Category Archives: Personal

My life in general, funny little anecdotes and cautionary tales, random stuff about my writing projects, news and updates.

Long Distance Relationships Part 2

Mr. J. and I have been living apart (work reasons, we’re still married) since December 4, 2018 and I’ve surprised myself because thinking of all those days and all the days to come that we will still be apart doesn’t bother me.

Instead I putter along, going with the flow of the day, happy and motivated because we are doing this long distance thing to make a better future for us. But then some stupid little thing that makes me realize I haven’t seen my husband/best friend in forever and my carefully rationed optimism and positivity leave me and my mood sinks like a concrete block.

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS YOU NOTICE.

The first time I noticed the little things getting to me was when I had to do laundry for the first time since moving. And I thought to myself, ‘Seriously? I’ve already run out of clothes? And this is my first time doing laundry away from Mr. J?’ And then I thought about how many loads of laundry I will be doing in the 3 (maybe 4) years we will be apart.

That’s a lot of fucking laundry.

The second little thing was cutting my fingernails. I cut them the day before we said goodbye. Sorry if fingernails gross you out. But as I was cutting them I thought, ‘Seriously? I have to cut my nails already? Surely it hasn’t been that long.’ But it was. And my nails don’t grow very fast.

And then, a few months later I noticed my “new” (purchased the week before my move) bottle of Vitamin C was almost empty. I don’t take vitamins regularly even though I should. You could hold a gun to my head and say, “If you don’t take your vitamins every day for a week I will kill you and your cats.” I still wouldn’t be able to do it. And now that fucking bottle is almost empty. I can see the bottom of the fucking bottle.

It’s like hitting the pan on your favorite eye shadow and going, “WTF I just bought this!”

And the best part is I have thousands and thousands of other little moments waiting in the wings to jump out at me.

I turned 34 in February and I’ll be 36 or 37 when we can live together again. Almost 40, y’all. I know 40 is the new 20 but that in itself gives me pause. And like a cat that’s just fallen off of something and doesn’t want to admit there was a moment when it wasn’t graceful and in control of everything around it, I pretend I’m not upset, that that little thing/monster didn’t happen, and I move on with my day.

I don’t know if that’s the most healthy thing to do or that it will keep working but it’s working for me so far and that’s really all I can ask for right now.

Having a creative outlet also helps. Working with characters that I love helps.

My emotions aren’t going to be healthy 100% of the time. And that’s okay, as long as I don’t obsess over them. Obsessing, dwelling on the “poor me’s” or throwing myself a pity party are luxuries I can’t afford. And it’s not just because he wouldn’t want me to be sad. I want to look back on this time when we are together again and say, “Here a list of all the cool things I did.” Not, “Here’s how long I was sad for.”

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Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Research Road Trip: Queen Whilamena State Park

(I’ve edited and re-published this post from last year because I wanted to add more pictures and remember a fun road trip while I am sheltering in place. I hope all of you who read this are safe and healthy and I wish nothing but the best for you during these difficult times. I love you all!)

Last Summer (as I write this) I drove down to Mena, Arkansas with the intention of hiking in the morning at Queen Whilamena State Park and driving around in the afternoon exploring the teeny-tiny towns surrounding the state park.

The drive down was really pleasant. But then it started raining. Thankfully, by the time I got to the Queen Whilamena Lodge and Restaurant the rain had stopped BUT there was fog EVERYWHERE!

I had not checked the weather on my phone. I didn’t even think about the possibility of anything but clear skies and humid air (Summer in Arkansas, y’all). But that is not what I got.

There was a fleeting moment where my heart sank and I thought, “I drove all this way and now I have to go home…”

But then I took another look at the fog, which was literally getting thicker by the minute and I thought, “HOLY SHIT THIS IS PERFECT WEATHER FOR A HORROR NOVEL!”

I mean look at that! That’s amazing!

If I’d gone on a “normal” day I’d have hiked, got some nice pictures of trees and buildings, and gone home with nice things to think about but this–the fog, the rain–gave my setting character. Or my setting looked at me and said, “Acknowledge that I am a force of nature!” while slapping me in the face.

And there was this really nifty fungus on the trail that was all glistening and fleshy. I almost walked face first into a MASSIVE spider webs trying to photograph it.

A new beginning to Havoc’s Moon bloomed in my mind. I got to make rough stage blocking for an action scene and took pictures of this one specific outcropping from multiple angles for reference later. I was so inspired IT WASN’T EVEN FUNNY!

So the moral of this story here is think about what your setting is like in bad weather. You never know what will happen. But also, it’s important to visit, if you can, where your book is set because you’ll get to think about concrete details you may not have considered from your chair at your writing desk.

And I learned that my main character’s favorite food is not pizza like I thought it was, but fried green beans.

You never know what’s going to happen when you go out on location.

Good luck and happy writing!

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. Comics and Manga.

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

Birding 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.