after that (thank you, four-day weekend!) I’ll review this review, and I’ll start making my plans for the next year.

I hope that whatever beliefs you might have, if you’re reading this, you have a good and happy and safe 2018.

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That’s music to someone

Every now and then, I cycle back to thinking about music.

And of course right now the applicable music is Christmas music, which leads to my dual confession:

1. I hate Christmas pop music BUT
2. I love Christmas hymns.

My distaste for 90% of Christmas songs written after the 1800s is intense. I hate “White Christmas,” and “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree,” “Santa Baby,” and any of their kin. I don’t (which is probably blasphemous to a number of my friends) like Sufjan Stevens’s Christmas album, which I know was written because he doesn’t like Christmas music and decided to write some he did. The only exception that sort of proves the rule for me is Straight No Chaser’s Christmas Can-Can, which is just a parody song, which for me elevates it to at least fun and amusing. Other than that, though, I cannot stand Christmas pop. If I have control of the radio, I’ll change it. If I’m out, I complain to whomever I’m with (my girlfriend or our roommate) and do my best to ignore.

But then — despite not being religious in the slightest — I love Christmas hymns. The songs that get sung in churches in big choirs (I love choral pieces a lot too), the ones celebrating the birth of someone so many thousands of years ago, those are the songs I love. I will, on rare shameful occasion, listen to them before November is over. Only ever with headphones in, and usually only a couple of times, but I still do it.

More than anything, I love the sense of storytelling that is within these songs. It’s something more concrete than snow on Christmas, or decorating a Christmas tree (also something I have no experience with), or dozens of romantic pining songs that come out at all times of the year. I even like some of those pointless pining songs, just not when they have a Christmas flavor to them.

Personally, my experience with music is kind of spotty. For a good chunk of my primary school years, I played violin in the orchestra. I wasn’t great at it, and I was lazy about practicing — I took advantage of being home several hours before my parents during the week to only do half an hour, or fifteen minutes, versus the full hour they really wanted me to do. And then by my junior year of high school, I could no longer afford the time for it, not with my class schedule.

I don’t miss it, not exactly. I do occasionally think about how it would have been nice to keep up, because I love storytelling with music; I love when people write character themes, or songs are composed to evoke a certain mood. When I work, whether at my dayjob, my writing, or my beading, I like to have something going on in the background, and with writing it ends up being music. (With the dayjob and beading, I don’t have to focus on my words as much, so it’s a good time to listen to podcasts or documentaries or their ilk.) As a kid I was pretty impatient with songs without words, but these days, I’ve really come to appreciate instrumentals.

Even in fandom community endeavors, I enjoy musical efforts a lot. Obviously one mainly finds fanfic and fanart, but every now and then, you’ll find someone who composes music inspired by the shows, movies, books, etc. that they love, and I find that pretty amazing. The sort of talent that it requires feels akin to magic, so out of my experience and wheelhouse that I don’t know where one even starts. But I love it. I think it’s fascinating, the way people can express their fondness for something — anything, big or small — by using music instead of words.

I should note that I do think it’s a thing I could pick up, if I felt like figuring out my time and wanted to devote the energy to it. I have visual artist friends who can and will go on impassioned rants about how drawing is a skill one hones through practice and effort, not simply falling into being good at it. To me, writing is the same; I certainly wasn’t great at it when I started out, though I received a lot of very kind and gentle encouragement that helped me gain the interest and enthusiasm to continue trying. Surely music is the same, if one is willing to put in that time and effort… I just don’t want to. Maybe that’s a yet, maybe that’s never, but right now I’m pretty happy letting it still be magic to me.

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