I think most parents and pet parents know this same struggle: you spend a small fortune on engaging, enriching toys and they want to play with the box.
I received my developmental edit back and, y’all, it was brutal. But here’s the thing: it needed to be. This is why I hired a stranger who doesn’t care if she’s still my friend at the end of this process. I needed to have a complete outsider tell me what wasn’t working (some of which I was well aware of) and nudge me in a direction to think about what would work better.
Some of the editorial letter surprised me, some did not. I knew my overall plot was too simple, for example, but I didn’t think my protagonist needed a change in motivation. It’s… a lot. My editorial letter is sixteen pages long and it covers a lot of ground. I have a great deal of work to do.
I’m not at all upset by or resentful of this process. I think it was wholly necessary to give me the slap across the face that I needed to tear this project apart and rebuild a better, more engaging manuscript. I’m also awaiting another friend, who is doing an editing pass on the manuscript, to see what she has to say before I get too ahead of myself with planning this rewrite.
I’ve started the brainstorming and vague outlining process, which I will dig into this fall and early winter. I’m moving in December, so I’m giving myself permission to not start producing words until late December/early January. I don’t normally go in for New Year’s resolutions, but I think I might make mine to rewrite this bear of a project. I believe in it. I really think this could be a great series that people would enjoy and so I’m not giving up on it.
Halloween is and always has been special to me. I accept that part of this reason is the proximity of my birthday (10/27) to the holiday, but I think it’s more than that.
My parents always let me throw Halloween birthdays, which were big shindigs for all my friends. These took place in our unfinished basement, a sufficiently spooky place on its own, made doubly so with the addition of dim lighting and lots of fake spiderwebs. There was bobbing for apples, cupcake decorating, races to mummify your partner in toilet paper, a showpiece cake that my mom and I had decorated together, and costumes. Oh, the costumes!
Dressing up was, if you ask me, the centerpiece of this entire event. My mother had taught me how to sew from a young age, so we were always making extravagant costumes, from the 1950s poodle skirt girl to a colonial-era gown to a Victorian ghost. Costumes were mandatory at my parties, and my friends were always willing to humor me.
There was something transformative about dressing up, and I think I knew this even from a young age (I had moments of great wisdom among my otherwise plentiful naivete). Changing one’s appearance, even if just for a few hours is a free exploration of ourselves and of otherness, both at the same time. It is freeing to become someone – or something – else for an evening (but please don’t do that subtly racist thing where you dress as a Native American or someone “Oriental” or we are going to have to have a talk about culture vs costume).
This year, I get three chances to dress up: once for my birthday dinner (pirate captain), once for Halloween to give out candy (bird kigurumi onesie), and once for a Halloween party on 11/3 (Jester). I will happily take that opportunity to be someone else for an evening. Won’t you?
I am not one to be moved by music. Not normally, anyway. I have no real ear for it, no talent for it, never gained skill at any instrument in my youth, cannot sing, and do not have the vocabulary or knowledge to talk about music in any useful terms. Lots of “I” statements from me: “I like that song” or “I feel sad when the violin plays.” Not rocket science over here. Apparently my descriptive talents lie in describing food.
I do, however, easily have a favorite band in the entire world: Florence + The Machine. There is something magical about what they do. I’ve been lucky enough to see them perform live twice now, once just a few weeks ago, and their shows are revelatory in their energizing nature. I’ve never seen another performer harness and feed off of the energy of a crowd like Florence Welch – and she always turns it into a positive moment of connection with the people around you.
Have you ever been to a Catholic mass? Admittedly, I’ve been to maybe three ever. This last weekend, I was at a Catholic wedding. There was a segment where you greet your neighbors and wish them peace, as well as a part where everyone held hands and sings. Well, during a live show, Florence will ask you to greet your neighbors, to tell people you love them, to hold hands, to dance, to jump. I’m not a religious person, but if church makes people feel the kind of love and hope that a Florence + The Machine concert makes me feel, then I think I understand the appeal.
When you have a lot to do in a day, but your self-sabotaging behaviors rear their ugly heads.
About once a year, I drive myself entirely crazy by working on a costume for a few weeks. Usually, it’s for the Maryland RennFest and this year was no exception. My D&D DM and good friend Moira and I decided to do adapted version of characters from the D&D livestream Critical Role. Moira took on the ambitious design of the lavender-skinned Tiefling Blood Hunter, Mollymauk, and I made the reticent blue-skinned Tiefling Clreric, Jester. We decided NOT to do body paint for a day at Faire because we don’t hate ourselves.
There are some things I wish I’d done differently, but after 7 hours of hand painting that dress, I’m pretty content with how everything turned out.
Another Capclave has come and gone! This year, I moderated a panel called The Care and Feeding of Critique Groups (I’ve never moderated anything before, so I was pretty nervous beforehand!), taught a workshop on Micro Fiction with my friends/partners in crime, met up with Neil Clarke (for whom I read slush) and Scott Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies (with whom I talked shop), and received an award from a writing contest.
I placed third in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society‘s Amateur Writing Contest for my short story, “Augury.” I’m so grateful for the input of Columbia Writers with an earlier draft of this story, as many of their suggestions are what really helped shape this piece into its final form. Writing groups can really make such a great difference in our work! I’m biased, but I swear by them.