Hello, hello! Can you believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving? Where’d the time go? Next thing you know, it’ll be Christmas, then a new year. Time really needs to slow down. Anyway, since my favorite holiday is just a day away, I thought I would take this opportunity to share five things I’m grateful for this year!
1. Dad. I know I don’t say it out loud to him, but I really am thankful to have someone like him in my life. He has always shown me that just because life doesn’t go the way you expect doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable about it. You don’t have to let toxic people bring you down. Sometimes, you need to make changes if you want things to go a certain way. It’s okay to be blah occasionally, but mostly you need to try to find the happy in things. But most importantly, he taught me to look in the mirror and take responsibility for my actions, which I try to do. He also gave me my twisted sense of humor and enables my darkness, so you can blame him for all of that (okay, sometimes I deny all responsibility and blame him, but that’s what dads are for).
2. The people who take the time to check up on me. You know who you are. I have been an increasingly crappy friend, especially lately. I don’t text or message people as much as I should, if at all. I know that and I’m struggling to break free from the contentedness I find in being a recluse. But I really do appreciate the messages asking how I am and giving me updates on your lives. I do stalk most of you on social media, though, which makes me the creepy crappy friend.
3. Seeing my words in print and getting paid for them. I was starting to think it wouldn’t happen, so I’m thankful to E.R. Bills and Hellbound Books for choosing me to be in their awesome collection alongside other talented Texas writers. An occasional acceptance really does help to overcome the feels that a long list of rejections brings up.
4. Peppermint chocolates. After waiting for all things pumpkin spice to start winding down for the year, I get the reward of all things peppermint for a month and a half! Just had my first Ghirardelli peppermint bark square of the year. It made me weirdly happy. It always does. Judge me all you want, but at least I have goodies to comfort me.
5. A dad who’s good with tools. I didn’t intend to add him twice, but my armrest on my new wheelchair decided to come loose a little while ago and he got everything put securely back together. If it breaks, he can usually fix it. That’s something to always be grateful for!
What about you? What are you thankful for this year? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!
Howdy, howdy! How is October almost over? Next week is book review time and I have no idea what I’m going to review. I thought I was more organized than that, but surprise! I’m not. I’m also super behind on a lot of my goals for the year. It has just been really hard to find a balance between writing and life that doesn’t make me sick of either one. When I hit those points of burnout, it throws off my schedule and everything gets stressful. So, I thought I would ramble a bit about being organized vs. being flexible.
I’m actually a super organized person, even though it doesn’t really look like it. And by organized, I mean that I verge on the obsessive, especially when it comes to my routines. I like plans. I build my writing and slushing (I’m a first reader for PseudoPod) schedule around plans. In fact, I keep goal lists for the week, month, and year. Daily goal lists are something I make most days upon getting up. Knowing what I’m supposed to get done each day eases my anxiety. It also makes it easier for me to say yes or no to random errands (like when Dad asks if I want to go to the grocery store or Home Depot or out for dinner last minute). Being organized is great because it even lets me build flexibility into my schedule.
On the other hand, shit happens. People flake on you. Allergies attack. Computers randomly die or the Internet goes out. Or a million other stupid little things that can’t be controlled happen. Sometimes, I can foresee that my plans are going to be shot for the day (like when I have a doctor’s appointment that should only take 10 minutes, but I know I’ll be there at least an hour), so I make that a “do whatever” day. Other times, I get burnt out by my routine and end up procrastinating for weeks. But usually, life just gets in the way and I have to accept that. Going with the flow isn’t my strong suit, but I’m trying to get better at it.
I’m trying to be more flexible, to just go with the flow. I’ve come to the point where I can acknowledge that I won’t finish all my goals some of the time. I even push less important things back a week (or month or year). It’s not a huge step toward being flexible, but I’m making progress. Building flexibility into my schedules is probably the closest I’ll ever get to being the type who rolls with whatever. As long as I get my main goals done each day, I think I’ll be fine with the flow.
What about you? Are you super organized? Do things messing up your plans freak you out or tick you off? Or are you the flexible kind who can shrug things off and follow the new path with ease? Feel free to share your thoughts or questions here or on my social media pages!
Howdy, howdy! It’s been kind of rainy and dreary here the last couple of days, which always makes me feel sleepy and blah. Productivity is the last thing I want to achieve. So, even though I’ve been adulting and all that good stuff, I’ve also been super lazy. That’s not going to change today! Instead of coming up with some random topic related to writing and rambling about that, I thought I would just give you a list of my five favorite ways to relax on rainy days. It’s all stuff you’ve seen before if you follow my blog regularly. Otherwise, enjoy reading about my laziness.
1. Netflix/TV binge-watching. This can be done solo or with Dad, depending on his level of productivity on a rainy day. Sometimes, we catch up on all the stuff we’ve recorded. Other times, we pick random movies or whatever on Netflix and watch them. If I’m on my own, I watch stuff Dad would have no interest in or I rewatch old shows (still usually stuff he has no interest in). The only bad part about binge-watching is that by the time it’s 11 at night, it feels like you’ve done nothing all day. Which you haven’t, but still. Where’d the day go?
2. Mindless games. Yes, I still play mindless games. They’re a decent way to waste time, but I do get bored after a while. It’s like I start playing and by the time I run out of lives, I’m sure it’s almost time for bed, but it’s only been like ten minutes. I guess I should start playing some new games that I’m not bored with yet. The only problem with that is that I don’t want to fall down the “new game” rabbit hole and get lost. Maybe I’m just super lazy, even too lazy for games.
3. Reading. I’ve been reading a lot for the book group and to review on here, but I haven’t really read anything lately just because. Because I want to. Because it’s fun. Because I thought the cover was pretty and bought it. Rainy days remind me that I have books I wanted to read before I started reading everything I was told I should read. They’re the kind of days that remind there are things I want to re-read. And it’s totally okay to read or re-read things for fun. I need to remember that on normal days as well.
4. Music videos/eye candy. I haven’t sat around watching random music videos in a really long time (like so long I forgot certain bands existed). It’s one of those things I always say I’m going to do, but life gets in the way. Rainy days are a good chance to catch up on old bands’ newer music and looks (because visual kei is awesome, or it used to be. I don’t really know anymore). I should make time for that.
5. Anime/manga. No, it’s not the same as Netflix and reading. It’s its own thing and I’ve been slacking on it. I haven’t read any manga in about a year. And I don’t watch anime as much as I want because I always save it for after I’m productive, then I don’t have time for it. Rainy days when Dad is doing his own thing are the perfect time to catch up on anime at least.
What are your favorite things to do on rainy days? Are you a napper or do you like to catch up on fun things? Perhaps you’re more productive on gray days. Feel free to share your own list, comments, or questions here or on my social media pages!
Hello, hello! August is chugging along. My revisions are going surprisingly well so far. I keep waiting to hit a wall or something, but my sticky notes are keeping me on track. Sometimes, my main character feels a bit too feminine, but I like him that way, so I’ll deal with it later if I have to. Otherwise, I don’t have much to ramble about this week. Because of that, I decided to share my reading-list-thus-far for September through December. This list may or may not include books for my monthly reviews. I haven’t decided on those yet.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. I’m reading this for the reading group I’m in. It sounds like something I’ll enjoy. Here’s the description from Amazon:
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien. It’s the second in the Noodle Shop Mystery series. You can find my review of the first book here. I enjoyed it enough that I’m giving this one a shot. Here’s the description from Amazon:
Lana Lee is a dutiful daughter, waiting tables at her family’s Chinese restaurant even though she’d rather be doing just about anything else. Then, just when she has a chance for a “real” job, her parents take off to Taiwan, leaving Lana in charge. Surprising everyone—including herself—she turns out to be quite capable of running the place. Unfortunately, the newlyweds who just opened the souvenir store next door to Ho-Lee have turned up dead. . .and soon Lana finds herself in the midst of an Asia Village mystery.
Between running the Ho-Lee and trying to figure out whether the rock-solid Detective Adam Trudeau is actually her boyfriend, Lana knows she shouldn’t pry into the case. But the more she learns about the dead husband, his ex-wives, and all the murky details of the couple’s past, the more Lana thinks that this so-called murder/suicide is a straight-up order of murder. . .
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. I’ve been meaning to try this one since it came out, but never quite got around to it. Now, the reading group I’m in chose it for October, so I have no excuse not to read it. Here’s Amazon’s description:
Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.
But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.
When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.
Two Girls Downby Louisa Luna. This one’s a bonus suggestion from the reading group. It sounds cool, so I’m going to give it a shot. I’m putting it down tentatively for an October read, but I might save it for later. Here’s the description from Amazon:
When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied. With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss. The second in her series. The reading group I’m in decided to read both of Dora’s books in a row because she’s amazing. I admit the length of this one is a little daunting (720 pages), but I can do it! Especially if I can start a little early on it. Here’s Amazon’s description:
Mary Jekyll’s life has been peaceful since she helped Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the Whitechapel Murders. Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary’s sister Diana Hyde have settled into the Jekyll household in London, and although they sometimes quarrel, the members of the Athena Club get along as well as any five young women with very different personalities. At least they can always rely on Mrs. Poole.
But when Mary receives a telegram that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club must travel to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rescue yet another young woman who has been subjected to horrific experimentation. Where is Lucinda, and what has Professor Van Helsing been doing to his daughter? Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, and Justine reach her in time?
Racing against the clock to save Lucinda from certain doom, the Athena Club embarks on a madcap journey across Europe. From Paris to Vienna to Budapest, Mary and her friends must make new allies, face old enemies, and finally confront the fearsome, secretive Alchemical Society. It’s time for these monstrous gentlewomen to overcome the past and create their own destinies.
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning. I’ve been looking forward to this one since I found out about it six months ago. I was super happy when the reading group I’m in decided to give it a shot. For now, I’ll save it for December, but if I get a chance, I might tackle this one earlier. Here’s the description from Amazon:
Ever since her best friend Anna died, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. Hiding her talents, mourning her loss, drowning in her guilt.
Then a girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears on the shore, and the two girls catch the eyes of two charming princes. Suddenly Evie feels like she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.
But magic isn’t kind, and her new friend harbors secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad—or on two legs—without Evie’s help. And when Evie reaches deep into the power of her magic to save her friend’s humanity—and her prince’s heart—she discovers, too late, what she’s bargained away.
I’ll need to pick at least two more books to keep up with my two books a month goal, but I haven’t decided on all of them. Plus, I have to wait for NetGalley to get back to me about some books to review. I should probably get something festive for the holiday season. Maybe a Christmas cozy? Otherwise, this is my reading list until next year. What’s on your list for the foreseeable future? Feel free to share your list or suggestions or comments here or on my social media pages!
Howdy, howdy! I know, I’m not supposed to be posting today. But there’s something I wanted to celebrate now that Dad has finally given me the go ahead. And since next week is a book review post, I thought I’d just write this one as something special in between. First, say hi to Dad from my Stonecoast years!
That was when he was around 270 lbs. He maintained that weight for a while after losing 60 lbs (yeah, he was 330 at one point). Then, a week or so after Thanksgiving last year, we went to see a new doctor who came into the room and immediately said Dad was dying because of his weight and diabetes and all that stuff (dude was a real ray of sunshine </sarcasm>). So, he told Dad to lose 70 lbs through diet and exercise. He gave us a crappy little paper that showed what the diet would consist of (not helpful at all), said to do 30 minutes of cardio a day, then sent us away to figure everything out ourselves.
So, we did.
The doctor said 1,200 calories a day, so I found an app to keep track of that. Dad got a new Polar A370 watch to track his exercise and that H10 heart monitor we posted about a while ago, plus the corresponding apps. And for almost 8 months (November 29, 2017 until July 18, 2018), Dad religiously stuck to between 1,200 and 1,300 calories a day. The calorie app would yell at him if he was under 1,200 because, for men, that’s considered starvation levels, but he rarely went over 1,250. He walked on the treadmill 6 days a week and did some strength training as well, but had to give up the exercise for a few weeks when the doctor put him on a statin and he had some adverse reactions. It was hard work and I’m super proud of him! Say hi to Dad now!
He’s lost about 80 lbs! He weighed 191.1 on the 18th! He went from a 2X down to a large. He bought a new belt a few months ago and is currently in need of another new one (he’s been drilling extra holes into it as needed for now). He did an awesome job!
Now, we’re slowly figuring out a maintenance plan. That’s all. I just wanted to brag about Dad a bit.
Hello, hello! I intended to write a blog today (I swear), but ended up procrastinating by running errands with Dad and having a late lunch. Then, I decided that I’d rather watch Jurassic World or something with him than write a blog. My rationalization? It’s a holiday here in the States (or at least it will be by the time this posts), so I can take a day off. In lieu of a blog post, here’s a picture of me looking all festive.
Whether it’s your Independence Day or just another Wednesday, have a wonderful 4th! Have fun. Be safe. Don’t light too much stuff on fire. I will be back with an actual post next week!
Howdy, howdy! A few days ago, a friend of mine posted a link to the CW’s new Charmed trailer (view it here). I admit that I vaguely remember talks of rebooting this show, but I never thought they actually would, so I didn’t keep up with the news on it. When I found out they were going through with it, I was wary and a little excited. In my experience, reboots tend to suck and when you’re dealing with content that was already pretty corny at times, it’s even more difficult to do it justice. The trailer did nothing to ease my fears.
Based on the trailer, the premise is basically the same as the original. Three sisters find out they’re witches after their mother dies , and they have to fight evil! Okay, it’s Mom instead of Grams who dies and the long lost sister (Macy) shows up in the first episode instead of after killing off one of the others to bring her in, so I suppose it’s not entirely the same. Also, their Giles (wait, wrong show)… I mean their Leo (I’m just guessing that’s who the dude who ties them up is supposed to be) appears and explains that they’re witches, which is kind of new. Then, there’s a glimpse of a baddie who looks like an emo whose eyeliner is running. That’s not new at all. And I’m entirely okay with all of this.
That being said, after I looked into some of the advertising for the reboot, I became less enthusiastic. The CW’s description reads:
This fierce, funny, feminist reboot of the original series centers on three sisters in a college town who discover they are witches. Between vanquishing supernatural demons, tearing down the patriarchy, and maintaining familial bonds, a witch’s work is never done.
I’m sorry, but if you have to use “feminist” and “tearing down the patriarchy” in your description, you’re trying too hard. I get that advertising is all about pandering to your target audience, but the original Charmed taught us all about sisterhood and the power of female bonds and that women were as powerful (if not moreso) as men and all that jazz. And they did it through the characters and the story, not by telling us that’s what we were supposed to get from it. The phrasing just feels like a cheap trick to draw in viewers and, honestly, it’s going to work. But it’s also going to drive other people away. Blending this stuff into the show with context and emotion and sarcasm then letting your fanbase decide it’s a “fierce, funny, feminist reboot” is great. Flat out saying it in the advertisements is presumptuous and kind of annoying.
In all honesty, I’ll probably give the show a shot, but I don’t have high hopes for it. What are your thoughts? Looking forward to it or dreading it? Feel free to share your opinions here or on my social media pages!
Hello, hello! I have nothing writerly to talk about this week, so I thought I would share the (boring) story behind one of my weirder decorations. Hanging above my door, alongside my collection of drumsticks and guitar picks, is a crumpled up plastic water bottle. Whenever I’m hurting and need to lay back in the chair to shift my weight (or I get stuck on something while writing and just need a break), I usually end up staring at that bottle for a few minutes. It has this weird ability to make me smile, despite being a piece of junk to everyone else. I guess it’s because I get to think about that December night back 2011 when I got it.
That year was a year for concerts. Miyavi came around in November (pretty sure one of the drumsticks is from that one), which was a no-brainer for me. I was definitely going to that show. Then, I found out that Dir engrey was coming through that December. I admit that I struggled a bit with the decision to go to that show. I knew Dad wasn’t a fan (screamy Japanese metal just isn’t his thing, though I knew he wouldn’t say no if I asked to go) and it was a little expensive, but I had never seen them live before. And you never really know if Japanese bands are going to come back through Texas, so it’s best to catch them when you can. Ultimately, I decided to go.
Dad, the Minion (yes, I call my friend a minion, except I think he still had the title of Puppet back then), and I piled in the van and headed down to Trees in DeepEllum. It’s one of my favorite venues down there, though we haven’t been in a while. The owners were super nice. I heard they’ve reopened two other venues since the last time I went to a concert out there, which is neat. But I digress.
The concert was awesome. Sat by the stage, right in front of Toshiya, the bassist. At one point, Dad leaned over and said that he had just realized that that guy (Toshiya) was wearing a skirt. Given other bands I listen to, it wasn’t a surprise as much as an observation, but it was still funny. Then, when the concert was over and the band members were leaving the stage, Kyo (the singer) stopped and gave me his crumpled up water bottle. Still high on the live music buzz, it was the most awesome thing EVER! A little later, when asked what I planned on doing with his garbage, I vaguely remember a plan to harvest his DNA and clone him. That never came to fruition, but I did use it as a wall decoration.
And that’s how one man’s literal trash became my treasure. What’s something weird that you keep around? Do you have anything other people would look at and automatically think it’s trash? Share your story here or on my social media pages!
Howdy, howdy! I want to take a second to say thank you to DerekHoffman one more time for his guestpost last week! I’m in the process of lining up more guests in the future, so if you’re interested in something like that, feel free to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or get in touch via my social media pages.
And now, on to this week. Happy spring! I had zero ideas what to blog about this week, so Dad suggested I do a post of random thoughts I’ve been having lately. Therefore, if you don’t like this post, blame him. Anyway, here are five things that have been on my mind recently.
1. I’ve been wondering why it always seems harder to write words the closer I get to the end of a story. I still haven’t finished the shitty first draft of my current novel attempt (I know, I know… judge me all you want), even though I’m only a few thousand words away from typing THE END. Revision ideas keep popping into my head, but I make a note and then ignore them, like a good little writer. It’s like my brain doesn’t want me to finish. But I will prevail! I’ll reach THE END, then I’ll get stuck in the editing process and complain about that for a while. Am I the only one with this problem?
2. Recently, I finished reading a book and told myself I wasn’t going to start another one until I finished the one I put down without finishing for various reasons (none of which have to do with the book itself). The next day, I wore my Howl’s Moving Castle t-shirt and realized I hadn’t read the book yet, so I started reading that instead. I feel like a very fickle reader. Shame on me.
3. Honestly, I’ve been thinking a lot about my Stonecoast friends. I was feeling really isolated, especially since it’s pretty much writing con season (ICFA, AWP, StokerCon, etc.). But then I realized my Stonecoast people are magical psychic unicorns, because within a few days of my thoughts, I received a Facebook message saying someone was thinking of me and a surprise package in the mail from someone else. Also, I know I’m not the best at keeping in touch with people, but I really do appreciate them.
4. I want to start drawing again. It’s something I’ve randomly thought about for a while now, but I’ve been too lazy to see if my tablet thingamajig even works any more. It’s super old. Maybe I’ll just buy a new one so I don’t have excuses. (P.S. This drawing desire will fade soon, so don’t expect anything new from it.)
5. Multiplication tables. When I have trouble getting to sleep, I’ve started doing multiplication in my head. I start at one and go up to thirteen, then two to thirteen, and so on until I reach thirteen times thirteen or until I fall asleep. It’s actually been pretty helpful with the sleep bit, but I’m still slow at math.
There you have it. Five bits of random thoughts. Feel free to share some of your own thoughts here or on my social media pages!
Howdy, howdy! I was cleaning out the notes on my phone yesterday, when I came across something from one of my workshops at Stonecoast. This particular group was led by the lovely TheodoraGoss. Just about every day, she would send us off with questions to think about and we’d discuss our answers the following day after we finished our critiques. One day, she asked us to list seven things we believe. There were no guidelines beyond this, so things went in a lot of different directions from what I remember. Anyway, I thought I would share my old list and make a new one.
The old (2014) version, in no particular order:
1. I believe music keeps me sane while inspiring me.
2. I believe growing up and acting your age are scams created by people who are jealous of the young at heart.
3. I believe in priorities: food, sleep, and eye candy.
4. I believe life is too short to be serious all the time.
5. I believe family is more than blood. It’s the people who love you and keep you around because of your flaws.
6. I believe coffee and booze were created to be mixed together.
7. I believe the angels punted my soul into the wrong body at birth. I should’ve been Japanese.
As you can see, I wasn’t very good at the whole introspection thing back then. Spoiler alert: I’m still not. I still completely believe in all of those things, especially the boozy coffee one. But I thought I would give it another go now that I’ve graduated and have no one to ask me these weird questions anymore.
Here’s the new (2018) version, also in no particular order:
1. I believe there is more than one way to be a professional writer. As long as you get words on the page and out into the world, it doesn’t matter if you write every day or not. Find your own rhythm.
2. I believe binge watching anime (or whatever makes you happy) is good for the soul and cleanses the mind. Not every day, but once every couple of months, just to give yourself a break from reality.
3. I believe puppy kisses have magical powers to perk people up.
4. I believe it’s important to surround yourself with people who have different viewpoints/backgrounds than you. Along with the understanding that we don’t always have to agree, but that we can have civil discussions if we put in a little effort.
5. I believe in a thing called love! Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers that song.
6. I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to buy a book just because the cover is pretty.
7. I believe in myself. This is not something that even crossed my mind when I was originally asked to list things I believed. Despite all the rejection and failure, I’m finally at a place where I can say that I believe in me. I will succeed. Eventually. At something.
There you go. Seven things I believed back then and seven more from now. What are seven things you believe? Feel free to leave your list here or on my social media pages!