January 2016: State of the Author

I am, at this precise moment, sitting in Starbucks in my Hogwarts t-shirt sipping a half-melted espresso Frappuccino (it’s 66F in January), working on the Magic Words Monthly course/editing Shadowstorm/writing part 5 of Song and Cipher, and trying not to bawl.

Caption:  Portrait of the Author as a Middle-Aged Bipolar.

I’m not actually trying not to cry about anything – Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” was playing and that song always, always makes me tear up, particularly:

You call me up again just to break me like a promise
So casually cruel in the name of being honest
I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
‘Cause I remember it all too well

Hell, just reading the words makes my eyes hurt.  I have no idea why; I guess it just pushes my “Eye Leak” button.  I should probably look deeper at that sometime.

But, alas, I digress.

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10 Things I Loved in 2015

Well, as I said, 2015 was not my best year ever – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t see some good movies, hear some great music, and even make some cool stuff.  I couldn’t let the tail end of December go by without my annual list of things that didn’t suck.

It’s probably telling that it took me all day to come up with ten.  I think part of that is because of my warped grasp of the passage of time. Anyway:

1 – Favorite New Art/Craft Supply:  Distress MicroGlaze

I sang the praises of this stuff a while back, but it bears repeating.  This little pot of waxy goodness protects inks, stains, pencils, and more without smearing or changing the color beneath it.  It might seem pricey for such a little tub (I think it’s like $6) but I’ve been using mine for several months and have barely made a dent in the stuff.  In fact, using more than teeny bit isn’t a good thing, because it’ll take days to soak in and dry.  I find it especially useful in my shrines, both on interior elements and the outside decor itself, as paper is really easy to scuff or get dirty and needs all the protection it can get, but traditional polyurethanes always end up ugly .

2 – Favorite Book from that Genre I Keep Trying to Pretend I Don’t Like:  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Imagine my delight when I found out this weird novel is being turned into a movie that I hope is equally weird.  It’ll be out in December 2016 and features such fringe unknown actors as Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Eva Green, and Asa Butterfield (I’m not entirely sure who he is but as I understand it that’s cool.).

3 – Favorite Silly Digital Thing I Made: Little-Known Facts

These were just too fun.  I’m working on the next in the series – Miranda’s – although it’s not as entertaining to list facts about someone who’s only been alive 30 years or so.  The older vamps are way more interesting.  In case you missed them, click on the wee image to see it up close:

little known ds  lkfdb

4 – Favorite Meaningful Digital Thing I Made: Seven Secrets to Body Positivity

I realize that my interests, and therefore the things I blog about, are kind of all over the place.  They say you should pick a subject, or a theme, and go with it most of the time for coherency and to attract more readers; I’ve tried, and just never figured out where I fit.  I don’t talk about writing enough to be a writing blogger; I’m not out there promoting my work like I’m supposed to be (apparently), so this isn’t a promotional author blog; I can’t focus on any one art form long enough to make it The Thing; and my ability to stay passionate about anything is kind of…well, bipolar.  I can, however, say that body image issues will always be important to me – as long as I’m living in a body that society wants to write off as aberrant and unhealthy just by looking at me, and wants me to give up control of my body to big corporations and a media gone insane, I’ll write for body positivity at least once in a while.  The linked list is a free printable, so, have at it!

5 – Favorite Not-Planner-Related Etsy Purchase:  Printable “I Have Loved the Stars” Quote from ClementineCreative

As I’ve said, this is one of my favorite quotes of all time, and the watercolor and lettering are gorgeous.  I’m particularly pleased at the correct attribution.  I’ll go to my grave yelling “GALILEO DIDN’T SAY THAT!”  Best of all, since it’s a printable, it was cheaper than a physical print, and I got it instantly.  Since the shop is in South Africa that’s nothing to sneeze at.

6 – Favorite Extremely Useful Website: Wordmark

What would I do without this site?  Wordmark is a simple tool, but powerful for a person with tons of fonts with subtle differences. You just type in a bit of text, tell Wordmark if you want it capitalized, all caps, or lowercase; pick positive or negative background; and go! It loads that text in every font you own so you can see which one works best.  You can switch specifications and sizes at any point.  You can also select a group of fonts to compare on their own page if you find several are close to what you’re looking for.

7 – Favorite Random Thing I Can’t Stop Giggling At:  This gif.

8 – Favorite Album:  Ed Sheeran, X

(It’s written as X, but you say it Multiply.  I have no idea why you’d do that to people.) I don’t know what I love more about Ed Sheeran – his 100+ tattoos, his scruffy ginger adorableness, his clever lyricism, or the fact that he’s pretty much a one-man band.  But I judge a favorite album by how many songs I want to skip – can I just put the album on and let it play without scrambling for the remote four or five times?  There were two albums this year that fit that criterion; the other was Taylor Swift’s 1989, which you may have heard of.  Hey, I never said I had sophisticated musical taste.  (I realize this album came out a while back, but I didn’t really get into it until this year.)

A clip from his sold-out performances at Wembley Stadium in London (first solo artist to ever play there, let alone sell out 3 shows of 80,000 people each):

9 – Favorite Celebrity Crush: Tom Hiddleston

With Benedict Cumberbatch off having babies and out of the spotlight, I found myself increasingly hot for another sex-voiced young Brit.

T. Hiddleston as Henry V in The Hollow Crown
T. Hiddleston as Henry V in The Hollow Crown

He’s kind of everywhere these days – and as for me personally this year was the first time I’d seen The Hollow Crown, showcasing Tom at his royal Shakespearean finest.  That’s not even mentioning the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where he plays everyone’s favorite sassy screwed-up villain.  And did I mention last year he played a vampire?  Add to that a role in Guillermo DelToro’s gorgeously creepy Crimson Peak, and, well…this particular girl didn’t stand a chance, especially since in interviews he comes off as an erudite, polite, genuinely nice guy, which we Scorpios like to refer to as “lunch.”

10 – Favorite Movie I First Saw This Year:  Big Hero 6

Technically BH6 came out in November of 2014, but I didn’t see it until it hit DVD in February.  It’s also technically part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since it’s based on a Marvel comic series of the same name. It drew broad acclaim and was quite successful, but I’d never even heard of it until a friend recommended it.  Not only is it insanely funny, it’s a very warm and loving movie; the plot twist wasn’t exactly hard to figure out, but a movie like this is about the characters.  I want my own Baymax, and not just because he’s good for laughs – I don’t like being touched by most people, but sometimes even I need a hug.  My own Baymax could do that for me without that whole personal space squick thing I get with real humans.  If Baymax is programmed with mental health protocols for, say, bipolar, he’d be even more awesome.

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With the end of 2015 nigh, allow me if you will a moment to blatantly self-promote.  I have a couple of cool things to help ring in the New Year.

If you’re looking for a planner for 2016, and you also want to devote more time to self-care, you’re in luck!  I’ve designed a printable, undated weekly planner complete with daily and monthly pages, goals and habits sheets, pages to record doctor visits and medications, and fun stuff like books to read and things to try.  Print out whatever you need or print the whole thing – and you can use it for multiple years or start whenever you want.

daily pages

I also offer a single page daily planner in 8.5×11″ size, a menu planner, and more.  I’m particularly fond of this single-page weekly planner, which is nice and simple and comes in two sizes:


Then of course, one more reminder about my Magic Words Monthly e-course – a six month email course that will help you explore your Word of the Year, which hopefully you’ve read about already in the free e-book I posted recently.  Get your free e-book, and find out more about the course, here:

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 3.13.18 AM

That’s it for now!  *laugh*  I’m hoping that in the next few days, right around the New Year, I’ll have an announcement about the next Shadow World book…it might not be as long as I thought before it’s released.  Stay tuned…

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Not As I Do

red ball on branch2In preparation both for 2016 and my Magic Words Monthly e-course, I’ve been trying to figure out my Word of the Year for this coming run ‘round the sun.

Usually in December I love doing end-of-year questions, lists, and challenges – I signed up for the latest 30 Days of Lists, started doing Reverb, and all the usual stuff I have fun with before New Year’s. I might not have a great year but looking back on it helps me remember the good stuff as well as what I can take with me from the bad stuff.

This year I’m having a hell of a time doing any of that. I got maybe three lists in when they started making me angry – I couldn’t come up with items for any of the lists. What did I learn this year? What resolutions did I keep? What new things did I try?

Fuck a bunch of that.

I was staring at a list trying to come up with more than two things for it when I realized the problem: this year sucked.

I don’t mean it was tragic, or dramatic, or anything so obvious (well it was, on a global scale, but I’m talking personally). It just sucked. It was hard and painful and somehow incredibly boring and I was dick-in-the-dirt depressed for 90% of it. I didn’t follow through on any of my goals – aside from finishing SHADOWSTORM, which I do anticipate doing by the 31st (first writing, anyway, not the finished book, but that was the idea, so go me), nada. It felt like nothing worked no matter what I tried, and I took zero steps forward, ten steps back.

I don’t even remember what my Word of the Year was for 2015. I’d have to go back through my blog and look.*

It was at the point where even trying to “look for the positive” or make a freaking gratitude list just made me more depressed, because I knew I was just making shit up. I find the cult of gratitude/positivity annoying anyway (I know it works for some people, but a lot of people with mental or invisible illness find it victim-blaming – just another version of “snap out of it!” when it’s just not that simple for a lot of people.), so finally, I gave up.

2015 is pretty much a lost year. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen, but I’m going to do what Disney did with the Star Wars Expanded Universe and make an executive decision as the author: 2015 is officially not part of my canon.

In fact it’s the most frustrating, badly-written AU ever.

I think my Word for 2016 is going to have to be something gentle – I feel beaten down by 2015, and aiming for something too challenging is not going to work. Kindness, perhaps, toward myself, or possibly Naps.

Every year I start out with all these grand intentions, and they tend to go flat the same way everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions do. You know how it goes. Long about February that treadmill’s got socks hanging from it, there’s kale rotting in the back of the fridge (kale can suck it anyway), and that yoga mat…where is it, again?

You know what they say. You gotta walk before you can run, crawl before you can walk, and get out of the fetal position in the closet with your teddy bear and a bottle of vodka before you can walk.

I think the mistake that I make is that I imagine myself as having way more energy than I have. I keep thinking, hey, I don’t have that much going on during the day, surely that’s time to keep an immaculate house, exercise an hour a day, meditate, cook all my meals, and find a job. I’ve got as many hours in a day as Beyonce, right?

Sure. But what I don’t have are cooks, personal trainers, assistants, publicists, maid service, or drivers.

I’m mentally ill, and not terribly stable just now. I’m working on that, medication-wise, but as I’ve said before, the point of meds isn’t to make your illness go away – they can’t do that. They make it so you can get up, put pants on, and help yourself. Some days I can do that, some days not.

Closeup of message stones on white background.

The point of this is, I can’t treat myself like I’m an average person with an average amount of energy in an average body with average social skills. There are a lot of things I’m awesome at, but being a functional adult is not one of them. And every year that I try to pretend, come January, that I’m starting at the same baseline as everyone else, I fail.

What’s funny is I’ve never been that person. I’ve been depressed since at least my teens if not since childhood. I’ve never been “normal” and I don’t especially want to be. Honestly I don’t think I had much of a chance. Yet I keep trying to make myself that way by setting goals that are either way too lofty or just way too intense for where I’m at.

You know what that is? It’s punishment. I’m punishing myself for being screwed up by screwing up then calling myself a screwup. Yet for some weird reason being mean to myself hasn’t made me better. It’s almost as if shame isn’t a healthy motivator. Hmm.

It doesn’t matter what road we’re on or if we’re running or crawling; we have to meet ourselves where we are.

So, I’m off to find a Word for 2016 – and this time I’m going to try to work with myself, not against.

* – devotion


Want to find your Word of the Year, then get deep with it?  Check out my free e-book, Magic Words 2016, and then sign up for my new e-course Magic Words Monthly.  Registration closes on December 31, so join today!

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