Peopling is Hard

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? I’m still stuck in a procrastination rut. I start projects, it goes well for a few days, then I just hit a wall. I try to work through it for a couple of days, but after staring at the same pages for a while, I get disgusted with it and take a few days off. It’s an endless cycle. I need to break it, but I can’t figure out how. So, I decided to try being social instead. Change up the routine. Maybe getting out of my comfort zone would help get the writing muscles going again. That was the hope, anyway. It’s not going too well.

It’s me!

I randomly joined some Facebook groups a week or so ago, mostly for pretty pictures of bats and cephalopods. Apparently, I also decided to join a couple of groups for people who are pansexual and their supporters (happy Pride!), which I never do because… well, people. One of the current fads in one of those groups are those stupid friendship application posts where newbies basically introduce themselves. I don’t do that stuff. I am horrible at peopling. Everyone knows this. I make no secret of it. But I did the thing despite my aversion to socializing.

All of the comments on the post were super sweet and accepting. Yes, I even included pictures. And, instead of being self-deprecating like I usually am, I tried very hard to just say thank you to the handful of folks who said I was pretty or whatever. It was weird. And I admit that I met a couple of people who are cool and I’ve enjoyed our conversations and will definitely keep talking to them. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t get like twenty DMs from douchenozzles (you know the ones, those who expect cyber sex or whatever it’s called nowadays without even attempting to hide it behind getting to know you) who ended up blocked. It totally reminded me of the Yahoo chat days, and not in the good way. Sifting through the asshats to find the interesting people is just not my thing anymore. I’m too lazy for all that. And way too comfortable with being alone (or talking to my current peoples) to make that effort.

Or I can be alone by myself. Either way works.

It doesn’t help that I have a lot of social anxiety. I can’t even make doctor appointments over the phone without freaking out unless I practice the conversation in my head fifty times. Goddess forbid they go off script. And even if it goes perfectly, I still feel like I screwed something up with the interaction. I’m not as bad with text based exchanges, because I can see and edit what I’m saying. Especially when it comes to professional correspondence. That, I have no problem with. As long as I can write it out, I’m okay. I really only have issues with socializing like a normal human being. I know people who I only knew by screen names for the first ten years of our friendship. That’s how horrible at peopling I am. I didn’t even think to ask for names until we’d run into each on Facebook or something. Peopling is hard.

Maybe.

But that’s enough about my lack of humaning skills. I probably should’ve thought of a better topic instead of rambling about nothing. But there you have it. As always, feel free to leave your comments or questions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

For My Little Sis

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this beautiful June day? It’s actually kind of overcast as I’m writing this, but whatever. I’m sure that’s beautiful to someone. I have zero writing or publishing news. I’m a big slacker, I know. So, I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about until I remembered what today (June 8th, because that’s when I’m writing this) is: Jen’s birthday! I know I’ve talked about her a little bit on here since she’s the one always drawing pictures for me to use as avatars, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully explained who she is to me. Today, I will properly introduce you.

I remembered yesterday too, but still.

I met Jen when we were 18 or 19 in a Yahoo chatroom. Oh goddesses. Was it really that long ago? Have we really known each other over 15 years? We’re getting old. But I digress. Honestly, I don’t even remember which one of us initiated contact or why, but that one random moment led to years of fun and friendship and sisterhood. We spent long nights (into early mornings) talking and RPing and complaining about the douchenozzles who kept telling us we weren’t doing it right if we didn’t adhere to their arbitrary and ridiculously detailed rules of that particular RP. She knows the main dude I’m talking about. It got to the point where we’d deliberately break his rules just to see how long it would take him to rage quit and sign off. Those were some good times.

The Yahoo chat years were great and sometimes weird and even downright sucky occasionally, but so much came after. She went to art school and got married and had kids. She’s constantly done artistic things over the years, like stained glass or making dolls or drawing. I’m always so proud of Jen. And, of course, there were not so good times. Stress, people disappearing without a word (because that’s a hazard of having Internet friends who live in different states or countries), family deaths. All the crappy stuff life throws at you. But we’ve made it through it all so far.

A picture she drew of us.

Jen is my little sis. She may not be blood and we haven’t gotten a chance to meet in person yet, but she’s part of my chosen family. I probably shouldn’t make assumptions, but I think I’m part of hers, too. (I better be!) We talk about anything and everything even though we constantly apologize for TMI. But it’s not really TMI because I’ve never really felt like anything was off limits. And I hope she feels the same. So, I’m going to say something I don’t say enough to anyone. I appreciate you, sis. And I love you. And now I’m going to stop because this is beginning to feel sappy. I’m not good at that.

Isn’t that just a glomp?

So, say hi and happy belated birthday to Jen! As always, feel free to leave your comments here or on my social media pages! Or you can go to her artist Instagram page! Later days.

More Shameless Self-Promotion

Hello, hello! I know I already shared this news on my social media pages, but I do have some people who seem to only follow my blog, so I decided to put it here too. On May 28th, my flash fiction piece “Integrate” was released in a story swap between The Centropic Oracle (the lovely people who purchased and narrated the story) and the YouTube channel Let’s Read! You can listen to it here! You can also check out Published Work on my website to find anything you might’ve missed. I’ll be back next week with a proper post.

Thoughts on DEATH IN BLOOM

Howdy, howdy! It’s already the last Wednesday in May. Can you believe it? I have no idea where the time went, but I know that it’s time for another book review! This month, I just chose another cozy mystery. I wanted something that was likely to be fluffy and have a happy ending. Cozies are usually good for that. Death in Bloom is the first in the new Flower House mystery series by Jess Dylan. It was released yesterday (May 25th) from St. Martin’s Press. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it.

Cute cover.

Death in Bloom follows Sierra Ravenswood as she tries to settle into small town life after her dreams of being a singer in Nashville fall through. She returns to her hometown of Aerieville determined to build a better life for herself with the help of positive vibes and good thoughts. Unfortunately for her, her flaky boss skips town on some adventure and leaves her to run the flower shop on her own. Her first evening by herself is filled with a flower arranging class that she isn’t prepared to lead. Throw in a suspicious death during the class and things can’t get any worse, right? Wrong. Can Sierra solve a murder, find the person who keeps breaking into the Flower House, and take care of a new pup all at once? With the help of new friends and positive energy, anything is possible. She hopes.

The plot is pretty standard. Except the bestie is a rekindling of an old acquaintanceship from high school (they weren’t close back then, but why not now?) and the potential love interest is some sketchy dude who randomly shows up and asks way too many questions about the absent boss. Otherwise, there are plenty of obvious clues to lead you in the wrong direction all the way through. I admit that I doubted my murderer guess a couple of times, but stuck with it and was right in the end. It was twisty and turny enough to be a fun ride.

Me, at the end.

As far as the characters go, I liked them well enough. Sierra was a little wishy-washy when it came to the Flower House even though her choice was obvious. That was annoying. But her general personality and her familial interactions were all great. Deena is a little on the flat side, but there’s potential for some good development with her in later books. Calvin is super suspicious and with everything going on, I found it really hard to believe that Sierra just took the dude at his word. At least do some research on him. A quick google of the faculty website at the school he supposedly teaches at. Anything. But, no. It takes her more than half the book to realize he’s sketchy. It’s improbable. At least Gus is cute. He’s the corgi puppy she adopts when it becomes apparent her boss isn’t coming back for him.

Look at that face!

The writing is nice. Everything flows pretty smoothly and keeps the story hopping along at a quick pace. There were some sections that felt redundant as they rehashed the case, but that happens in all cozies I’ve found.

Ultimately, Death in Bloom was enjoyable and pretty fluffy. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future books in this series. I might even check out the other series that Jess Dylan wrote using the name Jennifer David Hesse.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. If you like cozy mysteries with a weirdly positive lead woman and cute puppers, it’s certainly worth a look.

A Look Inside Sunday Morning Catfish and More

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing today? I actually left the house earlier this week to run errands with Dad. Granted, I stayed in the van the whole time, but at least I saw the world still existed. Kind of. And I was glad to see some people still wearing masks. I’m still not going to brave interacting with people (mostly because I like the excuse to ignore the world), but it’s nice to see they still exist. Anyway, yesterday Dad ran some errands while I stayed home. He grabbed some catfish for lunch/dinner and I realized I never wrote about this place, so here’s an impromptu food review. The place is called Sunday Morning Catfish and More (or just Sunday Morning Catering). It’s on Pioneer, in front of Planet Fitness. I linked to their Facebook page so you can find the address and hours and stuff.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

Newest menu borrowed from their Facebook page.

Accessibility: I haven’t been able to go in a year and a half at least, but it used to be fine. As long as no one parks in front of the door, everything is even with the parking lot, so you don’t have to worry about a step or anything. Inside, there’s a little ramp that’s slightly on the steep side, but nothing unmanageable. Just be careful the first couple of times you use it. The tables were good and didn’t have any knee bangers or anything that got in the way of footrests. But things might have changed since then. It used to be easy enough to get around, though.

Service: I only went once after the restaurant changed hands (used to be Howard’s Catfish) and before the plague set in, but everyone was super nice and treated me like a person (bonus points!). The few times we’ve called in and Dad picked it up, he says they always ask how I am, which is nice. I look forward to going back in person one of these days.

Nuggets. Borrowed from their Facebook page because I never think of taking pictures.

Food: Delicious. It’s one of the few places where we order just about the same thing each time. We both get catfish nuggets and shrimp. I usually get fried pickles and Dad always has to get a fried porkchop. The porkchops are his absolute favorite. And we’ll sometimes get something extra to try. It’s all amazing. Unfortunately, it’s fried so we only go a couple of times a year. They do have Soul Food Sundays with different options, but we haven’t been able to try that.

Dessert: There’s usually a selection of cake slices. We’re usually full by the time we’re done, so we’ve only gotten cake twice. It was nice and moist both times. The pieces are big enough that I can save half for later unless Dad eats it. Yum.

Price: Not bad at all. We usually get two meals (sometimes three) out of our order, so it’s definitely worth the money portion-wise. And the food is always delicious, so quality-wise it’s worth it too.

My rating:
MMMMM

Tricking Myself into Writing

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing today? It’s a gloomy Monday as I’m writing this and I don’t really feel like doing much of anything. So, I decided it’s as good a day as any to write my post for the week. The problem? I have nothing to ramble about. I should probably be working on an actual story or writing my May book review post or something, but I don’t want to. I can do that stuff tomorrow. But I am slowly starting to write again, thanks to the new computer. I guess I can ramble about that. It’s one of those weird cripple things, so be prepared to give me your best “huh?” look.

Yeah, that look.

When I first started using a laptop (actually, any computer), my typing options were to either figure out how to make the keyboard work for me or use Dragon Naturally Speaking (a dictation program). I tried the latter and it was horrible. No matter how much I trained it, at least every other word was wrong. It was more trouble editing stuff than it was worth. So, I decided to use a backscratcher in my right hand and my left index finger to make the hunt-and-peck method of typing work for me. And I was good at it too. Fast enough to keep up with multiple Yahoo chat conversations in a timely manner at least. And accurate enough that I rarely had to fix any typos. It was less hunting/pecking and more just my own form of two “finger” typing. But all good things must end.

After I went through a few different wheelchairs and just as many computers, I eventually reached a point where typing became more difficult than it was worth. Basically, each new chair changed the positions of my hands, the ease with which I could reposition my arms, etc. and each new computer positioned its keyboard and touchpad slightly differently until it all combined to screw with my typing (slowed it down and made the position I had to maintain uncomfortable) enough that I looked for alternatives. By that time, Microsoft had started getting into accessibility features and had added an on-screen keyboard. I’m certainly not as fast with it as I was at typing, but it works well enough. It got me through Stonecoast and has helped me write the majority of the stuff I’ve written since then, so I can’t complain.

Don’t feel bad. Losing stuff like the ability to type is a normal cripple thing.

When this computer arrived, I decided to try typing again. The keyboard is just too pretty not to touch. So, a couple of weeks ago, I started trying to type for 30 minutes at a time. The range of motion in my left arm is absolute shit, which is to be expected. I can’t even reach the E, R, and G keys enough to press them anymore. The number keys (I used to be able to press 1-4 with my left hand) are completely out of reach. And I have to nudge my hand with my backscratcher in order to reach the Q and W. But for some reason, I have a better reach with my backscratcher than I used to, so it compensates a bit for the lack of use in my left hand. Hopefully, with practice, I’ll at least get back enough range of motion for E, R, and G.

Don’t get too excited. I’ve only done this 5 times so far. It’s annoying getting my hands into position, but that should get easier over time. My muscles tire out well before the 30 minutes are up, but I push through and it’s already getting better. I started at 75 words in 30 minutes and have increased each time (reached 245 words when I did it today). I can do 350ish words in a half hour with the on-screen keyboard, so if I can break that, I’ll definitely keep it up. Hopefully, my arms and hands will keep cooperating with me. I don’t fully trust them yet.

Idle Hands. They have a mind of their own. Am I the only one who remembers this stupid movie?

Anyway, in order to practice typing, I needed something to write, so I started a short story. It’s already 1,500 words long because it starts out as typing practice, then I’m in a groove, so I write a little more with the on-screen keyboard. But yeah. All this post is meant to say is that I found a way to trick myself into writing even though I have no motivation. Wootwoot!

What about you? Do you have any weird ways you trick yourself into being productive? As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments and questions here or on my social media pages!

Another Round of Shameless Self-Promotion

Hello, hello! Can you believe it’s already May? But the good thing about May is that my flash fiction piece “Poisoned Honey and Pickled Pigs’ Feet” was just released in volume 1, issue 8 of Love Letters to Poe! You can buy a copy here with my story and three other lovely pieces, or you can subscribe to the newsletter to get a free copy of the first issue as well as weekly installments with stories from that month’s release and author interviews (mine goes out on the 6th, so sign up today!). I’ll also share a link to my story/interview on my social media pages Thursday or Friday for anyone who doesn’t sign up in time. And if you miss that, after the 6th just search for Love Letters to Poe wherever you get your podcasts and you’ll be able to listen to me read the story. No matter how you access it, please feel free to leave a review or rating on the GoodReads page!

Sorry for the short post. I’ll be back to our regularly scheduled randomness next week!

Thoughts on FOLKLORN

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone doing? Got my second Pfizer shot last week and had a few days of being beyond tired, plus some other minor side effects that really only lasted the night after the shot. I’m fine now. And I’m still breaking in my new computer. But enough about that stuff! It’s the last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s book review time. This month, I decided to request something a little different. It’s a strange mixture of ghost story and fairy tale and some kind of literary fiction. Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur was released yesterday (the 27th) from Erewhon Books. As usual, I must thank the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Pretty cover.

Folklorn follows Elsa Park, a particle physicist, as she runs into an old friend in the most unlikely of places: Antarctica. The problem? Her old friend is imaginary. When the friend follows her to Sweden, then back to America, Elsa both fears for her sanity and relishes in the familiar comfort and safety her childhood friend provides. Elsa must fight for her place in the world, overcome family issues, and decipher the riddle-like fairy tales her mother left for her. Otherwise, she risks losing herself completely.

The plot of this story feels secondary to the character development, which gives it a very different vibe compared to more traditional genre stories. Yes, there’s an imaginary friend pushing Elsa to complete quests leading to a big reveal, but the monsters and obstacles are all too human. And the real payoff is Elsa’s realizations about her mother and father and brother, but mostly herself. Her own transformation is the best thing about this book, though the interspersed fairy tales are a close second to me.

Everyone keeps transforming in this book.

Speaking of character development, Elsa isn’t the only one who grows throughout this story, but let’s start with her. We see her transform from a closed off, almost bitter person into someone who can work through their issues and open themselves a bit. She isn’t great at it yet, but she’s chosen to make the effort. Her father turns from the monster of her youth into a pitiful old man. Her brother goes from a knight to a manipulative jerk to a normal, struggling human being. Oskar is never really a prince, but he helps Elsa during her struggles, and finds out that he’s allowed to become a different person than he was in his youth. The only person who doesn’t get a chance to evolve in real time is Elsa’s mother, but even she morphs into something new in Elsa’s mind.

A big portion of this book deals with cultural identity and finding a balance between where you come from versus where you end up. It can be a little difficult to read at times, especially if you’re sensitive to race issues. But I ended up feeling like I learned some things from the book. There’s the whole aspect of immigrating to the US after the Korean war and how Elsa’s parents survived both the war and the move and found ways to both fit in and stand out in their new community. There’s also the racism Elsa and her brother faced as children (and still face) and the expectations placed on them, plus the ingrained anger between Koreans and Japanese. And there’s the racism Elsa and Oskar face in Sweden, despite Oskar being raised there. And Oskar’s entire story arc of being an adopted child. It’s about all of these things, but it’s not preachy or anything like that. It’s just people doing the best they can.

Even if we have to unlearn some stuff first.

The writing was interesting. The flow isn’t as smooth as I tend to prefer. The rhythm feels jerky, like it’s trying to trip you up as you read. This works surprisingly well for this book. It mimics Elsa’s unstable emotions. It’s weird, but not altogether unpleasant.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Folklorn. The combination of genres and the general growth of the characters made this an interesting read. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more work by Angela Mi Young Hur.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. If you enjoy fairy tales and well-rounded characters, it’s definitely worth picking up. Even if you’re just looking for something different, check it out.

Didn’t Realize It Was So Late

Howdy, howdy! It’s pretty late in the day for me to be writing a blog post. My new laptop arrived this afternoon, so I’ve been adjusting settings and signing into things and transferring files and not paying attention to the time. It’s one of the cheaper ASUS ROG STRIX G17s, but it’s supposed to be more powerful than anything I’ve ever had. Also, it’s super rainbow-y and I love it. I bought it from XOTIC PC and will post a proper review after I’ve had some time with it. Anyway, instead of writing a proper blog post, I’m going to keep fiddling with my new toy. I still need to hook it up to the printer and download some things and decide what I’m going to do about Word and that kind of stuff. I’ll be back next week with my monthly book review and probably a brief update on my second Pfizer dose (which I get tomorrow). Toodles!

Stock photo, but you get the idea.

How Not To Write A Blog Post

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone doing? I’m beyond tired and I have no idea why. I haven’t been sleeping any worse than usual, but even my Tuesday Pepsi isn’t perking me up today (because it’s yesterday as I’m writing this). Other than that and researching new computers, things are pretty normal here. I have nothing to ramble about, so I thought I would give you some advice on how not to write a blog post. Be aware that this is exactly how I write my posts. Don’t be like me.

It’s oddly difficult to find funny “don’t be like me” memes.

1. Don’t wait until the last minute. Procrastination is not your friend! You’ll never get anything done if you put it off until the day before it’s due and you have to induce productivity with large amounts of caffeine. I mean, unless you were the type to put off homework assignments and finish them in a panic stricken burst of energy at three in the morning the day they were due. Then by all means, go ahead and wait. But I do try to get my posts done by 10pm on Tuesdays at the latest, preferably before 8pm.

2. Don’t try to come up with topics on the fly. Keep a running list of potential topics for posts, just in case your chosen topic doesn’t work out. It will make life so much easier. And it will help prevent you from randomly missing a week. I wonder what it’s like to be that organized. I usually just Google potential topics the day I write my post if I don’t have anything in mind already. I don’t think I’ve missed a day for a lack of topics yet. But you should probably try to do better than me.

3. Don’t forget to edit before posting. You’re using your blog to sell your persona to the world. It has to be perfect and insightful and witty and there can’t be any typos. But really, you’re lucky if I do a quick read-through to make sure it makes sense and to catch any blatant errors. I don’t take my blog that seriously. Not like my writing. I’ve learned that I can go through things with a fine-toothed comb and still miss things, so I’m not going to put that much effort into these posts. But it’s good to at least do a quick check.

4. Don’t make the posts too long or too short. This one I actually try to follow. People’s attention spans are crap nowadays, so overly long posts tend to bore. I aim for 500ish words, but each post requires its own space, so if one only makes it to a couple of hundred words and another creeps close to 1,000 words, it’s fine for me. Find your sweet spot. A number that won’t make readers run away. But also let the topic take up the space it needs. You can always break things up into smaller posts if you want.

Basically.

I’m sure I could come up with other stuff, but the truth is that there’s no wrong way to write a blog post. Like everything else in the world, you just have to figure out what works for you. Procrastinate or do it weeks in advance. Plan it out or wing it. Seriously revise it or give it quick once over. Long or short. None of that really matters as long as you’re comfortable with your process. Hell, it’s even fun to play with different styles. Do a post that’s all pictures. Record yourself reading the post. I’ve even seen people hand write their posts and just scan it. Have fun with it.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments or whatever here or on my social media pages!