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2020 New Year’s Resolutions

Also plans and adventures, goals and aspirations. And hopes. Lots of hopes.

1. Finish all my course requirements for the Laboratory Science program.

2. Read more books.

3. Start doing yoga.

4. Drink more water.

5. Wean myself off caffeine (quit drinking coffee…0_0)

6. Develop a better journaling practice.

7a. Write more…like seriously…not every day but write more.

7b. Write 1 poem and 1 short story every week.

7c. Send out at least 1 magazine submission each month.

7d. Self-Publish 3 things. Hopefully all Slaughter Chronicles related.

8. Be more active on this blog. I pay for it, I might as well use it.

9. More positivity, less self-deprecation.

10. More hope and serenity, less drama and anxiety.

11. Pay off my car.

12. Exercise more.

13a. Be a better birder.

13b. Go out walking more so I can see more birds.

14. Have an amazing vacation with Mr. J.

15. Develop a consistent cleanup routine (aka do chores on time).

16. Wake up on time every day (do not hit the snooze button 10 times).

17. Be kinder to myself.

18. Cultivate better study habits.

So…most of my resolutions are either goals or me working on being MORE of something. More fit, more calm, etc. On the other side of that there are the lesses: I want to be less clingy and anxious, less angry and resentful, less lazy. But want are all these things going to do for me?

Will waking up at 6am every day make me a better person?

Being nice will. Taking care of myself will.

Some of these things are extremely superficial and self-serving. I don’t want to do yoga to be healthy, I want to do yoga to lose weight (yes, I am fickle and vane).

I don’t want to do new things, get new hobbies, I want to work on the things I’ve already started. I want to finish a novel and publish it. I want to be in all the magazines and win writing awards again. I want to have a “better” writing life.

New Year, New Bird 2020

(In which I ramble on and on about how much I love…)

My first bird of the new year is…

the Blue Jay!!!

I love Blue Jays, I think they’re so sassy. Like Mockingbird level sassy.

And they’re part of the corvid family.

In addition to being determined, brave, and curious, the blue jay is also associated with truthfulness, honesty.

Honesty has been a big personal theme for me over the last few months. I was in a bad slump and I had to take a hard look at myself and get brutally honest with how I want to proceed with the rest of my life. Dramatic, I know. But necessary.

The Blue Jay is a good reminder for me to keep striving for positive change.

When I woke up this morning the first bird I thought I would see and expected to see was a Robin. Tons of them have been hanging out in my front yard recently. But the Blue Jay snagged the title this year. They are a pretty common sight year round at my house.

The second bird I saw was a female Cardinal. One half of the mated pairs in my back yard was killed by something a few weeks ago so it was nice to see another female today.

Bring it on, 2020!

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Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

Things I Read Aug. Through Dec. 2019

Books. Novellas. Short Stories. Scholarly Articles.

Fifteen Hours: Mitchel Scanlon

Knee Deep: Mitchel Scanlon

Death World: Steve Lyons

The Thing About Shapes to Come: Adam-Troy Castro

Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World: Caroline M. Yoachim

Ruby Slippers: Susan Wade

The Naturalist: Maureen F. McHugh

Serious Moonlight #2: The Razor Thin Edge: JG Cain

Broken: Maya Goode

Redemption Through Sacrifice: Justin Woolley

Made in Abyss vol. 1-6: Akihito Tsukushi

Dark Son: Gav Thorpe

Void Crossed: JC Stearns

The Curse of Shaa-dom: Gav Thorpe

Left for Dead: Steve Lyons

The Strong Among Us: Steve Lyons

Phoenix Rising: The Gift of Hope: Andy Clark

Sabriel: Garth Nix

Half a King: Joe Abercrombie

Pretty Pretty Boys: Gregory Ashe

Transposition: Gregory Ashe

Paternity Case: Gregory Ashe

Off Duty: Gregory Ashe

Battle Angel Alita: Last Order vol 1-2: Yukito Kishiro

Red Lanterns vol. 1-3: Peter Milligan, Miguel Sepulveda, Ed Benes, Rob Hunter

Daughter of the White River: Depression-Era Treachery & Vengeance in the Arkansas Delta: Denise White Parkinson

Favorites

Novella: Fifteen Hours: Mitchel Scanlon

Manga: Made in Abyss: Akihito Tsukushi (seriously cried for HOURS)

Short Story: The Naturalist: Maureen F. McHugh

Miscellaneous Comments

I didn’t read a lot of “deep” literary masterpieces this half of the year (or maybe I did depending on your point of view). My brain wasn’t in it. I needed my comfort literature. Which is Warhammer 40K. Because.

But I have to say my favorite novel of this half of the year is Pretty Pretty Boys by Gregory Ashe, and not just because it’s fresh on my mind because I just finished reading it. This is a self-published book and it is phenomenal. The writing is excellent, the characters are extremely tangible and well developed. The plot pacing and mystery execution are very well done (I’m not an expert by any means in the genre and I can’t tell “good” device formula from a hole in the ground).

But most importantly, this book grabbed me by the collar and shook me very hard. I had to stop and take a break for a minute. I think I even had a nightmare. Because this book also deals with very heavy themes. Bullying, suicide, hate crimes, persecution. It takes serious skill to blend real-world issues with a genre and not have them come together superficially or tacky. I love it when books can grab me in these visceral ways when I’m not expecting it. Ashe is well worth your time. Seriously. Good stuff.

And to the amazing Maureen F. McHugh: a friend of mine and I agree, there needs to be more of The Naturalist. What’s his story? What happened to him? He needs a book all to himself. Thanks.

Blood Tree Literature

Had some brand new words published last month at Blood Tree Literature. I wrote this poem while I was at my last job. A lot about that experience hurt my feelings.

Check out Issue 6, there’s some seriously awesome writing inside. I’m so grateful and honored to share space with these amazing writers and artists.

Thank you so much!!!

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Photo Credit: Blood Tree Literature

Life List

I am an amateur birder. I know next to nothing about birds but I’m hoping to get lots of practice next year and get better experience. For now, here’s my paltry and very sparse Life List.

Began April 27, 2017:

American Robin

American Crow

Boreal Chickadee

Blue Jay

Brown-headed Cowbird

Carolina Chickadee

Common Grackle

Common Ground-Dove

Cooper’s Hawk (love that dappled, cream colored belly)

Downy Woodpecker

European Starling

House Sparrow

Killdeer

Mississippi Kite

Northern Cardinal

Northern Flicker

Northern Mockingbird

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Winged Blackbird

Rock Pigeon

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (my spark bird)

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Tufted Titmouse

Turkey Vulture

My mother-in-law snapped this picture. Gorgeous Greater Roadrunner.

Bucket List

1. Get a job I don’t hate.

2. Find the scariest haunted house EVER.

3. Do an escape room.

4. Get an RV and travel across the country.

5. Get a boat and live on the river.

6. Go to Comicon.

7. Go to Dragoncon.

8. Have nice cosplay ideas for 6 and 7.

9. Cultivate a yoga practice.

10. Learn Tai Chi.

11. Meditate regularly.

12. PUBLISH MY BOOKS.

13. Visit the Grand Canyon.

14. Be a better birder.

15. See all the birds on my Life List.

15. Learn how to sing. Like, properly sing, not in-the-car-sing.

16. Write a crown of sonnets (sonnet corona) and do it properly…following all the rules…(kill me).

17. Learn how to ballroom dance.

18. Go to a ball and wear a big, floppy princess dress.

19. Grow my hair long. The last time I had long hair was in 1997.

20. Learn how to play a musical instrument and play at shows with all my favorite artists.

21. Join a prestigious writing association.

22. Hitchhike or just walk across the country. Or live in my car.

23. Become an “extreme” minimalist.

24. Be invited to talk about poetry at AWP.

25. Have one of my books nominated for a Locus, Nebula, or Hugo. Just the nomination, I don’t have to win, just tell me you love me.

Talking about the rest of NaNoWriMo 2019 in the middle of December because…

Am I at the muddy mushy saggy middle already? (Week 2)

SO! (Week 3)

Here’s what happened: (Week 4)

The mushy middle past my by and the bitter, bitter end bit me in the ass.

I did not do any writing past week 1 because finals are a bitch and I visited my in-laws for Thanksgiving. Zero. Writing.

But before all that happened, at the tail end of Week 1, Mr. J and I had a wicked 2.5 hour brainstorming session about my paranormal horror/contemporary fantasy book series The Slaughter Chronicles AND

*deep breath*

I’ve reorganized the whole thing.

Because book 1 was actually books 1 through 3. Has that ever happened to you? You think you’re writing one book and it splits apart in what I can only describe as some kind of overzealous meiosis. Not mitosis because of the fucking Law of Independent Assortment. (Yes, I just took a Biology final. No, I made a B but I have an A in the class. I digress.)

So the bad news is I don’t have a finished draft. But the good news is I can put all these pieces from previous drafts together and have a finished draft maybe by the end of the month if I can just stop taking naps every day.

I’m burned out. From school. From vacation. All of it. Burned. Fucking. Out.

I wanted to be diligent and blog about Nanowrimo every week. And I really, really wanted to win this year.

I want to talk about developing writing routines and share helpful tips and tricks but I’m all out of ideas and motivation.

When I get like this, overwhelmed by all the promises I made myself and all the disappointment I feel at not meeting my goals, I need to step back and re-asses. And that’s what you’re going to see here on this blog in the next few months.

I’m going to try to document how I make a routine from nothing, or how I fail miserably at making a routine, or how I throw the routine out the window and still manage to write all the things.

I’m not making sense right now but I don’t care. Check out my future blog post about how I get all my thoughts in order and detail my master plan for 2020 like a neat and tidy recipe. Haha. Like that’s ever going to happen.

Anyway, I didn’t want to leave this month, a month that was conceptually very important to me, without making some kind of comment.

Writing is hard. And I feel like I’ve lost communication with all the fun things about it. But I’m not going to stop. And if you are unhappy with your progress and if you didn’t reach your goals this year don’t stop. Keep going. You’ll get there.

And just so you know, when the setting sun hits the branches of my neighbor’s trees just right the branches are all lit up in gold and look like a massive spider web.