read it: gideon the ninth

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I can’t believe I haven’t yelled at you yet about Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. It is about a skeleton cult disaster lesbian swordswoman who gets caught up in a murder mystery romp in a gorgeously gothic palace. There are skeletons and swordfights and creepy necromancers and skeletons and weird doors and also more skeletons. (Seriously. There are a lot of skeletons.) The contrast between the beautifully rendered prose and lush language and Gideon’s trash (hilarious trash, but trash nonetheless) sense of humor is surprising and fun.

I highly recommend this book. It is delightful and also creepy, action-packed with a strong emotional core in the characters. I was sold on the premise and the cover (it’s such a perfect cover), but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. Go grab a copy, read it, and then impatiently wait with me for the sequel about Harrow which comes out next year.

interlude: taiwan

I spent the last week and a half or so in Taiwan on a family trip. We spent a few days in Hualien, visited Taroko Gorge National Park, and then spent the rest of the time wandering around Taipei. A ridiculous number of steamed buns were consumed. (Also, shaved ice. So much shaved ice.)

Now I’m back home and jet lagged and looking forward to not taking another 16 hour plane ride for a long while. That’s entirely too long for any human person to be on a plane.

But! If you’re looking for a fun place to vacation, I’d recommend checking out Taiwan. The geography is interesting, the food is great, and it’s surprisingly affordable to tourist in.

Now, despite the fact that it’s around 8p, I’m going to go to bed. I managed to not take a nap today though, so I count that as a victory.

read it: red, white & royal blue

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Guys, Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is so. freaking. good. I started it and then couldn’t put it down until I had completely devoured the entire thing.

Alex is the son of the US president, Henry is a prince of England–SHENANIGANS ENSUE. Enemies to lovers, a ruse, forbidden love, and so much delicious, delicious ANGST. I just CANNOT.

This book is sweet, charming, adorable, and hilarious. I laughed out loud and startled my cat multiple times.

It hit me right in the Texas feels. It made me hopeful again. And it unbroke a little piece of my heart. I didn’t know I needed this book, but I NEEDED it. (Stories have power, and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.)

Also, it has one the best lines ever: “Stop trying to Jane Austen my life!”

Also, Zahra is a goddamned treasure.

Drop whatever you are doing and go read it RIGHT NOW. It will brighten your entire life.

PS. Someone make this into a movie immediately.

cl polk’s emotional craft of fiction read-along

Saw this from C. L. Polk a couple days ago. (She just won a World Fantasy Award for Witchmark, which is a fantastic book that you should definitely read!)

It seems like a great opportunity to do a guided reading and discussion of a writing-as-craft book. A couple of my writing buddies and I are going to read along, participate in #ficcraft, and do our own book club type discussions with each other. If I get ambitious, I may put a few blog posts up as well.

It starts December 1st.

Here’s an Indiebound link to The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass if you’re interested in following along.

 

2019 q4 goals

I don’t know how to set goals.

It seems like a weird thing to say, but I don’t get it.

Sure, I can come up with a list of things I want to do, but I find that there’s a disconnect between what I’m doing day to day and the overarching things I want to accomplish. I either lose sight of the big picture, or I can’t figure out how to break the goals down into things I can do in my daily life.

I’ve been thinking about this more because of Notion and having to write out specific tasks. Applying labels and categories and looking at the accumulation of things I’m working on has helped this take shape for me. I’m starting to feel a little less like I’m wandering aimlessly through a featureless landscape and a little more like maybe there’s a roadmap. But also specifically, that I’m the one creating the roadmap. So, in this metaphor, I guess I’m a cartographer? (For a map that will probably only be useful for me… Let’s go ahead and drop the metaphor here.)

This morning something clicked. I was listening to the first ep of season 3 of Genre Hustle about goal-setting, and everyone was giving AP shit (good-naturedly) for having daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. And I thought, maybe this is where my disconnect is.

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spicy cheddar sourdough crackers

I’m always trying to find ways to use leftover sourdough starter. There’s a lot of discard after a feeding, and it seems like a waste to just throw it away. I’ve made pancakes, muffins, and pizza dough. But by far, the quickest and easiest thing to do with sourdough starter discard is to make crackers.

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Spooooooooooooky.

I’ve posted a pic of the crackers already–they had ghoul faces for spooky food potluck. They are a huge hit with anyone who’s tried them so far. I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe, but the problem with my recipes is that they are all nebulous and “to taste” and “by eye.” I did my best to record some actual amounts for this one though, and since I went to all the trouble anyway, I figured I’d share the recipe with you too.

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your own alphabet

It’s your turn to write your own alphabet. Like writing any story, you may be surprised at what you find there. You might also be illuminated, changed, and charged by what you discover. We write not just to show off, not just to tell, or only to have written.

We write to know ourselves.

– Jane Yolen, Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft

nano (lite) 2019

Happy first day of NaNoWriMo 2019! (Or for those of you not doing it, happy first day of November!)

I’m only sort of doing NaNo this year. I’m out of the country on a family trip for two weeks this November, and I know that if I try to do 50k words, I’ll either burnout or fail or both. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t be able to sustain consistent word count while abroad and while having a lot of family time.

I don’t want to come to the chair with dread—I want to want to come to the chair every day. Which isn’t to say that I think that getting the words in is easy. But even on hard days, when I can’t get my brain to focus and putting down even one word is like pulling teeth, even when I’m distracted or swamped in other details, what I want to do is write.

But just because I can’t do NaNo proper doesn’t mean I can’t do NaNo at all. The things I love about this event are the community, the support, and the momentum that comes from that upswell of enthusiasm. That doesn’t go away just because I can’t count up the words to 50k.

So instead, this year I’m doing a light version of NaNo. My goal is to write 10k words towards this project (working title: “the thing with the crocodiles”) I’ve been musing on for the last several months.

I’m trying out the C. L. Polk method of organizing by not organizing in the beginning stages of novel planning. I’m letting myself just ramble and stream-of-consciousness record the things I’ve been thinking about. I started this morning, and even though the stuff I have is nebulous, it feels good to get it out of my head and into a word pile on the paper.

Between the braindump and the first couple chapters, I think I should be able to get to 10k. Hopefully before the trip.

Are you doing NaNo this year?

(P.S. I really like the logo design this year.)