Update: June 2023

June 1, 2023

Reminder that this is cross posted from Patreon.

Welcome to June! It’s been a strange but good year so far. The trend looks to continue. Buckle up!

This month’s lesson: I’m going to save the continuation of my discussion about voice for next month, because I’ve started a revision project that’s totally different than anything I’ve done before and is kicking my ass in all the best ways, so I’m going to talk about that.

Keeping the tally: I’ve written eight stories since December. Five have sold. I’m ridiculously happy about this. Apparently, I can still write. In what may be the fastest turnaround I’ve ever had from first draft to publication, one of those stories, “Vast and Trunkless Legs of Stone” is available in the June issue of Clarkesworld.

Announcement: I’ll be at San Diego Comic Con this year, promoting my first graphic novel, Wild Cards: Now and Then. I haven’t been at SDCC since 2011, and I’m very excited to tackle the mayhem once more, and see lots of folks face to face. I’m still kind of feral after pandemic times so we’ll see how that goes.

TV/Movies: I’m starting to get back into watching new things. It’s nice. But I’m also on my third or fourth viewing of The Old Guard so clearly I still need some found family comfort viewing, too.

American Born Chinese:  I’ve only seen three episodes so far but I like it. It makes me so glad I’m not in high school. Yeah, 32 years on and I still think about how glad I am that I’m not in high school. This is a Monkey King story, and I’m a big fan of Sun Wukong. I wrote about him myself in Kitty’s Big Trouble.

The English. I have a rant about this one. I wanted to see this because the previews made it look like “Emily Blunt kicking ass in a western,” which sounded great. But…it’s not really that. The character only occasionally kicks ass, and the rest of the time is kind of a mess. It has some good moments but is terribly inconsistent. I really liked the other main character, Eli, a Pawnee tracker for the US army, played by Chaske Spencer. He was a delight.

It’s a pretty standard western. Our characters move through the desolate landscape of the Great Plains, where life is cheap, honor rare, and only the strong survive by their guns. They ride across unmarred expanses of grass. No roads, no towns, just lonely buildings stuck in isolation, trying to survive.

The problem is we’re told this takes place in 1890.

In the first episode, the characters are in the middle of nowhere, the Kansas Oklahoma border I think? She says she’s going to Wyoming. He says it’ll take her a month to ride there. And I’m thinking: Or…you could just go back to St. Louis and take the train and be there in a couple of days? The transcontinental railroad was finished in 1869. Telegraph lines were finished in 1861. But this show that takes place in 1890 would have us believe that there’s absolutely nothing—no roads, no telegraph poles, no towns, no nothing west of the Mississippi. Guys, the University of Wyoming was founded in 1886. Four years before the desolate barely inhabited Wyoming depicted in this show.

This happens a lot:  the mythological Old West ended a lot earlier than a lot of people realize. But the imagery of the classic western: desolate, living by the gun, yadda yadda, is so pervasive, it gets used without any thought. Argh, it makes me mad.

I was still in the mood for westerns so I watched a movie on Netflix that it turns out is not a western because it takes place in Ireland, but has some of the mood of a western. This one, I really liked. The Wonder starring Florence Pugh. I have to warn you: there’s a point in the film where you’re sure that everything is going to turn out very badly. 19th century gothic bingo is in play, and some terrible stuff happens along those lines.  But y’all, it ends well. I was crying, the shred of hope the film gives us at the end is so unexpected and welcome.

I can’t recommend The English but I’ll recommend The Wonder. Weirdly, both things had Toby Jones and Ciarán Hinds in bit parts. I can’t explain it.

Meanwhile, it’s high summer and I gotta figure out how I’m going to get out of the house and enjoy it.


Just a quick note: my Kickstarter campaign for WATER FIRE FAE: STORIES, my next short story collection, is closing in on the finish line! Just two more days to sign up!

We’re less than $2000 away from the next stretch goal — if we reach $10,000, I’ll include a brand-new story exclusively for Kickstarter backers – no one else will ever see the story. Let’s see if we can do this!

And if you’ve already signed up, thank you thank you thank you!

May 2023 Update

May 3, 2023

Reminder that this is cross posted from my Patreon site!

My Kickstarter project, WATER FIRE FAE, is less than a week from the finish line, and I’m really happy with how it’s going! We’re almost 300% funded and reached the second stretch goal, which means the collection will now include notes about the background of each story! You only have a few more days to get on board!

This month’s Lesson: The first of what will probably be a couple of posts on voice, which is one of those evergreen topics. It’s a thing that I think separates aspiring writers from published writers, and good writers from great. So I like to spend time on it.

Work right now involves prepping to fulfill the Kickstarter rewards (that’s my summer sorted, I guess!), and also – more short stories. Three more in the last couple of weeks – that makes eight since December, which is a lot for me. (In the past, 6-7 a year has been my average.) (Stats: three of those eight have sold, two more are on submission, and the newest three still need revised before they go out.) I feel like I hit the ground running after New Zealand. Something in my brain really did get unstuck.

Reading: I’m re-reading C.J. Cherryh’s Downbelow Station, a true space-opera classic. I also read Raw Spirit, Iain Banks’ nonfiction book about whisky and Scotland, part memoir and part travelogue. He’s such a great writer. His science fiction is mind-blowing – try Use of Weapons.

Movies & TV: I’m slowly getting back into regular movie outings. (The last movie I saw in the theater before lockdown was Emma with Anya Taylor-Joy. The next movie I saw, a year and a half later, was The Green Knight. Both are fabulous.)

Dungeons and Dragons was delightful. Lots of personality, very well put together. While it has lots of easter eggs for long-time D&D players (the one for me was when a character finally cast Fireball, which was always a prominent feature of the games I played in), but I think someone who’s never played the game will enjoy the film as well. It’s just that charming.

Chevalier, a biopic about Joseph Bologne, a Black composer in the court of Marie-Antoinette just before the French Revolution. It’s a standard biopic, in that the beats are familiar and you just know it’s picking and choosing what to show of Bologne’s life, and you want to run to Wikipedia immediately after to be sure. It’s very beautiful, though, especially the music. My friends and I all agreed there was not enough swordfighting. They put a sword on the mantle in Act 1 and it did not go off in Act 3, as it were.

Schmigadoon is making me want to watch Galavant again.

Birding: It’s spring migration time! This week I’m seeing warblers, swallows, wrens, and killdeer for the first time this year. May 13 is the Global Big Day, when birders all over the world head out to see how many bird species they can see in one day.  I’ve participated every year since 2016 and I kind of love it. It’s actually incentive to get up early to try to catch the birds when they wake up!

Now, how to balance work with getting outside and enjoying all this warm weather…

I’m doing a thing and I could use your help.

I’m putting together my next short story collection — WATER FIRE FAE: STORIES — bringing together my favorite stories from the last few years, including the Hugo-finalist “That Game We Played During the War.” It’ll have amazing cover art by award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett

I’ll be launching it via Kickstarter on Thursday. Sign up here to get an alert when the project goes live. 

What is Kickstarter? It’s a crowdfunding platform. A way to get backing for projects before they launch. It’s all or nothing — if the project doesn’t reach its goal, there’s no funding. But if we do reach the goal, supporters get cool exclusive rewards you can’t get anywhere else.

Here’s where you come in: the project launches on Thursday, and that first day is really important for all kinds of reasons. If we can get a big push on day one, the project gets more attention, like the possibility of getting promotion from Kickstarter. And seriously, if this fully funds in the first few days it’ll be waaaaay less stressful for me! 

So that’s what I’m asking:  when the project goes live, look it over. If you like what you see and want to sign up, don’t wait. Do it right away, so we can get that big first day push. Plus, the premium reward levels are all limited, so if you want one you’ll need to jump on it quick.

This is something new and different for me, and I’ve been having fun shaking things up. Now, let’s see what happens!

As always, thanks for your support and thanks for spreading the word!

April 2023!

April 7, 2023

(Reminder that this is mirrored on my Patreon page.)

So, how’s the weather where you’re at? Spring? Winter? Both at once? Yeah…

News in my world: I just spent three weeks in New Zealand. This was a bucket-list trip, one I was supposed to take in 2020 but didn’t, because 2020 was the year of NO. I finally decided to do it now, because if I kept waiting for the right time it would never happen. I ran myself ragged like I usually do when I travel and had a great time. I got to ride a horse in the area where bits of Lord of the Rings were filmed, go kayaking, and see mountains that are like the Alps and Rockies all smooshed together. And so many new birds! A thing I learned: Kiwi are part of the same family of birds as emu, ostriches, cassowary—you know, all flightless birds that can kill you with their feet. Turns out Kiwi can too – if you’re really small. Here’s a video of one beating the crap out of a possum. Who knew??? Now I want a monster movie full of giant kiwi. 

(It makes me wonder mightily about another flightless New Zealand bird, the Moa, right? Extinct, alas. But probably good in a fight.)  

This month’s lesson: No formal lesson. Instead, let’s have a check-in session, because that’s what I’ve been doing in my own brain. What are you working on? What successes are you celebrating? What problems are you grappling with? Want to talk about it? Venting can help! I’ve got some venting of my own, so come join me!

Promotion: I’m going to have a lot in a bit. I’m planning a Kickstarter campaign to publish my next short story collection, and my first graphic novel is coming out this summer. Stay tuned, you bet your ass I’ll be posting about them.

Movies on airplanes: Gosh, in-flight entertainment has gotten fancy! Hundreds of movies at the touch of a button! I rewatched the new Dune film, because I just wanted something big and pretty that would put me to sleep. I had a slightly better reaction to it than I did the first time, when I was rather underwhelmed.

On the way back I watched The Fablemans, Spielberg’s latest, reportedly semi-autobiographical film about a kid growing up in the 50’s and 60’s who wants to make movies. Y’all, this wrecked me, which wasn’t comfortable because I was in the middle seat on a thirteen-hour trans-Pacific flight, openly crying while trying not to but oh well. I have a bunch of quibbles with the film:  it’s too long, a lot of the characterizations of Sam’s family are broadly painted at best and caricatures at worst (his sisters are almost literally props). But where the film really shines are the scenes where Sam slowly learns that he can use movies to manipulate reality, to control people’s emotions, to affect their perceptions. This film has a really powerful thread about art and meaning that got to me.

Digging into that a bit: A couple of people in Sam’s life tell him, “You’re special because you’re an artist.” And that’s an easy platitude, right? Really, though, we (yeah, I’m talking about me here) aren’t any more or less special than anyone else. On the other hand, artists pretty much have to believe they’re special if they want to get their work out there. We have to believe that what we’re saying and making is worth hearing and seeing. It’s a big leap, believing that.

And…we artists have figured out how to manipulate reality. We can control peoples’ emotions. I don’t know if it makes us special but it makes us different, and it isolates us. A big part of the film is Sam realizing that this power is both positive and negative, and what is he going to do with that?

Then there’s the very last scene in which Sam meets legendary director John Ford, played by David Lynch, and holy shit that’s where I just lost it, right there on the plane. Because that scene doesn’t go the way I thought it would, it’s completely surreal and wonderful and I don’t want to say anything else about it lest I spoil it. (I will tell you the lesson I took from the scene: Don’t overthink it, kid. Seriously.)

For all its faults The Fablemans has landed on my list of top-five Spielberg films. I’ll have to watch it again, to see for sure. (What are the others? In order: Empire of the Sun, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I don’t know what 4 is, it keeps changing, but it’s probably tied with The Fablemans.)

Books: Over the last year and a half I’ve been reading a lot of what might be classified as self-help books, books on creativity, and similar. I have a lot of thoughts about this category that I haven’t quite organized, mostly having to do with how on the whole these seem to be directed at upper-middle class, white-collar, Americans. Makes sense, it’s a category for people with time and money to spend on self help, right? Anyway. The one book so far that I’ve been telling everyone about, the one that has explained the most to me, is Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It’s not your imagination, group projects really do suck, and yet we keep getting assigned them anyway.

So here we are, in April. Let’s do the things!

Reminder that this is cross posted from my Patreon site! Most of my blogging activity is there these days.

Hello again! How are we doing this month? Have you started any new projects? Discovered anything new and shiny?

This month’s lesson is going to be The Art and Science of Titles. Titles are often an after-thought. Like, oh crap, what do I call this! Sometimes, they’re the inspiration for the entire work. Love ‘em, hate ‘em, we all need titles. I’ll talk about mine.

And…it’s that time when the manic energy of the new year starts to drain into the slog of waiting for spring. When the progress reports start to sound repetitive. “Hi, yeah – still working on that thing. And…still working! Hey, guess what—still working, hahaha! *sigh*”

Stay strong, peeps. There’s a thing distance runners do, where they tell themselves they just have to get to X landmark. The next telephone pole. The next intersection. Then, just before they reach that mark, they pick another one, farther out. Just to the next hill. Just to that sign. Then they pick the next.

Sometimes, I do the same. Just do this one thing. If I can’t clean the whole office, just clean this corner of it. Then the next. And so on.

I’m a really big believer in baby steps. Sometimes it might not feel like progress, but it is. It really is.

Books: I did that thing where I checked a bunch of books out of the library and then my hold requests all came in at once so I’m trying to get through that. I’ve been reading some literary fiction, to get a feel for that. I also have a new research project, top secret, hahaha.

Media: I’m still having a hard time committing to new shows, which is a drag, because the list of recommendations keeps getting longer. Poker Face has been getting raves. So has The Woman King. Those are both on my list. I’ve been watching Bad Batch, because I’m a Star Wars junkie, and I like a lot about it but it’s also clearly a kids show in a way that some of the other animated shows aren’t. That’s fine, but it’s a bit fluffy. It also has the prequel problem: none of these characters show up in later iterations. THEY’RE DOOMED. I suppose they could all retire happily somewhere on the Outer Rim before the Galactic Civil War got going. Okay, sure, let’s go with that. I’m mostly watching for the callbacks and cameos.

Finally, I’m joining the chorus of WTF, winter? Colorado had another severe cold snap a couple of weeks ago – I’m talking single-digit highs – which doesn’t usually happen this late. And more snow. In fact, March is usually Colorado’s snowiest month. Bracing…

Reminder that this is cross posted from my Patreon site! If you want to read more about my writing, and all the stuff I’ve learned about writing in general, consider subscribing!

My birthday was last week, and it was a big one: I am now fifty years old. I’m…adjusting. It’s weird. I’m trying to treat it like another day, another year, like nothing has fundamentally changed. But this really is the point where you start coming to grips with the fact that more of your life lies behind you than ahead of you. I still have a lot I want to do, but I’m also having to budget my energy in ways I didn’t when I was thirty. The last few years have been a struggle, and it’s hard to differentiate between what I’m struggling with personally and what’s just the world in general being difficult. I’m trying not to let it all mess with my head.

A friend of mine likes to say, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” I’m feeling that.

This month’s lesson: Writing Superhero Stories. I’ve written superheroes in a couple of different contexts: My novels After the Golden Age and Dreams of the Golden Age, and as part of the Wild Cards shared-world series edited by George R.R. Martin. Superhero fiction tends to be a visual-focused genre, but prose offers some unique opportunities in portraying the superpowered and their lives.

I have some new stories out:

  • “Time: Marked and Mended” is my third story about Graff, a secret cyborg who is also a bit of a hedonist. I love him. Yes, I’m writing lots more about him.  It’s free to read on Tor dot com. 
  • This month’s Lightspeed Magazine includes my story “Learning Letters,” set in the same world as my novel Bannerless and featuring Enid.
  • And coming soon: Wild Cards: Now and Then, an original graphic novel (speaking of superheroes)! Art by Renae de Liz. This is my first comics script and there’s definitely a learning curve there. I could talk about that in a future post if you’re interested. I’d like to do more comics work at some point. It’ll be out in July – it seems so far away! 

So yeah, I’ve been producing stuff even when it doesn’t always feel like it. Trust the process!

Work: I’m continuing with this Cormac novella that might end up being a novel, poking at a couple of new short story ideas, and waiting to hear back on submissions. Always with the waiting. I’m told I’m prolific, and if I am it’s because I distract myself from waiting by writing new things and holy cow there’s a lot of waiting in this business.

What I’ve been watching: I have so many shows to catch up on. So much I haven’t been watching. I’m making a list, but instead of all the great new movies and shows I keep watching weird documentaries about fungus and volcanoes. Oh – I did see The Pale Blue Eye, the one with Christian Bale and Harry Melling (who played Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films and I’m so glad he’s getting a new career as an adult. He was also the villain in The Old Guard, which I loved.) Melling plays a young Edgar Allan Poe, who is often credited with inventing the murder mystery genre, and here we’re invited to speculate that he discovered murder mysteries by helping to solve one at West Point when he was (briefly) a cadet there. This is a great concept and I should have loved it but I didn’t, because it devolved into clichés, and each cliché it introduced made it less interesting. Gillian Anderson is also in it, though at times she appears to be in a different movie than everyone else, flouncing through the dour gothic setting with a high degree of melodrama, which is delightful. I’m a big Gillian Anderson fan.

I started rewatching Castle from the beginning. This was my favorite show for years, until it went off the rails, and I skipped the last season entirely. The last episode of the second to last season is such a perfect end, there’s no reason to keep going. This rewatch reminds me of what made the show great. The mysteries are relatively straightforward, engaging but not baroque. We really watched for the characters – the slow unfolding of what makes Castle and Beckett tick, the way their first impressions hide complex layers. He’s an ass, but he’s a really good dad who loves his family. She’s incredibly prickly but has depths of caring. I like how much Castle talks about writing and his process. He’s still a Hollywood version of a writer, but it’s clear he actually, you know, writes. There’s an early scene where Beckett observes that his plot board is a lot like her murder investigation board. I love that. So good. The whole series is on Hulu.

Okay, second month of 2023 is go! Time to put our heads down and charge through the late-winter chill (here in Colorado) and build that momentum. Onward and upward!

Update January 2023!

January 5, 2023

Ahhhh it’s a whole new year! Reminder that this is mirrored from my Patreon, which I encourage you to check out and subscribe to if you’re interested in more details about what I’m working on and lots of chatter about writing in general.

I usually seem to hit the ground running in the new year. It’s such a great time to make lists, review and assess plans, and get going on them. I’ve already finished reading a whole book, Also a Poet by Ada Calhoun, which is extraordinary. It’s a memoir about writing the actual memoir you’re reading. I loved it so much and highly recommend it. I’ve also already sent off a new short story, one of the three I wrote in December. (And…it just got rejected. Just got the email. Welp, time to send it right back out again.)

Great, right? Mind you, I usually crash by the time I get to March, when some of the plans start to go awry and I’m staring down the barrel of the rest of the year. I’m telling myself that recognizing the pattern is half the battle of dealing with it. We’ll see how that goes.

This month’s lesson: How to start. I mean this to be really basic: how to start when you’ve never written before. Every now and then I talk to someone who tells me they have ideas, their mind is full of stories. But they’ve never written. They don’t know how to start. I’ll offer some suggestions.

Work: Started a new thing. I spent all last year making notes and it and it’s taken awhile to find my way into it, but I finally did. I also have two more short stories to revise. Let’s see what else I can get out the door this month.

Two of my succulents are blooming. Woohoo!

A couple of announcements:

The fanzine Journey Planet invited me to write for their special issue all about Andor, which I was happy to do. It’s free to download, check it out!

I’ll be a Guest of Honor at Bubonicon in Albuquerque in August.

I almost went to see a movie and then I didn’t. Attention span still wonky.

TV: We really are living in a new golden age of fantasy, aren’t we? I’ve now had the same realization I had with superhero movies a few years ago: I don’t have to see every single one. I used to make such an effort to see them all, remembering the times we didn’t have any. Well, now it’s that way with epic fantasy. I can entirely skip House of the Dragon and Wheel of Time and not feel bad about it at all. Instead, I binged The Witcher: Blood Origin, which was…abrupt. Only four episodes, so just when I got attached to all the characters, it’s over. Minnie Driver makes a shockingly cool elf, though.

I’m adoring Willow. It’s so weird! I love how teenager-y the teenagers are. I love how it’s lining up tropes and shooting them down. I love the modern music. (I’m also the only person I know who loves the soundtrack to Ladyhawke so there we are.) I love the callbacks to the movie. I’m so pleased to see a sequel when everything else has been prequels. (Even Andor. As much as I enjoyed it, it’s rather elegiac and sad since we know how Andor’s story ends.) I’m just really enjoying it and sometimes that’s all I need.

Reminder that this is crossposted from my Patreon site!

I usually really like the holidays. The food, the music, the decorations that add a bit of magic to the ordinary. The parties, the gatherings, the presents. The last couple of years, it’s all felt a bit exhausting, for obvious reasons. I have this sense of clinging to the holidays as comfort in a storm. A thing I hit on awhile back that I’m constantly reminding myself and I want to think about this year: The holidays are a process. They’re a season. It’s not a mad race to this one day or one event that ends up being disappointing, given how much preparation goes into it. What works better is finding ways to enjoy all that preparation for its own sake. This is the time of year when I can, I hope, express gratitude and indulge in some awesomeness:  Mulled wine. The Muppet Christmas Carol. Driving around to look at the lights. Oh yeah, that’s the ticket.

It’s the end of the year, which also means assessing. How did I do this year? What did I do this year? Did I make the progress I wanted? What do I want to work on for next year? (One of the things I’m working on is not saying “need.” As in, “I need to do this, or that, etc.” I was saying things like “I really need to pull myself together.” I realized, I don’t even know what that means. Need comes with pressure and obligation. So how about I say want, instead? I would like to write a new novel. I’d appreciate it if I could find ways to keep my house cleaner. I’d like to find ways to be less anxious about travel. And so on. That language reminds me that these are good things to work for, not obligations.)

On that note, this month’s lesson is going to be about goal setting. When I was about twelve or thirteen, I learned a pretty simple goal-setting technique that served me very well for a long time. And next week I’ll share it with you. I suppose I could have waited until January, when everyone else is talking about goals and new year’s resolutions. But how about we get a head start on that, yeah?

The other thing that happens this time of year is SF&F writers posting about their publications for this year. Ostensibly to let people know what’s eligible to be nominated for awards, but also it’s just nice to see the concrete evidence of my work, all listed out. Writing can be ephemeral; a story is published and then it’s over. I like to remind myself that I actually have been working.

  • If I had to pick one thing I’m really proud of this year it’s my novella, “Polly and (Not) Charles Conquer the Solar System,” on Clarkesworld.  I had so much fun with it, and I think it’s quietly subversive besides. I mean, the opposition party on Mars is called the Guthries? Did anyone notice that?
  • Short story: “Dead Poets,” Someone In Time, May 2022, ed Jonathan Strahan (I’m really fond of this one, too.)
  • Short story: “The Voyage of Brenya,” Lost Worlds and Mythological Kingdoms, March 2022, ed John Joseph Adams
  • Short story: “Grow,” Tor.com, July 2022, part of the Wild Cards series, the origin story of my British Ace Jiniri
  • And my collection: The Cormac and Amelia Case Files. At least I think it’s a collection, of previously published novellas. A whole book’s worth, it turns out! 

Not as much as I’ve had out some years, but still a pretty good list of stories when you see them all lined up.

Review: Weird: the Al Yankovich Story, is glorious. I’m very biased because I’ve been a fan of Weird Al for most of my life. I love UHF, his movie about a couple of losers who are shockingly successful running a local-access TV station. It’s ridiculous and full of love, and everyone should see it. If for no other reason so you’ll finally understand why a certain class of Gen X nerd will shout out “We don’t need no stinking badgers!” at random. Also, it’s about crowdfunding before crowdfunding was a thing? So far ahead of its time! The thing I love about Weird is it feels like a spiritual successor to UHF. It’s a parody of many things, full of love, that feels like it exists in a slightly off-kilter world from our own but is still recognizable. It’s so good. I need to watch it again to get the stuff I missed the first time. Polka Party!

Birding: At the start of this month, I attended Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. One of my ongoing goals: I’m at the point where if I want to be a better birder I need to learn from experts. Birding festivals like these are chock full of experts who can help me learn the differences between Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese, get better at IDing vocalizations, and so on. I saw thousands of cranes and snow geese. But I think my favorite was seeing my lifer Gambel’s Quail – twenty of them swarming the feeder at the visitors center. So ridiculously cute!

Have a safe holiday season, whatever that means for you. Remember it’s all about process!

November 2022 Update

November 10, 2022

Reminder that this is cross-posted from Patreon!

Welcome to my world, where every month is National Novel Writing Month! You know, that’s a joke that a lot of pro writers have made over the years, and well… it’s old, I should haven’t said it, I apologize.

This month’s lesson: How to critique yourself and others. In the throes of all the revising I’ve been doing the last couple of months, I keep talking about critiques and feedback, and I realized — that’s kind of vague. Like so many things, critiquing is a process and a skill that requires learning and practice. So I’ll talk a little about that.

I finalized that novel I’ve been revising. It’s a thing. Good thoughts appreciated as it goes to the next step on its journey: submission. Oof. Now we wait.

I’ve moved on to the next rough draft, which is something of a surprise novel. This story’s been cooking in the back of my mind for something like a decade, and it spewed out in a big chunk over the end of the summer. It looks nothing like I thought it was going to look like, and it may be that shifting to a different main character, a different point of view, and a different verb tense, and basically a different everything, is what the story needed all along. It’s written, and now I’m revising. (Note to self, revising two novels in a row kind of sucks, that’s too much revising, I should probably take a break and work on something else except I want to get to this while it’s still fresh, argh, too many things.) Of course what I really want to do is send it to my beta reader with the bouncy enthusiasm of a small child showing off her first macaroni art. This is what I’d normally do. But I’m waiting. There are some holes in the story that need filling in, some plot lines that I know I can develop more. I’m going to try to let this draft breathe and see what happens.

What I’ve been watching: I really enjoyed The Rings of Power. I know not everyone did, and I understand why, but I love just how beautiful it looks, I love the detail and background, building on what we know of the world, and story wise, I love the way it manipulated our expectations without us even realizing it. Great stuff.

I also watched the most recent season of Cobra Kai. Every new season I drag my feet, thinking the show can’t keep getting better, it’s going to drop the ball one of these days… well, not yet. This season was just as great. This show is so tightly written… it’s corny, cheesy, over the top, and every piece of that is well thought out and intentional. It’s simultaneously mocking, deconstructing, and celebrating the 80’s teen action movie aesthetic. I love that. This season reminded me of that time the GI Joe comics were all ninjas all the time, but with high schoolers. Like, Baby Ninjas or something.

Let’s see, what else… my niece was Sabine Wren, from Star Wars Rebels, for Halloween. That kid is so ambitious! What that means is I learned to make foam cosplay armor. So many YouTube tutorials, y’all. With that skill now in my toolbox, other costumes become accessible. For MileHi Con, I made the headband for the Sylvie variant, from the Loki TV show.

Speaking of skills that need practice, I haven’t been doing any baking because of all the traveling, so my “If I want to try the food on the Great British Baking Show I Guess I’ll Have to Make it Myself” project is effectively on hold.

I will not be attempting to make those objects that they were calling s’mores. That was…so odd.

And now we enter the mad rush to the holiday season. Hold on tight…