Gratitude Writing Exercise and a Casserole Recipe to Save Time

Heya! I want to blog a bit more. As I mentioned in my newsletter, I have NO idea what that means or what form that will take, in part because all of my sage advice can be summed up thusly: Do what works for you. I trust you will figure it out. If you don’t know what works for you, experiment to find those results. (I write this with no irony whatsoever… None at all…) It is the way. There may be a lot of discussion about the “right” way to make art, but there isn’t one singular process that works for everyone.

Today, as I embark on a new manuscript, I am reminded why I did not start this particular story before. Two reasons. First, I wasn’t ready to. And second? I have no idea what is going to happen after it’s done. I don’t mean this in a “Oh, that’s just how the business works!” sort of a way. I mean there’s a good possibility it might not find a home and it shall gather dust on a shelf and be forgotten. Or, the exact opposite could happen. It’s a crap shoot. Experienced novelists used to writing for themselves will likely read this and know exactly where I am right now with respect to my personal storytelling. I’ve been here before, multiple times, but never like this. This story requires the kind of trust I didn’t have before. The faith that this story needs to be told even if it’s never read by another living soul.

I have what I need now, because eventually I figured out I had to make peace with the unknown. My current status allows me to carve time out of my day to work on something for myself and it’s uncomfortable as f***. TRUTH BOMB!

Gratitude Writing Exercise

To help me remain focused, my friend Shveta Thakrar has a wonderful writing exercise we use to ground ourselves before writing.

Simply, list five things you’re grateful for. It’s quick and takes far less time than an A-to-Z gratitude exercise would. Having those five things in writing really crystallizes things you’re happy about and it does help when venturing off into the unknown.

Ham and Green Chili Casserole

Winter is a great time to make casseroles. They are also good for another reason–they help carve out time so you can write. The prep for this mega-Midwestern casserole takes about ten minutes. You can make this for breakfast or have it for dinner.

Ingredients

1 pound cubed ham
1 pound sour cream
1 16oz container fried onions
1 pound shredded cheddar
1 4oz can diced green chiles
Large bag frozen potatoes (cubed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the ham, sour cream, cheddar, and chiles together in a bowl. Spray nonstick cooking oil in a 9 x 13 pan. Spread the potatoes down first in a layer. Then, take your goop (that’s a professional term, by the way) and spread the mixture evenly across the potatoes.

Bake the casserole for thirty minutes uncovered on the middle rack. Remove, then spread the fried onions across the top. Place back in the oven for twenty minutes.

Serves an army.

Mark the Date for sub-Q Magazine’s February Issue!

Hello readers,

I am thrilled to announce that I have a brand new interactive fiction game coming out in Sub-Q Magazine‘s February 2020 issue!

sub-Q February 2020 announcement

All games in the issue have an environmental theme; mine is a watery one. The working title of my piece is “Underwater Memories”. Stewart C. Baker has been a joy to collaborate with for edits and I’ve been having fun with Twine. I can’t wait to share this story with you.

Curious about interactive fiction? Check out sub-Q’s interactive fiction archives and have fun! These narrative games are a blast to play!

Critiquing The Witcher Season 1

Heya,

I’m over at FlamesRising.com talking about magic and motherhood in The Witcher Season One. Here’s a quote from the first part of my article:

“In fantasy worldbuilding, there are a few components to designing magic: where magic comes from, if magic is renewable or limited, how magic is accessed, if magic usage is regulated, and lastly, what magic is used for.” — Magic and Motherhood in The Witcher Season One

I hope you enjoy my deep dive into magic! ‘Til next time!

My 2019 List of Publications

Hello everyone! 2019 was quite the interesting year. Instead of waxing poetically about it for hours on end, I am summing it up with an image of a big fish. Said fish has eaten several other fishes, and is currently being skewered in the gut by a fisherman, whilst other fishermen, who are mere peasants enjoying the spoils of their own efforts, witness said undertaking in their tiny boat. The illustration is by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and is literally called “Big Fishes Eat Little Fishes” (1556).

Pieter Bruegel the Elder | Big Fish Eat Little Fishes | 1556 C.E.

My list of publications is short this year. I published two stories, one of which included the backdrop for a solo card game–super fun! Plus, a fun character for charity-related purposes. Had a blast overall, especially with A. Happy Gnome!

Stories

“Arrows, Blood, and a Long Overdue Cat Nap”, TALES OF EXCELLENT CATS for Monarchies of Mau, 2019, Onyx Path Publishing/Pugsteady

“Only the Strongest has the Heart of a Wizened Queen”, PROVING GROUNDS card game, 2019, Renegade Games

Games

A HAPPY GNOME for ExtraLife Charity, Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, 2019, DMsGuild.com

Thus far, it does look like I’ll be light on announcements through the end of 2020 as the calendar winds down. More news as winter ripens. Hope you had a fantastic year! And, if you didn’t, I hope you’ve retained your inner fire. We’ll all need it to get through the elections.

Update on Make Art Not War Challenge and Future Plans

Make Art Not War Challenge eBook

It’s been about two years since I self-published the Make Art Not War Challenge: Rules, Essays, and 31 Creative Prompts ebook following a year’s worth of posts to help keep people motivated and focused on making art, and approximately a year since we booted up a micro-community with this spirit in mind. I’ve had some time to think about my next steps for this program that I wanted to share with you.

Right now, it doesn’t make sense to give this a huge push as an online movement. A lot of online spaces are experiencing a ton of changes for reasons ranging from algorithmic bias to a drop in types of usage, etc. So many people feel so overwhelmed, they’re sticking to the basics and exploring local, existing, private spaces. I suspect we’ll see this happen even more going into an Election Year. Mind you, my intent was never to make this Monica’s MANW Challenge, because that’s not the reason why I started this.

My dream for the Make Art Not War Challenge is to create spaces where the arts are accessible for people to explore music, literature, art, etc. regardless of their identity or income while getting guidance to learn how to build a career or seek employment in the arts. I am not the only one who has this vision; to put something like this in motion (on the scale I’m picturing) I’d need a significant amount of resources/money to build (both on and with) existing programs that exist for specific arts and verticals. It doesn’t make sense to create something brand new that doesn’t take into account the work wonderful community leaders, educators, and professional organizations are already doing.

This is not the time for that initiative, either. I’ve come to the realization that no dream of mine can be realized until I finish securing my own oxygen mask. There may come a point when I have the resources/money available, either through a donor or other means, to turn that around but for now? It’s just a gentle whisper until the time is right.

If you’re reading this and you’re struggling, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Though I’ve been keeping my head down on Twitter (and I’m mostly off of Facebook other than the occasional, ridiculous quip), I do pay attention to the vibe. If it’s any reassurance, what’s happening in the world is having a profound effect on everyone in both small and big ways from feelings of guilt for pursuing your dreams to being shell-shocked by the increasing amounts of vitriol online and off–not to mention all the personal stuff everyone has going on. It’s a lot for anyone to manage!

That’s it for me right now. In closing, I want to add simply this: if you can’t find the light in the darkness, become one. Shine.

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