Merry Solstice

I neglect this website shamefully. It turns out that websites/blogs/me-centered media is not really my strong suit. But I will try to do better. The solstice is in about an hour, and we’ll turn back toward more daylight, at least in this hemisphere. Slowly but inexorably, lighter days ahead.

Ornaments on an Xmas tree: a shiny santa hatted lizard on a snowball, and a little bobbin doll.

This year was a bit roller-coastery:

Mom’s health at the beginning of the year was pretty chancy, but she’s back to her normal (although of course still aging) self, and we’re all so grateful and relieved.

I choreographed and performed (with my dancer friends) a funny (at least to me) zombie dance piece, to nice acclaim from our little dance community. I also performed in our dance school’s performances, and worked myself into some fun (not fun) tendinitis, which I’m still going to physical therapy for, and which kept me out of dance all together for several months over the summer.

Scott was all but promised a full time position with his contract employer, but then they ended up having to lay him off because they couldn’t hire him and couldn’t extend his contract.

Scott’s health has always been more precarious than mine, what with his chronic lung condition, but now we’ve learned he has diabetes also, so we’re navigating that.

I didn’t get to see my best friend Angie this year, but we’re planning a big trip for late 2024, traveling overseas.

I flew down to see family for Thanksgiving, which was wonderful. I do want to see my extended family more often. It’s always a whirlwind and I feel like I don’t talk to those amazing people enough. Travel was ick, but I didn’t catch COVID (still haven’t, knock wood).

I did, however manage to catch some kind of crud at the beginning of November when I went to a musical at the Paramount (Hadestown – so fun! So full of weird plot holes, but the production and acting were great! And the music I already loved.) I came down with something pretty much the next day, and was sick for 2+ weeks. COVID tests were negative throughout. I blame the public transit.

My job, while secure for me, has seen a *lot* of personnel changes, one of which was my boss, who was leaving us for a new job, was suddenly in a car accident and died. It was terrible even as it weirdly didn’t affect us as much as it felt like it should, as we’d already been ready for him to leave. But it was awful in that sudden way car accidents and death are, and my heart goes out to his family and loved ones.

And of course, there’s all the rest of the world – much to worry about and be furious about, even as we celebrate the wins we can.

As a consequence of all of these things, I haven’t been able to write at all, really. Bits here and there, but I’ve been stuck and I’m trying to unstick between now and the 31st, so I can start the year off with actually making progress on my book. Frustrating for those who were left with a cliff hanger, I know. I swear I got them out of that moment! Mostly! With excitement and yes, uh, some more peril. But we’ve moved on, and now I have a different plot problem. Here’s to getting through plot problems and my own brain issues and getting this book finished for a summer release.

Solstice is a time to reflect and renew, at least for me. I know I need to pull myself together, accept help where we need it, reach out when I’m low, and to keep trucking. Adulting has been a struggle this year, but I’ve made the appointments I needed to and I’m working on working on me. What else can any of us do? I wish for a peaceful and kind year ahead for us all. May the days ahead bring us joy and love.

Just a Little Posty for Fun | RRR the movie

First off, I realize I didn’t post an update about Mom. She’s doing really well; she came through the surgery fine, and all the doctors are very pleased with her recovery. Considering how sick she was, they’re a little surprised at how well she’s doing. But that’s my Mom – an overachiever at all times.

But what I really just wanted to post about was the Indian movie “RRR.” A song from the soundtrack “Naatu Naatu,” won the Oscar for best song, if you’re wondering why it’s familiar. I took 2 nights to finish it because it’s 3 hours long, but honestly I was tempted to watch it all at once; I just started it too late. It’s EPIC.

Y’all, I LOVE this movie. It is horrifyingly brutal in places, which if I’d watched the trailer I would have suspected but I streamed it purely because of the dance scene at the party that the “Naatu Naatu” song is from and thought it would be a bit more Bollywood does Jane Austen-y.

(Link to Naatu Naatu scene on YouTube)

But this is a movie about (real but fictionalized) revolutionaries before Indian independence, so the British are almost uniformly horrifying and awful, often murderous. One English woman is kind, and there’s that party scene, but that’s pretty much it. Fair cop, really – I cannot dispute the horrors of colonialism.

The main gist of the movie, however, besides fighting cruel tyranny to free their people, is best friends. Bros. The two main characters meet about an hour in, and are immediately best superhero bros who are superheroing together in the best-friend-broiest ways they can, despite apparent cross purposes and misunderstandings, long backstories, and the backdrop of tyrannical oppression.

To whet your appetite for superhero shenanigans — at their FIRST meeting (!!!) they both FLING THEMSELVES OFF A MOTORCYCLE (hero A) AND HORSE (hero B) OFF THE SIDES OF A BRIDGE on opposite sides, clinging to a rope, to save a boy from both firey and watery death in the river below, and IT. IS. AWESOME. So if that sounds like fun, I encourage you to watch. (Although if you have adrenaline spike low tolerance like me you might want to wait for a calm day. And know that the good guys win.)

So, here’s the trailer link. I can recommend it. Oh, and all the animals are CGI, so do not worry for the animals. They are all OK.

In the Depths of February

I have to admit to not making a lot of progress with my book since the beginning of January. Much of January was taken up with rehearsals for my dance show in that last weekend of the month, and then performances. And now I’m diving into more rehearsals for a student showcase that I’m choreographing a piece for, and another piece I’m dancing in. Also the May studio dance show rehearsals start next month, which means my weekends are all busy between now and May.

Normally I’d find some time to write, as well as dance. But my mom is scheduled for a big, scary surgery this coming Tuesday, and since she went to the specialty hospital for tests beforehand all the doctors keep saying “You’re really very sick! Your heart is about to give out!” and other scary statements, so we’re all getting more and more worried. The surgery is supposed to have good outcomes, and the doctors say they’re confident she can make a full recovery, but it’s … A Lot. For all of us. Her hospital stay has been extended for several weeks past the surgery date, and Dad is trying to find a place to stay nearby (they’re not anywhere near home). I’m coordinating info for everyone from where I am, so people don’t call/text Dad all the time and wear him out. Of course, that means I feel like I’m wearing him out with all of my questions, but here we are.

I persevere with just keep on keeping on. If the house is a mess and the clean laundry waits days to get folded, well, who cares? I have other things to worry about. I will noodle about with notes for the book, and noodle about with notes for the dance work, and try to keep myself from fretting. It’s the best we all can do.

The Turning of the Year

I had all these grandiose plans for blog posts throughout the last few months, and as one can tell, looking since August, none of them came to fruition. I even had some great ideas for posts for the end of the year, top faves in music or movies or what-have-you, but I haven’t had the energy or brain space to complete them. So instead I will give myself some grace and say I can have small, less grandiose plans for blog posts, and no guilt or recriminations should result. If I end up with a grand post anyhow, then hooray for me. But if I don’t put pressure on myself to make it perfect, then I might post more often.

Easier said than done, of course. I excel in putting unnecessary pressure on myself. A thing to work on. Endlessly.

2022 has been a strange year. It was supposed to be a year of recovery for all of us — from the pandemic, from the terrible politics, etc. And while there was some of that, the fact is the pandemic is ongoing, and there is always more bad news and more awful bigotry. Everyone is exhausted; I am not an exception to that. I think collectively we’re all trying to heal while still experiencing trauma, and some of us are managing better than others but that doesn’t mean we’re healthy yet. When I think about how life works, I’m not sure we’ll ever be. We who live through these times will have our recognizable quirks, the way other populations who’ve lived through collective trauma do. We won’t even know what they are until some other, younger, less or differently traumatized population points it out to us.

On the personal front, my mom’s health has taken a turn for the worse, and while she’s soldiering on, and is in fact better than she was a couple months ago, she is struggling with new bodily restrictions and we’re all concerned, possibly more than is reasonable. She hates that we’re worried and hates a fuss, but everyone wanted to connect just to check in. So I’ve just come home from going home, if that makes sense. I feel better for having been there around and spending time with fambly, and I do feel like Mom is managing admirably and is mostly still able to do what she wants and needs. But also it’s frustrating to know that if she does worsen, or even if she’d just do better with a little more help, I’m not close enough to do anything about it.

Through all of this, I am writing — albeit slowly — the third book in this series. I have it about 1/2 – 3/4ths plotted out, and I’m making progress with my partial scenes and pages of dialogue happening in blank spaces, unadorned with fancy things like setting or facial expressions. I hoped to be fully plotted by now, but I’m missing some crucial ideas for how to get from the middle to the end. And the end is spotty, if I’m being honest. It will likely change as I figure out how I get there. Not the ideal way to be charging through the last book in a trilogy, but it’s what I have. I plan to share excerpts from the beginning here, when I have a chance to edit it more and get it closer to what it will be on publication. The concepts of the beginning won’t change, but some details might. I’d hate to be confusing for anyone who read it here.

I feel like I won’t know what to do with myself when I finally do finish this trilogy, but that is absolutely a problem for future me. I do have other ideas, but I cannot think about them now. It’s too distracting, and I’ll never finish this book if I let my brain wander off to other pastures. I can play a little bit in my brain when I get a draft to my editor, so I don’t obsess, but I don’t get to really play with a new (or old and waiting) concept until I’m done with this one. For pity’s sake, brain.

With that said, I’m going to close this out with a wish for everyone to have a peaceful, kind, and healthy new year, and get back to that writing. Maybe I’ll get a few more pages poured out before the turning of the year.


Book Book Book!

Copies of A Tangled Vision arrived today! Happy Birthday to me!!! Go check out Arus Entertainment’s website for copies to buy!

Or you can pre-order for 8/23 from Amazon or anywhere books are sold! (You can also get the 1st book, A Ragged Magic, from any of those places, if you haven’t yet. I will not stop you.)

Boxes of books!
*gasp* So pretty!
I mean…
Look at it!
Kitten for scale
I tried to add both Castor and Pollux for scale, but they weren’t cooperating
So here’s Mairelon the Magician for scale … large and slightly startled

A Tangled Vision On Sale Now!

(And next week! And also continuously after that!)

Hello reader lovelies! Guess what!? I have links for you. Links with which to buy books! Specifically A Tangled Vision, but also the first book (re-issued with current info) A Ragged Magic! It’s all very exciting.

Look at it! It’s so beautiful.

Technically the release date is 8/23/22, but the ebook purchase link is live directly from my partner/publisher, Scott James Magner, on the publisher website: Arus Entertainment. (Facebook page for Arus) Follow the instructions to get your hot electrical hands on an e-copy right now!!!

Physical copies are on order, and if you pre-order them from Arus (same link above) then we will send them to you once we get the shipment in (we paid extra to get them this week, but … shipping. So *maybe* we will have them Thursday 8/18, which is my actual birthday, is what I’m saying.) I will sign books for you if you order it that way, if you want me to.

If you wish to buy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AppleBooks, etc, then we will have those links live on 8/23/2022.

If you want borrow it from your library, then after 8/23 you can request it at your local branch, and they’ll probably buy it to have a copy on their shelves. Which is honestly the bestest best thing about libraries. (Not just for my book, but for all books. Libraries rock, is what I’m saying here.)

Questions? Concerns? Interpretive Dances? Let me know!

“A Tangled Vision” Creation and Writing Process

A little about how this book took so long, but still came to be.

My first book, “A Ragged Magic,” took either 20 years or 2 years to write, depending how you want to count it. So this book taking 8+ years to write and publish is either a vast improvement or a disaster. Perhaps both.

When “A Ragged Magic” was published in 2014, we were in the middle of several big changes. My first publisher closed up shop, my partner and I had to downsize from the house we were renting to a much smaller apartment due to financial concerns, and I was coming to terms with the idea that my fertility issues coupled with the financial concerns meant I might never be a parent. I was also coming to realize that many of my challenges and quirks throughout my life were actually the result of my undiagnosed neurodivergence: specifically, that I am autistic and have ADHD, and that my life circumstances, including beginning perimenopause, meant that those challenges were becoming … challengier.

Fun times.

In 2016, we were doing better financially and were moving out of the dark, cramped apartment we were in, but also the world was falling into a much worse dystopia than it was already, and my ability to cope with anything that I didn’t absolutely need to took a severe nosedive. Writing, already floundering, fell off my ability list completely. I could noodle with a scene here and there, but I could not find the narrative of the story I wanted to tell for Rhiannon, nor was I able to start anything new. I mostly wibbled to my loved ones and writing buddy and ate a lot of melted cheese and other assorted carbs.

About 3 years ago I started to pull it together, fiction-wise, and pull the story out of brain storage. I talked through it all with my current editor, the Marvelous Marti McKenna, and she helped me find some areas where I was already steering the story, and some ways to push forward that didn’t have to include all-everything-all-the-time, a problem that I was having. It still took *much* longer than I liked, but I was moving forward. Very, very slowly. And then 2020 happened.

Weirdly, while writing again took a nosedive for a bit, I bounced back more quickly and into the story during early pandemic than I thought I would. I don’t know if it was because I was already determined to finish the book, because I was further along, or because not seeing people freed my brain to see fictional people, but I did get my writing groove back enough to claw my way through my made-up world’s narrative. Perhaps it was not having that hellish commute to and from work every day. I found myself making progress; still very slowly, but moving slowly is moving, so I’ll take it.

Meanwhile, I was learning more about my neurodiversity, trying out coping mechanisms (some work, some don’t), and starting to feel a bit of (mild) hope about mitigating our societal collapse. My writing buddy and my partner-partner were both helping me as much as they could with plot holes, and I had an ending to the book I could feel good about (although no one else will, muahahahah).

After months and months of “how about they do this, no wait, no, this other thing” with my writing buddy, several serious rounds with my editor, (while wailing and gnashing my comma-laden teeth), and some final rounds with my partner-as-copy editor and publisher, I finally had a book. But a few months ago Scott said “hey, love the title you have here, but it should be the title of the final book. Let’s come up with a different title for this one,” at which I (metaphorically) collapsed on the ground and moaned and rent my clothes and cried out to the title gods in agony, because I absolutely suck at titles and was honestly looking forward to being able to take time to think of one for the 3rd book. Adding to my problems, I wanted it to be in the same ouvre, if you will, as the other titles; it had to be 3 words, have the middle word be something that rhymed or near-rhymed, or at least semi-jived with “ragged,” and didn’t sound stupid and twee.

I had nothing. Zip. I hated all words. None of them worked the way I wanted. I whined to many, many people, in hopes they would miraculously find a set of words I liked. Eventually it was my mother who saved me – thanks, Mom! She’s the best. She offered various near-rhymes at first to which, while trying to be diplomatic, I basically said “eehhhhhhh,” about. Then suddenly one morning out of nowhere she texted “how about “tangled” for the title?”

I blinked, stopped moving, thought it through. How *about* ‘tangled?’ How about it indeed? How did I not find that word before? It’s perfect!

So now you know my mother is better at titles than I am (someone needs to be). And also that I whine to her about my writing travails, but what is family for, after all?

And that is the story of how this book happened, even though it took a long time. I’m working on the 3rd book now, (upcoming title: “A Jagged War” — 😀 😀 ) hoping the things I learned while writing the middle book will help me. I know every new book is a new experience, and I know that my executive function problems and the world sliding into a new hellscape every couple months can slow me down, but I am still determined. “A Tangled Vision” is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of determination over despair and brain challenges. The 3rd book will be that, and hopefully lessons learned and wars won, and maybe only take a year-ish. From now.

I can only work towards it, and hope. Thanks for sticking with me, everyone who loves me, and/or likes my writing. I hope “A Tangled Vision” brings you reader-joy.

A Long Time Coming/Cover Reveal

Hello my long-neglected website! Let’s see if I can remember how to post things….

A few years have passed since I last posted, and a few more since my book A Ragged Magic was released. But now, at long last, I am getting ready to release the sequel to my book, so I’m dusting this poor website off and getting back into the swing of things. Whatever that swing may be: I’ll have to figure that out as I go. But *this* post, this is for the cover reveal. Because I have a cover! For a book! A book that will be out next month (barring paper supply problems)! The second book in my fantasy trilogy, A Tangled Vision, is ready and raring to go, as soon as we can get some proof logistics worked out. So getcher pre-order fingers ready, because this gorgeous cover, by the amazing Angie Abler, is just waiting to be properly displayed on your shelves. Behold, the beauty that is the second book in The Runebound trilogy!

Too serious for a flippant title: content warning: sexual assault discussed

I’ve been struggling to write this post – or indeed any post, but this one in particular, for the whole week. This year has been difficult for people who’ve ever been sexually assaulted, and the last week in particular has been ugly. Because there’s always another one, isn’t there? Another abuser, another person who has gotten away with assault because we don’t believe people who come forward; at least not the first 10 times. Or 20. Or 30.

It’s good HW has been outed, kicked off of boards and clubs and companies, forced to admit to his wrongdoing. But it’s always disheartening to hear all of the “Oh, well, what were those women wearing/doing/saying/thinking, and how could they have ended up there? Oh, there aren’t that many men like that. Oh, statistically speaking, it’s really not as bad as it looks….”

Yes. It is. It is in fact, far worse than it looks. Because your math is wrong. The statistics are important up to a point, and that point is when you start to excuse the behavior as not that many, not that bad, not so terrible really.

As I said on someone’s page tonight, even if hashtag notallmen, it IS ALL WOMEN. ALL women, ALL feminine-presenting people, and I’m pretty sure, ALL non-binary gender people, and an extremely large number of men, have been sexually assaulted, harassed. ALL OF US. And if your math is ignoring that, then you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are. Because we have to have a culture that allows that to happen in the first place. We have to bring boys and men up to believe that they get to have any body they want. They have the last word in what happens in any encounter. They get to decide if they’re having sex, or if they’re having sexual contact, and the other person’s opinion means nothing. It especially means nothing if that person is a woman, or is feminine, or is marginalized in any way, because that person is less of a person. We have to have a culture that teaches that expressly, and keeps it so much in everyone’s minds that we even have sayings like “boys will be boys.”

We have a toxic masculinity problem. We have a culture that teaches boys that they are entitled to other people’s bodies. Maybe not every man grows up to believe it, but it’s out there; it’s the air we breathe; it’s the water we drink. Like racism and sexism and other bigotry, we are swimming in it. And I am always going to be someone that the culture says is OK to hurt. That my body isn’t really mine. That I’m not really a person, not truly, not compared to the man in the situation. Especially not the white man. The further you get from our culture’s margins, as far as we’re concerned, the more of a person you are. Which means the more in the margins you are, the less you are a person. I’m not as far into the margins as some, but I’m still in there. And our culture treats me accordingly.

I’m going to preface the next bit by saying – no one owes anyone their story. I’m telling mine now because I’m moved to do so. And mine are nowhere near as horrific as others’ are, so the stigma is maybe less. You should believe people when they say they’ve been hurt. You should believe them. You’re not a judge, or a jury, and you get to choose, but if someone is telling you that they’ve been hurt, they’re probably telling you because they hope you’re a safe person to tell. Oh, and also, content warning for the below. It’s not as bad as some, but everyone has their limits, so fair warning.

The first time I was sexually harassed and threatened I was nine. I was nine years old. It was a classmate and his older brother. I was in the high school where my father was a teacher. It was some kind of school fair. They followed me around making a lewd gesture with their fingers, and saying they were going to “get me.” I didn’t really know what they meant, but I was scared. I’m pretty sure my best friend was with me. Those two boys seemed to be everywhere, every time I turned around. We kept trying to find somewhere they couldn’t find us, but the school just wasn’t that big, or full. I can’t remember what I told my mom and/or a grownup, but I do remember that I didn’t have the vocabulary to tell them exactly what was happening. And that I was so enraged, so confused, and literally worried they were going to touch me in some way. I don’t remember what anyone said to me about that incident exactly, but what was normally said about stuff like that was “they’re just teasing. Ignore them and they’ll go away.” That advice is hardly ever true. But it was all anyone ever told me when I was being bullied in any way. (My best friend totally had my back, but she didn’t have the vocabulary, either.)

The first time I was groped, I think was probably Jr. High. And I want to iterate here, especially for someone who made some comment of every woman having this sort of thing happen to them before the age of 40, that this sort of thing happens to most women, and a lot of other genders, *before the age of 13,* so adjust your fucking math. I had my ass grabbed in 7th grade. Several times, really. And I wasn’t a popular girl, I didn’t dress any differently really, than I had at 10 or 11, so 12 (I was 12 in 7th) shouldn’t have been a big change. And my father was a teacher in the school. Honestly, everyone should have been worried I’d tell. I don’t think I even knew what to do about it. I barely remember what I did next. It was a crowded hallway, I didn’t know who it was, I became known as a girl who would swing her purse or backpack around wildly if upset.

I forgot about that last part until just now. I was a weird kid, is how I remember playing that off. But if someone grabs your butt as you’re walking down a hall and you can’t even tell which someone it was, what do you do?

I remember in 9th grade one boy, who I thought was cute, and who was always nice to me, stuck his hand up my shirt and fondled my bare waist. In math class, as we were walking past each other, either going in or out of class. He just grinned at me, and I stared at him in shock until he walked away. I didn’t know what to do then, either.

I know my ass was grabbed in Jr high a lot, and high school, too. I know a lot of other stories from other girls in Jr high and high school that were much, much worse. Those aren’t my stories to tell. So I always just thought that I’d been lucky.

I want to scream about that. I thought I was lucky to *just* be fondled and have my ass grabbed by friends and strangers.

The most egregious sexual assaults that happened to me I didn’t even think were sexual assaults at the time, because it didn’t occur to me that my body was mine enough to matter to anyone but me. I was frightened, and enraged, but I wasn’t “hurt.” I wasn’t injured, and I wasn’t hit by anyone, so I thought, well, who would care? It was wrong, of course. I was mad. But I didn’t think “sexual assault.”

It was sexual assault.

Just a couple of years ago, a friend of several of my friends, who I considered friendly, or at least a friendly acquaintance, was at a party I attended. He was drunk. The party was crowded. He told me, drunkenly, that the only reason I was with my boyfriend was because he (my boyfriend) “got there first,” as though I were some prize in a race. He then hugged me, which I shruggingly tolerated, and grabbed my ass. I froze. He moved on. I didn’t know what to do that night, but the next day I wrote to him saying it was unacceptable behavior and I expected an apology. He never apologized, and won’t speak to me since. I won’t speak to him either, but he has yet to apologize, so. I’ve told this story to a lot of people. Most have stayed friends with him, because “well, he’s not really like that, or only when he’s drunk/with this bad influence.” My boyfriend is still friendly to him when he sees him. Everyone knows what he’s like, because I’m not the only person he’s gotten “handsy” with. (The man did apologize … to my boyfriend. Who told him “I”m not the one you need to apologize to.” Still. Waiting.)

In the first week of college I was thrown onto a dorm bed and dry humped by a guy I barely knew, held down while screaming and kicking, and the 5-8 other people in the room stood by and laughed. They told me I was over-reacting when I came up swinging and screaming more. That guy was a rapist, and by the middle of the year everyone knew it. I don’t actually know if he was ever stopped.

Some rando dude grabbed my breast as he rode by on his bike while I was walking down the street. I was alone, it was night, and I screamed “asshole” after him, but I was immediately afraid he’d come back and do worse. I hurried back to the hotel I’d been leaving, so I would be around people. My people were there for me, but that dude was long gone, so there wasn’t anything to report.

In high school, a boy I had a huge crush on goosed my ass hard, close enough to my vulva to really hurt, and I jumped about a foot. In front of my male music teacher, that I was trying to talk to, that I was trying to impress. I turned about eight shades of scarlet and nearly broke down in tears right there. I know my voice went whisper soft and I tried to keep talking to my teacher, but he (the teacher) gave me a look. I never really knew if he’d back me up if I made a scene, and I was afraid that look meant that he was disappointed in me, so I stuttered through asking my question. After, I pushed that stupid grinning guy out of the teacher’s office, and told him off, and never spoke to him again, but I was always a little worried that my music teacher thought less of me. Because of someone else’s actions.

I had already learned that it was always my fault. Because if you ignore them, and they don’t go away, then you’re doing it wrong. Because if they embarrass you, it’s your fault. If they hurt you, it’s your fault. That’s the lesson, isn’t it? We learn it very early. And if you tell people what happened, they might just tell you that. And there might not be any repercussions for the person who did the assaulting. And meanwhile now everyone is giving you that look. You know the look. We give the look to ourselves, sometimes. We even give it to other people who’ve been hurt, because it’s an ingrained toxic behavior, that look.

But we don’t deserve the look. It’s not our fault if someone hurts us. It’s not our fault if someone doesn’t believe us, either. And I’m here for all of us survivors, those who’ve survived as bad, or not as bad, or much, much worse. It’s not our fault. And it’s time we were believed.

It’s time we changed the culture. I don’t know if any of what’s happening now will do that, but I can hope. I can hope my story does its part. And I can learn to be a safe place for other survivors, and be my own safe place, too.