Goals for 2018

new year meme

During the month of December, I had a vast number of projects and deadlines going at once. What kept me from collapsing into a quivering mess from being so overwhelmed was taking out my physical notebook and writing down every necessary item that needed to be completed that month. That list, which I was able to return to daily, helped me focus my attention in order to actually get things done — not to mention the absolute pleasure of scratching a line through an item once it was accomplished.

This experience has prompted me to try out a Bullet Journal, essentially a system of tracking and planning one’s daily life in a way that’s entirely adaptable to one’s specific needs. There are hundreds of tutorials and inspiration posts about bullet journaling throughout the internet, all with their own unique way of approaching the system. If you bullet journal, I would love to know about your process too.

I’m not starting fresh with a shiny new book the way most people do. First, because I hate leaving a notebook only partially filled (it makes me twitch). Second, because this is kind of an experiment and I want to see how effective it will be for me.

Essentially, I’m hoping it will help me with the tracking of my goals throughout the year, as well as with breaking down the bigger goals into bit sized bits for progress on a day to day basis. So far it’s going well, which brings me to:

My Goals for 2018

1. Clear My Schedule Enough to Be Able to Focus on THE NOVEL – I would love to be able to put “Finish the Novel” on here, but I know down in the depths of my wailing heart that would not be practical. I can’t seem to focus on the novel, while I have a number of projects going that need my attention right now. The plan is to clear the handful of things that are most important to me, with the aim of launching into novel revisions by July 1st.  These things include:

  • A Kickstarter project to create a chapbook of erasure poetry that I’m launching this month.
  • Finish story/chap based on the 12 Dancing Princesses fairy tale
  • Write all of the episodes of a webseries that I’m working on with some filmmaking buddies (probably most important on this list since it involves obligations and deadlines and other good things like that)
  • Finish and submit various poem and story things (though some of these could be put on hold once the noveling recommences)
  • Prepwork for the novel (a bit of research, outlining, and so on that will be helpful when I get to the editing)

The trick is going to be not piling on more projects in the meantime, which is going to take some self control.

2. Return to THE NOVEL – Assuming all goes well, I’ll spend the second half of the year focusing on the novel. Just doing that — digging into the work and making progress — would be amazing.

3. Run a Half Marathon – This has definitely been on my list for a couple of years, and I refuse to give it up. I’ve run 10K races before, so running a half marathon should be doable. The key is sticking to a running schedule (4 times per week) that allows me to accomplish training goals.

4. Blog At Least Once a Week – Donna Vorreyer and Kelli Russell Agodon have started up a blogging challenge for poets for the year, in which every participating poet agrees to post something about poetry (craft posts, reviews, interviews, etc.) at least once a week. Since I’m always trying to make sure this blog stays active, I jumped on board. If you want to keep up with my posts without having to think about it, you can subscribe in the sidebar. The list of participating poets is here

5. Other Goals:

  • Attend an open mic or author reading at least once a month
  • Obtain 100 Rejections – in other words, send out oodles of submissions
  • Sketch, poem, and/or journal daily
  • Bring journal everywhere (because it doesn’t help me if it’s sitting on the couch)
  • Meditate every night (10 minute min.)
  • No hitting the snooze button (which is how I get more time in the day to accomplish all the things here)

I have a tendency to want to go very detailed on my goals for the year, and this seems like plenty… and fairly achievable.

What goals or resolutions have you set for yourself? What are you hoping to achieve this year?

On the Art of Making a Living as a Writer

“I feel strongly that we’re only hurting ourselves as writers by being so secretive about money. There’s no other job in the world where you get your master’s degree in that field and you’re like, Well, I might make zero or I might make $5 million! We don’t have any standards in that way, and we probably never will. There will always be such a wide range of what writers are paid, but at least we could give each other information.” Cherryl Strayed in conversation with Manjula Martin, published in Scratch

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a LivingScratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living, edited by Manjula Martin (founder of now-closed Scratch Magazine), presents a mix of interviews and essays on the act of trying (sometimes succeeding) to make money as a writer. These perspectives come from writers of varying backgrounds, from novelists and poets to news and creative nonfiction writers, to filmmakers. A number of writers I’m fond of are included in this book — such as Austin Kleon, Malinda Lo, Roxane Gay, and Daniel José Older — as well as many writers whose work is new to me.

Readers of Scratch will not find a step-by-step guide on how to “make it” as a writer. This collection of essays never reaches a consensus, except perhaps to say that the pathways to making a living as a writer are multitudinous and have not all been discovered yet. Lacking any one clear answer, the reader instead of directives, the reader is given personal journeys (sometimes deeply so). It’s not a matter of “this is how you should do it,” but rather “this is how I am doing it”.

Continue reading “On the Art of Making a Living as a Writer”

The Voices of Spring Mother Tongue

Last night, I slipped out of my routine and to check out the Well-RED poetry showcase, featuring poets published in the Spring Mother Tongue anthology at Works/San José. The event was hosted in part by Poetry Center San José, a rad organization and a great place to turn to for more on South Bay Area goings on in poetry. It’s the first time I’ve been out to a literary event in months (probably, maybe, at any rate it’s been a rather long time).

Spring Mother Tongue is an anthology edited by Arlene Angeles Biala, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate. The collection provides a space for poets to share the stories behind each of of their own names. “You may recognize yourself in us. You may recall your own name(s) and stories around it/them and be moved to use your own poetic voice. I hope that you do,” writes Biala in the introduction.


Some of the poets whose work appears in the anthology read at the event — representing a variety of ages and backgrounds and a multitude of voices and poetic styles. These readers included: America Cihuapilli Irineo, ASHA, Arlene Biala, Jade Bradbury, Bill Cozzini, Kiana Del Rosario, Lorenz Dumuk, Parthenia Hicks, Larry Taylor Hollist, Joel Katz, Lita Kurth, Pushpa McFarlane, Quynh-Mai Nguyen, Nils Peterson, Anthony Santa Ana, Ann Sherman, Donna Steelman, and Jarvis Subia

The readings present a nuanced and layered exploration of names and what they mean. Some are funny, some are sweet, some explore the ways names are used to strip power away from us, and some are reclamations of power. It’s a beautiful anthology, one I recommend picking up, especially if you’re a local to the Bay Area, California.

What I’m Reading

I am about halfway through and entirely loving Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, which is about vampires in Mexico City. The story is told from multiple points of view, both those of humans and the vampires themselves. I’m loving learning about the different species of vampires, each with their own evolutionary traits of abilities, strengths, and drawbacks. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a fantastic writer, quickly rising to the top of my list of favorites.

What I’m Writing

Over the past week, I completed a draft of a six page poem — the longest single poem I’ve ever written. Most of my poems tend toward the shorter side, 30 lines or less, and I’ve thought of myself as a poet who just wasn’t the type to write longer pieces like that — but apparently I’ve proved myself wrong. I’ve set it aside for the time being, letting the original flow of idea rest, so that I can come back to it for an edit later.

I also have episodes of a web series in progress — episode one has been done for a while, and I’ve started in on the opening scene of episode two. If I can focus and not get distracted by all the shiny poems I seem to be wanting to write this week, then I can probably finish drafts of at least two more episodes before I head out on my next big bit of travel in a week and a half.

The Running Life

Got my first run done in over a month on Saturday. It felt great to hit the pavement, good for my muscles and good for my soul. I was able to run a bit farther than I expected considering how long it’s been since I last went for it, which was reassuring. I need to get back into the routine. I can tell that my body needs it.

Total miles in the last week: 2.20
Total Miles for 2017: 70.84 miles

Linky Goodness

Kathleen Ossip explains Why All Poems Are Political:

“a poem is an utterly free space for language; no objective and definite criteria could possibly apply to evaluate it. In fact, poetry is the only utterly free space for language that I’m aware of, and that is what makes it indispensable to me, and also what makes writing it and reading it a political act: Any act where freedom is urgently at issue is a political act, and any space that makes us aware of our innate freedom is a radically political space.”

Leah Schnelbach’s fantastic essay “Sometimes, Horror is the Only Fiction That Understands You” is a wonderful exploration of what Stephen King’s writing has meant to her in life — and as someone who read every King book I could get my hands on in high school, I completely resonate with this.

3 Free Poetry Chapbooks to Read This Summer From Agape Editions

All the Miles I’ve Travelled

Over half of last week was consumed by as work trip to Michigan. I flew in and out of Chicago and then drove across Michigan visiting industrial facilities (something I find so interesting). Over the course of the trip I drove about 940 miles. Most of the roads revealed large, flat empty fields with skeletal trees surrounding them. I wanted to get out and explore the forests, to stand among the winter trees, but my driving schedule didn’t really allow it. I did, however, get some photos from the roadside.

This is probably where I should connect these miles to a metaphor about the roads I’ve traveling in my creative life, how I’ve persistently pursued poetry and fiction and filmmaking, how I’ve come across mountains and ravines and struggled my way through, how these roads have garnered me new perspectives and insights into myself and the creative world at large — but I’m just not going there right now. Maybe some other time.

What I’m Reading

I’m stoked to be reading The Obelisk Gate, the second book in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy. This book is just as fantastic as the first book, The Fifth Season, which presented a world defined by continual catastrophe (review). I love this world and the characters in it. More about this world has been revealed, making it even more interesting than it already was. I can’t wait to see where this is going.

What I’m Writing

I received three rejections for my homeless ELJ chap over the weekend, back to back. One of them said nice things about my work and offered to publish a few of the poems in their upcoming journal, even though they couldn’t take the book — which was nice.

These days, I’m finding my skin is not as thick as it used to be regarding rejections. I keep reminding myself that most manuscripts get rejected a dozen or more times before finding a home. So, I’m setting myself a requirement to send the chap out to four new publishers, and I’ll continue doing that until it finds a home.

Even with all of the traveling and holidays and life being lifelike, I’ve managed to consistently keep up with my daily erasure poetry on Instagram. I really enjoy doing these and I’m considering putting together a self-pubbed chap of erasure poems at some point.

The Running Life

The not running has continued, and I can feel it in my muscles that I need to be getting back out there again.

Longest Run of the Week: 0 miles
Total Miles for the Week: 0 miles
Total Miles for 2017: 62.54 miles

Linky Goodness

“Literature’s grand mission is to tell the complicated truths about what it means to be human, but the most powerful proof that any writer has achieved that lofty goal is in the humble phrase: me too,” says Cheryl Strayed in a response to question on the power of words.

“So maybe it was just sad, doughy me, at home stuffing the void with takeout, but it felt like Sad Girl Theory had infiltrated all the biggest moments in pop culture over the past two years. Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s breakout TV show Fleabag and Rachel Bloom’s My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend each fixated on two things: being sad and being a woman and the connection between both.,” writes Sophie Atkinson in Feminism and the Pursuit of Relentless Happiness.

Five Fierce Women Poets You Need to Read Now

Catching up on rest after all the FOGcon fun

My weekend was full of FOGcon in all its geeky glory. Lots of fun and thinking about speculative literature and movies. Lots of food and drinks and karaoke. It was wonderful and exhausting to the point that I came home on Sunday and immediately fell into a mid-day nap. Still feeling tired a day after (and I should probable wrap up this post as soon as possible, so I can head off to bed.

Sometime this week, I’ll do a full recap with notes from panels and book recommendations. For now, here’s my bookhaul from the even, which was somewhat small this year. Probably a good thing, since my bookshelves are already overflowing and my reading time is slim. The books:

  • Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
  • The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
  • The Velocipede Races by Emily June Street
  • Life in Babel by Brett James (mini-chapbook)

 

What I’m Reading

I’ver started The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman, which I picked up with the intention of reading before FOGcon. The story is of a young boy who escapes his abusive uncle only to be trapped by an evil wizard, who expects him to be his apprentice. Sherman did a great reading of the prologue and first chapter during FOGcon and I’m excited to continue reading this fantastical adventure story.

What I’m Writing

I wrote on FB earlier today about the state of overwhelmed I continue to be feeling, due to the multitude of projects I have going on. The bulleted list of things to accomplish is long and it seems to only be getting longer the more I work on it. So, I keep taking one item at a time. Then one more. Then one more. And hopefully I’ll get through a few things by the end of this week.

One of those things is writing the first episode of the webseries in time for critiques later this week.

The Running Life

My personal challenge for March to run a minimum of a mile a day has been going well for the most part, although I have not been hitting all the days. I skipped Wednesday, Sunday, and today — Wednesday because I could feel my muscles were already overworked from the workout with my trainer and the other days because I’m still recovering from the weekend festivities.

I’m going to try to finished up the rest of the month straight through. But even if I don’t I feel like the challenge was something of a success in terms of what it taught me about the effects of daily running.

Longest Run of the Week: 1.76 miles
Total Miles for the Week: 7.11 miles
Total Miles for 2017: 54.31 miles

Linky Goodness

“Dolly Parton started writing songs as a child, and she left her home for Nashville at 17, and she’s been working ever since. She’s 71 now; she says she writes songs every day, unless she is sick or on a movie set. It’s hard work to maintain a career that spans decades. This is important to remember for all creative people. It is a long game. There is no overnight success,” writes Annie Hartnett in Lessons I Learned From Dolly Parton on a Creative Life

From ‘alibi’ to ‘mauve’: what famous writers’ most used words say about them

17 Essential Short Stories Written by Women

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Just Keep Swimming

For the past, oh, year or so, I’ve been telling myself, If I can just get past this project or trip or ordeal or whatever, then things will mellow out and I won’t feel so overwhelmed any more. But when the project or trip or ordeal or whatever is completed, another just sprouts up in its place — creating an ongoing saga of overwhelming days that seem to be never ending.

Some days, it seems that all I can do is take advice from Dory:

finding-dory-movie

And just keep swimming, swimming until I get through it all. Keep writing, keep working, keep on keeping on until the next project or trip or ordeal or whatever is done and I can move onto the next.

What I’m Reading

I don’t know what is will me these days, but all of my reading is incredibly slow. Too much going on to focus on books the way I used to, I suppose.

I’m currently reading The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett. This is FogCon homework, since Jama-Everett will be one of the Honored Guests at the event. The story involves people powerful enough to be considered beyond human and the reaching for more power that comes from this. It’s very interesting so far, with a thrilling storyline. I’m not sure where it’s going to go and that makes it fun.

I’m also reading Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, because Okorafor is amazing. And it won both the Hugo and Nebula for Best Novella. It’s really wonderful so far and I’m sure I’ll polish it off tonight.

I’ve paused my progress on Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, due to my desire to get some books read in time for FogCon. Also, despite being a fantastic story has turned into a really slow read for me. It’s unfortunate in the sense that this slow reading with gaps of days in between isn’t really allowing me to immerse myself in the story the way I would like.

What I’m Writing

I have a lot of non-writing projects that are on my desk at the moment, including getting submissions out there, editing work, preparing and posting interviews, etc. — all of which is taking time away from the actual writing and editing of existing work. My 15 minute rule/plan goal is not really working out, so I may have to adjust at the end of March.

A number of good things continue to develop, though, particularly in the collaborative arena. Laura Madeline Wiseman and I continue to meet weekly to write and edit new poems and we’ve produced enough work that we’re starting the process of putting together a collection.

I also met with some people over the weekend to discuss the creation of a web series, which I’ll officially announce later if it becomes finalized. But for the moment, we’ve hashed out the first act of the proposed series and I’m going to start writing scripts for that in the coming weeks. I’m excited to see where this goes.

More rejections coming in, more submissions going out. I tell myself this is all a part of the process, because it is — because even the most famous of writers faced rejection, because rejection is not a sign of your value as a writer. I tell myself this, and most of the time I believe it.

Goals for the Week:

  • Get more poems edited
  • Hot potato my submissions to at least two more journals/publishers

The Running Life

Inspired by Sierra De Mulder , I’ve set myself a personal challenge for March. The goal is to run a minimum of 1 mile daily, only about 12-14 minutes for me depending on my pace. After completing six days in a row of running (with some days in which I ran far more than one mile), I’m feeling rather good. Because I’m mixing in some longer runs, the short runs don’t seem that difficult. The hardest thing so far is being in the right headspace to make sure I get out there no matter what.

Longest Run Walk of the Week: 3.63 miles
Total Miles for the Week: 10.51 miles
Total Miles for 2017: 47.2 miles

Linky Goodness

Malanda Jean-Claude examines The Chaos That Makes Poetry: “What does it mean to be a word smith? A writer. I struggle with answers for things I never had dreams to become. A cannon, an act of rebellion. A synagogue, a revolution tucked in the Quran inside of a prayer. Hip-hop laced with the holy ghost, a contradiction in my own walk.”

“Art isn’t easy. It’s not just that we need a revolution in style but also a revolution in audience, distribution, circulation, performance, perception and, indeed, motivation. These revolutions are never a question of being marked as ahead of the times—that is the problem with the label avant-garde, with its flamboyant promise of “being out front.” Rather, the issue is staying in and with the times and not letting the times drown you,” write Charles Bernstein and Tracie Morris in Poetry Needs a Revolution That Goes Beyond Style.

The recent poet spotlight features Jessie Carty discussing her new chapbook Shopping After the Apocalypse.

Lots of Love to Give

On this Valentine’s Day, as I sit here putting together my weekly update, I want to take a moment to send some love. It’s been a rough start for the year and will likely continue to be rough for a lot of people. So, I’m sending you all some love and wishing you joy.

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

The Drowning Gull has accepted three collaborative poems from Laura Madeline Wiseman and myself. Looking forward to seeing them published.

What I’m Reading

I finished some actual books last week! Woo! Now I’m just on Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, a sequel to the amazing Seraphina, the story involves dragons and war and half-dragons seeking each other out.

What I’m Writing

I actually found myself avoiding the Twelve chapbook that I intended to work on. As I sat down to work on it, I felt in my gut the need to let it sit a little longer, giving my brain more of a break before launching into editing it again. It can be good to allow this kind of space (if you have the time), so that you can approach it fresh.

So, instead I found myself taking a look at other poems needing some editing and even tried to convert a Frankenstein poem into a sestina — which fell apart halfway through, but I’ll come back to sometime this week.

In addition to actual writing and editing work, I’ve been in the submission-rejection-submission cycle. I’ve been skipping right over the sorrow stage and making sure to send out work again as soon as the rejections come in. It’s kind of fun actually, like hot potato-ing my poems right back out the door.

Goals for the Week:

  • Get three poems edited
  • Hot potato my submissions to at least two more journals/publishers

The Running Life

Longest Run of the Week: 3.35 miles
Total Miles for the Week: 3.35 miles

Total Miles for 2017: 29.27 miles

Last week was a bit stressful in terms of the day job while we were getting the magazine to press. Because of that — combined with the fact that I did two strength training sessions instead of my usual one — I chose to take my Tuesday and Thursday morning runs off in order to get a fraction more rest.

Saturday was a gorgeous day, sun and cool — just the right weather for a good run. I managed 3.35 miles, with a minimal amount of walking in between, and felt great afterwards. Although, my goal this week is to get my long weekend run up to 4 miles.

Then on Sunday, I tripped on the sidewalk and fell hard. I didn’t injure myself — at least not any more than a few bruises and aches — but the fall left a bit shaky. I thought about doing a run or even a walk to work some of the feeling out, but opted to let my body rest that day instead.

Linky Goodness

‘Take your clothes off’: Poets reveal their favourite love poems.

Sarah MacLean on why Bashing Romance Novels Is Just Another Form Of Slut-Shaming: “I don’t defend the genre anymore. Instead, I bite my tongue, because I’m more polite than most of these people, and it would be rude to say what I’d really like to say, which is: ‘What’s your problem with women and sex?'”

Gay Romance Novels Are Not Queer Romance Novels

Eight Affirmations for Self Love.

“One forges one’s style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines.” – Émile Zola

On Tuesday night, I forged out five hours after an already stressful day at work to make a last ditch effort to complete a chapbook manuscript in time for a looming submission deadline. I slammed into the work, editing and in some cases entirely redrafting prose poem pieces, following by a reordering of the set, and what final polishing I could manage within the tight deadline. Some of the final pieces came together strong, others less so.

I love deadlines for the amount work they force out of me in short spans of time. I don’t know that I would say I thrive under them, since who can thrive when you’re mentally and physically exhausted to the point all you can do is collapse into a stupor. However, I do find them valuable.

However, the intensity of the deadline is influenced in no small part by my capacity to procrastinate. For example, on Monday night, the day before this five hour editing bonanza, I had set myself a goal of finishing off edits on a handful of poems — only to find myself watching Game of Thrones instead. I would saved myself a lot of stress and pain, if I hadn’t avoided the work Monday night.

Since I’m on the subject of procrastinating, here’s a bit from a great piece on Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators, by Megan Mcardle:

“Over the years, I’ve developed a theory about why writers are such procrastinators: we were too good in English class. This sounds crazy but hear me out…. If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good.”

In her piece, Mcardle also writes, “Most writers manage to get by because, as the deadline creeps closer, their fears of turning in nothing eventually surpasses their fears of turning in something terrible.” This was pretty much the driving force that got me to finish the chap in time for deadline.

I didn’t expect that my chap would be selected. I just had that feeling based on how rushed my work was, and that feeling was confirmed less than a week later, when the rejection came in (mega kudos to the publisher for the awesomely fast response time, though). I couldn’t feel too bad about this, however. The deadline provided me with the impetus I needed to finish a project I’ve been poking at for well over a year. Over the next week or so I’ll take a look at it again to refine it further and send it out again.

What I’m Reading

I finally finished Tim Burton: Essays on the Films by Johnson Cheu, a rather good collection of academic essays on Burton’s films — interesting analysis in the ones I could decipher.

Still working my way through Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. Both are great.

Just started Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz on audio book this morning. I didn’t realize when I picked it up that it’s a future dystopia/utopia novel, in which people are expected to fit into norms or risk being sent to the Blight. This allows for transgender identities as long as they are able to fit into the gender binary once they select their gender, but causes problems for Benders, in other words genderqueer folks who don’t fit neatly into the binary. The story centers on a young teenage Bender, named Kivali, who is sent to a camp where they are expected to learn how to fit into society. It’s very interesting so far.

What I’m Writing

Following Tuesday night’s deadline chasing, I pretty much allowed myself the rest of the week off. I had completed my !5 Minutes per day, after all — and then some. Now it’s time to get back to work. Most likely this work will involve a new look at the chap for more polishing. Some additional poems will also get some looksees to see what edits need to be made.
Goals for the Week:

  • Go back in for a fresh look at the chapbook; get three poems edited

The Running Life

The dawdling continued a little bit this week. I got one weekday run in and one weekend long run in. However, my body was so achey on the long run that I cut it short and walked most of the way. I’m glad I got two days in this week, which at least keeps up the baseline — although it doesn’t do much for improving my distance.

Linky Goodness

“I am most satisfied when a poem works on several levels, when it sings, rings, plays the changes, and invokes the transcendent,” says Akua Lezli Hope in an interview.

An App That Makes It Easy to Pester Your Congress Member.

“The progressive liberal agenda isn’t about being nice,” writes Tucker FitzGerald in Intolerant Liberals. “It’s about confronting evil, violence, trauma, and death. It’s about acknowledging the ways systemic power, systemic oppression, systemic evil, work in our world around us.”

Beginning the Year with Words

Welcome to my first Weekly Update of the year. I post these because they provide a good way for me to hold myself accountable, both in terms of meeting my writing and reading goals, as well as making sure I post regularly on the blog.

Lately, there seems like there’s so much to write about, so much to resist and fight against, so much to do and say and act on that at times it feels overwhelming. Sometimes you can only do what you can do, so today, I’m going to talk about the Uptown Fridays event hosted by Nomadic Press that I attended a couple of Fridays ago, because it was wonderful and inspiring.

It was an interesting challenge getting to the event that night, involving an hour long car ride from my work to Oakland — only to find when I arrived that I had left my wallet back at the office, which meant that I had no cash or cards on hand to buy dinner or books from the reading. I considered returning to my office and coming back over the bridge (which would have made me late to the event), but decided to roll with it. Since I had an apple left in the car, I knew I wouldn’t starve and I let go of the idea of otherwise needing my wallet on hand. I let go and gave myself to enjoying the event I came for.

Thomas Nguyen performed a set of songs that were moving, some mixed with speeches and sounds from a tape recorder to wonderful effect. (He was also my hero of the night, reminding me of the toll on my return trip to work for my wallet and giving me a fiver to make it back without a wicked ticket.)

Isobel O’Hare read both from new work and from her chapbook The Garden Inside Her. I’ve known her from the online Facebook world for some time, so it was great to meet her in person. Her work is great and I’ll have to buy her chap the next time I get a chance.

Caits Meissner, whose work I’ve been following for years, was a delight to meet and hear read. She read both a new experimental piece that gave me chills and from her new book Let It Die Hungry. I was so grateful that my checkbook was in my purse, because it allowed me to buy Caits’ new book and have it signed. The book includes poems in both text and comic form — I can’t wait to read it.

Thomas Nguyen.
Isobel O’Hare.
Caits Meissner.

For all the frustration of getting to the event and leaving my wallet behind, it was worth every bit of panic and frustration, because the night was a blessing. And it’s clear to me that I need to attend events like this more often, more events where people speak and address the world — both because it’s important to support artistic communities in times like this and because I find such experiences soothing to the soul.

What I’m Reading

My reading pace has been abysmally slow this month, has in fact been getting slower and slower over the course of the past year. I think this is partially because I’ve been reserving my lunchtime reading for getting some writing work done and because I’m too mentally distracted when I actually get home.

I’m currently working my way through Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, two very different books that I’m enjoying quite a bit. One is a collection of darkly beautiful short stories, the other is a novel about dragons.

If I finish on book this month, it will have to be Tim Burton: Essays on the Films by Johnson Cheu, because I’ve been working on it for several months now.

What I’m Writing

I have been off and on sticking to the 15 Minute Rule more or less over the past couple of weeks, especially during the last week when I launched into that wonderfully productive time of deadline panic. Poor Belly Press is closing for chapbooks in two days and I would love to have my Twelve Dancing Princesses chap picked up by them, because their chaps are so beautiful — which has lead me into desperately trying to edit and polish up my work in order to make the deadline. In fact, I should be getting off the blogging and back to work right now. (But allow me just a moment more.)

Goals for the Week:

  • Finish chap edits and get it sent out

The Running Life

Since one of my goals is to actually accomplish a half marathon this year, I’ve decided to add running to my weekly updates.

I’ve been keeping with my routine of getting up hella early and making it to the gym two days a week for some short runs before work. These shorties are at about 25 minute, or 1.5-1.6 miles. Good small starts in preparation for the buildup, and they feel make me feel energized and cleansed in the morning. However, I have skipped my long weekend runs the last couple of weekends. I should be pressing past three miles into four miles at this point, but I’m dawdling.

Linky Goodness

I’ve been gathering links for weeks, so this is going to be a longish list.

In How To Keep Your March Momentum Going (regarding the amazing, inspiring event that was The Women’s March), Catherine Pearson recommends actions like signing up for e-mail updates from your local legislators and calling Congress daily.

“What comes next for the anti-Trump resistance will depend on how consistently these activists will engage and turn out for causes that are not their own; whether they’ll continue to phone their federal and state representatives after the inauguration and confirmation hearing hubbub dies down. It’s quite possible that what was started as an arguably superficial gesture at unity will evolve into one that holds the most powerful dissenters accountable for the least powerful,” writes Devon Maloney in Some Inconvenient Truths About The Women’s March On Washington.”But to do so, resisters must first reckon with complex issues of intersectionality.”

In Before You Celebrate The Zero Arrests At The Women’s March, Zeba Blay writes: “Of course, it is always a good thing when citizens are allowed to exercise their right to protest without anyone being harmed or detained. But there’s a question that should be asked and acknowledged, even as we celebrate the success of the protest:Would the outcome have been the same if the march had been exclusively organized by and mostly comprised of women of color?”

When You Brag That The Women’s Marches Were Nonviolent by Ijeoma Oluo.

How to survive in intersectional feminist spaces 101.

Alvin Chang describes how White America is quietly self-segregating, “Everyone wants diversity. But not everyone wants it on their street.”

20 Small Acts of Resistance You Can Do Today.

Celebration of women filmmakers triggers heated debate between Salma Hayek, Jessica Williams and Shirley MacLaine presents an interesting conversation between these women concerning issues of intersectionality in supporting women filmmakers.

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The 15 Minute Rule: Goals for 2017

GIVE ME JUST

This is the second year in a row that I’ve been hesitant to set forth concrete goals for the year, paranoid perhaps that if I set down anything specific I won’t complete them (a strange paranoia, since I’ve been known to accomplish at least a goal or two in the past). This feeling is mixed up with the general sense of feeling overwhelmed by life, the universe, and everything, not to mention my writing. But I think I’ve settled on an idea that works for me (at the present moment, at least).

Writing Goal: The 15 Minute Rule

In my writing lately, I feel like I’m being pulled in a hundred different directions — with numerous poems and short stories and even a novel all halfway drafted or needing a rewrites. The pileup of things to finish (not including all the ideas that haven’t even been started yet) is so tall that I’m not even sure where to begin.

It reminds me of having to clean a cluttered room — clothing piled on top of papers piled on top of other random things, covering every surface and the floor, the things you need on a daily basis lost underneath the junk. When decluttering a room, I’ve sometimes used a technique recommended to me by a friend. Pick a small section and spend just 15 minutes clearing that out. The next day, pick another section. And the day after that. Until the room is clear.

This year, instead of trying to set specific goals, I’m going to try to apply the 15 Minute Rule to my writing — 15 minutes everyday working towards finishing or editing a draft, sending something out on submission, or drafting something new. Or a total of 1.75 hours for the week.

Rather than trying to nail down the goal of finishing a specific story (or the novel glaring at me from the corner of the room), the 15 Minute Rule will allow me to refocus as needed without feeling guilty about working on something other than what I initially planned.

So far, I’ve been fairly consistent about getting work done, with some editing accomplished and some submissions sent out. As a result, I’ve already received my first rejection. Yay?

Other Goal Stuff

I’ve set myself a goal of reading 70 books for the year, a bit more than the 57 books I finished last year. At some point, I’d like to get back to reading an average of 90 books, like I used to, but keeping myself above 50 still feels acceptable.

My one other concrete goal is to complete a half marathon (finally). I’ve signed up for a gym near my work, so that I can get some runs done in the morning before work. My sisters and I are registered for the She is Beautiful 10K in March, which is a good starting point. If I can keep up the training, getting to a half marathon will be entirely doable.


Do you have goals for the new year? Share them in the comments.


Breathing in the Cold, Crisp Air

As we drove along the dark roads under the sheltering shadows of trees, the face of a mountain rose up before us like a monolith, ghostly in the blue moonlight, while the stars sprinkled the noctilucent sky behind. All of us in the car — except the one sleeping — gasped. The night could not hide the grandeur of the mountains that sheltered us in Yosemite valley.

It was the first time to Yosemite National Park for most of us (my mom, my sister, my sister’s friend, and I), and somehow entering the park in the dark, barely being able to see anything other than the mountain aglow was the perfect introduction.

* * *

Visiting Yosemite in the winter is beautiful, but the cold can be exhausting. Our group was in a constant battle against the cold, grasping for every ounce of heat, the heater in our tent barely holding up against the drafts that slipped in through the door and window flaps. It was a good thing we brought our own sleeping bags and an extra assortment of winter gear.

My clothing was mostly California-thin, laughable as winter wear. The cold was a creeping thing, working its way through layers of clothing, to crawl along the skin, slip its way in to settle under the surface, nestle in my bones. I layered pattern upon pattern, not caring about hat conflicting with scarf conflicting with coat, in an attempt to maintain warmth.

Icicles and moss at Yosemite.
Icicles and moss.

* * *

The only time we really got warm was on our hike, our bodies becoming furnaces fighting against the frost and wind as the trail inclined upward, leading us toward rivers and waterfalls and mossy stones and vistas.

Water was everywhere on this trip, sliding over rock faces in grand cascades glittering with a framework of ice or dribbling through cracks, rushing through rivers, leaving slick patches on the trails, nearly invisible and dangerous underneath our feet. It covered everything in during each night, making the whole world glitter.

Yosemite as seen from Tunnel View lookout.
Yosemite as seen from Tunnel View lookout.

* * *

I’ve fallen in love with Yosemite. The place is too beautiful not to return to again and again. I hope I’ll get the chance to return again soon, whether in the frigid cold of winter or the heat of summer.

Half Dome in the setting sun - Yosemite
Half Dome in the setting sun — it almost tricks you into thinking of warmth, doesn’t it?

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

Thank you to the editors of Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghouls, Ghosts, and More! I’m looking forward to seeing my poem “Beware of Attics” reprinted within its pages sometime in 2017.

Also, I forgot to mention it before, so I’ll mention it now — latest issue of Nonbinary Review: Anne of Green Gables is now available to read for $1.99.

What I’m Reading

I’m enjoying Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier, a graphic novel about two sisters who move to a coastal town with a local population of specters. The artwork is bright with clean lines and slightly cartoony (as in the characters have large round eyes and exaggerated expressions. Fun, so far.

What I’m Writing

Mostly I’m dealing with end of the year stuff, figuring out just what I accomplished this year and what I need to finish up in order to clean out my files and prep for the new year. This will involve a considerable amount of gathering and editing and arranging, I’m sure.

 

Goals for the Week:

  • Get organized
  • Edit, edit, edit — and submit something

Linky Goodness

“The women in her stories are often constrained – by convention, by their families, by their own fears and subconscious desires. And beneath it all is a sense of powerful, hidden rage – a rage that belies the setting of so much of her fiction. Under the bland surface of these small, suburban communities, something dark is fermenting; something is about to erupt,” writes Joanne Harris on the Shirley Jackson centenary.

Don’t Look Now, But 2016 is Resurrecting Poetry

Have a Creepy Little Christmas with These Unsettling Victorian Cards

Coming Home

For the past several weeks, I’ve been avoiding writing much of anything, either here on my blog or poetry and other projects. I’ve been overwhelmed following the election and also busy spending time with the family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend followed by jumping on a plane to Germany for a week long work trip.

Life is like that sometimes. But I’m back home and back writing. I will probably have a string of posts wrapping up the year over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, here are a few pics from my time in Dusseldorf, Germany last week.

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What I’m Reading

Independent Ed by Edward Burns is a memoir describing the filmmaker’s passion for the process of directing movies and his focus on independent work, as well as some stories from his acting career. Rather interesting and enjoyable with a few useful tidbits of advice here and there.

I’m also working my way through Tim Burton: Essays on the Films, edited by Johnson Cheu. The essays present some fascinating analyses of Burton’s movies. For example, one of the essays examines atypical bodies as presented in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

What I’m Writing

I have not been writing much of anything lately — all a part of giving myself time to decompress. I tend to feel two ways whenever I’m not writing. The first is guilty, as I know in order to improve at writing and to develop my career, I need to put words on the page and send them out into the world in one manner or another. The second thing I tend to feel is acceptance, a kind of forgiveness mixed with relief, because I also know that there is no sense in beating myself up when I’m not in a place to deal with words directly.

This whole not-writing thing is going to shift, I’m sure — in part from necessity, as I had a meeting yesterday regarding an upcoming project that could be an amazing amount of fun. As the project is in its initial stages of discussion, I can’t really share what it is yet, but I may be able to do so over the coming months, assuming everything pans out.

I also have some writing assignments that I need to finish up this week.

Goals for the Week:

  • Finishing writing assignments
  • Type up and send out meeting notes regarding mystery project

Linky Goodness

“We are living through a time when dark, violent forces have been released, encouraged, and applified, on both sides of the Atlantic: by Trump in America, the Brexiteers here, Le Pen in France and too many others eager to extend its reach. I contend that in the face of such ugliness we need the beacon of light that is beauty more than ever — and I hold this belief as someone who has not lead a sheltered life, nor is unaware of the true cost of violence on body and soul. It is because of the scars that I carry that I know that beauty, and art, and story, are not luxuries. They are bread. They are water. They sustain us.” — Terry Windling in Dark Beauty.

“The 2016 presidential campaign was decidedly lacking in poetry. Yet in its aftermath, as Americans consider the contours of their new government, they are, often, turning to poems,” writes Megan Garber in Still, Poetry Will Rise.

Star Trek’s Feminist Statement: Believe Women

Some thoughts on recent days

I was going to go into more detail, but the short version is I got a new hair cut and color, went and picked out some pumpkins with the fam, and am now resting because I’m fighting off a potential soar throat.

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Went to buy #pumpkins with the fam today.

A post shared by Andrea Blythe (@andreablythe) on

What I’m Reading

I’ve started up Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clark, which is fun and readable so far. The science is there, but in just enough detail to make the discovery of a giant cylindrical alien starship seem real without stopping up the flow of the story. I’m enjoying it.

Still working on Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

What I’m Writing

I am caught up on all my daily poems for THE POEMING 2016. It’s been a challenge to keep up with them everyday with the amount of non-writing to-dos there has been over the past few weeks.

In other news, it’s amazing what can you do under a deadline. When I discovered that the submission period for poetry at Uncanny Magazine was coming to an end in just a few hours last Monday, I rallied into editing mode — because Uncanny is one of my favorite genre publications. In two hours I did a complete rewrite of the poem, “The Ground Beneath Her Feet,” a Rapunzel retelling. I was happy enough with the results that I sent it in right as the deadline was closing. Now to just wait for a response. 

As the month draws to a close I can’t help but think about November and the forthcoming Nanowrimo. Although I don’t think I’m going to sign up for the novel writing challenge, I’m trying to think about what other sort of challenge I might set for myself — particularly a challenge that will help me to get work done and out into the world. Maybe an editing/submission challenge of some sort. I don’t know.

Goals for the Week:

  • Get all my required POEMING found poems written and posted
  • Avoid getting sick

Linky Goodness

As I’ve been trying to get back into running, a pastime that both keeps my body out of pain and clears my head, I found Ryan Holiday’s essay, The Timeless Link Between Writing and Running and Why It Makes for Better Work, rather interesting. He writes, “I run because I love it. Because it’s good exercise. It’s the only exercise I’ve ever really been good at, and I’ve done it essentially non-stop since middle school. But I run for another reason, the same reason that many writers apparently run: it makes me better at my job.” I don’t think you need to be a runner (or walker/hiker/etc.) to be a great writer, but for some of us, it acts as one of the many support struts that aids our work.

Robinson Meyer also wrote a beautiful piece on Hayao Miyazaki and the Art of Being a Woman. She writes,

“I remember watching 1984’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind for the first time. A young woman flies in, early in the film, on her white glider, into a vast forest of beautiful yet toxic plants and takes a sample from one into a beaker. When I hear her voice, something makes me shiver. When she takes off her brown oxygen mask under the protective molted shell of a beetle’s eye, poisonous pollen falling around her like snow, it happens again. I know she’s the girl on the cover of the movie case, yet here she is: alone, exploring, unafraid, androgynous. I’m a tween, and I don’t process my thoughts clearly at the time. But I know, suddenly, that she is different from everything else I’ve watched up to this point. She seems to wear power like a coat. She lingers in my thoughts after the movie is over.”

Something About Something

Between multiple birthdays, a baby shower, going to press at the day job this week, and now starting to feel energetically off (and maybe getting sick) — I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and a little behind on quite a few things. So…, I am keeping this short.

What I’m Reading

I didn’t actually read anything last week — at least not anything in book form. I temporarily lost my copy of China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station and just didn’t make any progress on Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

What I’m Writing

I made it through all my daily poems for THE POEMING 2016 last week, except for Sunday. Now with all that’s been going on and how I feel and everything else, I’m a few days behind. I can and will catch up, of course, but I have to make sure to find space to mentally and physically rest in order to prevent a collapse.

Goals for the Week:

  • REST
  • Get all my required POEMING found poems written and posted.

Linky Goodness

10 Books That Don’t Exist But Should (Unfinished, Lost, Withdrawn, and Otherwise Tempting Us), which includes Stephen King’s  The Plant, my book for THE POEMING project

21 Amazing Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Add to Your October Reading List

Watch a Book Being Made the Old-Fashioned Way. Slowly, and by hand.

Writing in Chaos

Although I’ve pursued the more solitary act of writing poetry and fiction, I’ve been interested in the process of filmmaking since high school. The collaborative nature of the medium, in which a handful to hundreds of people with their own skill sets, come together to tell a story is fascinating to me. As an entry point into the medium, I’ve tried to write screenplays (both short and feature length) over the years and have even made some awkward attempts at directing with no idea of what I was doing and no understanding of the complexities involved in the process.

Other than the money and (more importantly) time aspects of the filmmaking process, the biggest obstacle for me over the years was trying to figure out how to track down a community of filmmakers to work with. I didn’t even know where to begin. So, I was stoked to discover MMTB – Movie Making Throughout the Bay, which not only provides that sense of community, but also has a “get in there and get movies made” attitude with workshops and challenges that focus on making moviemaking happen.

Over the the weekend, I participated MMTB’s first Writers & Actors Short Film Challenge. Writers showed up at the MMTB headquarters in Rodeo, CA — and interesting jumble of a building with rooms that can be staged in a variety of ways — were given a set of guidelines and four hours to complete up to three scripts. The guidelines were simple enough: keep the story under three minutes, include all three available actors, set the story using one of the rooms in the building, and no special effects. After four hours of writing, we gave feedback and voted on the scripts, and the top three scripts were filmed that night.

I managed to complete one script to my own satisfaction — which was not selected for filming. But I received a lot of positive feedback for my incredibly awkward bathroom scene, which starts out humorous and becomes a story about one of those unexpected moments in which two people connect. I also received some great feedback about how to make the short script better. (Someone said the script made them incredibly uncomfortable because it was set in a bathroom, which made me laugh because uncomfortable was what I was going for.)

In general, I was impressed with the number of quality screenplays that the group was put together and I had a great time sticking around to watch the scripts become films. All of the actors were equally impressive, memorizing their lines on the fly, getting into character, doing a rapid shoot, then switching up for the next one and doing it all over again.

On set at MMTB in Rodeo, CA.

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

I seem to have forgotten entirely about making any announcements in a while, so I’ve got quite a few of them to share. Woo!

First, I’m incredibly honored that the editors of Noxnbinary Review has nominated my essay, Beyond Shahrazad: Feminist Portrayals of Women in The Arabian Nights, for Best of the Net 2016.

Several poems from my forthcoming chapbook, Pantheon, have been published online. You can read three poems — “Harley Quinn,” “Rogue,” and “Ursula,” over at Issue 8 of Yellow Chair Review, and a fourth poem, “Sarah Connor: Our Lady of Self Determination,” within Issue 26 of Literary Orphans.

“The Tenth Sister,” a prose/hybrid poem that is part of a series based on the Twelve Dancing Princesses fair tale, has also just been published in the Write Like You’re Alive 2016 anthology from Zoetic Press, September 2016. The anthology, which I also helped curate, is free and full of tons of great writing.

And last but not least, “Because Her Face Fades,” a poem I cowrote with Laura Madeline Wiseman, was recently published in Faery Magazine #36, Autumn 2016,

What I’m Reading

China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station is amazing but presents slow, slow, slow reading for me. It’s a little too challenging for my overworked brain right now, but I keep pressing on.

Still reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, as well.

What I’m Writing

In addition, to the script challenge I mentioned, I’ve also launched into the THE POEMING 2016, which my first three found poems based on Stephen King’s The Plant up at Tendrils of Leaves and ready for your reading pleasure.

Usually when creating found poems, I work in erasure (like this, for example), in which I take a printed text and blackout words until all that’s left is the poem. It’s a very restrictive way of doing found poetry, as you have to move down the page in such a way that it remains readable, but it also provides the ability to incorporated fun visual elements.

But I’m trying something different with THE POEMING, opening myself up to using any word on the page in any order. But since I’m still drawn to the tactile sensation of writing on paper, I end of creating wild intricate webs of lines and circles words (as pictured below). It’s a fun sort of chaos and somehow I’m still able to decipher it as I work through a page — despite sometimes getting temporarily lost in my own maze.

Goals for the Week:

  • Get all my required POEMING found poems written and posted.

Linky Goodness

“That book you’re writing is mewling again in the dark. It’s a half-formed thing — all unspooled sinew and vein, its mushy head rising up out of the mess of its incomplete body, groaning and gabbling about this life of misery it leads. Its life is shit because you haven’t finished it. It’s flumping along on stump legs, pawing its way through your hard drive, bleating for attention. It needs words. It needs plots. It needs resolution,” says Chuck Wendig in his post, “Here’s How To Finish That Fucking Book, You Monster

And since it’s a King month, here Why Stephen King Spends ‘Months and Even Years’ Writing Opening Sentences.

Also, 40 Jokes That You’ll Only Get If You’re A Grammar Nerd

To Nashville and back

Last week, I took a business trip that took me through Nashville, northern Alabama, and into Kentucky. I spent quite a bit of this trip driving from location to location and with all the work meetings and industrial site visits, there was little time for hanging out.

I checked out the Nashville City Cemetery and would have loved to have explored it more, but it was sweltering hot and humid out and I couldn’t handle it. Not even in the shade.

So, I journeyed to the air conditioned realm of the Frist Visual Arts Center, which featured three displays that day — an exhibit of pottery and embroidery created by women at the turn of the 20th century, a collection of classic Italian cars showcasing the styling and beauty of the engineering, and a small exhibit featuring the surreal art of Inka Essenhigh.

Most importantly, I made sure to get my good eats on while at Nashville by visiting Hatti B’s for some great fried chicken and Biscuit Love for some bonuts.

The Nashville City Cemetery.
The Nashville City Cemetery.
Bonuts from Biscuit Love.
Bonuts from Biscuit Love.

What I’m Reading

China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station presents an incredible detailed portrayal of one of the strangest fantastical cities I’ve read. There’s a strange mixture of magic and science combined with a gritty seedy feeling — the entire city being filled with grime and refuse and other more disturbing images. It’s not a nice place to visit (or live), but it’s also beautiful in its way. The characters, too, are rather interesting — one being an artist pursuing a dangerous commission and the other a scientist of magic (it seems) who has been provided with a seemingly impossible challenge.

Still reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, as well.

And I’m reading The Plant by Stephen King — an unfinished novel about a plant that invades the office of a small publishing house — for THE POEMING (which I’ll talk about below). I’m sure many sinister things are abound to happen in the story, although I’m not sure how deep into the story it goes before it just drops off into unfinished territory.

What I’m Writing

Due to the traveling, my writing was sporadic last week. I attacked some poems in an attempt to meet an anthology deadline, but trying to combine the submission process with being on the road stressed me out. So, I let it go for now. But at least I have a couple of solid poem starts that might find homes elsewhere.

At the moment I’m getting prepped for THE POEMING — an October challenge in which 50+ plus poets have been each been assigned one of the 50+ novels written by Stephen King. Each poet will write/create a found poem from their assigned novel (mine is The Plant) and will post one new poem per day in the month of October. All of the poems will be shared on Tumblr — my challenge page is Tendrils of Leaves.

Goals for the Week:

  • Work on that short story or one of the poetry collection projects

Linky Goodness

Carina Bissett beautifully shares her thoughts on Finding Beauty in Brokenness.

8 Female Surrealists Who Are Not Frida Kahlo

5 lessons I learned while submitting to literary journals, by Icess Fernandez Rojas

All Womyn’s Showcase

All Womyn's Showcase
Admist a great many other things that happened last week, on Sunday I attended and performed at the All Womyn’s Showcase — which featured five hours and more than 20 performers of poetry, music, and art, as well as booths for artists and community activism. It was a stellar day, one that I felt so honored to take part in.

Some of the amazing poets included Arlene Biala, Santa Clara Poet Laureate, with two moving pieces; Christina Springer; Jaqunasty, a spoken word poet with a powerful voice and words full of feels; and Aasha, who performed several kick-ass poems, as well as co-hosted the event alongside Estrellita Munõz. Also, Nicole Henares shared a poem from Madrid with Bianca Rodriguez performing flamenco alongside — there was something powerful about seeing two such different forms of art performed side-by-side, with ever staccato-ed flamenco step punctuating the words in the poem.

There was so much great music, too — Socorra floored me with her foot-stomping rock; Claymoon wowed me with the growl of the lead-singer’s voice and the emotion in their lyrics; Astralogik made me want to sway to their soulful electronica; Bird & Willow shared some lovely folk; and as always Q&A made my world a better place with their beautifully strange, folky tunes.

One comedian, PX Floro, also took the stage and she was hilarious.

This is really just the short list, as there were so many other amazing poets and artists who gave wonderful performances at the All Womyn’s Showcase as well. Thank you so much to Robertino Ragazza and Quynn Nguyen for organizing and hosting this amazing show!

In other awesome event news, I also attended Cito.FAME.Us hosted by the hella famous Lindsey Leong on Thursday night for the first time in many months. I read a few poems and listened to a variety of comics, musicians, and poets share their works. There have been some changes with Cito — the event remains a weekly, free open mic taking place at Iguanas in San Jose, but the hours now run from 8:30 – 11:00 pm, with signups starting at 8 pm. It a great venue for South Bay poets and artists to come share, with all forms of work welcome, from poetry to music to comedy and dance (as long as it’s family-friendly, i.e. no cuss words). Sometimes they even set up a screen to share short films and other media — as they will be doing this week with the screening of Through the Walls, a 45-min documentary filmed at San Quentin State Prison that shows how inmates are healing through music.

What I’m Reading

I’ve come back to Gateway by Frederik Pohl, a book I started reading many months ago but only got a few pages into before the time limit expired on my library loan. The story seems to center around a man, who continues to be haunted by his time working on Gateway, some sort of space travel station (though I’m not clear yet on how it operates, since I’m still in the beginning).

Still reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and the nostalgia is strong.

What I’m Writing

I honestly can’t remember what — if anything — I wrote last week. So, that basically means that I didn’t write anything, which is not where I like to be.

Goals for the Week:

  • Work on that short story or one of the poetry collection projects

Linky Goodness

Webster Dictionary on when words stray from their roots:

“Many complain when the word ‘awesome’ is used to describe things that are not, in fact, deserving of awe. Yet few object when ‘awful’ is used to mean something other than ‘full of awe.’ … There have been a number of people who have inveighed against this loose sense of awful over the years, but their ranks are thinning, and most of us seem to not mind its use very much. If you have taken these conflicting positions about awesome and awful, you needn’t feel bad about it (and you probably don’t); one of the only things that is as resolutely illogical as the English language is the way that most of us feel it should be used.”

The fabulous Ursula Le Guin will become one of the few living writers to be inducted into the Library of America canon for her literary work, The Complete Orsinia.

Why Do We Judge Parents For Putting Kids At Perceived — But Unreal — Risk?

Nothing Comes of Nothing

I felt like I was hermit-ing myself away this week. I don’t mean that just in the sense of hiding myself from the world (because when I think about it, since I spent time with my sister on Monday and hung out with a friend on Sunday), but also in the sense of hiding from my own creativity and somewhat from social media. Although, this feeling may be less reflective of last week than how I feel at this moment.

I don’t know if I’m ready or willing to pull myself out of that mode just yet, but I can tell that this is going to start to drag on me if I let it go on, too long. When I’m in this mode I tend not to get much of anything productive done and that’s not helpful on many levels.

What I’m Reading

I finished up She Walks in Shadows, the anthology edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles and may have some thoughts to share on it soon. But for now I’ll just say that it’s a solid collection of weird, Lovecraftian stories.

I’m about halfway through The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms, which is an entertaining adventure romp with a fun, sassy main character.

What I’m Writing

Rinse and repeat from last week — no new words were written last week, and no major editing. I’m finding it very difficult right now to face words, can stand to either look at a blank page or edit anything I’ve already written. Kind of frustrating, but I’ll work my way out of it soon, I’m sure.

Goals for the Week:

  • Work on something – ANYTHING

Linky Goodness

“We love her and we hate her in equal measure. We feel that way because she revels in being all the things that we are told we aren’t allowed to be. She is confident, and she has wrinkles, and her nose isn’t a formless nonthreatening comma in the middle of an ill-defined wide-eyed face—it’s a knife, or an arrow, or a scythe. She frowns. Everyone in the audience and on the internet wants to talk about whether or not she’s sexy but they’re asking the wrong questions and she’s laughing at them for it,” writes Sarah Gailey in Defense of Villainesses.

The Historical Origins Of The Witch by Danika McClure

Jo Eberhardt on The Problem with Female Protagonists

Moving Slow

It was a mellow week last week. I gave myself space for that, just sitting around and watching TV and old movies.

I particularly loved binge watching Stranger Things — creepy and nostalgic with amazing music and some cool world building. I can’t wait for season two.

What I’m Reading

I didn’t read anything out of books last week, so I’m still working on both She Walks in Shadows, the anthology edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, and The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms.

What I’m Writing

No new words were written last week, and no major editing. However, I did manage to make some minor tweaks to the new chapbook and send it out to a contest for consideration.

Goals for the Week:

  • Edit and submit something

Linky Goodness

Jade Sharma tells the story of the terrible, no good, very bad day she woke up as a debut author.

On The Furiosa Test, How The Mad Max: Fury Road Heroine Is Inspiring More Inclusive Cinema, by Jamie Righetti.

A New Journal Publishes Poetry by Computers

The Big News: Pantheon forthcoming in 2017

Pantheon, my chapbook of poetry based on a series of Our Lady poems has been accepted for publication and it forthcoming from ELJ Publications in August 2017! Each of the poems speaks to a female pop culture character, examining their hidden stories and the ways these characters can sometimes feel personal or sacred to our lives.

This will be my first collection of poetry and I’m so excited!

In related news, I just learned that three of these poems — Harley Quinn, Ursula, and Rogue — will be published in Issue 8 of Yellow Chair Review!

What I’m Reading

I’m still working on both She Walks in Shadows, the anthology edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, and The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms. Both are thrilling in different ways, the one being dark and strange Lovecraftian short stories and the other being a fun action adventure fantasy romp.

What I’m Writing

The 31/31 challenge hosted by Zoetic Press wrapped up yesterday. I finished a total of 23 poem drafts for the challenge, which feels kind of awesome because now I have 23 new things that can be edited and submitted.

During the course of this challenge, I managed to put together first drafts for all the prose poems in my Twelve Dancing Princesses collection — something I’ve been meaning to polish off for a long time.

So, now it will be all editing, editing, editing and submitting for a while.

Goals for the Week:

  • Submit chapbook collection to YCR contest.
  • Start editing

Linky Goodness

Lynne M. Thomas on How Creating Inclusive Sci-Fi/Fantasy Sparked a Culture War: “We all want to find ourselves in stories. Finding ourselves in stories should be easy. No one should ever have to feel grateful just to see themselves.”

Defining the Genre: 7 Novels of Afrofuturism

The Lake Monsters of America (which is just begging for a series of poems)

The Mondays Ain’t So Bad

Over the weekend, my family and I celebrated my niece’s birthday. She’s four years old and such a wonderful little princess monster.

I’m back in the office after a work trip and the weekend and it’s Monday. My to-do list both at my day job and my writing/poeming job is long and only growing longer, it seems. But that’s okay, because I woke pretty well rested and generally feeling good, which is a nice start to the week.

What I’m Reading

She Walks in Shadows, the anthology edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, continues to present fantastic weird stories and art involving Lovecraftian mythos. I especially enjoyed Jilly Dreadful’s story, which is creatively told through the format of a dissertation outline.

I’m also started The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms, which looks like it’s going to be a great fantasy, superhero, action-adventure story.

What I’m Writing

I managed another six poems/flash pieces last week for the Write Like Your Alive, a 31/31 project being hosted by Zoetic Press, which jumps me up to a total of 15 pieces. So, I’m still quite a bit behind, but not dauntingly so. I’m hoping that I can manage two poems a day for the rest of the week, which would put me at a total of 30 for the month — a happy making amount for certain.

In other news, I received a rejection on a chapbook submission. It was a lovely encouraging rejection that said some wonderful things about the collection as a whole and complimented two of the poems in particular (one of which I wasn’t as confident in, but am now feeling better about). On the one hand, I’m disappointed. On the other, I’m feeling good and more confident about my ability to put together a coherent poetry collection — something more than just a randomly thrown together set of random poems — which is kind of awesome.

Goals for the Week:

  • Finish up the 31/31 challenge by drafting a multitude of poems
  • Take a look at the rejected collection and see about submitting it to another publisher

Linky Goodness

Vanessa Willoughby has a beautiful essay up, Black Girls Don’t Read Sylvia Plath.

“It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t mean it. It doesn’t matter that he’s secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn’t matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn’t matter because the harm he does is real,” writes Laurie Penny in her amazing piece, I’m With The Banned: What my evening with Milo told me about Twitter’s biggest troll, the death of reason, and the crucible of A-list con-men that is the Republican National Convention

Michael Arnovitz presents a call for reason regarding Hilary Clinton: “Hillary is nobody’s idea of perfect. Fine. But in my view if a man with her qualifications were running in the Democratic primary, Bernie would have been done before he even started. And if a man with her qualifications had been running for the Republicans, they’d be anointing him the next Reagan while trying to sneak his face onto Mount Rushmore.”

The Mondays Ain't So Bad

Over the weekend, my family and I celebrated my niece’s birthday. She’s four years old and such a wonderful little princess monster.

I’m back in the office after a work trip and the weekend and it’s Monday. My to-do list both at my day job and my writing/poeming job is long and only growing longer, it seems. But that’s okay, because I woke pretty well rested and generally feeling good, which is a nice start to the week.

What I’m Reading

She Walks in Shadows, the anthology edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, continues to present fantastic weird stories and art involving Lovecraftian mythos. I especially enjoyed Jilly Dreadful’s story, which is creatively told through the format of a dissertation outline.

I’m also started The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms, which looks like it’s going to be a great fantasy, superhero, action-adventure story.

What I’m Writing

I managed another six poems/flash pieces last week for the Write Like Your Alive, a 31/31 project being hosted by Zoetic Press, which jumps me up to a total of 15 pieces. So, I’m still quite a bit behind, but not dauntingly so. I’m hoping that I can manage two poems a day for the rest of the week, which would put me at a total of 30 for the month — a happy making amount for certain.

In other news, I received a rejection on a chapbook submission. It was a lovely encouraging rejection that said some wonderful things about the collection as a whole and complimented two of the poems in particular (one of which I wasn’t as confident in, but am now feeling better about). On the one hand, I’m disappointed. On the other, I’m feeling good and more confident about my ability to put together a coherent poetry collection — something more than just a randomly thrown together set of random poems — which is kind of awesome.

Goals for the Week:

  • Finish up the 31/31 challenge by drafting a multitude of poems
  • Take a look at the rejected collection and see about submitting it to another publisher

Linky Goodness

Vanessa Willoughby has a beautiful essay up, Black Girls Don’t Read Sylvia Plath.

“It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t mean it. It doesn’t matter that he’s secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn’t matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn’t matter because the harm he does is real,” writes Laurie Penny in her amazing piece, I’m With The Banned: What my evening with Milo told me about Twitter’s biggest troll, the death of reason, and the crucible of A-list con-men that is the Republican National Convention

Michael Arnovitz presents a call for reason regarding Hilary Clinton: “Hillary is nobody’s idea of perfect. Fine. But in my view if a man with her qualifications were running in the Democratic primary, Bernie would have been done before he even started. And if a man with her qualifications had been running for the Republicans, they’d be anointing him the next Reagan while trying to sneak his face onto Mount Rushmore.”

Taking in the Sun

My weekend was filled with sunshine. My sisters, mom, niece, nephew and I spend Saturday on the beach enjoying the sun and sand and surf. The babies had so much fun splashing their toes in the clear blue water, giggled as it washed up over their legs. They also loved digging in the sand and building sand castles.

Sunday I took myself on a solo hike and run through a local trail.

We’re definitely in the Spring of things, with sunny days on the horizon (no surprise, really, in California).

At the beach near Half Moon Bay.

What I’m Reading

In my project of making up for missed childhood reading, I’m following up Anne of Green Gables with Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. I’m only a chapter in, so I don’t have a ton of thoughts as of yet, but I’m sure I will.

Also reading the 2016 Rhysling Anthology, so that I can make my votes soon.

What I’m Writing

Work on the 30/30 poems is ongoing. I do a substantial edit of about one poem at a time, followed by a re-exmination of one of the previously edited poems.

One the whole, I still have so many doubts about these poems. But I’m trying to just trust my original gut feeling. I try to focus on the spark inspired me to go in that direction in the first place and to move in that direction with my edits.

Goals for the Week:

  • Continue editing the 30/30 poetry collection.
  • Submit a set of poems for publication

Linky Goodness

“The fact that “The Little Mermaid” revolves around the silence of its heroine speaks to the political situation of the era. In some ways, the 1830s in Europe marked an “enlightenment” period for gay activism,” writes Maddy Myers on Queer Subtext in The Little Mermaid, From Hans Christian Andersen’s Original to Disney’s Adaptation.

Rose Hackman on how women are pushed to de-escalate sexist incidents.

In The Secret to Reviewing Mediocre Movies, Jacob Oller writes, “Each review should be something I’m proud to publish or at least contain something I’m proud to publish.,” which also applies to the wider world of writing in that we should all be writing something we’re proud to publish.

A Strange Horizons survey shows that sci-fi media coverage is still dominated by men.

Legacy of Poetry

The Center for Literary Arts at San Jose University (SJU) hosted Legacy of Poetry Day at the Hammer Theatre on Thursday. The event started off with music and presentations of theater and folkloric from SJU, followed by readings from poet laureates from around California, culminating in a reading by U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.

Herrera read some amazing pieces, including at one point a poem about laundry written on the back of an actual laundry bag. He has a generosity of spirit that’s really wonderful. Following the readings, he did a series of signings and for each one, he sat the person down next to them and spoke for a short moment about poetry while he signed.

Alejandro Murguía, the San Francisco poet laureate emeritus, was equally amazing during his reading in which he played off the other poets and performances from the evening — having either come up with the words on the spot or just before going out on stage. It was one of those performances that socks you in the chest because it was that good.

I was also blown away by the work of Arlene Biala, poet laureate of Santa Clara County, who read a deeply moving poem.

What I’m Reading

Apparently, I missed out on a thing called Anne of Green Gables as a child. So here I am reading it and I’m almost done and it’s fairly lovely in a wistful, hopeful way.

Still working on In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood. In the second section, she’s included portions of past essays that analyze SF books and worlds. Some of it’s interesting, some of it’s a repeat of what she’s already discussed.

What I’m Writing

All those thirty poems I wrote during April? Well, now they need editing. A few are almost ready to go. Others need a lot of overhaul. So, I’m starting in. I’m finding myself being super critical of them, even hating some. Mostly, I am just trying not to despair, because sitting around wailing isn’t at all productive.

But that’s all kinda part of the process.

In a similar theme, I speed-wrote the draft of a new poem this week, while my mom was sitting near by. She asked me to read it aloud, so I did. It was too soon. The poem was too rough, resembled nothing of what it had been in my head, fell flat across the polite silence of the room. I should have waited to share it, held on to it and waited to share it when the timing was right as I usually do. No one said anything. The conversation moved politely away from the scope of poetry without commentary. I quietly despaired.

That’s kinda part of the process, too.

Goals for the Week:

  • Continue editing the 30/30 poetry collection.
  • Submit a set of poems for publication

Linky Goodness

Mallory Ortberg on Publishing, Weight, and Writers Who Are “Hard To Look At”

“I was an escapist. That was what, finally although implicitly, he was accusing me of. For a long time I felt vaguely ashamed of being an escapist. But recently I have decided to reclaim the word,” writes Theodora Goss in her lovely piece, Writing My Mother’s Ghosts.

Sonya Vatomsky on The Gendered Experience of Fear & Better Living Through Horror Movies:

“I’ve been watching a lot of horror movies after my assault.

This surprises people, women in particular — horror as a genre is so overrun with male fears and fantasies that it’s almost impossible to separate the human desire to feel fear in a safe, contained environment from allyship with the male fear narrative. They are conflated. Empirically, depending on how broad the range of movies you watch, they can be identical. Because in the same way that a nearly all-male literary canon shapes our personal narratives, male identity also shapes our fears and our perceptions of what should be feared.”

In her piece On Robots as a Metaphor for Marginalization: The Stories We’re Not Telling, Maddy Myers writes, “Much like how the mutants in X-Men serve as a catch-all metaphor for various forms of marginalization, so too do robots end up in that role. They most often serve this purpose in the stories that have a robot in a starring role; a story that is about a robot will generally also be a metaphor for oppression.”

Playing a game of catch up

What I’m Reading

It’s still poetry, poetry, and more poetry, which you can see on my Instagram.

But I’ve also started reading the first few chapters of In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood, in which she discusses her own relationship with the speculative genre and what inspired her to write her own other worlds.

What I’m Poeming

I keep playing a game of catch up with the 30/30 challenge. I fall behind a day or two, then get caught up and then fall behind and get caught up.

Some of my poems have required “research,” by which I mean the watching of copious amounts of movies and TV in order to get new ideas. For example, I watched both two 1930s movies, Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein with the aim of writing a poem for the Bride (who is only in the movie for about a minute). Of course, in the process, I couldn’t help but write a poem for the monster himself, as well.

The poems I’ve completed this week (all will be taken down at the end of the month May):

Goal for the Week:

  • Only SIX poems left to write in the challenge! So polish it off!

Linky Goodness

Alyssa Rosenberg on Mourning Prince and David Bowie, who showed there’s no one right way to be a man: “We’re in a moment in American politics consumed by gender panic, from Donald Trump’s menstrual anxieties to the rise of and backlash to a movement for transgender rights. And now we’ve lost two men who had an expansive, almost luxuriant vision of what it meant to be a man and lived out that vision through decades when it was much less safe to do so.”

Brain Pickings shared The Importance of Being Scared: Polish Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska on Fairy Tales and the Necessity of Fear.

Scott Mendelson explains Why It Matters When Female Stars Are Kicked Out Of Their Franchises: “When you’re a woman in Hollywood, no matter your stature, no matter your billing, and no matter your importance to the television show or film franchise in which you appear, you may well always have a target on your back. At the end of the day, the only indisposable part of the franchise or the hit television show is the guy.”

Defying Gravity

I took a break from poetry reading, writing, and living on Thursday and wandered up into the city with my mom and sister. We ate a ton of amazing Indian food at Mela Tandoori and watched Wicked in the gorgeous Orpheum theater. The musical was just as powerful and amazing as it was when we saw it six years ago.

Orpheum theater - Wicked
Sis, mom, and I outside the Orpheum theater before seeing Wicked.

My favorite song is “Defying Gravity,” which always has me singing to myself after hearing it as well as wanting to find my own ways to defy gravity. For the moment, I think accomplishing all the poeming that I’m accomplishing this month works for me. For the most part, I feel as though I’m flying through words and it’s wonderful, although I foresee some headwinds in the near future.

What I’m Reading

I’ve shared a number of excellent poetry books this week, but I’m most excited about From the Standard Cyclopedia of Recipes by B.C. Edwards, in which each poem is presented in a psuedo-recipe format.

I’m putting Gateway by Frederik Pohl aside for the moment, probably until I can get through April.

What I’m Poeming

More poetry words on the page for the 30/30 challenge. My initial burst of writing flow has slowed down some. I’m still managing to get at least one poem out per day (pretty much), but I’m also feeling a little worried as I look ahead to the 20 more poems I still need to write this month.

The poems I’ve completed this week (all will be taken down at the end of the month May):

Goal for the Week:

  • Get those poems per day written and posted!

Linky Goodness

White Poets Want Chinese Culture Without Chinese People, writes Timothy Yu in response to Calvin Trillin’s poem ”Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?”

I want to feel what I feel. Even if it’s not happiness,” Toni Morrison says in an interview with Emma Brockes, in which she also shares about her life at 81 and her new novel, Home.

“My college professor Brooke Stevens told my class it was not the best writers who succeeded, but the most persistent ones, and I have reminded myself of that advice again and again. What he left out is that in addition to trying really, really hard, you also need the chutzpah to promote yourself and make the right connections. But that becomes challenging, if not impossible, when you’re constantly questioning your value as a writer,” Lindsay Merbaum writes in Not a Real Writer: How Self-Doubt Holds Me Back.

Siobhan Lyons writes about what ‘ruin porn’ tells us about ruins: “Criticisms of ruin porn stem from the suggestion that these photographs are bereft of any sort of socio-economic context regarding their cause and aftermath, and are dismissive of the broader failures of modern economic life.”

Poetry all the time

Over the weekend, my mom and I did a sleepover with the babies (i.e. my niece and nephew), who we read to and played with and climbed all over me like a jungle gym. It was a delight, as always.

Other than that, it’s been all poetry all the time due to all the National Poetry Month things I’ve got going on.

What I’m Reading

Poetry, poetry, and more poetry. Most notably, I read bits of Paper House by Jessie Carty (Folded Word) and Terra Incognita by Jennifer Martin (Dancing Girl Press).

I’m still sort of reading Gateway by Frederik Pohl, but only in bits and fragments, since so much of my focus is on poetry this month.

What I’m Poeming

Pretty much ALL of my words will be in poetry form this month, due to the poem a day challenge that I’m participating in. So far the poems are coming well, falling into place exactly on the day they’re due, and I’m feeling wonderfully inspired and excited about how the series is going.

I’ve been posting these poems on a separate blog and you can view them here (although they will be taken down at the end of the month May):

Goal for the Week:

  • Keep on writing a poem a day.

Linky Goodness

The Big Poetry Giveaway is in full swing. Go comment to win a book by some amazing poets.

Ursula K. Le Guin on Racism, Anarchy, and Hearing Her Characters Speak.

And, since pop culture is something I’m thinking a lot about while writing all these poems, here’s Kevin Pickard’s exploration of how pop culture is addressed in fiction.

Events and more events

So many things this week!

Tuesday, I checked out the Alchemy Slam & Open Mic at the F8 Lounge in San Francisco, which is a homey, intimate space. My plan was to simply kick back and watch the amazing Allie Marini and Brennan DeFrisco perform, but I got talked into pulling putting my name on the list. It was a wonderful experience in terms of both listening and speaking, due in a large part to the great group of people who were present.

Over the weekend was FOGcon, three days of talking all things genre and geeking out with friends and meeting authors and hoarding books and generally having a good time. I’ll being doing my usual report later this week.

And finally, for week two of the March Around the World movie watching challenge, I watched: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Iran), Bangkok Love Story (Thailand), Volver (Spain), The Snapper (Ireland), The Assassin (China), and Sin Nombre (Mexico).

What I’m Reading

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, which was supposed to have been FOGcon homework. The story involved the creation of AI creatures in a virtual space, at first as

What I’m Writing

My writing was slim this week, though I mostly managed to keep up with all the collaborative projects I’ve been working on. But FOGcon and the movie watching challenge have taken giant bites out of my writing time. This weekend will be rough in that regard, as well, because I have plans to help my sister paint her house this weekend.

However, since I signed up to participate in Get Lit in Oakland tomorrow, where I am required to present new work, I will be compelled to get something down on the page this week.

Goal for the Week:

  • Finish one story and/or one poem draft.
  • Submit something.

Linky Goodness

A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction, as presented by Nisi Shawl.

Five Signs Your Story Is Sexist

All the Birds … and other things

On Saturday, I took a jaunt up to the city to Borderlands Books for a reading and book signing with the amazing Charlie Jane Anders in celebration of her new novel All the Birds in the Sky. It was a packed house, with standing room only as Charlie read from her charming and funny tale about a witch and a mad scientist becoming friends. I laughed out loud several times during the reading and then waited in a rather long line to get my book signed (during which time, I found too more books to purchase that day). It’s was a joy and a delight to have been there, even though I couldn’t stay longer to mingle. I’m just so happy for her and for all of her success.

All the Birds in the Sky description:

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

What I’m Reading

Since I started it first, I’m reading an ARC of Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina, which is the story of a young high school student coming of age in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, when the infamous Son of Sam serial killer was shooting young women on the streets. So far it’s interesting.

On the docket: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

What I’m Writing

As expected, the my day job work pretty much stripped my brain of words or any interest in looking at computers last week. So, I honestly can’t remember actually putting any words to the page. I might have done, might have worked on a book review, but I’m not sure. So, yeah.

Anyway, now that the big day job project is done, it’s time to get back to creative things in my off hours.

Goal for the Week:

  • Finish one story and/or one poem draft.
  • Submit something.

Linky Goodness

Tobias Carroll discusses things left unsaid or unspoken in fiction“Every story that works gets the level of description that it needs. Which isn’t to say that the level of description needed for every successful story is the same; quite the opposite.”

The Five Stages of Confronting Your Own Privilege, as described by Daniel José Older.

Charlie Jane Anders on 5 books that wonderfully combine sci-fi and fantasy.

Season of the Crow

Last Friday, I witnessed a bit of magic in the form of poetry and music at the Octopus Literary Salon (which is fast becoming a favorite place of mine). Hosted Richard Loranger, the Crow Show featured an amazing array of diverse voices, including musical guest the Lake Lady Ukulele Project and poets Corrina Bain, Kelly Klein, Brennan DeFrisco, Tureeda Mikell, Annelyse Gelman, and Laura Jew. I took photos throughout the night, but they were on my phone and turned out horrible.)

It was a tough week last week and I almost opted out of the event. But I was able to rally my energy when Friday rolled around, and I was so grateful to have been able to be present that night. Some moments are perfect at the time in which they occur, something about the combined energy of the people in a room and the energy of the performers — which is difficult to describe to anyone else after the fact. All I can say is that it was a wonderful night and I highly recommend tracking down the work of each of these performers, if you can.

What I’m Reading

I’m still loving the short story collection Get in Trouble by Kelly Link. The most recent story I read, “The Lesson,” was a heartbreaking and beautiful tale about a gay married couple anxious about the health of the surrogate mother bearing their child. It’s also about a wedding, a strange tropical island, and wish making. It’s gorgeous.

What I’m Writing

Somehow I started working on a brand new story draft last week, rather than trying finish the almost-done story I meant to work on. Apparently I’m distractible. Although jumping into new and shiny things instead of finishing existing things has been a habit I’ve been trying to avoid. However, the new (-ish, because I had previously tossed out an old draft) story is geared toward a specific market with a specific deadline, so all will be hunky dory if I can stick to that deadline.

Meanwhile, the day job is somewhat overwhelming this week, leaving me little mental capacity to handle the two book reviews and two short stories I really should be working on. I’m trying not to beat myself up, if I find myself exhausted at the end of the day.

So, this week, I’m going to give myself a break on all that, with a gentle nudge to try to get some work done, but it’s okay if I don’t.

Goal for the Week:

  • Survive.

Linky Goodness

Daniel José Older with 12 Fundamentals Of Writing “The Other” (And The Self).

A loving tribute to Tori Amos’ Boys for Pele presented by Gina Abelkop.

Frida Kahlo on How Love Amplifies Beauty: I love Diego so much I cannot be an objective speculator of him or his life… I cannot speak of Diego as my husband because that term, when applied to him, is an absurdity. He never has been, nor will he ever be, anybody’s husband. I also cannot speak of him as my lover because to me, he transcends by far the domain of sex. And if I attempt to speak of him purely, as a soul, I shall only end up by painting my own emotions.

“I love it when you post pictures of yourself… They give me a little window into your life,” writes The Bell Jar in her post on selfies.

Holding Patterns

I’m in a weird place for the beginning of the year. On the one hand, I feel excited about what this year can bring (provided I put the work in with the writing and such). I have short stories and poems and novels and ideas all in various stages of drafting and/or brainstorming (some might say too many of these things), all of which have me wanting to scratch at the page in a rapid fashion.

On the other hand, I feel like I’m in kind of a holding pattern. My day job is intense right now, with two giant projects looming over me and which are not allowing me much headspace beyond their enormity. I keep feeling like once they’re done, I’ll have energy to get back to it again. But I think the issue is more that I’m falling back into old habits and not carving out space to write no matter what.

It’s all solvable. The big projects will get done. In the meantime, I just need to make sure that I leave clear space for my own words on a regular basis.

What I’m Reading

The Ballad of Black Tom by by Victor LaValle, a novella about magic in Jazz Age New York. Charles Thomas Tester, a young man from Harlem, who gets mixed up in a deeper and darker magic than he’s prepared to handle. It’s interesting so far, well written and starting to get creepy.

I’m also reading the short story collection Get in Trouble by Kelly Link, who is one of my favorite short story writers. These stories so far are inventive, each playing with writing styles and tone, while sharing human experiences that glance at the supernatural and strange.

What I’m Writing

I’ve entered into a hectic period at my day job, which has me not wanting to look at computer ever again by the time I get home. That being said, I managed to edit and pull together a chapbook of poetry last week, which was sent out to two different publishers. Here’s hoping.

Somewhere along the way I also managed to throw down some outlines for new scenes that will go into my dark Sleeping Beauty-inspired story, “A Dream of This Life.”

In other news, I received my first rejection of the year. All par for the course.

Goals for the Week:

  • Edit  “A Dream of This Life” to completion.

Linky Goodness

Tasha Robinson talks about the Trinity Complex. She explains that while there has been a push for more strong and more complex female characters in movies, TV, video games, etc., many of these characters are hampered by the fact that they have nothing to do. (Discovered via Rhizomatic Ideas.)

The Night Witches were a band of an all-female squadron of bomber pilots who ran thousands of daring bombing raids during WWII, which is an awesome piece of history I didn’t know about.

Lise Quinta talks about the death of art and what it is we are really mourning when celebrities, like David Bowie and Alan Rickman, die.

Also, here’s a list of David Bowie’s 100 favorite books.

Transitioning into the New Year

Looking back on 2015…

If I could sum up my experience of 2015 in just a few words, I would say that it was a strange mixture of overwhelming and astoundingly wonderful.

In Writing:

At the beginning of 2015 I wrote about seeking minimalism and creative focus. The idea was to step away from doing ALL THE THINGS and focus in on the work that mattered most to me. In some ways, I achieved a sense of minimalism through an increased sense of focus on my writing and in other ways I failed miserably.

At the beginning of the year, I focused in on the YA novel I’ve been trying to get drafted for a couple of years now. A few month into slogging through the novel, however, I faltered and couldn’t find my way any further into the story.

Somewhere around that time, when I was starting to feel lost, I reconnected with poetry, writing and editing and submitting it to number of markets. Around the end of the year, I joined the Brainery Science Fiction Fairy Tales short story writing workshop (which I wrote about here), which brought me back around to fiction.

In 2015, I submitted more poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for publication in a single year than I have in all the years I’ve been pursuing writing combined (I’m fairly sure, although I don’t have old data back that up). As I result, I’ve received more rejections, acceptances, and publication credits than before. Around six poems (three of which were collaboratively written with Laura Madeline Wiseman) and an essay have been published since the beginning of the year.

Even more amazing, two of those poems have been nominated for awards — “The Things I Own” (published in Thank You for Swallowing, July 2015) was nominated for Independent Best American Poetry and “Eve and Pandora” (published in Nonbinary Review, Issue #4: Bulfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Fable, April 2015) was nominated for Sundress Best of the Net.

I also attended more open mics, readings, and writing events (such as FogCon) that I had previously, including a few events in which I was a featured performer. Through these events, I’ve made some great connections with other poets and writers and artists, all of whom continue to inspire me in a variety of ways.

In blogging, I started a series of Poet and Artist Spotlights in late 2015, an attempt to highlight and acknowledge creators I admire. The first three in the series — Jill Allyn Stafford, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and Kristina Marie Darling — all shared insights about their work and their process. Doing the spotlights was a fun exercise and I hope to be able to significantly expand this series in the new year.

Other Non-Writing Things:

Running and improving my distance (with the ultimate aim of running a marathon) has been a major goal for me over the past few years. I did participate in a couple of events, including the She is Beautiful 10K, which was wonderful, and the UROC not-really-a-half-marathon half marathon, which I didn’t actually run and was miserable. After the UROC, I fell out of my running routine and I was okay with that. I think I needed the break.

Travel included two work trips to Orlando, Florida in the spring and Detroit, Michigan in the fall, as well as an amazing journey up to Anchorage, Alaska to visit family (which included an intense hiking excursion, or intense for me anyway, my sister thought it was no big deal).

Looking forward to 2016…

I’m hesitant to make any major writing goals, or even life goals, encompassing the entire year. One of the many things 2015 taught me was that priorities shift throughout the year and what’s important at the start is not always going to be what’s important at the end.

At the moment I find myself wanting to be drawn in several different directions. I have a number of stories drafts that came out of the Brainery workshop that are calling out to be polished. The novel is also calling to me again and a couple of poetry drafts and poetry book manuscripts want some attention. It would be easy to end up mentally dismembered by letting myself be pulled every which way at once.

But 2015 also taught me that by focusing in on a specific project (or maybe two at most), fantastic things can be accomplished.

For the moment, I think I’m going to focus on the short stories. A couple are near-ish to done and two more need to finish being drafted. In the second half of the year, I may go back to the novel after I’ve done some more research.

I know that I also want to stay physically active and to that end I’m doing a trial run with some early morning yoga classes (maybe too early) before work and I’m going to try to get back into a running schedule.

And other than that, I’m just going to let the year unfold as it may and will keep readjusting my goals along the way.

How was your 2015? What sorts of goals, if any, do you have in mind for 2016?

Things I Learned from the Brainery Workshop

Last week, the Brainery Science Fiction Fairy finished up with an analysis of the final set of portfolios (including my own). The class was a wonderful and empowering experience. Jilly Dreadful is an amazing teacher and the class was filled with great writers — Katy Stenta and Kirsten Squires. (A few other writers started out with us, but for personal reasons were unable to complete the workshop.) It was cool to see their work develop over the course of twelve weeks and I can’t wait to see where all their writing goes from here.

The weekly mash up of a fairy tale with some element of science was a fascinating exercise, which pushed the boundaries of what fairy tales can be. Although each week we worked with the same fairy tales and science, the stories that came from each writer were vastly different, some barely containing any resemblance to the original tale.

I’ve learned a lot about the craft of writing and myself as a writer from this workshop. Here are just a few of the bits and pieces that stick out most for me.

Henry Meynell Rheam - Sleeping Beauty
“Sleeping Beauty” by Henry Meynell Rheam

Things I learned about craft…

The Magic in the Gutter

One of the ideas Jilly presented was the idea of the Magic in the Gutter, a concept I believe she found in Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud. In comics, the gutter is the blank space between panels of art, the space between one image and the other. In that blank space, the reader uses their imagination to fill in the details themselves. This concept can also be applied to fiction writing, as she noted in response to a story I had written, which had a more fragmentary style. In order to have something to submit, I had focused in on specific detailed scenes without connecting them and I was concerned that without these connections, the reader might get lost in the story.

The concept of the Magic in the Gutter, however, trusts that the reader will fill in the details between the scenes for themselves. In many cases, its possible to get away with just leaving the gap and letting the reader make the connection — unless knowing the exact details of what happened in between is important to the story, in which case, it should probably be a scene itself.

Learning this was incredibly freeing to me, as I’ve often obsessed about trying to make my stories linear, following every step from beginning to end in order to achieve clarity. The Magic in the Gutter reveals how that clarity can still be present, even with well placed gaps in the action.

Draw from Your Passion

Sometimes, as in the case of one of my fellow workshop writers, a story has a clear core passion, a message or point of view about the world, that comes out through the story. Figuring out what that core is, what is a driving you to write the story — whether is a central relationship or a frustration regarding how society today is hyper-vigilant over parents — can help clarify the goals of the story and drive conflict.

It was one of the many moments in workshop, where I found myself immediately wanting to apply this new knowledge to other things I’ve been writing. What is the core of this story? What is the underlying passion for me that is driving me to write it? How can I draw that out in the characters and the conflict?

Arthur Rackham Little Red Riding Hood
“Little Red Riding Hood” by Arthur Rackham

Things I learned about myself as a writer…

Apparently I CAN Finish a Short Story

You might not think this that big of a revelations, but it was huge for me. I’ve been a poet for a long time and am fairly comfortable with poetry as a form, but have piled up stacks of story drafts that were never completed or never edited to the point in which I felt they were good enough to submit for publication (although, I’ve “finished” and posted a number of flash fiction drafts on my blog over the years).

One of my goals in joining the Brainery Workshop was to break free of that cycle and to write and edit some stories that I could then send out for publication. I finished two stories — “How Bluebeard Ends” and “Missed Connections – Nov. 11 – Redhead at the House of Needles” — both of which have been submitted for publication. Two other stories were fully drafted and need some editing in order to get them ready for sending out. The rest of the fives stories that were drafted during workshop are not anywhere near ready, but I can see the trajectories of the plots and how to finish them and I know I can put the work in to get them done.

It feels pretty damn good.

My Super Power is Voice

A few weeks into the workshop, Jilly addressed all of the writers and shared  what she felt our writing super power is with each of us. According to Jilly my power was voice, the ability to personify a character or tone in the story.

It was an interesting revelation. During the process of writing a new story draft each week, I found that if I was able to narrow in on the right voice or tone for the story, then it would flow more easily for me. But if I couldn’t figure out the tone, then the story was often more of a struggle.

Knowing this, I wonder if my struggles in continuing with my novel at the beginning of the year might have been partially been influenced by the fact that I never really felt as though I had a handle on the characters. The novel is written from two separate first person POVs and yet they sound the same to me. Maybe finding their individual voices is what I need to do in order to get back into finishing the novel.

What now…

I thrive on deadlines. Self imposed deadlines don’t always work. Far more effective are the deadlines imposed as part of a group or class, in which I ramp up my own sense of obligation to contribute. This is part of the reason why the Brainery workshop worked so well for me. And now that I know that I can write and finish short stories, I’m toying with the idea of participating in one of the novel writing workshops as a way to get back to being engaged with an even longer work. I’m a little intimidated by the idea, though, as I can foresee the level of work involved in participating. If not in the spring, then maybe in the summer or fall.

Still recharging

My need to recharge continued through last week. Every time I came home from work I couldn’t bring myself to pull out my computer and get to work. I’m okay with that, because it gave me time to catch up on my reading.

What I’m Reading

I’ve just started Ancillary Mercy by Anne Leckie, the conclusion to the Imperial Radch trilogy, and I AM SO EXCITED. I’ve loved both of the first two books and the third is starting out just as great.

Still working on Rough Magick, a collection of short stories edited by Jessa Marie Mendez and Francesca Lia Block.

What I’m Writing

Although I didn’t continue on any of the other short stories from the Brainery Workshop, as I intended, I did manage to churn out a spontaneous villanelle with rhyme and everything, even though I never rhyme in my poetry. It was kind of an exciting moment for me.

Published! Yellow Chair Review released its Pop Culture Issue, which includes “Allow Me to Tell You About Plastic and Mold,” a poem about Barbie and the various forms of decay I experienced in my youth. 

Accepted! Rose Red Review has published “Hunger” and “The Huntsman’s Heart,” two collaborative poems cowritten with Laura Madeline Wiseman.

Another collaborative poem, “A Gathering of Baba Yagas,” also written with Laura Madeline Wiseman, has been accepted for publication in Strange Horizons.
Goals for the Week:

  • Edit a short story. 

“Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy.” – Søren Kierkegaard

Note: I started writing this post on Monday with the intention of posting it on Monday, but somehow managed to forget it entirely because there were too many things going on in my mind — which when I think about it is somewhat of a contradiction to my statements below. 

It’s that season. You know, the one where you’re rushing around trying to schedule in family events and time with friends and shopping and events and all in the name of showing how much you care about people, but sometimes it feels as though it gets lost in the rush of getting things done. Or maybe it’s just me, feeling a little overwhelmed.

Brain pickings has a great post on what Danish philosopher Kierkegaard wrote in contemplating our greatest source of unhappiness. He talked about how busy-ness is a kind of escapism, of being absent from your life. “The unhappy one is absent,” he explains, and certainly the holiday season is one in which it’s to be busy and focused on the past or future instead of present in one’s life.

The idea of busy-ness as a source of unhappiness is not entirely new to me per se, but it’s one I’ve lost sight of. I don’t think being busy is bad in and of itself, as it depends on what kind of busy. My participation in the Brainery Workshop, for example, has filled up a significant portion of my time in a good way, making me both busy and happy. It’s allowed me space to be fully present in the experience of words, both in reading them and in writing them. Engaging in writing and reading is something that fills me with joy, when I give myself space to do so.

Likewise, I think it’s possible to approach the holidays with less stress by being more present when with family or friends. At least, that’s how I’m hoping to approach this month. Although I have a long list of things to get done, I don’t want such lists to get in the way of my enjoying the moment with the people I love. It’s not as easy as saying it, I know. Being present, like most things, requires its own kind of practice and it’s something I’m going focus on (really, it’s something I’m often focusing on as much as I can).

What I’m Reading

I’ve started The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and by started I mean opened it up and placed a bookmark inside. I’m certain this will be a good one, though, because I’ve loved other things by Jemisin.

Still working on Rough Magick, a collection of short stories edited by Jessa Marie Mendez and Francesca Lia Block, and I’ve reached the second half of the book, where there seems to be some stories with actual magic in them.

What I’m Writing

My collaborative poetry work has slowed down a bit due to how massively busy I’ve been with work and writing short stories and life in general, but it’s still going and good things are happening.

Unbidden a new poem idea popped into my head, because ideas do that sometimes. So, I started jotting down thoughts for a Persephone poem and will also be working on it this week, assuming I get through my writing/editing work for the Brainery Workshop.

Goals for the Week:

  • Edit last story for class.
  • Finish Persephone poem

Brainery Workshop – Science Fiction Fairy Tales – Week Eleven

We’re in the series revision stage at the Brainery Workshop, with last week’s session being focused on revision exercises to stretch our concepts of what’s possible with a story. This included switching POVs, doing the opposite of what was originally planned for a story, and other goodies — all of which provided some fruitful considerations for the rewrite.

My portfolio of stories is almost ready and includes my Bluebeard story, Iron Henry story, and Sleeping Beauty story. All of which are pretty much as done as I can make them at this point, so I’ll be putting them aside to wait for the comments that will be coming in at next week’s session.

Technically, I don’t have to write anything else for the workshop and I could take a break this week. But since I’m still in the workshop mentality, I think I’m going to try to get one more story written to a finished draft by next week. Ultimately, I’d like to get all of the stories I started during the workshop finished and ready for submission, which would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Linky Goodness

In which there is an unexpected vacation, books, and kudzu

Last night, I got an unexpected vacation from writing — because I left my laptop at the office, which is an hour away from my home. So, I setting into the couch and let myself relax for the evening. I watched an episode of Scream Queens and then the premier episode of Supergirl, which presented a bright, enthusiastic hero and a wonderful cast of sidekicks. I’m looking forward to seeing more.

What I’m Reading

I finished All the Rage by Courtney Summers last week, in part due to a can’t-put-it-down-even-though-I-need-to-work-in-the-morning late night reading session. Let me just say, Oof, my heart. It’s a brutal, emotionally honest book with an intense exploration of rape and its aftermath. I’m still toying with the idea of doing a more thorough review.

Not sure what’s up next. I have Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie and a couple of audio books available to me. Although, I’ve joined a reading group and so should get started on Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

Decisions, decisions.

What I’m Writing

Just like an alien parasite, the Science Fiction Fairy Tales Brainery Workshop is filling me with euphoria and eating my brain — and I love it. Although very little of my other writing projects are getting done. I’m fine with that. Writing is writing is writing.

Goals for the Week:

  • Finish workshop draft before class.
  • Continue editing the Sleeping Beauty and/or the Iron Henry and/or Jack and the Beanstalk inspired stories (see how these stories stack up, I can tell) — if there’s time.

Brainery Workshop – Science Fiction Fairy Tales – Week Three

Last week’s topic discussion for Brainery Science Fiction Fairy Tales workshop group looked at the “Jack and the Beanstalk” fairy tale with a connection to invasive species. I focused in on kudzu, which an invasive vine infiltrating toward the north from southern states. It grows rapidly and in giant towers, knocking over power poles and causing a multitude of other problems. I find it incredibly creepy and I’m not the only one as the video below shows.

Continue reading “In which there is an unexpected vacation, books, and kudzu”

Mondays keep bleeding into Tuesdays

Litquake concluded over the weekend, after a full week of literary events. I didn’t make it to even a fraction of the readings or panels I would have liked to have gone to, because I started feeling overwhelmed last week. So, I did what I needed to, listened to my own needs, and took time to tune out and rest when I needed.

The Zoetic Press Presents Mythmaking on Saturday at Double Dutch was fabulous. Allie Marini MC-ed with literary trivia and marvelous introductions. My fellow readers, Daniel Ari, Brennan ‘B-Deep’ DeFrisco, Rosemary Tantra Bensko, and surprise reader Emily Rose Cole, were all fabulous, each offering works with unique spins on old tales. My own reading of three poems also seemed to go well; I felt confident, at least, while reading.

The Zoetic Press reading was livestreamed and there’s a recording for anyone who wants to check it out.

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What I’m Reading

My personal reading time continues to be focused almost solely on articles and fairy tales for the Brainery Workshop. So, progress on Celestial Inventories by Steve Rasnic Tem remains slow, although I’m continuing to enjoy the collection.

I have All the Rage by Courtney Summers checked out from the library right now and I need to start reading or it’ll end up overdue. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one, so I’m excited to get started.

What I’m Writing

Um, just jump ahead to the Brainery Workshop section and you’ll get the idea.

Goals for the Week:

  • Finish workshop draft before class.
  • Continue editing the Sleeping Beauty and/or the Iron Henry inspired stories (this is going to start stacking up, I can tell).
  • Get one Twelve Dancing Princesses prose poem drafted.

Brainery Workshop – Science Fiction Fairy Tales – Week Three

Pretty much everyone in the Brainery Science Fiction Fairy Tales workshop group was challenged by last week’s story topic, “The Frog King, or Iron Henry” fairy tale with a connection to robots/cyborgs. For me, the problem was that I couldn’t connect to the princess and frog story line, but I was fascinated by the character Iron Henry, a seemingly minor character in one version of the original fairy tale. Iron Henry is a loyal servant of the prince, who is so heartbroken when the prince is turned into a frog, he wraps three iron bands around his heart to prevent his heart from breaking.

Continue reading “Mondays keep bleeding into Tuesdays”

A plethora of words and writing

Litquake, a weeklong festival celebrating the written word, be it fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, started over the weekend. Although I wasn’t able to attend any of the weekend events (due to the fantastic and extended celebrating of my brother and sister’s birthday!), I was able to shoot up to the city last night for two panels — Hot Off the Press: The Latest From the Publishing Pros and Horror and Hilarity: A Conversation with Christopher Moore and S.G. Browne.

The Hot Off the Press panel included a number of agents and publishing house representatives, including the amazing and wonderful Lise Quintana, founder of Zoetic Press and the Lithomobilus app. Much of the discussion centered around how writers can attract the attention of agents and publishers (i.e., treat your writing like a business, write good stuff, build an author platform, do your homework, etc.), with a little bit of attention offered to digital applications and other publishing trends. Overall, it was a good panel with the exception of the tendency of the gentlemen to interrupt the female panelists before they barely had a chance to get a word out.

Horror and Hilarity was good fun. Both authors — Browne (who I’ve read) and Moore (who I haven’t) write satirical fiction with speculative elements, such as vampires (Bloodsucking Fiends, Moore), zombies (Breathers, Browne), personifications of ideas such as death (A Dirty Job, Moore, and Fated, Browne), and so on. It was kind of a nuts and bolts of genre, publishing, and writing kind of discussion, so it was a bit dry in some parts. The most hilarious part of the night was the first audience questions, in which a young man asked the authors if they talked to girls, you know, for research on how to write women.

The rest of the week will include a ton of other exciting events, though I don’t know how many I’ll be able to attend during the work week, as I’ll be saving my energy for Saturday.

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What’s on Saturday? Just a little reading reading by Zoetic Press writers at Double Dutch from 6-7 pm, which will include Daniel Ari, Jaz Sufi, Rosemary Tantra Bensko, and myself! I’ve heard rumors there will also be some Literary Trivia fun, as well. The Zoetic reading is just Phase One of Litcrawl, which includes copious amounts of readings. So come by and say, Hi!

If you’re not going to be able to make it in person Saturday night, you can tune in online as Zoetic livestreams the reading.

What I’m Reading

Due to the amount of activities and writing I’m doing, I’m still working on Celestial Inventories by Steve Rasnic Tem. I haven’t been as attached to the later stories in the book as I have been in the first, but I’m still enjoying the read.

What I’m Writing

It’s been a busy week in terms of events, but I’ve eeked out some writing time in order to throw down a few scenes for this week’s Brainery workshop short story, while also inching along on the Sleeping Beauty (see below).

Goals for the Week: Finish workshop draft before class. Continue editing the Sleeping Beauty inspired story. Get one Twelve Dancing Princesses prose poem drafted. Submit one poem. (Because I don’t have enough going on.)

Brainery Workshop – Science Fiction Fairy Tales – Week Two

Last week’s class focused on reviewing work created for the Sleeping Beauty and science of sleep topic. I was really drawn to the idea of projecting dreams back to a viewer (not a new concept in science fiction) and was fascinated to learn through the class reading that scientists have actually been able to achieve something close to this. They can create a map of a person’s brain while they are watching movie clips and using the data can project the images back on a screen, which blew my mind.

My half finished Sleeping Beauty story used this idea of dream projecting as the basis for selling dreams, which turned into something dark and noir-ish. I got some great feedback from my fellow writers, all of whom shared their own creative spins on the tale, and now the story is poking at me to finish it and I think if I stay focused, it will turn into something submit-able.

This Thursday’s class will focus on The Frog King, Or Iron Henry with a connection to robots and cyborgs, oh my!

Linky Goodness

  • Pop Culture is ‘Boring as F!@#’: A Playboy Conversation with Monica Byrne — “The word “diversify” centers white experience as the permanent default, but whiteness is actually very rare and exotic, statistically speaking. “Equilibration” implies—if you’ll permit me to get scientific for a second—a natural process of diffusion across all boundaries. In other words, “equilibration” implies that the array of art that gets made will finally reflect the array of people who live under its influence.”

What day is it?

I came to the realization halfway through writing this post that today Tuesday, not Monday. This is because I spent my Monday helping my mom clear out and transfer belongings from one storage shed to another in a grueling twelve hour period resembling the interminable curse of Greek gods. If we hadn’t been laughing so hard at the absurdity of the situation, I’m sure we would have been miserable. But we were laughing and we accomplished a hell of a lot and my mom rewarded my efforts with beer, so all was well.

In other weekend news, I SAW FLOGGING MOLLY at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival and they were —in what was no surprise to me — amazing. They played all my favorite songs and introduced me to new favorites. I danced my ass off that night and sang my throat out and it was worth the next day’s pain. We also saw The Brothers Comatose and Gillian Welch play and they were both wonderful, as well.

The crowds were thick and fun at the Flogging Molly performance in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
The crowds were thick and fun at the Flogging Molly performance in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

What I’m Reading

I’m still working on Celestial Inventories by Steve Rasnic Tem, which continues to astound me with its ability to present stories, ranging from deeply moving to incredibly disturbing.

I’m also working my way through the 1001 Arabian Nights issue of NonBinary Review, which is full of amazing poetry and fiction.

What I’m Writing

Most of my focus has been on finishing an initial draft of a Sleeping Beauty story for the Brainery Workshop I started last week. I have the main outline and a good sense of how I want to approach it, but since it has some science fiction elements I’m not sure how much explaining I should do up front. I suppose I should just get the draft

Laura Madeline Wiseman and I have finished up a number of collaborative poems, which need to be sent out. At which point, we need to get started on some new ones.

Published! KYSO Flash reprinted “The Things I Own” — a poem that (I learned just five minutes ago) has been nominated for Independent Best American Poetry by Thank You for Swallowing, who first published it.

Goals for the Week: Finish workshop draft before class. Submit some collaborative poetry and get started on some others.

Brainery Workshop – Science Fiction Fairy Tales – Week One

The first meeting of the workshop, which is run by the amazing Jilly Dreadful, was introductory, introducing us to our fellow writers and to how the workshop will work. My fellow writers (most of whom I met, although there was a switch in students at the last minute) are all amazing as far as I can tell from the small piece of writing they all shared and from their comments during the meeting. This makes me even more excited to see how things will go.

Our assignment for the week is as I noted above, a Sleeping Beauty story, which can incorporate some of the sleep science in various articles Jilly assigned.

Linky Goodness

  • Justine Larbalestier notes Our Heroes Are Fallible And So Are We“We do not write in a vacuum. We write about the real world while living in the real world. That’s true whether we are writing about zombies or vampires or high school or genocide or butterflies or all five. Our words have effects on other people.”
  • Afrofuturism Rising by Ytasha L. Womack —While Afrofuturism is viewed as a tool of empowerment for people of color, the dual aesthetic and philosophy at large serves to provide answers for a gaping hole in the story of humanity. Afrofuturism values intuition, feminine aspects of humanity, and nature. Afrofuturism views the future, past, and present as one. Afrofuturism provides a platform to explore time and memory in the context of human life.

The State of Being Overwhelmed

I have several things I keep meaning to post about and that I can’t seem to find the time to put together, including (but not limited to) the half marathon I participated in over the weekend and the amazing reading in honor of Nomadic Press’ fall chapbook collection with poets Allie Marini, Brennan “B-Deep” DeFrisco, Cassandra Dallett, Paul Corman-Roberts, Dan Shurely and Freddy Gutierrez (present in spirt), as well as a number of book and movie reviews.

I’ve managed to sign up for a Brainery workshop called Science Fiction Fairy Tales, which I don’t really have time for, but am uber excited about. This, along with the suggestion that I might also do Nano along with the whole host of writing projects that I am currently working on and need to finish.

All of this is to say, wow, I’ve got a lot going on. In a good way. (Mostly.) But it’s still overwhelming. (Which is also why there wasn’t an update last week.)

What I’m Reading

Celestial Inventories is a collection of short stories by Steve Rasnic Tem. I am several stories in and so far each one has been surreal, strange, disturbing, and gorgeous. What a delicious collection so far.

What I’m Writing

Oh, so many projects at the moment. Currently poetry, but it’s going to switch over to include to fiction very soon.

Published!

Accepted! My poem, “How to Open a Jar of Honey,” was accepted to be included in the We Can Make Your Life Better anthology to be published in 2016 by University of Hell Press.

Rejected! Three poems were declined by Word Riot.

Submitted! I immediately turned around and submitted the three rejected poems elsewhere. Also submitted two more collaborative poems, written with Laura Madeline Wiseman.

Goals for the Week: Survive.

Linky Goodness

  • If You Were Wonder Woman and Chris Pine Were Your Boyfriend, by Nicole Steinberg is utterly fantastic – “If you were Wonder Woman and Chris Pine were your boyfriend, you’d take a special, spiteful pleasure in apprehending any criminal who dressed in plaid. Because all day, every day, you’d be SURROUNDED by plaid.”

Progress continues and it feels good

Giveaway! Today is the last day to sign up for the The Walls Around Us giveaway.

This weekend I fell into the black hole of baby love, staying two nights at my sister’s house and letting the little ones laughter (and occasional tears) wash over me. Time slipped away and all the things I needed to get done, should get done, didn’t matter, because there were my niece and nephew splashing in the creek with redwoods towering above and because tiny hugs and bitty kisses.

Besides, I got plenty done in during the work week and even made it out to Cito.FAME.Us open mic on Thursday night, where I was able to visit with friends, hug it out with amazing MC Lindsey Leong, listen to gorgeous music from Alice Chen, the other half of Q&A, and to share some of my own words.

What I’m Reading

I am almost done with The 2013 Rhysling Anthology, which contains so many amazing speculative poems in a range of styles.

Next up, I have The Martian by Andy Weir, which is about an astronaut who gets left behind on Mars and has to figure out how to survive. I have heard so many great things about this book and I can’t wait to get started.

What I’m Writing

Poetry continued to be my main focus at the moment, from collaborative poems to individual poems and slow work on a novel in poems. Several poem drafts were started last week and one was finished. Progress continues and it feels good.

I have only recently discovered Google Docs, a wondrous invention that allows me to work collaboratively and to continue working on a single document from multiple locations, including my phone. Why oh why have I not used this before?

Published! Drink by Laura Madeline Wiseman is an amazing collection of poetry about mermaids and the horrors of being a teenage girl. My review was published this weekend over at Rhizomatic Ideas.

Submitted: A poem was sent off to The Plot.

Goal(s) for this week: Relook at my recently submitted and rejected chapbook to see what I can add or remove to make it stronger.

Linky Goodness

  • The amazing Lise Quintana wrote a powerful piece on What Happens When You Tell A Woman She’s Being ‘Dramatic’ – “With four words, my overwhelming feelings of fear and sadness were dismissed as invalid, and I was made aware that telling adults the things that scared me would never result in those adults trying to make me feel safe and loved. It would result in adults telling me that my fear was ridiculous, and that my perceptions of the world were wrong. That I could not trust my own feelings and should keep them to myself.”
  • The Subtle Linguistics of Polite White Supremacy“Today’s covert version of white supremacy is a lot more subtle than having black overseers beat their fellow slaves. Nor is this power the same as buying or selling your slaves children for a good price, using black children as alligator bait, cutting open pregnant black women, castrating black men, generational rape and molestation of black women and men, and lynchings of those who were accused of making whites nervous. This is something more subtle than that. The ruling class has begun to employ a particularly clever passive tactic to remain in power while denying this power. They pretended this was the natural way for society to function and influenced perception by using double standards in language as a starting point.”

Titles are hard, I find, so here's my weekly update…

Most of my week has been spent getting back into the groove after my trip to Anchorage. Coming home always makes me want to relook at where I’m at, at my clutter, at my day to day events. I’m wanting to declutter and clean out my space again, although I haven’t felt as though I’ve made much progress with that in recent attempts.

Friday night, I gathered together with the Writing Gang and talked life and words. I got some good feedback on my most recently edited chapter/poem of the novel in poems.

Sunday my mom, sister, and I took a day trip up to Sacramento for a cousin’s baby shower. New family members, yay!

What I’m Reading

I’m a dozen pages in to The Reader by Bernhard Shlink and I’m rather bored. Neither the language, characters, or the story are grabbing me. I’ll give it a little more time, but I’m guessing this one is not going to work out for me.

However, I’m loving The 2013 Rhysling Anthology, which it’s only taken me two years to get around to reading.

Giveaway! Just a reminder that there is only a week left to sign up for my The Walls Around Us giveaway.

What I’m Writing

Most of my writing progress has been in the form of ongoing work on some collaborative poetry with Laura Madeline Wiseman, which has been an amazing experience so far. It’s been humbling and rewarding, as each of us has to learn to give up some control of how the poem will develop and turn out. Some of our darlings get killed along the way, only to be replaced by something different and darling in its own right. We’ve finished one poem so far and are toying with some sestinas. Such fun.

Getting ready for the Writing Gang meeting meant I had to whip together a new draft for chapter/poem three of the novel in poems — a good thing, since progress petered out on that one. I’ve also been making edits on a few other poems in the hopes of submitting them soon.

Goal(s) for this week: Finish and submit a selection of poem(s).

Linky Goodness

  • The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t by Steven Johnson – “The dystopian scenario, after all, isn’t about the death of the record business or Hollywood; it’s about the death of music or movies. As a society, what we most want to ensure is that the artists can prosper — not the record labels or studios or publishing conglomerates, but the writers, musicians, directors and actors themselves. Their financial fate turns out to be much harder to measure, but I endeavored to try.”
  • What is Literary Activism? by Amy King – “Part of working towards understanding and attempting more pluralistic or consciously inclusive approaches to such matters means I have for quite a while been working on recognizing my own privilege, and therefore have also become aware of my limited perspective and understanding. I realized I would never have to face some of the situations, microagressions, suppressions and oppressions other writers explicated in a poetics…”

Poet Spotlight: Kristina Marie Darling on Mapping Heartbreak

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry and hybrid prose. Her writing has been described by literary critics as “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” and “complex.” She has been awarded with a number of fellowships and grants by both U.S. and overseas universities, institutes, and organizations. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in English Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University. Here, Kristina shares a bit about her latest collection of poetry, hybrid art forms, and the act of writing as catharsis.

Kristina Marie Darling

Your most recent book of poetry is Failure Lyric. Tell us a bit about this project and how it came about.

Failure Lyric began as a series of erasures. I took a black marker to my four year correspondence with a male writer, who, out of respect for his work, will remain unnamed. What started out as an act of destruction became generative, since the hybrid prose pieces ultimately grew out of the erasures at the beginning and end of the book. Once I had erased every last email, note, and inscription, I started to write flash essays, which map my heartbreak and all of the unexpected places it brought me to: Saint Louis, Iowa, Burlington, and the now infamous Dallas/Fort Worth airport. So my initial attempts to destroy artifacts of the relationship became a documentary project, charting the crazy orbits that grief set me on.

Continue reading “Poet Spotlight: Kristina Marie Darling on Mapping Heartbreak”

Clinging to Rockface

“too scared of coming down,
too scared of going up,
too scared of rockface”
— from “Sugar” by Heather Nova

I spent the last week in Anchorage, Alaska, mostly visiting family, as well as spending a bit of time here and there going fishing and hiking. One of my favorite hikes near Anchorage is Flattop, a small (by Alaskan standards) mountain that is exactly as it’s name describes — flat on top. Every time I return to Anchorage, I try to fit in time to climb Flattop and last Tuesday, my mom, sister, and I took part in the hike together.

My sister gazes up at Flattop from the parking lot before the climb.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day in Anchorage when we set out for the hike. The air was cool, crisp, and fresh. My sister said that when she used to hike Flattop as a kid, she always felt like she had been whisked away to Ireland (a fair comparison.

The trail is steep at moments, with switchbacks and wood staircases that seemed to go on forever. We took it slow, breathing heavy and taking time to pause in order to look out and enjoy the scenery, which grew more and more impressive the higher we climbed.

Continue reading “Clinging to Rockface”

Stand up and speak

I attended and performed in my first poetry slam event on Wednesday night last week. The Berkely Slam is held every  Wednesday at the Starry Plough Pub in (you guessed it) Berkeley, California. The event hosts a small workshop prior to opening sign ups, with readers chosen by lottery. Five random judges are chosen from the audience, which makes the tone very random. It is currently hosted by the amazing Jazz Sufi

The judges — or more specifically one judge — was kind of an ass that night, scoring almost everyone incredibly low, which was annoying. For the most part, however, I laughed along and was astounded by the work of so many amazing poets, Allie Marini among them, and had a fabulous time.

I read “The Things I Own.” I was incredibly nervous to read due to the contest atmosphere and because I knew poets tend to be well rehearsed at slams. But I surprised myself by feeling fairly confident when I performed and I got some nice feedback from the audience. The experience has me thinking that I should work on memorizing some poems and work on getting more confident with performing.

What I’m Reading

Rupetta by Nike Sulway is a fascinating read so far, featuring a robot/android being built in 1600s, who continues to live on over the centuries and ultimately becomes the center of civilization in the twentieth century. Beautiful writing and engaging world.

I’ve watching the mini-series on BBC, I’m rereading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke via audio book, because there is so much that I don’t seem to remember, especially in regards to the fantastic footnotes.

Recently finished the wonderfully unsettling The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma — book review with a giveaway will be posted shortly.

What I’m Writing

Just a little bit of writing got done last week, mostly on Tuesday night with some editing of a review I’ve been working on. I think I needed to take it easy in order to recover from the go-get-em attitude of the week before.

Submitted! A micro chapbook of ten pages to Porkbelly Press, called Sacred Ways.

Goal(s) for this week: Finish and submit a selection of poem(s).

Linky Goodness

Loving life and being lazy

My Saturday was spent celebrating my niece’s third birthday with a pool party at my apartment. It was so much fun watching her splash around and leap off the edge into the water — that girl has no fear and I hope it stays that way as she grows up. She’s a giant piece of my heart right now, her and her baby brother both and it give me so much joy to spend time with them.

Of course, it took three hours of scrubbing my house top to bottom, while crying Oh, my gawd, why is my house so filthy, in order to have guests over, only to have to clean all over again after they left. But I have no complaints, every bit of scrubbing was worth it.

Sunday was a big fat slug-fest because I was tired of functioning for the week. I feel no regrets…., okay, I feel some regrets, but only little ones.

What I’m Reading

I’ve just started reading my signed(!) copy of The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. As is no surprise to me, I’m already falling in love with the language and with these complicated girls. There’s a reason Suma is one of my favorite authors.

What I’m Writing

Just a little bit of writing got done last week, mostly on Tuesday night with some editing of a review I’ve been working on. I think I needed to take it easy in order to recover from the go-get-em attitude of the week before.

Accepted! I’m pleased to announce that Nonbinary review has accepted my essay, “Beyond Shahrazad: Feminist Portrayals of Women in The Arabian Nights,” for its 1001 Arabian Nights issue. I’m thrilled to know that all that hard work paid off.

Rejected! Two publishers have rejected my Sincerely Yours chapbook (le sigh), but there are two more out. If they both come back as rejections, too, I’ll have to reassess and resubmit.

Goal(s) for this week: Finish and submit a selection of poem(s).

Linky Goodness

Now I can live again…

Last week my nose was rubbed raw by the grindstone and now I’m still recovering, although I’m feeling good.

Also, some other awesome things happened last week.

What I’m Reading

My reading of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and all reading for that matter has been put on hold, as all my available free time is devoted to researching and writing my 1001 nights essay.

What I’m Writing

The 1001 Nights essay is DONE! It’s done! Bang the drums! Toot the horns! The project consumed most of my free time over the last week and a half, with skimming of the 1001 Nights to note all the representations of women in the stories (a huge project), researching what other critics have had to say, and have been drafting the editing the essay — all of which turned out to be much more work than I thought it would be (which should not have been a surprise). But it’s done and submitted and I hope the editors like it. Regardless, I enjoyed the life consuming process and I’m glad I did it.

Now I just need to learn to channel two-thirds of that same energy into future projects, so that I can continue to get sh!t done.

Published! My poem “The Things I Own” is up at Thank You for Swallowing.

Goal(s) for this week: Finish that other thing that I put on hold while working on the essay.

Linky Goodness

Speaking under the moonlight

I had another lovely Friday night at Glowing with the Moon, which featured Nikki Bonsol (aka Nicole Marietta) and Kilusan Bautista.

Nikki Bonsol played some heartbreakingly gorgeous tunes, a couple of covers and a couple of originals. I don’t really know how to describe her voice, so I’m just going to link to one of her videos so you can have a listen.

Kilusan Bautista presented some powerful poetry, the kind that just takes hold, reaches inside and drags out all your feels. He also performed an excerpt from one of his stage performances, which involved a poet speaking to a mop and was hilarious.

He’ll be performing his one man show, UNiVERSALself, along with some other amazing poets on Friday, July 17th, from 8pm-11pm at at Bindlestiff Studios, San Francisco, CA. At the moment I’m planning to go, assuming I don’t just collapse from all the work I’ll be doing this week.

The night also featured two young performers (about 8 and 10 years old) , who bravely stood up to perform a church song. They then periodically took over the mic and just filled the audience with amused joy at all their bravery and exuberance.

Speaking of bravery, I did something I never do in front of an audience. Normally, I like to read off a page or recite a carefully memorized poem. But at the Glowing with the Moon open mic on Friday, I decided to go unscripted. I’ve been so obsessed with writing my essay on feminism in the 1001 Arabian Nights (still in progress) that I decided to work out some of my ideas on stage by doing an impromptu lecture about what I’ve learned. I though I would be stumbling all over the place, but it actually went really smoothly. It helped me work out the flow some, because as I was speaking I could sense when I was going on to long and was able to cut out sections and go shorter. It was a really interesting experience and had me thinking that I might actually be able to do lectures someday.

What I’m Reading

My reading of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and all reading for that matter has been put on hold, as all my available free time is devoted to researching and writing my 1001 nights essay.

What I’m Writing

The 1001 Nights essay is outlined and mostly researched. I’m thinking I can finish it over the next couple of days (probably) and have it submitted by the end of the week. Here’s putting my nose to the grindstone, because hope alone won’t cut it.

Goal(s) for this week: Finish and submit the 1001 Nights essay!

Submission Bonanza

This too has been put on hold (see above), so I’m calling it quits for not. Although I only submitted a total four pieces or groups of poems, I feel good about it. Not the dramatic bonanza I was hoping for, but it’s prompted me to get a significant amount of work done in terms of collecting and preparing poems and stories. I’ll have to wait a few months and try the Bonanza again.

Linky Goodness

  • How To Be More Like Frida Kahlo, As Told By Frida Kahlo“Uncertain how to approach a challenging situation today? Imagine Kahlo as your life coach sitting opposite you, her furrowed brow staring discerningly. Ask yourself, What Would Frida Do (WWFD)? Who knows, you might just end up becoming a brilliant painter.”

It's a marathon life

It’s been a damn good week. Monday was YA Thrills and Chills, a fabulous panel with Nova Ren Suma, Lauren Saft, and Katie Coyle.

Thanks to the Fourth of July holiday, I was able to have a three day weekend with my family. Many of us gathered up in Clear Lake and lazed about by the water, watched my niece and nephew and cousins run around like maniacs, laughing and playing, and drank ridiculous amounts of booze. It was wonderful and somehow relaxing and exhausting at the same time.

During the course of my family’s weekend bonanza, my sisters and I managed to convince ourselves that it would be an awesome idea to sign up for a half marathon. That’s 13.5 miles. In September. Only a short two and a half months away. This was not a part of my plan for minimalism this year. (In fact, right now any concept of minimalism on my part feels pretty preposterous.) So, now I will be rising early before work in order to do training and so it won’t conflict with the writing I’m supposed to be doing in the evenings. Yep. That’s a thing. (I’m kinda totally excited.)

What I’m Reading

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, which shifts from being terribly mundane and dull to graphically violent — although the character is always misogynistic, homophobic, and racist, which is unsettling in it’s own right.

What I’m Writing

After much struggling on a writing project that’s been a dagger in my side for weeks, things are starting to click into place. I can see the finish line. I just have to jog down the path to get there.

Research on the 1001 Nights essay is on-going and I’m getting close to a point where I’ll actually be able to launch into writing a draft.

Acceptance! Thank You for Swallowing, a new online lit journal, has agreed to publish my poem, “The Things I Own” latter this month. Huzzah!

Goal(s) for this week: Finish the book review I started and submit it. Complete the first draft of the 1001 Nights essay.

Submission Bonanza

I don’t really want to talk about it. Really. Okay, fine, I’ll confess. No actual submissions this week. Still at 3/20 for the Submission Bonanza, even with my extention through July 15. *sigh*

Linky Goodness

It's all about pacing

Every day last week, I came home from work and did at least a little bit of writing each night. It was great; it was wonderful; it burned me out and by Friday night I couldn’t stand to look at a computer again. So, I watched some old horror movies at my sister’s and spent most of the weekend being profoundly lazy.

Keeping forward momentum is all about maintaining a pace that allows you to complete your goals without crashing and burn up like a rocket ship off kilter during reentry. The point is that I’m still trying to figure out what that pacing is (in regards to my creative writing) considering my work levels at my day job right now.

What I’m Reading

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley is a story about a small town, a thought-to-be-extinct woodpecker, and a missing teenage boy. The main character is a decent kid and the story is multi-layered and emotionally complex, which makes it a good solid read so far.

Still in the process of reviewing Drink, a collection of poems by Laura Madeline Wiseman. In the meantime, you might want to check out this interview with Laura.

What I’m Writing

I was pretty consistent about sitting down to write this week, which mostly involved me banging my head against this one piece of writing that I couldn’t figure out how to approach. It was unpleasant, but I think I finally have it figured out, which is good because I was starting to get a headache.

I’m also finding myself excited about the prospect of writing an essay — something I haven’t done since college — about the roles of women in the 1001 Arabian Nights. I’ve started scanning the three volumes on my book shelf for more info and am scouring the internet for information.

Goal(s) for this week: Finish the book review I started and submit it. Complete the first draft of the 1001 Nights essay.

Submission Bonanza

A lot of prep work, but no actual submissions, so I’m at 3/20 for the Submission Bonanza. I’m extending the deadline to July 15th, since I have a chunk of things I can send out, if I just get my sh!t together.

Linky Goodness

Friday night was filled with my favorite open mic, music, and spoken word event, Glowing with the Moon, hosted by friends Lorenz Dumuk and Quynh Nguyen (the Q in Q&A). In addition to moving and powerful performances by the two feature artists, Asha Sudra Finkel and Jocelyn Deona (her amazing poem “Rice Dreams” is on soundcloud), the outdoor event provided ways for listeners and speakers to connect and get grounded with an altar and symbolic acts (writing ones hopes in salt to be returned to the sea, letting sand run through ones fingers, playing with bubbles). I always come away from this event feeling centered and peaceful. Glowing with the Moon is held on the second Friday of every month this summer. Upcoming shows will be on July 10, August 14, and September 11.

My delay in posting this week’s update was due to two things — my sister and I are doing an ongoing Fringe binge and I was recently introduced to the new iOS game Fallout Shelter, which wants to suck up all my time (if I let it).

What I’m Reading

I’ve started reading Atonement by Ian McEwan, which has some beautiful writing. I wasn’t liking the characters much at first, but am starting to get to know them some and am finding it interesting. Not loving it, though.

Still working on Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin. I’m at the point where the public is starting to fight back against the chemical plant, ironically right when the plant was starting to clean up its act.

What I’m Writing

I’ve been jumping back and forth between a bunch of poems, stories, and projects in the effort to decide what to include in June’s Submission Bonanza. All this tweaking meant that I didn’t actually finish anything. But I think this week will be better (I hope).

Goal(s) for this week: Write! Edit! Submit!

Submission Bonanza

While I did some work prepping submissions this week, I didn’t actually send any out, which leaves me at a total of 3/20 for the month. So, I’m pretty behind at this point and will have to more and double my submission output this week, which will be difficult as I have a bunch of social events to go to.

Linky Goodness

In Do One Thing Today that Makes You a Better Writer, Christina Preetha says,

“Putting pen to paper won’t make you a writer.  Through many (maybe, even all) of your writing years you’re still learning to be better. There will be some good pieces to show for it, but most will be less than stellar. Write the crap. Write lots of it. But don’t stop there.  Because what you can do really well right now doesn’t just involve writing.”

In which I reveal my weekend book haul

My trip to the Bay Area Book Festival could have been a bit more organized. Okay, it could have been a lot more organized. I did zero planning before hand and I lagged Sunday morning, showing up at the festival late in the afternoon. The festival hosts oodles of panels and talks, but I visited none since most fill up quickly and I didn’t know what what happening when or where anyway.

Lacuna is an art installation, which housed shelves of free books. Though, the shelves were looking fairly empty by the time I got there.

My lack of planning also meant that I missed a chance to visit the Zoetic Press booth, as they had already packed up shop by the time I got there. So no shiny shot glass or other Zoetic goodies for me. I’ll have to catch them next time.

Nevertheless, I had a lovely time, enjoying the sun as I meandered through the booths. I had a few good conversations with writers and publishers. One of my favorite bits was the Poetry Trading Post at the Small Press Distribution booth, where visitors can sit and write out a poem in exchange for a free book off the display. I put out a spontaneous bit of words, which may appear on the SPD website at some point.

Along the way, I managed to swell my bag with a number of books, some half price and some freebies grabs. I picked up:

  • The Oxygen Factory by Renée des Lauriers (the watercolor cover drew me in)
  • Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
  • Slices of Flesh: A Collection of Flash Fiction Tales from the World’s Greatest Horror Writers
  • Bright Turquoise Umbrella, poetry by Hermine Meinhard
  • What Snakes Want, poetry by Kita Shantiris
  • The Best of the Devil’s Dictionary by  Ambrose Bierce
  • Sacred Precinct, poetry by Jacqueline Kudler
  • Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace (for my niece)

In other book haul news. Thanks to the Big Poetry Giveaway, I received two new-to-me poetry books in the mail — God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant from Lissa Clouser and The Cradle Place by Thomas Lux from Steve Lavigne. Thanks to you both! I eagerly look forward to reading.

What I’m Reading

I’ve started in on Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin. It’s horrifying to see the lengths companies like this would (and do) go to in order to ignore the environmental and health ramifications of dumping chemical waste into the ground, rivers, and ocean so that they can make a profit. This is not a happy read, but it’s fascinating.

What I’m Writing

Some painful attempts to start a new piece happened this week. I kept leaping in to the work only to stumble all over my own self doubts and come up short. The key to these kinds of moments is to just keep putting words on the page — any words, any at all. If one idea slips through your fingers, reach for another. If that crumbles, keep going. Eventually, all this stilted painful writing resulted in something that may actually be editable and so everything was okay in the end.

Goal(s) for this week: Write! Edit! Submit!

Submission Bonanza

Three submissions sent out this week for the Submission Bonanza:

I’m a bit behind at this point and will have to double up next week in order to catch up.

Where I’ll Be

This Friday, I’ll be attending (and probably performing) the Glowing with the Moon reading and open mic, held at the School of Arts & Culture @MHP, starting at 6 pm. This event happens every second Friday of the summer months and always has an earthy feel to it. It’s a very loving and supportive space.

Linky Goodness

Jilly Dreadful presents her point of view on loving problematic art over at Rhizomatic Ideas – “All Art is Quite Useless,” or, How I Manage to Enjoy Problematic Work and Problematic Creators in Three Easy Steps – It’s the start of a series of posts that I look forward to closely following.

Video: How Fiction Makes Our Brains Better

In Heroine’s Journey: Learning to Work, Theodora Goss talks about the importance work plays in female centered tales, especially folk tales, noting “Often, in these fairy tales, it is exactly the heroine’s work that leads to her final reward.” The post is part of a series on the Heroine’s Journey, with the most recent being A Temporary Home.

 

Submission Bonanza 2015


Jaclyn Bergamino over at Lightening Droplets announced her plans to once again do Submission Bonanza, a challenge to send out 30 submissions in the 30 days of June.

It’s a fantastic challenge and, since I’m currently trying to stick my neck out more, I’m planning to throw my hat in as well. I’ve been slow about getting around to submitting, mostly because I’ve been slow to get around to editing first drafts. This might just be the kick in the pants that I need to get a move on.

Realistically, I don’t know that I’ll be able to manage a full 30 submissions, but I might be able to stretch myself and send out 20 submissions this month, which would be awesome.

So here I go!

New poem up at Nonbinary Review!

I’m thrilled to announce that my poem, “Eve and Pandora,” has been published in Issue 4 of ‪NonBinaryReview‬, Bulfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Fable. The issue is available for free — you just need to download the Lithomobilus app to your iPhone or iPad (the publisher is currently working on a compatible version for Android users.)

Enjoy!

* * *

In other news, I’m a wee behind on my Short Story Month challenge and a number of other thing, as well. But, hey, it’s my birthday week and my days have been jam packed with activities, from climbing over rocks and getting bruised and battered at the Yuba River to pampering myself with a facial and a new haircut.

Last night also was great, a joyful evening of words and song at Cito.FAME.Us, where Lorenz Dumuk made us feel things with his poetry and Q&A performed some amazing, moving, and beautiful new songs. Always a delight.

Saw Avengers: Age of Ultron over the weekend. My little geek girl heart was mostly pleased. The movie had a lot going on with a multitude of new characters in addition to a multitude of old ones, which made things a bit messy. But this in no way took away from the fun for me and it was good to see the characters I love back again. 

I have mixed feeling’s about how Black Widow is portrayed in Age of Ultron. One the one hand I agree with some that it’s nice to see some humanity brought to her character and on the other I agree with others who feel it could have been handled better

At any rate, though it wasn’t my favorite Marvel movie, but I had a good time.

What I’m Reading

I’m a little wary to be starting in on Patrick Ness’ final installment of the Chaos Walking trilogy, Monsters of Men, because I’m not sure I’m ready to have my feels put through a meat grinder, but here I go.

Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone, poetry by Annelyse Gelman get more witty and fun and interesting with every poem I read.

More slow and steady progress on Don Quixote.

What I’m Writing

Ummmmm…. yeah… so…

I need to come up with a new routine that involves me going to a coffee shop or library in order to get actual work done, because as soon as I get home after work I slip into relaxation mode. This week’s plan is to bring my laptop to work on Tuesday and Thursday for just that purpose.

Goal(s) for this week: Submit the chapbook to a few more publishers. Gather together/edit poem drafts and submit to lit journals.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

I’m trying to meditate in the evening before I go to bed. Just 5-10 minutes of quiet breathing. I’m finding that after the few times I’ve done it, I sleep better and wake up more refreshed. So, it’s a good thing for me to keep up.

Up, up, and away!

My weekend involved a recovery period, hanging out with friends, eating good healthy food (mostly), and resting when needed. The resting bit involved sleeping for twelve hours Saturday night. Astounding since I haven’t slept past 10 a.m. since high school. I guess my body needed the rest.

I’m feeling more energized going into this week…. We’ll see if it lasts.

What I’m Reading

Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugrešić is not what I was expecting, not that I really knew what to expect. But being based on folklore, I guess I was looking for something a little more of that kind of feel rather than the this-is-real-life tone I’ve gotten so far. It’s still interesting, though, in how it looks at older women and how society perceives them.

I’ve started reading Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone, poetry by Annelyse Gelman. I saw her read at Writers with Drinks one night and the poems are just as fun and witty as her performance.

More slow and steady progress on Don Quixote.

What I’m Writing

Up, up, and away! I knuckled under and sent out a chapbook of poems to Paper Nautilus last night, biting my knuckles the whole time and pretending I wasn’t nervous, not at all.

(eeeeeeeeeeee!)

No. Not really. No.

Goal(s) for this week: Submit the chapbook to a few more publishers. Gather together poem drafts and submit to lit journals.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

Last week I mentioned starting a new eating plan and so far it’s been going great. I’m not torn apart from cravings and am actually feeling drawn to fresh veggies. I feel cleaner. I don’t know how else to describe it. Since my sister has dropped out of the plan, I’m easing up on my restrictions a hair by letting myself have a splash of milk in my coffee, because mmmmm, coffeeeeee.

As I’ve cut out the added sugar and grains, I’m looking into what I can cut out in other areas to be more focused on the things I want to accomplish. Two of the main things that come to mind are TV and my iPad video games — both of which either need to go entirely or limited to an hour or so. Cutting out the TV is the hardest, since my roommate likes to have it on as background noise; that’s fine, I just need to put headphones on and listen to music while I write or retreat into my bedroom for quiet time.

Linky Goodness

In Fallacy: The Primer for Surprise, Lancelot Schaubert talks about how mystery and any writers are able to surprise their readers, noting that it comes not from withholding information, but forcing the reader to the wrong conclusions. A very interesting concept that has me thinking about how I approach my own storytelling.

Also:

If someone tells you singular ‘they’ is wrong, please do tell them to get stuffed,  by Tom Chivers, who writes, “Actually, “their” has commonly been used as a singular possessive for rather longer than either Allan or I have been alive.”

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write — an interesting and we-are-awesome post for writers.

 

In which I feel as though I haven't done thing…

My weekend whispered away, it seems. The days melting into each other with the TV chattering in the background — a large part of that chatter involving a full day marathon of all the Star Wars movies at my sister’s house.

And yet, somehow my laundry is done and my bed is made and my life doesn’t seem to have dissolved into chaos, so I guess I’ve been productive, too.

What I’m Reading

I have a great love for cowgirl stories (even though I don’t read them often), so Under the Painted Sky by Stacey Lee is perfect for me. I’m loving this so far, with two strong girls (one of Chinese decent accused of murder and one a runaway slave) running out into the empty wild west, dressed as boys.

Still working on Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It’s slow reading, but fun. Sometimes I guffaw outloud at the antics of these characters.

What I’m Writing

Putting together a collection is a strange process, something I don’t have much experience with and, in the past, it has not felt natural to group my poetry together. Since this present collection is made up primarily of letter-poems, they all at least fit around a single concept. Over the past week, I’ve read through all of the poems, made selections of those to include and performed edits (substantial in some cases) to each, as well as spreading them out across my living room floor to decide on an order.

I’m feeling good about where I’m at with chapbook — better than any previous time I’ve tried to put a collection together. At the moment, I’m trying to just let things sit for a bit in order to be sure of a few final edits to a couple of the poems, then I think I’ll be ready to send it out. (Eeeeee!)

Goal(s) for this week: Submit chapbook. Gather together poem drafts I’ve written from internet and the universe and organize them in my computer.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

Reading poetry this month, because beautiful words get me thinking about words and then wanting to write them, too.

Linky Goodness

E. Jade Lomax imagined what the Harry Potter stories would have been like, if Petunia Dursley had opened her home and heart to Harry instead of rejecting him and the result is so beautiful, it made me cry.

Nights of Words and Discourse

Meant to post this on Monday, but I got sick this week, which knocked me flat for several days. Since I’m starting to feel better, I’m posting it now.

* * * 

Last Thursday night I attended the fantastic Cito.FAME.Us Women’s History Month open mic, which featured the amazing folk duo Q&A and yours truly. I’ve been a fan of Q&A ever since I first heard them and so it was a great honor to have been paired with them for my first feature performance. I made a video of one of their new songs and hopefully I’ll be able to upload and share it soon.

Q&A includes Quynh and Alice

  

I also attended the Her Story to Call Her Own open mic, which was a wonderful grounding experience, full of many beautiful women singing or speaking many beautiful words.

What I’m Reading

I just finished Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick, which was beautiful and not at all what I expected. 

 
Blue by George Elliott Clarke, which is a powerful collection of poetry. 

 Still enjoying my slow read of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

What I’m Writing

I made it halfway through a chapbook submission, which I’m starting to feel fairly solid about. I’ve got some more work to do on it, some cleaning up of some of the poems and than I should be able to send it out.

Goal(s) for this week: Finish and submit chapbook.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

Amazing women and artists who live in this South Bay community and who open up their voices to share.

Linky Goodness

I think I’ll just leave you with From Tank Girl to Mad Max: The 10 Most Stylish Apocalypse Movies.

It's a new week and I need some sleep…

After some additional challenges with installation, the printer saga is at an end not fixed after all. *sigh*

 I’m also still tired after FOGconm, in a good way.

What I’m Reading

Ancillary Justice by Ann Lecky, which is due back at the library today. I’m only a few chapters in, though, so fines be damned. The storyline and worldbuilding are fascinating and I love the use of “she” as the primary pronoun for everyone.

What I’m Writing

Nada last week, because of prepping for FOGcon and other life things to do, like honoring the day of birth of the most, wonderful, beautiful, and wise lady who brought me into this world. I love her, I do. 


Goal(s) for this week: Write a chapter of the novel in poems. Submit something.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

I’m not feeling very inspired at the moment, but I will be once I get my room smooshed back into a state of order, allowing me to breathe again.

Where I’ll Be

March 26: I’ll be a featured performer at Cito.FAME.us. I’ll share the link, when I have more info. 

 I’m planning to also attend this Thursday’s Cito.FAME.us open mic, which is also the two and a half year anniversary of the event.

Linky Goodness

Theodora Goss wrote on teaching writing and what’s she’s learned as a teacher in response to this post. Her thoughts are awesome and I 100% agree.

The Printer Saga

The installation of my new printer has become a sort of saga, marked with bouts of passive procrastination. It all began nigh a month ago, when I realized I needed to buy an electrical strip in order to plug in the printer, TV, and Xbox simultaneously.

Thus, I journeyed forth to Office Max and purchased the required electrical strip — only to discover that the electrical outlet is a two-prong outlet and will not accept my three-pronged plug of my strip. *le sigh*

Verily, I adventured into Home Depot and discovered an adapter that would allow me to use my three-pronged electrical strip in my two-pronged outlet. After a struggle to shove the three-pronged plug into the adapter, which resulted in a war wound in the form of a bruise on my thumb, the printer worked!

And one would think my story would be done, but no!

During set up, I came to realize the printer did not come equipped with a USB cable, as the wireless setting was standard… I do not have wireless… Hey, don’t look at me like that.

Thus and verily, I hath ventured into the wilds once more and have obtained a USB cable of my very own.

I will learn tonight whether this saga is finally at an end.

What I’m Reading

Six-Gun Snow White by  Catherynne M. Valente, which like most of her writing is lush and complex. I love how she keeps the fairtale tone, while mixing in the old penny western tone. Neato.

What I’m Writing

Let’s just pretend I was productive this week. Agreed? Agreed.

Goal(s) for this week: Enjoy my time at FogCon. If I manage to get something written, then awesome. If not, well I have an excuse.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

Honestly, I don’t know. For some reason, I’m finding it a challenge to list something here each and every week, as I tend to find inspiration in random insignificant things of everyday life and can never remember them when I need to write these posts.

Where I’ll Be

March 6-9: Floating around FogCon, talking about books and writing and generally having a good time.

March 26: I’ll be a featured performer at Cito.FAME.us. I’ll share the link, when I have more info.

Linky Goodness

Heather Web writes on The Science of Creating Authentic Characters.

For Joy!

It’s been a lovely week all around, with plenty of time hanging out with family and friends, talking and being silly and ridiculous.

I attended the Cito.FAME.us Love is in the Air open mic and Valentines Day party, which was amazing. I love these artists and seeing what they can do and how they open up and grow.

I’ve taken some more organizational steps, switching over my 2014 files to 2015 and getting stuff laid out to do my taxes. While taking a look at my files, I noticed that what really needs organizational work is my creative files — my poetry, fiction, notes, etc. I need to figure out to have each poem and story right where I want it when I need to put together a submission packet. I also need to keep more accurate record of drafts, making it clear the most recent versions in both print and on my computer. I would love to hear suggestions in this regard.

What I’m Reading

Almost finished with The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I’m not normally into military stories, but this is compulsively compelling and a fast read with really interesting ideas.

Next up will be Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. I previously read Robinson’s 2312, which was good but was highly focused on the technical aspects of each world visited and I didn’t quite connect with it. I’m guessing that Red Mars will be similar, but since it will be focused on a single world instead of many, I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it more. It’s also research, as Robinson will be a guest speaker at FogCon 2015, which I will be attending in March.

What I’m Writing

Chapter/poem two of the novel is poems has been completed! Progress has been far slower than I’d like it to be, in part because I need to re-prioritize my time. But still, progress, huzzah!

I completed one other poem last week, a Valentines Day poem, which I read at the fantastically fun Love is in the Air party last week.

Accepted! Nonbinary Review has accepted my poem “Eve and Pandora” for their upcoming issue #4, focused on Bulfinch’s Mythology. Eeeeeee!

Goal(s) for this week: Get my printer set up. Finish chapter three. Put a submission packet together.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

I’m having a hard time naming something specific this week. I feel a general sense of momentum, of engagement, partly because I’m working to submit work on a regular basis and partly because I’m actively connecting with artist and writer community in person and online.

My main feeling at this moment is to not let hesitation or fear herd me into poor use of time. It’s all well and good to watch TV/movies and play video games, but it needs to come after making myself and my creative work a priority.

Linky Goodness

My friend, Laura Ayer, pointed out Bullet Journal, which is a method using the traditional paper and pen method to plan and manage one’s monthly tasks (I recommend watching the introductory video). I love the idea of this, but don’t know if it’s for me. I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to paper, though having a clear method would like this could be a good solution.

If any one has done the Bullet Journal method or something similar, I would love to hear about your experience.

Forward motion is forward motion

I spent Saturday night in San Francisco with my friend An Xiao Mina, who happens to write a tech blog about meme culture and many other interesting things. We spent the afternoon eating sushi, getting lost in the city, and watching a fiction reading in a little cafe.

Sunday was primarily consumed with my minimalism efforts, as I trolled through stacks of old magazines deciding what was worthy to stay. It was a long, boring process, but it feels good to have most of that out of my house.

What I’m reading

I’m still working on Ancient, Ancient, by Kiini Ibura Salaam, and  Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon.

Both I have been slowly enjoying and both I’ll be finishing this week.

What I’m Writing

I’ve worked on poetry in some form or another everyday this week, but did not finish anything.

I’m okay with that. Forward motion is forward motion.

Goal(s) for this week: Type up one to two novel poems. Finish and send out a submission of four poems to Poetry Magazine.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

The crisp cold days, full of blue skies and a plethora of imaginatively shaped clouds.

Opportunity of the Week

The Emerald Tablet is looking for original work that in some way reflects an influence of your choice as part of an ongoing reading series (so you would need to be able to perform at an upcoming event. The submission requires that poets and writers include an original fragment of fiction or poem that shows how their own works were influenced. I rather like how poems can be in conversation with one another, so this appeals to me.

Linky Goodness

Dissolving barriers between the real world, the digital world, and the creative world, a look at the 365 Project as a Creative Process, by Marisa Goudy.

“Certainly, a year of photos taught me to see my life from countless new angles. Early in 2014, my newborn and I were trapped inside by the polar vortex, tested by a four-year-old who was stuck in the Frozen vortex. With one creative outlet to depend upon every day – my 365 project – I kept the walls from closing in on me. Later in the year, as I rediscovered my public self, I was able to look at my world with new wonder and discernment, knowing I had to capture at least one moment of each day.”

I tend to be terribly inconsistent with daily goals, but I love the idea of them.

Need to turn off the procrastination station

I planned to see Selma over the weekend in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but a lot happened this weekend and it didn’t work out. I will see it this week, however.

Among the many things that happened, I took a couple of hours to sit down with a friend’s daughter, who just graduated from college and is considering what she wants to do with writing or editing. It was interesting to look at her situation and see how it related to my situation before I finally landed my day job. Trying to get a job fresh out of college and feeling like you’re caught in a experience needed catch-22 was so familiar to me.

Perseverance and a willingness to explore unexpected avenues of writing and editing employment can open up amazing opportunities. I never expected to be working at a technical trade magazine, but it’s been a fantastic experience so far.

What I’m reading

I’ve just started reading Ancient, Ancient, a collection of beautifully written, sensual tales by Kiini Ibura Salaam.

I’m still working through Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon. It’s full of fact, which my overloaded brain will only accept in small increments at the moment. It’s fascinating though and disheartening to know that human being allows such horrible things to continue to be done to fellow human beings after the Civil War.

What I’m Writing

Progress was slow this week, which is to say, I can’t quite remember what I accomplished — which is to say, probably not much at all. Not where I want to be.

I partially blame Letterboxd for the bulk of my procrastination. It’s a social website for tracking movies watched, posting and reading reviews, and (my favorite part) creating lists of favorite movies and other such goodness. It’s bright and shiny distraction, so I’ve been having a bit of difficulty trying to shake it. (My LB profile is here, for anyone who wishes to procrastinate with me.)

Part of the distraction has been that thinking about movies has me thinking about writing movies. Ideas, oh so many ideas.

However, as I mentioned at the beginning of the year, spiraling off into a new BIG project would be just another distraction. It’s important for me to refocus this week on the BIG project I’ve already started.

Goal(s) for this week: Type up one to two novel poems. Send out a submission of four poems to Poetry Magazine.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

Cleaning out and decluttering my room. I’m going (sort of) systematically, section by section through all of my things to see what I can release. I’ve already filled three paper bags full of clothes and shoes I know I’ll never wear and I’m working toward an ultimate sense of open space.

The open space makes me fell more mentally clear and relaxed, which helps me have better head space for writing.

Opportunity of the Week

Submissions are open for Dreams from the Witch House, an anthology of Lovecraftian fiction written by women. Payment for accepted stories will be 5 cents per word up to 5k words, then 3 cents per word over 5k up to 10K words. Deadline is January 31.

Linky Goodness

Upworthy currator, Rajiv Narayan, posted “This Doesn’t Sound Like The MLK I Learned About In School,” which looks at and quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 “The Other America” speech.

Words Inspiring Words

What I’m reading

Finished Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente, which was wonderful and I am hoping to have a review for tomorrow.

I’ve started Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon. This will prove to be a slow read, but is so relevant right now.

What I’m Writing

Novel in poems progresses. I’ve typed out the first poem and have it “finished”. It came out entirely different than I first imagined it would, as my writing sometimes does. Usually this surprise is for the best, and I feel like this is the case here.

Many more notes and starts of poems were handwritten out.

Goal(s) for this week: Type up two more novel poems. If this is accomplished send out a submission of existing work.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

The act of writing itself, words inspiring words. It feels good.

Opportunity of the Week

WEIRD SISTER is a new literary, feminist, and pop culture blog that my friend Marisa Crawford is editing along with Becca Klaver. The site is looking for “feminist literary and cultural commentary that’s critical, creative, incisive, and playful, sometimes all at once.”

Linky Goodness

In “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” Mandy Len Catron describes an experiment in which psychologist Arthur Aron succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory. She then describes going on a date and going through the same list of questions used by Aron, with fascinating results.

How have you been this week?

First Update of 2015

Oh, the joys of winter colds. I’ve spent the past three days curled up in blankets, watching TV and trying not to hack up my own lung. I can’t really remember much of my week beyond that.

What I’m reading

I recently finished A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Mystery novels are not my cup o’ tea, but I enjoyed reading about Watson’s first impressions of the great detective and the murder mystery has some interesting elements to it. A fun and fairly easy read.

Now, I’ve started in on Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente, which has some beautiful wonderful writing and fascinating moments, but hasn’t fully captured me yet.

What I’m Writing

I’ve been working on my novel in poems, handwriting a new opening poem and editing what will replace the existing chapter one. I’m torn on the idea of whether to call the poems “chapters” or not. At this point, I’m thinking not, simply because coming up with an individual title, rather than a chapter title, helps me to think of each poem as needing to be complete in and of itself.

I poured out a freewrite that should come together as a completed poem and I’ve been creating some blackout poetry, which I’ve posted up at Tumblr.

Goal(s) for this week: Type up and finish two opening chapters of the novel in poems.

Where I’ll Be

If I’m feeling healthy again by Thursday, then I’m planning to attend the the Cito.FAME.Us open mic, starring Q&A on Thursday at Iguanas in San Jose. I’ll be listing to the creepy-sweet tunes of Q&A and will probably bring something to read, too.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

While my feelings on Palimpsest as a whole are mixed, the visual poetic language is triggering my inner poet and has me wanting to play with words. It’s a book I can only read in short spurts, because it has me thinking about language as I read. I find myself reading a page or two only to begin reaching for my own notebook, leading me into my own labyrinth of words and corridors of phrases.

Opportunity of the Week

Far Orbit: Apogee is an anthology of science fiction adventure stories created in the “Grand Tradtion” to be edited by Bascomb James. The covers for past anthologies are gorgeous and though I haven’t read past anthologies by this publisher, they look cool. Payment is one cent per word and the deadline to submit is March 15th.

Linky Goodness

i09 published a list of 67 Science Fiction And Fantasy Movies To Watch Out For In 2015, which has me drooling. Many of these look great, though I’m particularly excited about Avengers: Age of Ultron and the new Mad Max and Star Wars flicks. The list also includes a bunch of indy flicks that look rather interesting, too.

Seeking Minimalism and Creative Focus in 2015

For the last few of years, I’ve posted massive lists of goals for the year (such as in 2014), making note of ALL THE THINGS I want to do an accomplish. While I’ve always had fun creating this lists, I’ve noticed that I’ve only ever been able to accomplish a tiny corner of them, if that.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read several articles and posts about eliminating and approaching minimalism in order to be better focused on achieving one’s goals. “It’s not enough to have great ideas. Lots of people have great ideas. The problem is that too many great ideas cancel each other out,” explains Olivere Emberton, noting that trying to focus on too many separate ideas will get you nowhere. He adds, “Monomaniacal focus on a single goal is perhaps the ultimate success stratagem. It’s a pattern found in everyone from Edison to Einstein. When you’re able to focus on a single goal, constantly, your achievements reach their theoretical limit.”

Continue reading “Seeking Minimalism and Creative Focus in 2015”

"Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work."

~ Peter Drucker

My plans and good intentions would have seen me continually working on the Novel in Poems I started in November. While procrastination has certain reared its multitude of heads, I did sit down to get to work a couple of times, only to sit at the screen feeling stymied. This is something that happens often for me as I get into the middles of longer works, when I get lost in the woods of where it could go and start feeling unsure of which way to turn.

As I usually do in such situations, I tried to make my through by setting down ideas of where I want to go, drafting out a kind of a rough outline for the rest of the story. It’s like pulling out a map, figuring out where I’m at and planning out which trails I want to head for. This process usually helps guide me forward. At the very least, I feel good about having put something down on the page.

Coming back to the Novel in Poems, however, I still couldn’t find my way back into the story, which calls for another stratagem. Sometimes moving away from the computer and working on good old-fashioned pen and paper helps to kick start the mind in a different direction. The idea is that I’ll print out existing pages and start reworking them, while jotting down ideas for future chapters. At least that’s what I’m hoping.

The only flaw in this plan is that I don’t have a printer at home — an entirely silly thing not to have as a writer, I agree. Thus, I’m going to go ahead and buy myself a new printer as a personal Christmas present this year.

Speaking of awesome presents for writers. My fantastic friend and roommate bought me StoryBox novel writing software for Christmas. I don’t know much about it, but I’m excited to try it out and see how the outlining aspects of the program works. If anyone has used this before, I would love to hear your thoughts.

November Recap, or how did I manage that?

It’s hard to believe that November is already over, even though it vanished in a flash of activity, including a week long trip to the U.K. for work with a couple of days to tour London, a full day of helping my sister move into a new apartment, several events leading up to a lovely wedding for a good friend, and two Thanksgiving dinners combined with a variety of other family on-goings.

In addition to this, I participated in two November challenges — National Blog Posting Month and Nanowrimo.

The goal for National Blog Posting Month was to write a blog post a day during November. I managed to pull off a total of 21 posts over the course of the month. My personal favorites:

  • Autumn, which incorporates poetry and creative nonfiction
  • Bluebeard, a flash fiction piece that may or may not lead to more stories or a longer work

I fell short of Nanowrimo’s goal of 50,0000 words, as well, managing around 14,500 words, which is still a hefty chunk for a novel in poems. I’ll post an excerpt and thoughts on my process later.

While I did not reach my set goals for either challenge, the point was to get me writing and, in that, I feel successful. Words have been put on the page and progress made.

The next step is to maintain that progress. So, while my December is likely to be as busy with events as November, I’m planning to write at least three blog posts a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posting) and use what time I can in order to finish draft zero of the novel in poems. That will provide me with plenty of work, I’m sure.

Did you participate in any November challenges? How did they go for you?

Words

As I was avoiding getting ready for work early this morning, I noticed a theme of posts about “words” showing up on my feed. I always find it fascinating when my reading naturally falls into themes without purposefully meaning to.

*

The Oxford Dictionaries have named “vape” 2014’s word of the year, explaining that “As e-cigarettes (or e-cigs) have become much more common, so vape has grown significantly in popularity. You are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year.”

In response to this news, John Kelly wrote and excellent post about the etymology of the word.

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Hel Gurney writes, “ALL WORDS ARE MADE-UP WORDS,” explaining how it’s silly for modern writers to complain that the younger generation is ruining the English language:

If English had never changed then we’d all be reading Beowulf without a translation; and yet there’s always someone who seems to think that English-as-it-is-right-now is the pure, immutable, “correct” form and everything after this arbitrary cut-off point is Wrong. All it takes to see the absurdity is to imagine people tutting over Shakespeare for all the words he “made up”.

Gurney also discusses how the creation of new words and terminology can be empowering to marginalized groups by reshaping what is defined as “real.”

“A word after a word after a word is power,” wrote Margaret Atwood (Happy Birthday!) and there is truth to this. Words have power and the way language shifts and changes over time to some degree mirrors some of the power shifts in society.

*

These coincidental commingling discussions of words lead me to discover Pet Words by Brad Leithauser in the New Yorker. Leithauser writes:

The word “sweet” appears eight hundred and forty times in your complete Shakespeare. Or nearly a thousand times, if you accept close variants (“out-sweeten’d,” “true-sweet,” “sweetheart”). . . . Every poet, every novelist has his or her pet words. Which words these may be dawns on you gradually as you enter the world of a new writer. . . . Either way, you’ll likely discover that your author’s personal dictionary contains an abundance of amiable acquaintances, but a select few intimate friends.

I’ve learned over time that I have my own pet words, which cycle through depending on my mood. The word that most insistently comes to mind is “tether,” which has appeared again and again in several poems. (You can find an example in my poem “Miscalculation“, published on Train Write.) I love “tether” for the way it feels on my tongue, a soft feathery feeling. Something tethered seems to be bound in such a fragile and gentle way, like a boat taping lighting against the dock or a spider web strung between two poles. It’s a word I can’t help but return to, always there waiting for the right moment to slip quietly into the text.

*

What are your thoughts on words this fine day?

What makes a story a story and other thoughts at the Tate Modern

Untitled Painting by
Untitled Painting (1965) by Michael Baldwin

As I was walking through the Tate Modern, I came upon “Untitled Painting” (1965) by Michael Baldwin, which is a work with a mirror attached to a canvas. The description noted that historically painting has often been referred to as window to the world, a perspective captured within the frame. However, the mirror in this piece shifts the gaze of the window, revealing the viewer in the act of viewing rather than an image the artist made themselves. In addition to being the viewer, you also become the subject of the painting as well.

As I stood observing myself, now the living and temporary subject of the painting, I started to think about the nature of art and the artists who create it. Since it’s been years since I’ve taken an art history class and I don’t tend to speak critically of art, bear with me as I may misinterpret some things.

Continue reading “What makes a story a story and other thoughts at the Tate Modern”

Getting back on the horse, or something like that

It’s November 1st, and here I am not participating in National Novel Writing month, not even in a modified format. I love Nano and have participated more often than not over the past eight or so years. It’s helped me write words, a lot of words. And even though much of those words were set aside or trashed, I know those words have helped me complete other projects that I’m proud of. I also wouldn’t have many of the friends I have today.

So, I always feel a little sad on those rare Novembers when it participation won’t work for me, for whatever reason. This is one of those Novembers, because I will be traveling for work to the U.K. in a week and will have a slew of other events during the rest of the month.

Also, I’ve been feeling blocked with writing lately and have been trying to dig myself out. I would argue that feeling blocked is an excellent reason FOR doing Nano, rather than not doing it. Nothing to get past a slump like putting down words at a breakneck pace and racing past your inner critic…

and… um…

freaking, fracking dammit! I can’t do Nano. I won’t.

But it’s occurring to me now — literally, right at this minute as I’m typing, seriously — that participating in Nano might be infinitely helpful to getting me back on tra— NO! I DON”T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!

But if I work on a new project, i.e., not the werewolf novel that has been hovering over my head like a great cloud of doom, then maybe, just maybe I can…

But I swear, I don’t have time for this. I mean, I’ll be traveling, loosing a WHOLE WEEK.

But I could write on the plane.

But I…

I swear, I started this post intending to make my excuses for Nanowrimo and announce my participation in NaBloPoMo. But, now, I guess…

Well, shit…

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Just 10 Minutes

The “write just 10 minute a day” goal worked well last week. It got me to write five out of seven days, and as I figured, I ended up writing for more than 10 minutes each time.

My word count was especially boosted when friend Yvette and I got together on Thursday for a writing session. I had some panic approaching the blank page, but pushed through and churned out 1800 words for the new opening Adam chapters for the werewolf novel that I swear will get written this year despite it all dagnabit.

So this week I’m keeping with the 10 minutes per day plan and adding send out a poetry submission to the list. Both totally doable.

Good Reads: Tom Pollock has a great guest post up on Chuck Wendig’s blog about Writing Around a Day Job, which is especially pertinent for me right now. Key advice: Make a time plan and stick to it. Yes, sir.

Good Reads for Writers — On Plotting

While scrolling through my blog cue today, I noticed two very good blogs that talk about why stories work and why they don’t. Both posts look at how to approach plotting, coming to similar, but slightly different conclusions. Each has me thinking about my current stories and how I approach them. Hopefully, you find them helpful as well.

Carrie Cuinn – “It takes three points to make a plot, or, how to write an interesting (complete) story.

“While a story can have any number of events, for it to be interesting and complete, it must have three event points on its plot. Less than that, and the story is either incomplete (a vignette or character study) or it usually fails to be interesting. Often, a plot with fewer than three events is both incomplete and boring.”

Lisa Cron on Writer Unboxed – “What Kindergarten Got (And Still Gets) Really, Really Wrong, Part One

“What I learned from working with the incredibly dedicated teachers, the curriculum, and the state mandated tests is that the “story is a bunch of big, eventful, unusual things that happen” idea is firmly planted in kindergarten and nourished from there on out — which is why it can be so damned hard to uproot. It’s at the foundation of how narrative writing is taught, and a major reason why so many kids (not to mention former kids) hate writing. And, for those of us former kids who love to write, it’s a major reason our manuscripts fail.”

Lisa Cron’s post also have me think about how the idea of plot/story being problems can also help writers in another area — creating dynamic characters. Often characters will be seen as too being too passive in stories. However, characters are likely to be less passive, if they have a problem that requires them to act in order to resolve it. So, thinking of story as problem provides a solution two two writer dilemmas — plot and character — with one stone. Very cool.

If you’re a writer, tell me what you’re writing these days? Did these articles help you?

If you’re a reader, what are you reading? Is it well plotted, or does it fall flat in the way these articles describe?

An Adorable Monster and other good things

I did not exercise all last week, unless you count my playing with my niece, a.k.a. The Monster — following her as she ran around the park and rolling with her in the grass and spinning in circles and then hauling her over my shoulder to get her back to her parents at the picnic tables — which I totally do.

The Monster had a lovely Easter. She got to paint eggs and then “find” eggs during an Easter egg hunt (which was more us just tossing plastic eggs into the grass and playing pick up with a plastic bucket, because she’s not yet two).

Words Here and There

I haven’t been putting many expectations on myself in terms of writing lately, due to the many, many things going on in other arenas of my life. But I’ve managed to feel a few sparks of inspiration over the past couple of weeks, which is awesome.

Despite my previous protestations that no poetry would be written this month, I’ve added a number of poems to The Poetry Project over on Wattpad. You can read each of the poems at the following links:

I’m planning to close The Poetry Project to new prompts as of April 30th, so if you would like me to write you a poem, then please leave me a prompt in the comments either here or there.

I’ve put together an excel sheet of chapters of the werewolf novel, noting things that need to be added and major problems that need to be solved along the way. It’s not a complicated layout, but it was enough to start getting my thoughts in order and I’m also using the tabs to start trying to keep track of characters and places that are important. I still have NO IDEA to solve the one major problem I have at the moment. The most obvious solution is to cut out the problem entirely, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do.

I also met with the Writing Gang over the weekend, all of whom continue to be awesome. They gave me some feedback on some of the later chapters, which was valuable as always. I think I need to look at solving the big problems and work my way through edits from the beginning at this point. *le sigh*

Good Movie Watching

The Host (2006)I saw The Host (Gwoemul) for the first time over the weekend and it was SO FREAKING AWESOME. The story involves a large genetically mutated creature that rises up out of Han River in Seoul, South Korea and begins to attach the population. A young school girl is taken by the creature during the initial attack, and amidst a virus scare and government lockdown, her family escapes quarantine to try to rescue her.

It sounds like just your typical monster movie, but the story is intelligent and the family is both charming and silly in their bungling attempts to save their daughter/niece. It offers fantastic action sequences with a spice of humor, alongside an interesting social commentary. The monster turns out to be the least terrifying aspect of the story. Instead it’s the failed efforts of the Korean and U.S. government to solve the contamination problem, as well as the cold calculating treatment toward the patients in quarantine by officials and doctors alike that becomes truly frightening.

This is one of those movies that was so cool, I want to now see everything done by the director, Joon-ho Bong. The director’s most recent movie is Snowpiercer, which I’ve heard is amazing. So, I that may be the next movie I seek out by him. If you want more evidence of Joon-ho Bong’s awesome, you can check out this post.

Things to Do This Week

  • Edit chapter one of werewolf novel and try to solve big plot problem
  • Find a publisher to submit chapbook manuscript to
  • Continue research/do homework on business thing that I can’t talk about yet

A Patronage Model for Artists, Writers, and Creators

I rather love Kickstarter, because I love seeing interesting projects come to life and seeing my funds culminate in a tangible results. This may mean that I get to end up with a copy of the book, a print of the art, or a DVD of the film I supported, which is a nice gift in exchange for my money. Or, it may just mean that I get to see an artist who I respect and whose work I love get to complete a project that they’re passionate about. It’s awesome.

So, I was very curious to learn about Patreon, a new crowdfunding website based on the traditional patronage model, which used to involve kings, queens, and other royalty or the wealthy providing funds to allow artists to continue their work.

The website says, “Patreon was created to enable fans to support and engage with the artists and creators they love. Empowering a new generation of creators, Patreon is bringing patronage back to the 21st century.”

The site is similar to Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms in the sense that it allows fans to directly interact and fund artists and creators they enjoy. However, rather than funding a single big project, Patreon allows fans to provide funding for an artist or authors ongoing work. Here’s a short video about how it works.

I love the idea, particularly for those artists and creators who may focusing on ongoing work and art, rather than the big idea/project model that Kickstarter supports. It could help to keep some artists working when they might not otherwise be able to.

Continue reading “A Patronage Model for Artists, Writers, and Creators”

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Reality has been kicking my ass lately, but I’m managing to get a few swings in finally. Bits and pieces of life are starting to fall into place, resembling at least an amalgamation of order.

The sun dappled through the trees as I took my run this weekend, a little more warmly than I would normally like, but it was lovely out nonetheless. Since falling off my running habit a few weeks ago, I’m not quite back to where I was in terms of distance. I only have the rest of this week to train, because the She Is Beautiful 5k is on Sunday. I’m sure sure the adrenaline and energy from my fellow runners will help me get through race day with a smile.

Writing progress has been minimal at best. I opened up my laptop this weekend with the intent to write new chapters for The Cold Nothing Taste of Winter (formerly Under the Midday Moon), but couldn’t jump into the groove of words and sentences and paragraphs and all that lot.

So, instead I gathered all my printouts and started putting together a spreadsheet of chapters written and chapters yet to write and problems that still need to be addressed — which I consider to be good progress. I have more work to do on the spreadsheet and it’s helping me to wrap my head around what I need to get done and how I might approach things, which is a relief.

To Do This Week

  • Finish the novel spreadsheet
  • Edit “The Shadow’s Flight” short story to meet flash fic markets and send it out
  • Write and/or edit one of the poems on deck
  • Run the She Is Beautiful 5k!

Good Reads

1. The Bare Knuckle Writer presents an awesome blog post on “Character EDC.”

EDC = Every Day Carry, or the things you always take with you no matter what.

“The things a person always has on them tells you what kind of person they are. A sentimentalist? A minimalist? A survivalist? All those people will have different things.”

This immediately had me thinking about the characters in my novel and what they always carry with them. Claire, for example, always carries the keys to her dad’s cage around her neck, even though she only needs them at home. So far, I’ve only referenced the keys a few times in the story, the times when she’s needed them. But since she always wears them, even when she doesn’t need them, I can see her wearing them as a kind of charm, a comforting talisman when things are going wrong.

Now I’m going to have to think about other characters and what they carry around and what it means to them, even if they’re not conscious of it.

2. The Winter 2014 issue of Goblin Fruit is out!

Go forth, friends, and read beautiful things. (^_^)

You have to keep pushing toward those dreams no matter what setbacks happen. – Anthony Hamilton

Struggle is the word of the…, well, I guess it’s the word of the month at this point. Nothing has been going easy for at least the last couple of weeks and all I’ve wanted to do is crawl into a hole and hibernate, safe and alone in the dark, until everything troublesome goes away. (This is partly why my weekly update is on Wednesday instead of Monday.)

In Writing

I received my first rejection of the year from Daily Science Fiction.

Most of last week was spent feeling completely unfocused. I would pick up my laptop or a notebook, poised to write, then put it down again feeling frustrated.

As always, meeting with my Writing Gang, left me feeling inspired, so on Sunday night, though, I managed to hand write some thoughts on a scene for my Fay Fairburn story, which felt good. Though I still have yet to make much (or any) progress on my main writing project this year, Under the Midday Moon.

This week, I’ve been trying to break the “blocked” pattern by hand writing an idea for a chapter (for a different book) out in one of my journals. I have some preliminary thoughts down and it’s very disjointed, but it feels like it will come together into the right thing. So, I’m slowly starting to feel better about that.

In Running

I had two great workouts with my trainer last week, though the Wednesday workout was so hard, it was almost too much. I was almost to the point where I thought I might throw up. I know some people are into that level of training, but that’s not where I want to be and I don’t think it’s actually healthy.

Saturday I attempted a run and managed a mile, but got mentally blocked (amazing how much of running is mental). I know I could have run those three miles — I’d don it before, after all — but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I very quickly started getting frustrated, and the more frustrated I became, the harder it was for me to run.

Because of this, I added a run on Tuesday. Again, I walked at the one mile mark, but almost made it through the second mile once I started up again. It wasn’t an ideal run, but it was an improvement, so I was feeling okay at that point.

I’m just going to have to build up my running again until I’m back at three miles, and then I’ll probably add in some different running routes, because boredom might be a factory in my resistance to run.

To Do in the Coming Week – the Usual

  • Work on my mental state and try to find equilibrium
  • Write or edit anything
  • Run
  • Have fun on my business trip to San Diego

Weekly Update (because I don't have energy to come up with a clever title)

My weekend was lovely. Spent Saturday night out with a good friend, having a tasty meal at Johnny Garlic’s.

Sunday I met up with another good friend in San Francisco, where we discovered a street fair in preparation for Chinese New Year. We had szechuan food for lunch, checked out City Lights Bookstore (which is amazing! can’t believe I’ve never been!), and then closed out the day with a tea tasting. So much fun. (^_^)

Accomplished in Writing

In one of those moments where an idea just clicks into place, I realized the dynamics of one of the relationships in the story, which allowed me to rewrite a recent chapter and move forward on a stronger footing. Previously this chapter had almost zero conflict, or at least zero conflict based on anything solid. Now it’s much stronger and it creates a nice ripple for conflict in upcoming chapters. Has me excited to get back to making progress on Under the Midday Moon (the title of which I might change).

Two submissions sent out this week, containing one short story to a paying market and three poems to a non-paying market that I think is cool.

In Running

I did my three miles on Saturday using the Zombies, Run! app, which was fun and forced me to do sprints to escape the zombies. Though my pace turned out to be slower, because I think the sprints slowed me down afterward as I tried to even out my breathing.

Sunday’s run was skipped, however, because I decided to let myself take it easy before heading to SF.

To Do in the Coming Week

I’ve been feeling off today, bit of a scratchy throat and, well, just generally off. Also, I’m in the midst of going to press at the day job, which means added stress. So, I’m taking it easy on myself by not actually making a list. If I get some writing done or stuffsomething submitted out, great. If not, well it’s important that I rest.

The Giant List of Goals, or What I'd Like to Accomplish in 2014

Image by Jay Roeder

I love the new year, if for no other reason than I get to create my giant list of goals. As a whole, it’s not entirely sensible and is partly wrapped up in my love for list making as it is for actually getting anything done — but I can’t help myself.

Goal making in general is a good thing, I believe. Though what works best, in terms of what kind of goals and how they are approached, really depends on the individual. Massive lists like I make don’t work for everyone (and sometimes it doesn’t entirely work for me).

Figuring out what works best is experimental, a process of testing the goal-soaked waters to figure out what works. Every year I take a look at last year’s goals, see what I accomplished and test out some adjustments to the system in order to see what else might work.

Lightning Droplets talks about choosing process over goals, focusing on developing systems for ongoing progress, rather than setting a single goal that can be dropped once it’s a completed.

Last year, I came up with a plan that involved creating “Primary Goals” that would be my main focus per year, as well as a set of “Secondary Goals” that represented wishful-thinking kinds things I hope to get done, if I hve the time. Also, because some of my goals are giant in and of themselves (e.g., write a novel), I also created weekly goals in order to break things down in to bite-sized pieces that wouldn’t over whelm me. The weekly goals also allow me to work toward process, creating a habit of getting something done every week. On the whole this plan worked for me, and I was pleased with what I accomplished in 2013. So, I’m using the same method this year.

I would love to hear about your own goals or plan for getting sh!t done 2014! Please leave me a note in the comments below and/or link to your own goals/resolutions post.

Primary Goals

1. Edit Under the Midday Moon into a novel draft ready for beta readers

I’m feeling at a standstill with my novel. I’m getting close-ish to the end, but I’m struggling through it. So, my plan is to write the main ending scenes, so that I have a better sense of the end, and then proceed to the rewrite with the aim of having a complete novel in readable form by the end of the year. Rewriting the beginning chapters to understand the conflict and relationships better should put me in a better position to know how to make the ending work.

2. Participate in at least two 5k events

Since, as of this weekend, I’ve run two miles straight through, and I know I will be able to run 3 miles by the end of January, the next step is to participate in some 5k running events for fun and glory.

Bonus round: Run a 10k (6 miles!)

3. Submit two chapbooks and/or full-length collections of poetry for publication

I managed this last year, so I’m sure I can pull this off again.

Continue reading “The Giant List of Goals, or What I'd Like to Accomplish in 2014”

Wrapping Up 2013

In January I posted my 2013 goals, both primary and secondary.* Here is how I did this year.

Results of My Primary Goals

1. Finish a coherent draft of Under the Midday Moon (my no-longer-untitled werewolf novel)

Almost there. I would have preferred to have finished the entire draft, but I’m close enough that I can reasonably consider editing the novel as my main goal for 2014. The progress feels good and I think I might actually be able to pull this whole writing a novel thing off.

2. Work up to running three miles

I ran a mile!

I may not have completed my goal, but I kept up with running throughout most of the year and I improved. It took a big push in December, but making it to a mile and feeling like I can now do it again, whenever I want, is a huge thing for me. I feel so great about this. I’m fairly certain that I can run a full three miles by end of January. I just need to keep pushing myself.

As a side effect of all this, I’ve also lost around 40 pounds. It’s interesting to write that out, because the number itself is unimportant. I look at myself in the mirror and don’t really see it (even though others have noticed it), which is why I chose to have my goal be about accomplishments in running, rather than about weight loss. I feel good about the running. I’ve achieved something and I can continue to achieve my goals. And as I result, I feel physically strong and healthy. That’s the most important thing.

3. Submit a chapbook- or full-length collection of poetry for publication

Done! Twice this year, I submitted collections of poetry. They were both rejected, but one came back with a really kind comment suggesting that I submit again. Yay!

4. Address finances

Unfortunately this was my biggest flop. I hate to say it, but I think I’m actually a little worse off than when I started the year out. I’m going to have to refocus on this all over again and try to get a handle on things. I know the amount of trips, though worth it, have had an affect on my finances, so I’ll have to keep that in mind.

Overall

I didn’t manage to get hardly any of my secondary goals done, but I feel good about what I’ve accomplished this year, which included a number of great trips, including San Antonio, Texas, Pensacola, Florida, Washington DC, Mexico City, and Venice and Florence, Italy. All great experiences.

How was your 2013? Did you accomplished your writing or personal goals?

*Okay, so maybe I’m a little list obsessed. But just a little.

Movin' and groovin' through these dark days

I let myself just chill and decompress all last week after the boatload of November’s challenges, so there’s not much to report.

In Writing: At this point, I need to get back to finishing the novel draft. Ideally, I would complete it by the end of December, but I’m not sure I’m going to do that. I basically need to get enough down on the page to be able to edit and I’m not sure struggling through the rest of this draft is the most productive or whether going back and beginning the rewrite process might give me a better sense of where I want to go at the end. Nevertheless, I plan to see what I can get done before the end of the year.

In Body: I kind of slacked off on the running in November, and I’m feeling drawn to get back into it. My body needs it, I can tell.

I’m also trying to get back into a better eating routine, since my habits got all wonky from the comfort eating during the challenges and the Thanksgiving aftermath.

In Reading: I’m enjoying Perks of Being a Wallflower. The structure is interesting, even if it makes for a less poetic flow of words. So far it feels very honest in the sense I think this is how a kid would write, even if this 15 year old sounds younger than other 15 year olds I’ve met.

In Other News: It’s cold outside and dark. Keep in mind I live in Bay Area, California, so those comments are relative. Also, despite spending part of my youth in Alaska, I am now a wimp.

Christmas tree is up in my mom’s house. It took a lot of laughter and two rum-strong eggnogs to accomplish this, due to the tree nearly falling over while we were putting the star on top, ornaments shattering, and light fiascoes. It was a good time, though.

What Needs to Be Accomplished This Week:

  • Write 3,500 words on Under the Midday Moon (~500/day)
  • Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
  • Do a minimum of three workouts (0/3), not including morning yoga
  • Gift Shopping for the Holidays (le sigh)

How was your week? Are you starting to wind down for the end of the year? Or are you ramping up to get some last minute goals accomplished?

Stats for November Challenges!

NaNoWriMo Stats

nano
Nano stats for Saturday, November 30th,
just before midnight.

Total New Words Written in November: 46,419

After writing 12,900 words on Saturday, November 30th in a desperate attempt to beat the midnight deadline, I found myself with no more brain cells left over. So, I stopped an hour and a half before midnight and was just 3,581 words shy of the 50,000 goal.

Even though I didn’t reach the goal, I’m happy with the work I’ve done this month. I have large chunk of the novel now done and I know there ate at least a few of the scenes that I really like (hopefully they’re not the darlings I’ll have to kill later). My hope that I’ll be able to pull off the rest of the novel draft by the end of December, so I can edit in 2014.

With the 13,010 words I wrote pre-NaNo, Under the Midday Moon is now at 59,429 words, which is AWESOME.

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NaBloPoMo Stats

New Blog Posts Written: 27

Total Blogging Words: ~15,866

I started to fall off the blog posting toward the end of the month, because all my energy was taken up with trying to finish NaNo. It was an excellent challenge though, and got me thinking about different ways to approach my blog. I’m thinking about doing the challenge again a few times through out the year (probably not when I have other intense challenges going on).

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Total New Words (Novel & Blog) Written in November: 62,285

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Other Life Stats

Workouts Completed: ~8

I’m not entirely sure of the count, but I made sure to do a minimum of one workout a week, which is vital for my mental, as well as physical health.

Books Read: 10

Reviews to be posted tomorrow are here.

Day Job: We went to press on our December issue just before Thanksgiving. This involved me personally writing over 10 full pages of text, proofing every page of the 64 page issue at least three times, and working with authors and companies to get approval and photos. Lots of work.

On the whole it was a very productive month and I can definitely call it an epic win for myself.

epic-win

Things

1. Thanksgiving yesterday was great, family and food filled fun. Lots of laughing and eating. Turkey and stuffing and salad and twice baked potatoes and candied yams and green beans with bacon, not to mention pecan pies and apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake — all homemade, by the way. Plus lots and lots of champagne.

20131129-153704.jpg

2. I received a rejection for a poetry chapbook submission, called The Letterbox, sent out many months ago. The rejection included a personal note, thanking me for submitting. The editor said I had a nice narrative arc to my poems and suggested that I submit again. I never take rejections to heart, because they are a part of the process of being a writer, but it’s always great to see that personal touch and get a bit of encouragement.

3. I have no motivation to do anything at all, even though I’m supposed to pull off 18,000 words before midnight tomorrow. *sigh*

4. I’m am enjoying reading Slice of Cheery by Dia Reeves, which has consumed most of my day so far.

5. I’m sure I have enough motivation to seek out more pecan pie, though. Mmmmm, pie. And then a nap.

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 4

It was a slow writing week for me, but I made it up to Chapter 19. My day job has been getting hectic, as we have to go to press by Wednesday and there is a ton of work to do. I didn’t take into account the “day job/going to press will eat all the brains” aspect of November when I decided to do these challenges. So, at this point, I’m not sure that I’ll complete 50,000 words. It’s not IMpossible, but it will be quite a stretch.

I allowed myself to skip Sunday for the NaBloPoMo blogging challenge. I had no ideas and no brain cells to spare. So, I just let myself mentally rest.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)

Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words This Week: 6,266
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 29,073

Random Rough Sentences: I don’t remember what woke me that night. I just remember the night was bright with moonlight, illuminating patches of gleaming snow outside my fogged window. The sparse birch trees stood like ghosts in the dark. I remember wanting to be out under the trees, running, skipping, rolling in the mud, diving through bushes, kicking the leftover snow.

Novelling Notes: I’m in another slow spot in the novel, at least slow for me. It’s basically a set of connecting scenes between one dramatic action sequence and another, and I find these scene necessary, but hard to write. They’re emotional scenes, full of angst, while also requiring plot movement and writing them is like pulling teeth.

The other thing I’m noticing is that I have a lot of plot threads cast out there with two romances (no love triangles), the werewolf angle, and the family dynamics story. While I’m writing a scene(s) focused on one aspect, I tend to forget the others entirely. In rewrites, I think I’m going to have to weave them together a bit more coherently.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Miraculously Complete NaNo with 20,927 new words (yikes)
  • Do three workouts (0/3 completed)
  • Post a new blog everyday
  • That’s it (as though that’s not enough)

Of Friends Who Are Keys

Warning; This is a piece of fiction that has been written in a ridiculously short amount of time. Therefore, there are likely errors and mistakes, so read at your own risk. (~_^)

The clouds released just enough moisture to dampen the cement and make it slick, while cars inched by caught in the snails pace traffic that lead downtown. As soon as the streetlight turned green a car back down the line honked, causing a number of other cars to release a litany of honks in reply.

Fay Fairburn looked up at the sound of the honking, her eyes trailing something that moved over the cars chasing the sound of the honks. What ever this something was, it went unseen to passersby, but Fay noticed and she shook her head with a smirk and went back to weaving together strips of cloth, plastic, and strands of her own hair. The end of the weaving held a coke tab, a small stone, and other objects tied into a ball like charm.

Despite all the dirt under her nails, despite the unbrushed and fading blue hair that has begun to dread, despite the torn jeans and ratty tee shirt and mismatched socks and man’s pin stripe suit jacket five sizes too large, Fay did not give the impression of being homeless or lost. Her entire appearance seemed to be deliberately accidental. She didn’t even seem to remember the battered top hat was sitting in front of her until someone dropped a bit of change into it.

Each time a bit of change clattered into the hat and rattled with the other dimes, quarters, and pennies as though it had at last found its way home, Fay looked up from the charm she was weaving and smiled. It was the kind of smile that made the people suck in their breaths linger for just a moment, as though the mist had broken to reveal a ray of sunny warmth. Even those who tried to deposit money in the hat without actually seeing her somehow found themselves struck by the illumination of that smile.

Her papa shuffled around the corner wringing his hands, not so much from the chill in the air, but from the worry that hovered around him like gnats. His clothing was as rumpled and dirty and torn as Fay’s, but while she encapsulated certainty in herself, her papa looked perpetually and unutterably lost. Even if her were scrubbed clean and placed in the finest clothing and the shiniest shoes, he would never release that sense of displacement, of not belonging to the place or time in which he existed.

Seeing his daughter, he shambled over. “Have you seen my Queen?” he asked. “I’ve been looking for my Queen.”

Fay shook her head. “No, papa, I’m sorry. She’s very far away, remember? We left her in the Otherlands.”

“I miss my Queen.” The people walking by ignored the old man with proper New York zeal.

“I know, papa.” Seeing his hand tightly balled in a fist, she asked. “What did you find?”

Fay held out her hand and her papa stared at her open palm, as thought trying to read the map of its creases outlined with dirt. Slowly he uncurled his own hand and gave her a small silver key.

“I didn’t find it,” he finally said. “It found me. Jumped from someplace high to reach me. Almost landed on my head, which wasn’t nice. But now we’re friends.”

Fay nodded. The key was small and shiny and plain and seemed to belong to nothing and no one. It did not look old, but it also did not look particularly new either.

“It’s a very pretty key,” she said and offered it back to him. Her papa didn’t take it. His expression drooped with sadness.

“I don’t know where it lives.”

Fay looked at the key again, considering. “Well, it’s a key, so likely its home is a lock. Do you want to try to find its home?”

Her papa nodded his head, looking like one of those toys she saw the windows, the ones who’s heads jumped and bobbed up and down in a way that always made her laugh.

“Alright, then.” Fay smiled at her papa and for a moment he didn’t look like a piece of brown paper that had landed in the gutter. He looked like he were home.

The Fairy Godmother
The Fairy Godmother by Erin Reidy

* * *

This post comes to you from The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge prompt Characters that Haunt You. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the tale as I intended to today, but upon request I’ll try to finish it up in Saturday’s post.

I’ve kind of burned out a bit over the past week between my day job and writing at home (this has happened past Novembers), so I’ve been avoiding NaNoWriMo. Thus and therefore, this snippet has nothing at all to do with Under the Midday Moon.

The sprite-like Fay Fairburn first appeared as part of a blogging challenge for LiveJournal, called LJ Idol, which involved writing a new post each week based on a specific prompt. For my challenge, I decided to write a fiction piece each week, each one centered around a single character, Fay Fairburn. She came flipping, jumping, and brightly colored into my world and hasn’t left me since. You could definitely say she haunts me, or at least playfully prods me with riddles from time to time, always reminding me that I have more of her stories to tell.

If you want more, you can check out The Many Adventures of Fay Fairburn, which has all the stories, scenes, and snippets, including an extended storyline that is as yet incomplete.

From a Certain Point of View

Chicago Bean
Chicago Bean by Jeremy Cliff

As a writer, point of view (POV) or perspective can have a dramatic impact on how characters are judged by readers and on the overall story. One of the first choices to be made is whether the story should be told from first person, third person, omniscienct, or maybe even the dreaded second person POV. In this regard, Writer’s Digest fortunately has a great post with six tips for choosing POV in a story, so I’ll just turn your attention there for those interested.

Instead, I’d like to talk about other ways perspective can have an effect on characters of the overall story.

How Does Reader/Writer Perspective Alter How A Character is Perceived

Cindy Angell Keeling wrote about visiting Chicago’s famous sculpture, The Bean, which casts shifting reflections back at the view from a variety of angles and perspectives.

“It occurred to me that we writers get to know our characters by viewing them from different angles and perspectives. As we polish them into being, what is reflecting back? From here, Bob seems affable and responsible. From there, we see an angry side with a tendency to shove problems under the rug. From fifty feet away, he’s helping an old lady cross the street. From ten, he’s threatening a neighbor.  Standing underneath, we see a scared little boy, bruised and hiding in the closet.” (Source.)

People are multilayered and complicated and contradictory. But from the outside, if you see only one moment, one angle of their lives, it’s easy to make judgements and make assumptions about them based on that limited perspective.

Likewise, readers only have access to the perspectives writers choose to include on the page. If a character is presented from only one side, then the reader will make assumptions based on that information and may begin to see the characters as flat. Therefore, it’s up to the writer to provide multiple

Prompt: Take a look at your characters. Consider them from another angle, maybe as seen from a grocery store clerk, or the neighbor across the street, or their mother. Is there a side to them you haven’t seen yet? Is there an aspect of their lives that will grant greater intimacy or distance?

How Does a Character’s Perspective Alter Events

Years ago I read and loved The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. The story is about a missionary who brings his family to the Congo. One of the aspects I loved about the book is that it is told from five different POVs, each with their own distinctive voice. In an interview discussing her book, Kingsolver said that she essentially wrote the entire book five times, once from each POV, which allowed her to consider events from every angle and choose the best perspective for a specific moment in the novel.

“I conceived the structure this way from the very beginning, even though I knew it would be quite difficult to pull off, from the point of view of craft. I spent almost a year just honing the different voices, practicing telling the same scene from all five different angles, until I had differentiated them to the point that the reader would instantly know who was speaking, just from a sentence or two. So yes, it was hard, but it had to be so. The four sisters and Orleanna represent five separate philosophical positions, not just in their family but also in my political examination of the world.” (Source.)

The perspective of each individual character in the story is a really powerful instrument, because each individual sees the world a little bit differently.

My mom is fond of saying, If three people witness a car accident, each one will tell a different story of how it happened. A police officer may describe the scene with precision because his career requires it. A young student may describe it from a place of anger because they had a friend die in such an accident. An old man may tell it from a place of panic because of the shock it caused it. Each of them will have their own stories, memories, experiences, passions, and fears that colors how they view any given moment or event.

Prompt: Write a scene fives times, each time from a different character point of view. See if you can give them each a unique voice of perspective. (This is could be good for trying to add depth to side characters.)

This post was loosely inspired by The Daily Post prompt: Perspective.

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 3

I did not quite meet NaNo word goal for the week, as I’ve been skipping writing days during the work week. Things are getting hectic at my day job, since we have to go to press with our December issue before Thanksgiving and there is a lot of work to do.

But I made it through Chapter 16 on the novel and I’m happy with the progress of the story.

On Saturday, I inadvertently skipped a day of Nablopomo. I created the post for Saturday, but saved it as a draft instead of posting it, so it ended up being posted on Sunday instead. Whoops. I’ve made it up by posting two posts today, however.

In the mix of this, I managed to do two of my three workouts last week. I feel good about this. With all the sitting at my computer, though, I can also feel my spin and muscles tightening up, reminding me that I need to get back to doing my morning yoga.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)

Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words This Week: 8,252
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 22,807

Random Rough Sentences: Now, the sun was behind the trees and the sky was illuminated with pink, peach, and red, making the snow blush between the elongated shadows of the trees. Mom and I both stood on the porch, watching the sky with the plastic we’d used to cover the broken window flapping slightly behind us.

“I think we should get out of here,” said mom.

Novelling Notes: I don’t have any deep thoughts at this time. I’m pleased with the progress I’m making and how the story is starting to take shape in my mind. Lots of chapters begin and end with “Author’s Notes” pointing out changes I’ll need to make in the editing process.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Write a minimum of 12,000 words
  • Do three workouts (1/3 completed)
  • Post a new blog everyday
  • That’s it
Typewriter Keys
Typewriter Keys by Kristin Nador

Three Things I Would Like to See in More Novels

Book of love

As a reader, I can’t help noticing patterns that emerge in the stories I read. Sometimes these stories are spot on, and sometimes I find myself longing for different kinds of stories than what I see on the pages. Here are a few tropes or plots points I would like see occur in more books.*

1. Books That Start with the Characters Already in a Romantic Relationship

So many stories, from romance novels to YA fantasy, begin with two strangers meeting for the first time, having instant attraction, and ultimately finding their way to love. These stories are great, and I enjoy them just as much as the next person.

But these stories seem to stem from the idea the Falling-in-Love aspect is the only interesting or challenging part of a relationship. If our two heroes can just get past these hurdles, then they’ll realize it’s True Love and they’ll be guaranteed their happily ever after.

The reality is that relationships are hard work. It involves day-to-day acts of compassion, understanding, and compromise in order to stay in love.

Staying-in-Love has the potential to be just as compelling and romantic a trope as Falling-in-Love, and would be great to see more stories begin with characters already in a relationship, which they have to hold on to through the storm.

2. Non-Romantic Relationships

Again this is me not so much turning away from romance, but wanting an addendum to it. Many stories, particularly in YA books, focus on the love story to the end that other relationships fade to the background. Sometimes that happens, a person falls in love and is so wrapped up in the feeling, they can’t make the other valuable relationships with friends and family fit in.

But I think life tends to be more multilayered than that and with all the levels of relationships and love — mothers, fathers, siblings, best friends, cousins, etc. — there is a lot of room for emotional complexity. I’m not saying ditch the romance (though I kind of am with my book), but alongside falling in love, lets have some of the other kinds of relationships, too.

3. Quiet Moments

Roger Ebert talked about quiet moments in an interview he did with Hayao Miyazaki:

I told Miyazaki I love the “gratuitous motion” in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.

“We have a word for that in Japanese,” Miyazaki said. “It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.”

Is that like the “pillow words” that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?

“I don’t think it’s like the pillow word.” He clapped his hands three or four times. “The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness. But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.

Reading this, I thought about how many stories just power through to the ending in one action sequence after another without allowing that space to breathe and feel something.

Placing a quiet, still moment into a story seems easier in a movie, because it’s a visual form. But I think it’s possible to achieve in books, too, and I would like to see more stories, normally rife with action allow a space for the reader to feel about the characters before plunging in again.

What are tropes, plots, ideas that you would like to see appear in more novels?

*And, as I long to see these things, I find myself drawn to writing them in order to fulfill that desire.

 * * *

Since this is supposed to be a Friday Five post, here are two more unrelated Things you may be interested in checking out:

1. An awesome blog post analyzes the concept of the “Man Card”, which basically a way of metaphorically and jokingly measuring a person’s manliness:

“The Man Card concept specifically, however, is insulting to men and women in what it’s saying about our respective roles. Men are supposed be this way, not that way. Do these things, not those things. You’re not a man if you don’t fit society’s (or some section thereof’s) definition of one, and, unfortunately, people who joke this way are denigrating empathy, sympathy, respect for women, honesty, sensitivity, and responsibility. They’re saying real men prize getting their way over cooperating or compromising. Real men don’t care what their girlfriends or wives think. Real men do what they want.

This is dangerous.”

2. Check out Malinda Lo’s Guide to YA. Malinda Lo is the author of a great Cinderella retelling, called Ash, and she’s writing a multitude of posts YA novels, particularly those with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters or issues. If you’re a writer at all interested in writing about GBLTQ characters or issues, then I highly recommend working your way through this reading list.

Clearing Away the Traces

Lone Wolf
Photo: Lone Wolf by h.koppdelaney

This is an excerpt from Under the Midday Moon, the novel I’m working on for NaNo. Adam (as mentioned here) is the main character’s best friend.

This bit of the novel was inspired by the prompt “Traces” provided by the The Daily Post. Since it is a first draft, it is likely to contain errors, typos, and other such idiosyncrasies. Read at your own risk. (~_^)

* * * *

From the front, the house looked normal. Snow had settled over the night, layering the roof and ground with an inch of white, softening the edges of things. As the morning sun rose, bringing with it golden light that made the white bark of the birch trees glow, I could almost believe that last night hadn’t happened after all.

Mom sighed, the sound laden with exhaustion and got out of the car. She slammed the door hard enough to rock the car. I followed her into the house.

“Jesus,” mom said. She stood in the middle of wreck of the living room, looking like stunned survivor of a minor apocalyptic event. The couch was overturned and disemboweled, bits of fluff protruding from the rips in its fabric. The coffee table was crushed, wooden legs splintered and splayed, glass top shattered. The book shelf near the fireplace was collapsed in a heap, books and knickknacks and photo frames mounded in a newly formed hilltop. Shards of broken glass and ceramic were scattered around the room, tiny reflections of light like deformed constellations.

Continue reading “Clearing Away the Traces”

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 2

Along with two strength training workouts and a couple of walks with my sisters and niece, progress continues on the novel. I fell behind on the word count after skipping a couple of days, and so have been playing catch up over the weekend. Now, I’m just about on target again. I would prefer to be ahead of the game, but really it doesn’t matter, because I’ve written more words in this week than I’ve done in months. I have high hopes that I might actually be able to finish the entire draft by the end of the year, if not in November.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)

Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words This Week: 6,920
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 14,555

Random Rough Sentences: The cold was soothing. The sky was black, stars hidden by clouds that smelled like coming snow. The trees beyond the porch light were full of shadows and it would be easy to imagine some creature hiding out there, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting teenagers. But all I could smell was mud and dead leaves and the leavings of a moose that must have passed by hours ago.

Novelling Notes: Ever since I decided to make a massive plot change to my story, I’ve been seeing a domino effect going through scenes both before and after the plot point that was changed. I was just thinking back to a scene in Chapter Two, which I was particularly fond of, and realized it would have to go, because now it that scene impossible.

I feel like things are progressing well though, even with all the rewriting I’ll have to do, I is a wonderful, wonderful thing to see the story coming together and taking a kind of shape I can work with.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Write a minimum of 12,000 words
  • Do three workouts (0/3)
  • That’s it

Falling into Autumn

The days are getting colder here in Bay Area, California. This really just means that we can wear out light sweaters, maybe with a thin jacket over top. Meanwhile, it will probably be sunny outside, the light bright and happy, despite an ever so slight chill to there. If you’re out taking a walk, you might even build up enough warmth to forgo the jacket entirely.

The leaves are beginning to change, not in a dramatic display of colors as in other region, but a yellowing and the occasional orange. Some trees with skip the over the colors altogether and simply fall in heaps of brown. Others stay solidly green, as though they do not even realize Autumn is upon them.

I have to be grateful for what passes for winter here. How can I not? How can I complain about it being 55°F outside, when there are some areas steadily inching toward subzero temperatures as winter approaches?

And yet, I grow tired of the sunshine and some part of myself longs for a proper storm, for pounding rain, for growing puddles and growling thunder and flashes of lightening. (It would be too much to hope for snow.) I find rain to be cleansing to the spirit. It makes the world smell green and clean, and I feel lightened.

When I was a kid, my brothers and sisters and I would run out into the rain in tank tops and shorts. We’d go down to the parking area, where the spouts spewed water from the second story like a waterfall. We would stand beneath the spouts and pretend they were waterfalls.

Now, I enjoy sitting on the porch, while water falls around me, letting the sound thrum me into relaxation. The tap-tap-tapping of drops in the leaves. I wrap myself up in a blanket, pour a cup of hot tea, open a book, and let it be a backdrop to my afternoon — at least until my fingers grow too cold to turn the pages.

I think days of rain (and maybe it’s because they come so sparingly) are my favorite part of Fall and Winter. They allow moments of comfort and warmth, as you huddle inside, drinking hot cocoa or tea, eating cookies and comforting treats. They allow internal searching, an implied intimacy, as you cuddle close to a loved one.

What are your favorite things about Autumn and Winter?

Witches and Woods and Good Fairies

Autumn woods
Autumn woods by Mel Green

Sophie Masson wrote a lovely post about a home she grew up in, which seemed to possess the soul of a good fairy. It was a home of secrete histories and ghosts and wild places to explore (and I recommend reading it, rather than taking it at my sparse description).

Her post immediately reminded me of the park and little woods in Anchorage, Alaska, where I used to live when I was a kid (seven-ish). The park across the street looked out over Cook Inlet, the water grey and, in the summer sun, sparkling. Two sides of the park were framed with little woods, patches of trees that separated the park from other peoples homes. I remember running through those woods and believing them huge, giant forests almost filled with wonders and strange creatures. I remembered looking up at the tall trees and feeling very far from home. I remember stepping only a few feet inside the little woods and feeling as though I could become utterly lost.

As kids exploring the little woods, we once stumbled upon a tree house — just a platform, really — that sat perched at what seemed to be the tippy top of a tree, which we were never brave enough to climb. But we imagined the kind of strange, brave person who would live at such heights.

Another time we discovered a cement slab (something industrial) hidden in the trees. It became the framework for an invisible house in which we pretended to live. It became a stage upon which we pranced and gave our bows. It became the home of an evil man who kidnapped good children and hid them away. It became so many things.

A few years ago, I was remembering the little wood and wondered what would happen, if such a small wood, the kind it was impossible to become lost in, actually hid in its heart an older, much greater wood — the kind one might never return from. That idea inspired a a short story, called “The Witch of the Little Wood,” grew into a novella, which transformed into part one of an unfinished novel that I plan to finish eventually.

My life inspires my writing quite a lot, usually in unusual ways. “The Witch of the Little Wood” makes use of several moments from my life, all unconnected. A phrase shouted at me by my sister during the middle of a fight (which made us laugh at the time) becomes barbed cruelty tossed at our MC by a bully. The awkward feelings of junior high, in which several people whom I thought were friends suddenly changed and became bitter enemies, makes it into the story. Bits of life here and there, hurts and loves and joys, travel through me and become new unrecognizable scenes in my characters lives. Bits of myself show up in everyone, from the heroes to the villains.

Writing is a fascinating process that way. Reading is, too. How you can look at a story just discovered and realize, oh, this is me, this is my life, here is everything I love and hate and need and feel all right there on display.

When you write or read do you often discover yourself in the stories? Does it surprise you?

Five Things I've Learned from November Writing Challenges (so far)

For those who are not aware, I am participating in both National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)* and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) this November. If this sounds like madness to you, that’s because it is, my lovelies, it is.

I’m finding the dual challenge fun, at least in these early days of the month. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far.

1. Exceed the Daily Minimum.

I kind of knew this one from the previous years I’ve done Nano and it feels like it should be obvious, but I feel like it’s something I always end up learning all over again. If you just meet the minimum requirements of the challenge, then you can get in trouble if life gets in the way latter down the road.

I try to at least get a few hundred words over the 1667 minimum required for Nano, that way I’m not stressed if I don’t feel like writing one day.

For the blogging challenge, this sometimes means I’m writing two blog posts a day, one for the day I’m on and one in preparation for the day after. It’s the same amount of words, but helps me have all my bases covered. In some cases this has resulted in two posts in the same day, because something new and relevant has come up. So, at the end of the month, I may have more than the minimum 30 blog posts (way cool).

2. Write First. Life Second.

Simple, and something I’ve known for a long time. Get the work done that needs getting done first and use the time left over for cleaning your room, chores, errands, watching TV, reading, friends, family, etc.I think this works best for the craziness of these writing challenges, since it only has to be sustained for this short period of time. During the rest of the year family and friends are the priority; cleaning, errands and chores end up on fairly even keel with my writing activities; and play (i.e. TV and movies and such) should be lowest, but isn’t always.

For day to day life, I won’t be able to keep this manic energy up, but I can set aside specific days where I come home from work and make writing my priority.

This work first attitude is also helping to build a habit of getting stuff done, which I’m hoping will carry over after the November challenges are completed.

3. Get Out and Do Things.

haymitch_meme
Haymitch says, “Just stay alive.”

Once the day’s goals have been met and exceeded, get out, get away from the chair, go do something. It’s kind of like a reward for the hard work done that day, but it’s also a way of maintaining mental order.

Last weekend was perfect. I got up early (but not too early), had some tea and toast while doing my Nano Novelling, and then went out and took walks with my baby niece and sisters, went to the farmers market, played with the baby, watched some movies. I

I have also been keeping up with my exercises, which helps keep me physically capable of sitting there and writing without feeling like I’m going to fall apart at the seams. And it also helps clear my head and exorcises stress.

These kinds of challenges require a lot of endurance, especially if you are combining them with full time jobs or education activities (and btw, parenting counts as a full time job, for realz). With the combination of work, life, family, friends, and the challenge, I’ve experienced serious Burn Out before, where I realize I’ve taken on too much with the result that I start to get physically sick or I get to the point where I don’t even want to look at a computer. Maintaining a sense of balance by stepping away from the challenge, taking a break, is a good way of surviving the month.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Going for the Gut.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I discovered over the course of this week that I’d been taking the easy way out in regards to my novel, playing it safe for both me and my characters. But it’s so much exciting for both readers and the writer to go for the gut and take risks. It can be scary, but it has the potential for better writing.

Taking part in NaBloPoMo has had me reading more blog posts this month than I normally would, and I’ve been struck by the honesty and courage of my favorite posts. I haven’t managed this much in my blog, as I tend to avoid writing posts that could be the least bit controversial or argumentative. I’m trying to put more personality into my posts and would like to get into more creative nonfiction, adding stories from my life in (hopefully) interesting and creative ways. It’s something for me to work on.

5. Work Breeds Inspiration.

I rediscover this every time I find myself enmeshed in a big project or doing a lot of writing or a combination of writing and other creative things. The more I write, the more I feel inspired to write, the more easily new ideas and words come, the more quickly I can get those words on the page.

To me, writing kind of like having a big round stone in the middle of a field. You know you want to roll the stone over to the other side of the field. As you stare at the stone sitting there, the idea of moving is looks daunting. The stone is too heavy. It’s too much work. Then, you start pushing the stone and it’s hard, but slowly it starts moving. As it starts moving, it starts to pick up momentum and that momentum makes it easier. If you stop, the momentum stops; you have to start the hard part over again. But if you keep the stone rolling until you reach the end of the project, then the momentum makes the work so much easier.

Nano-ing and other such challenges are huge massive heaps of potential and momentum. They start a pace, which the writer can either keep going or not.

For me that momentum is invaluable. It gets me going and keeps me going, and the sheer act of writing is what keeps my inspired.

Since we’re on the subject, my lovelies. Are you doing any personal challenges this month? What have you learned in the process?

PS. This post was inspired by BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo prompt for Day 8.

___________

Good Reading

Turning Right Instead of Left

Some writers avoid talking about what they’re working on with anyone, and my understanding is that this is because they feel they loose the excitement of discovering and writing the story when they tell it.

I personally find the opposite is true. While I’m writing, especially in the first draft stage, talking out the story can be incredibly helpful, helping me to plan out where I’m going. Of course, whomever I’m talking to often has many ideas of where they think I should take the story (most of them not right), but even hearing the wrong ideas can help me weed out the right ones.

During lunch yesterday, I was talking the story with a coworker and telling them what I had planned. One if my characters is attacked, and my coworker leapt to an assumption about the identity of the “villain”.

I explained that I had originally planned to write it that way, but had changed to another option. “But I’ve been thinking of changing it back,” I said. “Because I feel like I’ve been pulling my punches do it this way. That I’ve been playing it safe.”

“You are,” she said. “Just hearing the first version was compelling.”

“Yeah,” I said, and thought to myself, well, fuuuuuuuuuuu—.

1724315-fuuuuuuck_super

Because damn it, she was right.

Of course, now all the planning I’ve done has to be tossed out the window and I have no ideas of how to finish this novel. I’m also going to have to make changes in the beginning sections to make these changes work. And the first scenes I ever wrote for this thing before I knew it was going to be a novel, the ones that kicked it all off, will just about have to be trashed entirely. (“Kill your darlings,” the wisdom goes.)

But I’m grateful to have figured this out now. Actually, I’m right at the pivot point in writing the current draft where this change would have to occur. Instead of turning left, I just have to turn right in the plotting. This will save me tones of time during revisions.

Of course taking this plot turn is scary, and that’s how I know it’s probably right. I’m not sure I’m good enough to pull it off, not sure I can make readers believe, not sure I’ll be able to do that much damage to my main character. I don’t really want to twist the knife (metaphorically speaking) once I’ve jammed it into her belly, but I’m gonna have to.

Right now, I’m trying not to flail.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening mentally working out how to make the change work, and allowed myself a break from writing. I think I’ve got some of it worked out, but have no idea how to end it. I guess I’ll discover that when I get there.

When you’re writing do you talk the story out? Or do you keep it to yourself until the draft is finished?

Alternatively, have you ever caught yourself pulling your punches while writing a story? Or do you always go for the guts?

____________________________

Good Reading

Marilyn Brant posted Following Our Passions: A Dance of Love, Fear, and Change,” which gives some fascinating insight into her career as an author and talks about why as writers we keep writing.

The Daily Post has a great blog up called, Should You Let the Cats Out of the Bag? Blogging About Family and Friends, which deals with privacy and the internet, how much you should share and not share, especially in regards to the lives of friends and family. It has some great questions to ask yourself before posting and some tips on how to handle the sharing of private information in a respectful way.

All the Snow Melts Away

This is an excerpt from Under the Midday Moon, the novel I’m working on for Nano. This bit of the novel was inspired by the prompt “Moved by Music” provided by the The Daily Post. Since it is a first draft, it is likely to contain errors, typos, and other such idiosyncrasies, so read at your own risk. (~_^)

* * * *

Outside tiny tufts of snow flakes drifted, most in a downward direction, but some alighted in drafts of wind, spiraling sideways or even beck up to the grey sky they fell from.

When I was a little girl, my dad and I used to run outside every time fresh snow fell. Not the half rain slush that came down sometimes, but real snow, the light white flakes that floated in and out of the porch light in flurries and drifts. We ran out in whatever we were wearing, pajamas or Sunday dress or, once, wrapped in a towel fresh out of the bath, and stopped only long enough to pull galoshes onto our feet. We would stand out under the cold sky, whether night or day, and let the snow catch in our hair and kiss our eyelashes. We laughed and danced and we stuck out our tongues in the hopes of tasting fresh snow, the cold nothing flavor of winter that was just so perfect.

But those days eventually melted away like snow in Spring as dad’s Black Days took more and more of a toll. He seemed to be more and more tired every year and for more and more days of the month. Sometimes after the moons, it would take him up to a week to recover now. He moved slowly through the house on those days, shifting from room to room, like a scrap of paper kicked up again and again, unable to come to rest. When he finally settled in a chair or collapsed onto the couch, he would just sit there, sometimes for an hour or more, just staring off at an empty spot on the wall.

Read the rest of the excerpt

Writing Retreat Announced: Poets on the Coast 2014

The fabulous Susan Rich, whose books of poetry I’ve read and loved, has announced Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women, which she is hosting alongside Kelli Russell Agodon. This weekend retreat will be from September 5-6, 2014 in La Conner, Washington.

“This retreat has been designed for women writers of all levels, from beginning poets to well published. Sessions on creativity, generating work, publication, a Master Class workshop, and one-on-one mentoring are included as well as morning yoga.”

I learned about this retreat last year and loved the idea of going. I spent several weeks trying to plot out the time and money it would take for me to go, but the finances just didn’t work for me.

I’m considering it again for 2014, but I know I have at least two trips planned next year, which will eat up much of my traveling funds. I’m still hoping to make it work, but we’ll see.

I think it’s a fabulous retreat, though, and I hope some of my fellow female poets get the opportunity to go — even if I can’t join them this year.

Three Bits of Bad Writing Advice

100.365_wrong_way
I’ve seen several posts that have their list of things they consider bad writing advice, some of which I agree with and others I don’t.* Like most writers, I’ve received various bits of bad advice. Here are a few moments or pieces of advice that stand out most for me.

(PS. I did not intend this to be so dang long. Sorry.)

1. Forget King

Sitting in the college councilor’s office, a small cramps space with a too large desk covered in stacks of marked up pages, I asked about what it would take to major in Creative Writing. My transferring to the UC had complicated the matter, because some of the classes I took at community weren’t applicable at university.

The councilor told me about my options and asked, “Who are your favorite authors.”

I grinned and said, “Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, and Stephen King.”**

She blinked and then wrote something down in her notes. “I wouldn’t mention that last one.”

I continued to smile and nodded, even though my skin went cold and embarrassment began to make me blush. It would be impossible for me to forget Stephen King as an influence on me as a reader and a writer. I spent too many hours in high school, curled up, pages deep in the blood drenched and horrifying worlds he created. Reading his books was like an obsession.

But the councilor’s message was clear: If you’re going to be a writer, you need to be a serious writer and read serious things.***

I remember walking out of that office feeling conflicted. Why shouldn’t I talk about something that meant so much to me?

The conclusion I came to — Screw it. My love of genre (scifi, fantasy, horror) ran deep, and I wasn’t going to let that go just because I was told it wasn’t good enough. I was going to write what I wanted to write.

Whether stories, poems, scripts, whatever, a writer usually writes their best when writing stories that mean something to them instead of trying to write what someone else thinks they should write.

My recommendation: Move toward your passion. Write what moves you to write.

(Ultimately, I did not get a degree in Creative Writing, though this was more due to time constraints than to my reaction to the councilor’s advice.)

2a. Join the Bandwagon

My dad has always been encouraging of my desire to be a writer, for which I’m grateful. However, he also comes at this encouragement from the perspective that I will eventually be a best selling author of the sort to be able to live in a giant mansion and buy my dad a Cessna airplane (he used to be a bush pilot in Alaska). Goddess love him, he wants his little girl to have oodles and oodles of money so she never has to worry every again.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had that went something (sort of) like this:

Me: Yeah, so I’m working on this project that I’m really excited about! *describes story*

My Dad: That’s great! I love that idea! I’m so proud of you!

Me: Thanks!

My Dad: But you know you should do is check out what these famous authors did. You know, Stephen Kind and James Patterson. Just copy what they do, and you’ll be able to make a lot of money.

Me: Um, it doesn’t work that way, dad. *tries to explain publishing* So, you see, only a tiny percentage of writers actually become rich and famous.

My Dad: Well, I don’t know about that. I know! How about you write a vampire novel! I know they’re really popular and you could sell a lot of books!

Me: That’s not going to happen, dad.

My Dad: Why not?

Me: Because, I don’t want to write a vampire novel. I don’t feel moved to write a vampire novel. When I do, I’ll write one, but right now? No. Nope. Not going to happen.

My Dad: But…

From there, the conversation would usually loop for a long while with the result that either I got frustrated or we both started laughing.

Doing what everyone else is doing will not guarantee fame or riches any more than writing what you love. Plus, it tends to lead toward weaker writing in my experience.

Creating stuff is hard work. Especially if there is not guarantee that there is a reward when you’re done making it. So, I figure, write what you’re dying to write, what’s overflowing from yourself, or simply what amuses you.

2b. Selling Out is Bad

On the opposite side of Bad Advice #2 is the concept that “selling out” and it being an evil, evil thing that only bad people do. This is based on the common idea that true artists are starving and/or suffering, and that artists or writers or musicians who make lots of money have sold their souls for profit, sending the quality of their works into the fiery pits of hell.

Most of which is hokum. This idea that artists and writers create work for the love and the love alone has also spawned a great number of people who believe artist and writers don’t need to be paid for their hard work.

And, as I mentioned in #2a, creating stuff is hard work.

It’s not always easy to get paid for that work for a whole lot of reasons, but there is nothing wrong with mild compromises, or taking jobs for the money, or doing what you need to do as a writer to keep going.

Making money is not a bad thing. In fact I like making money. It puts food on the table and lets me do things, like buy books and go to the movies.

(In fact, if Kim Kardashian were to walk up to me and offer to pay me thousands of dollars to ghost writer her memoir, I would do it in a heart beat.**** Because those bucks will help me pay bills and keep writing all the other things I love writing.)

The key, I believe, is to keep a balance from doing work that you love and find inspiring, while also obtaining an income that you and your loved ones can live off. (If you’re going to say that that’s easier said than done, I will agree with you. I’m still trying to get there myself.)

3. Almost Anything Involving the Word “Should”
(or “must” or “have to” or any variation that implies “this way is the only way”)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that once you declare yourself to be a writer, someone will tell you what you should be doing to be to be successful. Or at least, it’s something I’ve seen happen a lot to writers and have had happen to me.

Though, I admit that I have been guilty of offering this kind of advice. Once (or twice) during a Writing Gang meeting, I’ve thrown my hand in the air and said to my fellow comrade in writing, “Why aren’t you submitting your work? You should! You work is good! I insist you submit your work!”

But the thing is, she has no interest in submitting her work for professional publication. When another member of our group asked her when she was going to submit one of her novels, she said, “Never.”

What she’s done is self publish them online (you can find links on her GoodReads profile), and then spends exactly no time marketing them. She has no website, no blog, and does no self promotion. For her it seems, just writing the novels and posting them is what she wants. It makes her happy. Who am I to tell her she should do it any different?

Writing and developing a writing career is a strangely exploratory act. There is no clear map that can lead you from point A (beginning) to point B (success). No clear definition of what success even is.

For me, advice is great and wonderful. I’m happy to take in advice by the bucketfuls. I dig through it, sift it, and eventually through experimentation find something that works. At least for this story or this poem.

The next story or next poem might require a different method, the absorption of different advice.

.

Anyway, that’s it. Hopefully I didn’t accidentally slip in some bad advice while talking to you about bad advice. 😉

What advice have you received as a writer that you found to be bad or not work for you?

___________

Good Reads:  Deborah Lee Luskin gives some excellent advice about the importance of word order in her post, “The English Language On Word Order Depends.” Something I think every one forgets or mixes up and is good to be reminded of.

Call for Submissions: Kaleidoscope is an anthology of contemporary YA science fiction and fantasy with a focus on diverse perspectives. “We hope to fill with a variety of exciting tales, happy and sad, adventurous and meditative. We’re not simply looking for cookie-cutter vampire or urban fantasy stories, but for things that transport us and subvert our expectations.” Payment: 5 cents per word (USD). Deadline: Decemberr 31, 2013. Click for more info.

___________

*In most cases, the advice isn’t necessarily “bad,” but tends to assume it is right in every case without taking into account that for every piece of advice that works wonderfully for the adviser, there is a writer out there who would offer the exact opposite advice. For example, “write everyday” is perfectly good advice; it works for many people. Except when it doesn’t; then, it becomes bad advice.

**This was my stock answer throughout much of college. Now, my current list looks of favorites would look quite different, and is actually be quite long. Toni Morrison is still a favorite, but Neil Gaiman now sits perched at the precarious top of that list. They are joined by Pablo Neruda, Charles de Lint, Ron Padgett, Jeff Smith, Ray Bradbury, Jane Austen, Mary Roach, and others.

***The believe that “literature” is better than genre is old and much debated. I don’t really want to get into that battle, since it seems pointless to me. Many works of what is considered literature are genius; many are also complete crap. Same goes for genre of all kinds.

****Plus, some dark part of my soul secretly want to find out what deep dark secrets she might have. What?

[This post was inspired The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge prompt “Dear Abby.”]

Beyond Nanowrimo: Other Month-Long Challenges to Consider

Challenge Accepted

While I love National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and will be participating again this year, it isn’t for everybody. But the idea of challenging oneself to stretch personal boundaries of what you think is possible is a great thing. So, I thought I’d share a few different challenges that you could do this November instead of trying to pound out 50,000 word of a novel.

  • National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) — Challenge yourself to write one blog post every day this month, which I discovered through The Daily Post. It seems like a simple enough challenge, but since I’ve never posted 30 days straight in my life, I’m sure it would be tougher than I think. I’m planning to go a head and try this (today makes day one!), since I’ll be posting word updates and such anyway this month.
  • November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge — Found at Writer’s Digest, this challenge asks writes to take the prompts posted and writes a poem a day for the month of November, THEN to take those poems and turn them into a chapbook in December, which can then be submitted to the associated chapbook contest. Very cool.
  • Submission Bonanza! — The blogger at Lighting Droplets came up with a personal challenge to send out 30 submissions in 31 days (they did it in the month of July), but it could be done in November, too. The idea is to rack up rejections (and hopefully an acceptance or two). This sounds like an awesome challenge and one I’ll be trying at a later date.
  • The 30 Day Vlog Challenge — This is for Youtube and involves creating a new vlog post (at least 1 minute long) everyday for 30 days. I need to do something like this to get back into the habit of vlogging, but it will probably be a while.

I’m sure there are dozens of other such challenges out there, and if you know of any that I should add to the list, please let me know in the comments.

Edited to Add:

  • National Comic Drawing Month (NaCoDrawMo) — Draw one strip or one page of a longer manga/webcomic every day for a month. Submitted by ingridsykora.

Five Tips and Tricks for Nanowrimo

Since today marks the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) — that delightful challenge to complete a ridiculous 50,000 words in a single month — I thought I would pull out an old video for today’s Friday Five.

To summarize:

  1. Don’t Delete Anything
  2. Jump Around
  3. Dares and Prompts
  4. Plot Ninjas Are Your Friends
  5. Be Competitive

While I will be attempting to write 50,000 words this month, I will not technically be doing Nano because I will be working on an old project (the rules of Nano say that it should be a new project). I will be attempting to finish draft one of Under the Midday Moon, so that I can use 2014 to edit it.

The key to Nano, really, is the community and that you are not in this alone. I really appreciate that a lot, especially at moments like now, when I haven’t been feeling very motivated.

For those like me, not technically following the Nano rules, but still wanting to participate in some form, you can do an anti-Nano project. Set your own goal and then post updates on your blog, or if you’re on livejournal join the squidathon and post updates there (they do check-ins on Mondays and Fridays).

I will, however, be updating my progress on the Nano website, under my username blythe025. You are welcome to join me there, if you’d like.


Are you participating in Nano this year? What will you be working on?