Wow, it's been a bit, hasn't it? We've made it through the holiday season and are out the other side. Maybe life is finally starting to slow down for you. I know it is for me.
I did NaNoWriMo in November and while I wasn't completely happy with the result, I did successfully 'win' the WriMo. I'll probably revisit the project sometime and hack away at it until I find something redeemable about it. But till then... I'll work on the way too many other projects I have.
After WriMo, the holidays were in full swing; well actually, they were in full swing even before NaNoWriMo ended.
The holidays are a strange time for me. The nature of them; the gathering of friends and those we're close with is always wonderful, especially now that we're finally starting to move toward something that resembles normalcy, after so long. The decorations are always fun for a while - though admittedly, if you put them up too early or leave them too late, I find it tiresome.
It's always so rough for me around the holidays, a series of hits that have led to an overall downturn in my wellbeing. This year was equally as tough. Coupled with the fact we had Christmas guests. Which isn't necessarily a problem. But when you're struggling to just get through a day, having to be 'on' the whole time takes a very real toll. But I've got an amazing therapist who helped keep me together, and I've got a great 'found family.' (If you're interested, check out my facebook page for my Christmas Message for my thoughts about found family and more.)
I've been thinking a lot these weeks since the holidays, about self care and how important it is. My dearest friend has a routine of self care that she follows religiously. During a weekend I spent with her, we talked about self care, about what we do to keep ourselves grounded and how we take care of ourselves and I found my own self care quite lacking. We spent time doing a self care evening. Coming out of that time with her, I decided that it was something that I wanted to try on my own, to see if it had the same calming and grounding effect on me as it had when I'd been with my friend. And it did. And that ended up being what she got me for Christmas, a fantastic little self care bundle. I took a look at some of the other things she does (like a Sunday bath with wine) and changed it up a bit. I'm not a big fan of baths personally. I can't help but think about sitting in a lukewarm, human stew of all the gunk and detritus from my body... I'm much more a fan of a scalding hot shower. So as I moved into 2023, I decided that I was going to make it a point of adopting a self care routine and I've been pretty faithful to it so far. Sunday evening, a face mask, a glass or two of wine, while listening to my favorite podcast (Help I Sexted My Boss - the UK's leading etiquette expert and his friend a BBC radio personality tackle some outrageous written in questions and the etiquette expert tries to give the 'appropriate' reply while the radio personality responds with ridiculous and fun advice of his own all while the two drink gin and dubonnets [G&Ds they've started calling them]) and then a hot shower with an aroma therapeutic shower steamer. And the thing about it is, none of it is particularly expensive. A Target run and I had eight masks for fifteen dollars, the steamers are from Bath and Body Works and they were sixteen dollars for eleven, my podcast costs nothing. So really the whole kit and caboodle cost under four bucks. And that's a hell of a good return on investment, if you ask me.
And now through the holiday season; we're settling into 2023 (I'm still writing 2022 on everything) and with a new routine to keep me grounded and energized, I'm refocusing on my writing. I've got several projects I'm working on right now, and I've got some announcements coming this year. As well as some big asks.
This year is going to be an amazing year, I think. Another book is coming, (look for it in the spring), Once Upon A Book in July. In August, Joey and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary since we got married.
If you know me well (or personally in any capacity really) you'll know that one of my greatest passions beyond the written word is the RMS Titanic. I've given lectures and done thousands of hours of research. I'm very proud of what I've contributed to keep the story and history going. And I admittedly have an emotional connection to the ship.
So for our tenth anniversary, we're taking an incredible vacation. We're starting off in Belfast, Northern Ireland, staying in the hotel that was once the offices of the company that built the Titanic. We'll spend some time there, and I'll get the chance to physically be there, where the ship was birthed. I'll weep. I have no doubt of that. After a few days in Belfast, we're flying down to Southampton and boarding a cruise ship for an incredible fifteen night transatlantic crossing. The ship is leaving from the same dock the Titanic left from.
Our trip is going to be amazing, not just because of what we're doing. But because we're also sharing it with a couple who've become some of our closest friends, who are also celebrating their tenth. They'll join us for the trip and I'll surely annoy all with my incessant factoids and random emotional outbursts.
2023 will have a lot of wild things coming, great things to be sure.
This year, I'm going to endeavor to treat others and myself more compassionately. I hope you'll all find ways to do the same, ways to treat each other with love and compassion.
I think we too often think of love as a feeling. We can't control our feelings. We can control how we react to them, but the feelings themselves happen. When we boil love down simply to a feeling, it takes responsibility away. Love isn't just a feeling, love is an action. Love is how we treat people. The action of love forces us to ask ourselves questions that we might not want to answer. Questions like "do I really try to help people?" and "do I do anything to strive for justice - real justice, not legal justice?".
So I challenge you, the same way I'm challenging myself, to act out love. Make it as much an action as it is a feeling. Love your neighbor. Love each other. Love yourself.
And as always, my friends, remember.
You are seen. You are loved. You matter.
Today is National Coming Out Day! But also... Wow, it feels like it's been a long time since I last posted a blog update and so much has happened since June. So I guess I'll start nearer to where we left off, before we get into the meat of today.
July had some wild things happen, not the least of which was the release of The Cryptid Chronicles: Here Be Monsters. And let me say, you guys showed up. The response to HBM has been wild and I'm blown away.
The reason I even bring the response up is because of how long it's been to get to the point where Here Be Monsters would be ready to publish. The whole story of the Cryptid Chronicles started in 2007, I think, so it's been stewing for a long time. It's been a whole journey of so many nights where I got way too little sleep, crying over not having a clue what the heck I was doing with the story, the characters absolutely rebelling against my plan, telling myself so many times that I had no right to even think of myself as a writer, and then finally the bittersweet exuberance of finishing the last chapter of the book. More than once, I had walked away from it, genuinely believing that the story should, and would be abandoned. But Cryptids just wouldn't go quietly into that good night. And now, more than a decade later, the second book is with my editor and the third and final book is actually coming together, fully outlined and plot mapped! So that's all a thing that happened.
Also in July, I attended the Once Upon A Book event in Frankenmuth, Michigan. And wow what an amazing experience. It was amazing to get to know other authors, readers and reviewers. I attended the conference along with Janel, my editor who also tagged along as my assistant for the weekend, as well as my close friend; author Victoria Perkins, as well as Krystal, who came as Vikki's assistant. The convention was an amazing and validating experience, both as an author and as a gay man. I'll get back to that part later though.
But OUAB wasn't without it's own set off issues. The convention was starting on a Friday, which meant I was traveling on Thursday. Well, late Monday night, I started feeling a pretty intense pain in my right, bottom, wisdom tooth. (Yes, I was one of those weird 35 year olds with their wisdom teeth.) Now, I've got a rather high pain tolerance, so when I awoke at 2:30 am on Tuesday in EXCRUTIATING pain, I knew it was bad and I naturally consulted Doctor Google, who immediately told me I had an abscess and would die in a matter of hours. So, I called my dentist at 7:30 in the morning and got an appointment for that afternoon which I expected to be an emergency root canal.
In the end, as I'm sure you guessed, it was not an abscess, but rather a structural deformity in my tooth that led to a small crack that went RIGHT TO THE NERVE. My dentist told me to see an oral surgeon to have the tooth pulled. Unfortunately the surgeon couldn't get me in before the convention, so I did OUAB in pain, which I coped with... I could deal with the pain as long as I knew it wasn't going to kill me.
I returned from the conference Sunday night and had an appointment for Wednesday afternoon... great.
Alas, it wasn't to be, on Tuesday, I discovered that I'd brought a hitchhiker home from the conference with me. Covid-19. By the grace of God, I was able to get a telehealth visit that night with my doctor who immediately prescribed me Paxlovid which got me through it pretty unscathed. Joey didn't do quite as well, and he had a bad fever and body aches. We made it through okay. But this meant I had to have the surgery postponed.
So, more than a week later, I'm finally doing better and have an appointment on a Monday to finally have the tooth pulled.
Skip to that Monday, the surgeon is in my mouth, and I'm full of Novocain. She's tugging and drilling and I'm crying. The surgeon realizes that I can feel everything she's doing so she goes in with four more full vials of Novocain, and we're off to the races again, drilling and tugging and I can still feel everything. At that point she tells me she's not comfortable doing it without me being sedated, but she can't do it that day. So I've got to come back that Friday. She also suggests that, all four of my wisdom teeth have similar defects and we'd be back year after year, so since I'm under, maybe we should just take all four. That seemed like a better option than doing this whole song and dance again so that was the plan.
But in the mean time, I had to wait until Friday, with my now split open tooth, in even MORE pain.
Thankfully, when Friday came around, the surgeon was able to put me under, get all four out and have me back around, all in about 35 minutes. But naturally, because I'd been anesthetized, Joey had to come and drive me home. Which was apparently pretty funny, since I just kept telling anyone who'd listen how pretty Joey is. The recovery period was utterly painless, and my mouth hasn't felt ANY pain since the surgeon put me under. So that was good.
September came around and I was able to get some more writing done, which was great, seeing how it had been tough writing anything between the conference, Covid, and my teeth. I was able to finish a draft of the sci-fi I'd been working on, and get that off to my editor, as well as receive Cryptids 2 from my editor and get it to a beta reader. The book is now in the third draft phase.
On top of finishing a book and drafting another, Joey and I went on our annual cruise vacation. Our friends Lauren and Andrew came with us and we had an amazing time.
Jump again to October, and I've felt like my life is still moving at a million miles a minute. I started working on notes for this year's NaNoWriMo. I'm pretty happy about it, actually. But I've also had a work conference. I sit on the board for that colleague group, so that was a whole ball of stress. And then last weekend, Joey and I took a mini vacation with some friends up to the Finger Lakes region where we toured so many wineries and pretended we were 21 again. Two and a half days of being wine drunk is a whole thing. But it was a great trip.
And that brings us to today. Today is National Coming Out Day, which happens to also be the day that I posted my first blog post ever, several years ago. It's a day, in some ways, of visibility. And I want to tell a quick story of something that happened at Once Upon A Book, that illustrates the importance of that visibility.
Early in the morning of the signing event at the conference, I had my table set up and some of those attending - readers, reviews, etc. - were just starting to enter the convention hall. As you can see from the image above, the PRIDE flag is front and center. I made this decision for a two reasons, one, so that people who were looking for queer stories could recognize it as a place to find them and so that those who don't want those stories could easily see that and know this isn't their bag without having a conversation that could turn uncomfortable for either of us.
As the attendees are entering the space, one young man, about 16 years old, makes his way around the convention hall and stops a few yards away from my table and just stares at me, before continuing his way around the space. Then he does it again, stopping and watching me. Then he does it again. And to be honest, I was preparing myself for some unpleasant conversations. After several loops through the space, the young man, starts stepping up to my table and I was braced for impact.
The young man puts his hands on the flag, smoothing it a bit under his palms, before he leans forward, across the table and whispers, "I thought I was going to be the only one here."
When I tell you my heart broke, I can assure you that those words fall short of what I felt. I told him that he's never alone. We continued, having a brief conversation before he moved along.
An hour later, the young man returns, this time with his mother. I wasn't sure what to expect, but any fear was quickly quelled when the mom thanked me for displaying the flag. She told me that he's always alone or afraid of being alone and that seeing someone proudly displaying the PRIDE flag and taking the time to have a conversation with him made him feel seen and included, like there was something to be excited about. They ended up getting all three of my books and before the convention was over, just a few hours later, the young man had returned again, more than half way through Thy Choicest Gifts and as in love with Sebastian and Rory as much as I am.
The conference was a huge success for me, multiple reviewer and readers; I sold out of Thy Choicest Gifts and Cryptids; and Opportunity wasn't far off either, but what made the whole thing worth it for me was the time I got interacting with that young man. If I didn't meet another person or sell a single book, it was all worth it to have that opportunity. It reminded my of just how important visibility is.
Being visible to the next generation of young, queer folks is massively important. We all know that feeling of being alone, afraid that there isn't anyone within a hundred miles who understands. And that loneliness is made all the worse when those lonely people hear refrains of hatred. The simple fact is that those comments and that loneliness drives far too many of us to the worst possible actions.
And not simply to remind each other that none of us are alone, but so that as other, non-queer people see it; it makes us seem less out of the ordinary; it shows them that we really are everywhere and we always have been. Queer visibility matters for each and every person, gay, bi, lesbian, straight, trans, cis, non-binary, queer gender, gender non-conforming, curious, and anyone else possible out there.
And so I leave you this National Coming Out Day with this reminder, as always:
You are seen; You are loved; You matter.
Last year, my Pride blog was easier to write. Something had happened that really fueled my thoughts on the matter. This year, it’s not that I haven’t had much to think about, but I’ve had a tough time finding the energy to write… anything.
I think that that’s okay. Sometimes, for our own health, we need to just rest; especially when we're feeling quite low.
And as we move through June, I’m rallying. I’m feeling better, and I’m starting to find my words again. Which is sorta important. I’m going to need them soon. BECAUSE CRYPTIDS IS COMING! I’m so excited! I’m really quite proud of it.
I’ll start by asking you. What does Pride mean to you? Why is queer Pride important to you? Even if you aren’t queer.
I can tell you what it means to me. For me, it’s a reminder. It’s a chance to look back and think about how far we’ve come, but it’s also a reminder of where we are now. We balance on a knife edge. Just because we’ve fought for our rights, and often won, in the US, we’re in an incredibly turbulent time, and it’s important to keep our eyes open, our ears open, and our will to fight for ourselves up. For as far as we’ve come, it can all be snatched away in a heartbeat.
It’s not just a call to memory or preparation for action, though. We have won plenty of battles so far, and while legal recognitions might be in danger, that doesn’t represent most of the people around us. That’s evidenced by the strides we’ve seen in queer representation in the media. We’ve gone from being the comic relief and other easily mocked characters to loved, central characters, the tellers of our own stories. Think of MASH and how Klinger’s tries to get out of the war was a comical representation and truly a mockery of queer identity. Jump ahead to the Golden Girls. I’m not knocking the Girls, God knows they're icons for queer rep, but that pilot episode is rough. With the live-in gay cook, ‘the fancy man.’ We started to make some head way with shows like Ellen, but even then, the fight to keep the show on the air because of the representation and queer identity showed how far there was to go. Then came the ground breaker, Will & Grace. It was funny, and yes, it made the effeminate Jack out to be comic relief, vain and vapid, but it also showed people the queer heart and queer love. Was it problematic? Oh God yes. But it started to lay the ground work. Jump to the 2000s and we get shows like Glee (still filled with problems, especially as the show went on) but we got representation of queer youth, albeit through an absurdist lens. And now we have shows like Heartstopper that highlights queer joy without sexualizing or traumatizing. Netflix’s Young Royal’s, Hulu/Disney’s Love, Victor, and Amazon’s upcoming Red, White and Royal Blue. We’re at a social milestone.
The fight is far from over, but it’s far from lost. We’re gaining ground every day. That’s something to be proud of.
Pride remains an act of social defiance, because we need it. It’s big, it’s outlandish, it’s absurd, it’s over the top. It’s a shout of ‘you can’t get rid of us.’ It’s a celebration and often exaggeration of how we’re different, and at the same time, reminding people, through the ‘extra-ness’ of it all that we're as human as they are. It’s an important call to us that each of us define how we live our own queer experience. We can live the white picket fence life, with two people and a dog, or we can live outside of the heteronormative expectations. We can conform if we choose to, or we can go against the grain. No matter what you choose, you’re living a valid expression of self. And that’s something to be proud of.
Pride is, for me, a protest against what some people say we should be, what we need to be, and it’s a celebration of ALL that we are, individually and collectively.
I’ve seen plenty of ways people try to define what it is to be queer. The common and simple LGBT, to larger and more inclusive LGBTQIAA+, and even further with silly monikers like ‘alphabet mafia’. Personally, I like queer. It’s a reclamation of a slur, it’s a ‘fuck you’ to everyone who would try to tear us down by using antiquated language for ‘different’ and accepting it as our own and shoving it back as ‘yep we are and it’s okay.’ I like it because it’s an umbrella, it’s a big tent. I like it because you don’t need to try and find a letter or a specific label. I like it because it lets each of us say simply we’re queer or say we’re queer and then further define it. It let’s each of us define our own queerness, it’s such a big place that it helps to keep gatekeepers at bay.
Pride to me is a chance to reflect on our those who fought the battles before us, who paved the way for our world today, the people like Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, Gilbert Baker, Cleve Jones, Oscar Wilde, Ian McKellen, Yair Qedar, Manvendra Singh Gohil, Alex Jurgen, and countless more.
Pride is a time to celebrate who we are, what makes us different – from non-queer people, and from each other, and what makes us all human.
Last year I talked about a young woman who asked me “When does being gay get to be fun?” and then proceeded to tell me how she felt duped, when I told her that queerness isn’t a party. I still find myself getting angry about it. I still find myself getting hurt about it. I try to tell myself ‘not my chickens, not my monkeys’ because it isn’t my responsibility to educate people. But isn’t it? Isn’t it my responsibility as a queer story teller to make sure that we all at least have access to the queer legacy, so that we can continue to have a queer future? To plant the seed, to make people ask what that legacy is, even if it's just to look at it from a 50,000 foot view?
That doesn’t mean we force folks to read biographies or history books or anything like that, but we can all make recommendations, simple things like ‘maybe you should take a look at what happened at Stonewall’ or ‘did you know there was a gay rights struggle in Philadelphia even before Stonewall?’ or 'take a look at Wilde or queer history.'
Queer folks have been there through every step of history and we’ll be there through every step of the future. And that’s pretty amazing to think about, something to be proud of.
Pride is also a chance to celebrate each other in the here and now. It’s for all of us, from the out and proud ‘elder gay’, to the scared kid who sneaks onto their laptop at three am and googles ‘am I gay?’ It’s for the quiet, academic lesbian, and for your trans neighbor who’s taking their first steps in their transition. It’s for the gay kid who just came out and has literally everything adorned in rainbows, and the bi kid who’s still figuring out that it’s okay to like boys and girls. It’s for your classmate or coworker who says ‘fuck it, I’m more than a boy or a girl, and I don’t need to define myself as the same every day, because I’m not.’ And it’s for the person who strictly identifies by the binary but still says ‘I’m queer.’ It’s for the two gay men holding hands with each other and carrying their newly adopted infant, and it’s for the polyamorous family who says their love is bigger than two people.
Pride is for every queer person in the world, even the ones who can’t be out or themselves.
Just because those around you won’t see, or maybe it’s not safe to be seen by those around you, to be seen for who you are, that doesn’t detract from your part in this community.
I’ve said before that in many ways, we come out every day. It’s an endless process. And even those who can’t in some way, need to be seen, not by those who’d do them harm and maybe not even by their community.
But they need to know they aren’t alone.
Pride is a celebration that none of us are alone.
That’s what it is to me. It’s a chance to see ourselves, reflected back in this vibrant community.
So, I ask you again, what does Pride mean to you?
And as always I want to remind you:
You are seen; you are loved; you matter!
Long time no see! Sorry that it's been a while since I posted anything here. It's been a busy couple of months, and that's okay. I hope you've all been happy and healthy. Are you reading anything good?
So anyway, here are a couple of updates.
Firstly, I'm really excited to share with you that The Cryptid Chronicles: Here Be Monsters is done! It's back from my amazing editor, Janel and it's polished and ready! (Honestly, if you're a writer, I suggest working with her. Cryptids would be utter crap without her!) So a couple of things to look forward to about Here Be Monsters. First, I'm really excited to reveal the cover for Here Be Monsters on Tuesday, March 15th at 6:00pm (eastern). I haven't decided yet if I'm gonna release it as a single whole, or put out squares of it throughout the day. But you'll have it all at 6:00 either way.
The next fun bit of Cryptids news is that you can start looking for it in June! That's right, after it being a file on my computer (okay, lets be honest, it's been on two desktops and three laptops) it's finally coming to you. It feels so surreal to say that. Anyway, an exact date will be announced soon, but June it is!
Next up, I've got a couple of events this year!
On April 9th, I'll be at the Dreaming Dirty in Michigan convention in Ann Arbor. I'm really excited; this will be my first, in person convention. It promises to be a lot of fun so if you're in the area, (or you travel for that sort of thing) search me out! Find me! Say 'hi.' I'll be happy to see you. (I'll be the one with the pride flag, rockets and a crown on the table!)
Then in July, I've got another convention. It's in Michigan again (what is it with Michigan and book cons?). This time it's the Once Upon A Book convention at the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth on July 22nd and 23rd! I'm super excited about this one with the 'Monster Ball' theme!
I'll be attending both cons with another author friend of mine, Victoria Perkins. Victoria's an amazing author who I've known for years. I highly recommend taking a look at her work! Janel is also gonna be with me too, so if you're looking for an editor, that's a great opportunity (see what I did there?) to chat with her face to face!
I'm so excited to get the chance to meet people face to face so if you have a chance, come out and see me!
Now for some things I've been working on. I've been super busy writing. In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you don't know, NaNoWriMo is a great challenge for writers where you try to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of the month of November. It's a really fun experience and it's got a great and very active community. I tried something new for this one; I tried a first person, sci-fi. Much to my surprise, I've actually really liked it. I didn't think I'd pursue anything with it, just use it as an exercise, but I'm really liking it. Enough to actually come back to it and fully develop it into a novel. Which is really exciting, so keep an eye open for some information about that.
On top of that, I've been doing some notes and reworking for my project The Greatest. Some of the premises have changed a bit, but over all, it's the same story.
Finally, the last few months and weeks have been tough for us all. The world is a frightening place, from the ongoing pandemic, systemic racism, a slew of ultra anti-trans laws (because let's be honest, this isn't a phobia, no one is actually afraid, they're just hateful bigots), and the situation in Ukraine, it's more important than ever that we stand up for what we believe in. But it's also emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting and painful, so it's also okay to take a step back and let yourself recover a bit. Every few weeks, I like to take a day and have a complete news black out to let myself sorta detox from the world. And sometimes, it's going to take more than a day. There's a lot going on, there's a lot of people who need to have their voices amplified and advocated for, but you can't help anyone else if you aren't in a place mentally to do so. So be kind to yourself. Give yourself some grace. Talk to friends about what you feel, seek out a therapist you like and trust and if you get told by a doctor that you need medication to help you cope, then by all means, take that damn medication. Above all take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
We've heard the refrain of "we're all in this together" a lot these last few years. It's sorta been a mantra for getting through the pandemic; but I'd encourage you to think about this in a broader way. We really are all in this together; not just the health crisis, but in this life and world together. We need to remember that. So be kind to others, be kind to yourself, and above all remember:
You are seen. You are loved. You matter.
Just a quick update. Last night I finished the first draft of the second book in the Cryptid Chronicles trilogy. It's still a long way from being ready, but this is the biggest step, and it's now behind me. Next step for it is a line edit, which is the absolute worst. But that's okay I won't start that till next year. I've got other things on my docket and before I can start tearing through it again, I need some critical distance.
So, I'll be moving on to another, project that I've been developing. But before even that, Nanowrimo starts on Monday. I've already got some really great ideas and notes so we'll see how that develops.
Other news is the first book of the Cryptid Chronicles, Here Be Monsters. A few friends are reading it as we speak and soon I'll get notes back. Then, it's off to my amazing editor, Janel Baker - Editor, for a final buff and polish. Here Be Monsters is right on track for an early 2022 release.
I'll be honest with you. It's strange, especially for my Cryptid Chronicles series. It took me ten years to get a draft of Here Be Monsters that I was happy enough with to call it done. Then another three years before I was comfortable with anyone else reading it. Now it's been read by Janel Baker - Editor and is in the hands of two other people I trust the book with. It's been a long road, getting from there to here. But I'm really proud of what the series is becoming.
By comparison Book Two of the trilogy took three years to write a first draft. It'll be another year before it's polished too but it's really coming along.
Book Three is still about forty pages of notes, and a wall mounted timeline but it's coming together too.
And there's plenty of other stories rambling around that I can't wait for you guys to get into.
Moral of the story, it's really, freaking weird to start seeing a long arc story that I've been buried deep in for more than a decade start coming toward it's conclusion. But it's also really and amazing feeling.
I guess, now that the second book is off to it's next stages, I'm feeling a little nostalgic about it. There's a big shift in Book Two and I love that for it. But there a long road still ahead.
Remember: You are seen; you are loved; you matter!
*Bonus points if you can point out the nerd lyrics in this blog post.
When Opportunity released, I told you guys how weird it was. I think a part of me thought I would find it a little easier when Thy Choicest Gifts came out. I guess I thought that seeing my name on the cover of a book would lose some of its weirdness after I had one out there already.
Boy was I wrong. When I opened the box and saw my name on the cover of TCG, my heart practically jumped out of my chest. And honestly, it still does when I see copies of Opportunity too.
A few months ago, I visited one of my absolute best friends, she’s mentioned in the acknowledgements of both Oppy and TCG. When I saw Opportunity on her bookshelf, I honestly felt sick to my stomach. This may have contributed to some copious beverage consumption, and eventually a drunk and rather crass inscription on the inside of the book.
Seeing how I still get that weird, nauseous feeling, I think that’s just something I’m going to have to get used to. Not seeing the book, but the feeling that comes with it.
And here we are today, almost two months after Thy Choicest Gifts became available. The words I’m getting from people who’ve read it have been overwhelming and I’m blown away. Friends, family and complete strangers have welcomed Prince Sebastian and Rory into their lives, even for a moment to love them as much as I have. And that means the absolute world to me.
But now we get to a sort of addendum part, which is really the point of all of this post.
When Oppy released, a few weeks later, I shared the music that inspired, drove me forward, and made me feel while I was writing. So, I figured maybe you’d be just as interested in the playlist I cultivated for TCG.
Some of it is pretty predictable, some of it is repeated as multiple versions of the same piece of music but each one brought me to a different headspace for the book, somewhere that allowed Sebastian and Rory’s story to flow a little better. Which earned each piece, repeats included, its own place on the list.
There were really two different tones the music set. One was the regality of what I was working on and the other was the more base emotions of Rory and Sebastian's feelings
For the more emotion based songs, I think Without Me is more Rory's song and I Wanted Him is Sebastian's in my head, very early on. Obviously, it was able to change to something a bit more upbeat.
I hope maybe this snippet adds something to the book or maybe just gives you a little insight into what I was feeling with the characters.
Remember: You are seen; you are loved; you matter!
Fifty two years ago, humankind reached the culmination of what President Kennedy called "the most hazardous, dangerous, and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked." An adventure that was crowned with the immortal words "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
(If that doesn't really make sense to you, it's because Armstrong screwed it up, he was supposed to say "That's one small step for A man...")
Despite the fact Opportunity (and it's WIP sequels) are works of fiction, NASA hasn't stopped its incredible missions in space. And as the Opportunity series makes clear, space exploration is a passion of mine.
From 1969 to 1972, NASA launched nine human missions to the moon. Six of which successfully landed allowing twelve men to walk on the lunar surface. But we haven't been back.
Since the end of the Apollo program, we've stayed in orbit, hugging our small, planetary island home. We haven't stopped. The International Space Station has been continuously manned, in Earth Orbit, for more than 20 years, but we haven't pressed out further than that Low Earth Orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972.
Readers of Opportunity will have seen my admiration for the ISS and the unique and incredible viewpoint it offers. It's an amazing, orbital lab and outpost, giving us the ability to run experiments that can't be done anywhere on the Earth's surface. And it gives us a view of our world that so few are able to see. A view that reminds us that borders are nothing more than made up lines, that we are one human family. It shows astronauts just how petty our squabbling is and how fragile our home is. But ISS orbits at less than 300 miles above the surface of the Earth. In the grand scheme of things, that's not very far. Especially when you consider that the Apollo missions that went to the moon went as much as 240,000 miles... one way.
Despite what has felt like a lull in our exploratory spirit, the brilliant minds at NASA are working hard to push on, preparing for humanity's next great adventure beyond our world. By 2024, NASA plans to put the first woman, and next man back on the moon. But the Artemis Project isn't just going back to the moon to make a few footprints, plant a flag and grab some rocks. No, Artemis will hopefully establish a long term lunar outpost, one that will help become a leaping off point to Mars and greater points beyond in our solar system!
"Humans are the most fragile element of this entire endeavor. And yet we go for humanity. We go to the moon and on to Mars to seek knowledge and understanding and to share it with all. We go knowing our efforts will create opportunities that cannot be foreseen. We go because we are destined to explore and see with our own eyes. We turn towards the moon now, not as a conclusion, but as preparation, as a checkpoint toward all that lies beyond. Our greatest adventures remain ahead of us.
We. Are. Going."
I want to start this by wishing everyone a Happy Pride!
Recently, I was reminded of how bad we are as queer people at teaching our own history both to each other and to our allies.
One of my friend's wife came out recently and filed for divorce. She said to me, probably thinking she instantly had me on her side as a queer brother, that everyone was upset with her, despite having an accepting family - she was not the first of her siblings to be 'family.'
The problem, you see, wasn't that she was finally living her authentic self, but that it felt solely performative.
She actually said to me "when does being gay get fun?" She wanted to know why she wasn't being congratulated? And she continued with " Isn't Pride a big party?"
She had had no clue why we celebrate Pride. And she seemed to think that coming out would make life simpler and easier. It had never crossed her mind the fight that each queer person I've ever known has had with themselves. I don't know a single queer person who hasn't cried themselves to sleep wishing and praying to not be different. And she didn't get the idea that coming out is a daily event. You don't just come out and be done, it's an event that happens every single day.
Begrudgingly, I took the time to have a conversation about what the struggle journey of self, coming out is. And I explained the history and protest Pride grew out of. I told her about Stonewall and to do her own research, that Pride is a celebration, it's an act of defiance and protest. It's a statement of 'you try to hide us, you want us to hide so you can pretend we don't we don't exist, well we're gonna be here as loud and visible as we can." It's an act of public protest.
She replied that she felt "cheated and lied to." It almost felt like she had gay buyers remorse. I was beyond angry and it took so much out of me not not lash out.
All of this to say that we need to do better, we need to teach our history, we need to remember that Pride is about celebrating that despite our oppressors, we thrive. We celebrate to show our queer brothers and sister that they have a community.
But we also need to do better. we are too exclusionary. There are our queer siblings everywhere, not just gay and lesbian. Trans siblings are as ever-present as the rest of our siblings and we need to remember that they are part of our community. We must love and support each other. And we must remember that we aren't the gatekeepers who define what one person's identity of self-queerness is.
This was a lesson that this experience reminded me. Despite my anger and offense at how this young woman decide to come out, and her misunderstands, I don't get to discount her. I can't say, 'you aren't in this community.' Only she can define what her queer self its.
So despite my anger at how she did it and if she is being true, it's not mine to define.
It's mine simply to be in community with my queer siblings; as it is for us all, and for me to simply remind each and everyone of you:
You are seen; you are loved; you matter.
I hope you guys have all had a brilliant spring so far. Or, at least a spring that's better than last year was and as wonderful as can be had in this late-stage Covid-tide.
I just wanted to give you a few updates, since I know it's been a little while since I unloaded my everyday carry on you.
First up is an announcement about Thy Choicest Gifts. If you've been following along on my Facebook page, or on Instagram, you'll have seen that I've finished the last bits of edits for Thy Choicest Gifts. It's been a little bittersweet because I know that it means that it's almost time for me to let these amazing characters go, to hand them over to you guys. Which leads to the next part. My cover artist will be getting me the finished cover for Thy Choicest Gifts soon which means I'll get to reveal it to you guys soon! I can't wait for you to see it, so keep a look out for it. That also means that I'll be giving you guys a release date soon. I'll give you guys that with the cover! But, I promise it's soon. Before the end of the summer.
That brings me to the next announcement. Just as I wrapped up Thy Choicest Gifts, I was struck with another idea. I'm not gonna give you guys too much information on that other than to tell you guys to keep your eyes open for some fun facts soon about the characters of Jase Grimm and Harrison Eklund as they start their adventure in Armageddon Boys.
Next is the news about the first book in the Cryptid Chronicles series. It's really come a long way from where it was more than 11 years ago, when Aiden and Adelaide were just sparks of characters. They've developed into people who I love more now than I ever did when I started working on them - or rather started working with them. Aiden and Adelaide have always been some of my most headstrong and free minded characters and I admit, more than once, they completely derailed what I had planned for them. But it's been so amazing to watch them grow. I'll be getting the draft back from my AMAZING editor soon and then I'll be making some tweaks. There are a few people who will get first looks, but the plan is for the first book to be in your hands in early 2022! Which is approaching way too fast! This also means that the second book in the series is really progressing and I think I'll have a completed and polished first draft by the end of summer, which is just... way too weird to think about. The first book took more than a decade, the second book will be about three years. Maybe book three will be a year! I doubt it, but stranger things have happened, the first draft of Opportunity took just under three months, and the first draft of Thy Choicest Gifts was five months. So I guess it's possible. Also, I've got a title reveal for the first book in the Cryptid Chronicles coming down the pike for you this summer too, so keep your eyes open for that.
Finally, I've mentioned this a few times now, but I've started working with an incredible editor, Janel Baker, who is helping to make Cryptid Chronicles the best series it can be. Janel is so incredible to work with both taking the time to understand my own process as an author but also to help make sure that plot bunnies don't steal the story. Cryptids has been such an undertaking over the past years that I can't imagine releasing it without ensuring that it's the best it could ever be and Janel is devoting so much to making sure that that's the case. She also didn't shy away when I sent her my list of WIPs (twenty-one projects at present) which, let's be honest, is an intimidating number, even for me, and it's sometimes tough to keep everything straight. That's why I've ALWAYS got my Story Supply Co. pocket notebook on me. But digressing a bit, Janel is going to be a huge help making sure my books are the best possible books for a long time to come. She's even started helping arrange my notes on Armageddon Boys.
I hope you all have an incredible spring. I know I've got a fairly loaded spring and I'll keep you guys in the loop on what that means. Talk to you soon, friends!
Hey friends! I can call you guys friends, right? We've had a few talks? We're in that place, right?
Anyway... Hi friends!!!!
It's been a busy few weeks. Lots going on personally and professionally. Thy Choicest Gifts is off to my close group of draft readers, my friends who I trust to give me some good feed back for the next (maybe final) draft; and the first book of the Cryptid Chronicles is now with my amazing new editor (more on that to come in a future post!)
On top of all of that, I got my first round of the Covid-19 vaccine a little over a week ago and I'm staring into the second does with anticipation!
But I've also been keeping up on my reading; books, blogs, all sorts of stuff. And now, I know that I'm A LONG WAY behind the trend here, but I've been looking at what I have with me all the time; the classic 'Every Day Carry' concept. I keep seeing an interesting take on it, that you can tell a lot about a person by what they have with them everyday; about what they prioritize to keep on their person and what is either necessity or important enough that it's worth the precious space in a pocket or bag, and the time and energy it takes to collect those items each morning. And that got me wondering; what do I carry with me? What does my 'Everyday Carry' say about me? Why do I choose to take those items with me?
So I decided to examine it and drag you poor saps... I mean... my precious friends along for the ride... So let's dive in!
Okay, first off, it's a little weird to see most of my whole day just laid out like that. Somehow it feels like a lot of stuff just dumped out but it also feels strangely vulnerable. Like almost every thing I dow is laid out there and it kinda feels insignificant. And I think that's okay. So... Wanna dive in and take a look? Let's go.
First off I guess we should talk about my iPhone, because... well it's rather ubiquitous. Data shows that of the smartphones used in the United States, 60.75% are iPhones. Not too bad if you own any Apple stock. Besides the obvious; voice, text, email... you know, the same boring crap that just about every iPhone user uses it for, I also keep a running tally of what books I'm working on and their approximate word count... ya know, just so I can wallow in the self doubt that I'll ever finish another book again... For those days when the crushing existential dread isn't enough.
At this point, I'm compelled to tell you that I've been taken prisoner.
Next up, I guess is my iPad. It's not a big deal, nothing special in terms of iPads. In fact it's a little old. It's a fifth generation! Gasp! But I mostly use it to read on and to do some research, so it's more than adequate for what I need (read* wants a new one...)
Next is my MacBook Pro...
First I'm gonna point out, that yes, I am one of those people who put stickers and crap on their computers. And before you criticize me, let me remind you that this whole post is about the concept of what the things we carry say about us, about how what we carry and how we carry it is an expression of self. Now you may mock me.
Now that we've all had a good laugh at my expense, let's talk about the actual computer. This is my favorite machine to work on (as you can see, I took this picture while writing this! You are looking at me talking to you! Take that shit, Christopher Nolan!) But in all seriousness. I love this computer. I wrote most of Opportunity on it, and nearly all of Thy Choicest Gifts on it.
You might have also noticed a theme here. All the tech is Apple... that's because I lovingly refer to myself as an iFag. I'm happily a member of the cult of Apple. Ok... next.
Okay, let's talk about my wallet. I've had this wallet for a while now and I love it. It from OCD Experience and it's the best wallet I've had (I've gone through a lot, I'm rough on them) It's got room for all my cards, a money clip and pocket behind the money clip (the pocket is holding my WHYY membership card. WHYY is our local NPR station and we're so happy to support them. You should check out your local NPR station and support them too, if you're able) We can also talk about the Starbucks gold rewards card, because yea, I'm that kinda gay.
Alright, so "one of these things is not like the others." To be perfectly honest, I didn't think I was ever the type of guy who would carry a 'multi-tool.' The whole idea seemed ridiculous to me... but I received this in a subscription box and thought, 'what the hell.' It's only the size of a credit card, maybe even a little smaller, so it's no real cost in terms of space or weight, and I can't tell you how many times I've actually used it. Granted, mostly to open Amazon packages or a Stella Artois, and if I'm being perfectly honest, I haven't a clue what some of those hole thingies are for, but hell, I'm sure I can come up with a use for 'em.
Okay, these are my two most commonly used pens. the silver one is actually a cheap, Zebra V-301 fountain pen. It's under $5 but it writes pretty nicely and it's the body of the pen is all metal. It's a great pen for frequent use. But ya know what's an even better pen? The blue one. That my friends is my Montblanc. Is it bougie AF? Oh hell yes? Did I pay WAY too much for it? Well let's just say that you people need to start buying books to pay for it (kidding, mostly) Was it worth the money? Oh fuck yes! I've never felt anything that writes like a Montblanc. It glides over the page with such amazing ease. Like Holy God! I love that thing. I mean, I probably wouldn't give up my first born for it, but... I'd probably take longer than I really should to consider it.
Okay this one seems a little silly. It's just a canvas little pen case, but I tend to carry more pens and little stickies and crap then there are slots for in a messenger bag or briefcase. I just shove everything (but the Montblanc) in there, toss it in a bag with the rest of my stuff and off I go. And it's cute, with the little quill and quote.
Right, it only makes sense that I should like to keep a notebook on me, and while I've got a few favorites that I love, just ask my friend Jesse, he got a whole, unsolicited review of about 30 different notebooks, in video format after a really simple question about which I prefer. This one is nice because it tends to lay pretty flat, which makes it a lot easier when I'm making rushed sloppy notes. Plus you can't tell me that you don't think this is a cute ass notebook.
But the thing is, I don't always like to cart around a full notebook... That's where the next item comes in.
Okay, this is my favorite pocket sized thing here (the Montblanc does NOT go in my pocket). This little guy is a pocket notebook inside of a leather notebook cover. It fits easily in my back pocket and is beat up a bit because I end up sitting on it but I love this thing. The notebook slips right out to be replaced. I prefer the dot grid format. I had to do some redaction there... You're not ready for those facts yet! Both the cover and the notebook are from Story Supply Company, a small company based in York, Pa. Check them out!
Okay, so this seems like it's a no brainer, but a flashdrive is kinda important. This one is just 2 gb.
This is the last thing, I think. This small case is great. It holds my MacBook and charger, iPad, all my gizmos and crap and was pretty affordable. I was given the patch and was like, "Hell yeah, that's goin' on there!" I can't think of much more to say...
Um... so yeah. I think that's about it. If I think of anything more I'll certainly update.
I'm not really sure what all this says about me, other than "WRITER!" haha, but I hope you enjoyed this weird little look into me... Talk to ya soon.
And remember: You are seen, you are loved, you matter.