Hoo boy it’s a hot one! I hope it’s a little more comfortable for you; right now, we are in the middle of an oppressive heatwave. The last few days it's been hovering in the mid-90s and it's going to stay that way until the weekend. I feel like I’m melting. But talking about the weather isn’t what any of us are here to do.
I didn’t talk about it in the last blog, all the way back in June, but if you’ve kept up on any of my socials, you’ll know that both books of my new ‘Spectrum of Stars Duology’ are out! Which is just freaking wild. I think I’ve said before that it was just supposed to be an experiment that got out of hand.
So here’s the background.
I loath first person narrative. I don't really like reading it, and I hate writing it. But, I always want to expand my abilities, to grow as an author. So as an exercise to do just that, for the 2021 NaNoWriMo I decided to experiment with a first person sci-fi. And really that’s all it was ever meant to be.
But when I actually started writing it, I found myself totally engrossed with what I was working on. I was averaging about five thousand words a day, and each one was dragging me in further and I just kept wanting to dive deeper. Then I realized I had an actual goal for this story.
I decided that it had to be a genuine war story, even if it was set in the distant future, it had to avoid the ‘chosen one’ trope, and it had to be an honest, not stereotypical, depiction of an autistic protagonist, and it had to be sex positive.
By the time NaNoWriMo was over, I’d written about one hundred thirty thousand words and had a draft of a story that, while pretty rough, was the start of a universe that I fell in love with.
I started doing some heavy worldbuilding and then updating the manuscript to fit with the background world I was creating. By the beginning of 2022, I was working on the one hundred eighty thousand word second draft and the story had become wildly richer than my original plan, and much more painful for me as a writer-in all the best ways.
The characters of Athlen, Fletcher, and Tierney had become incredibly dear to me, as did the rest of the Spectrum-verse.
Then came a conversation with my editor that twisted my stomach in painful knots. The newest draft was almost two hundred thousand words. And some scenes I loved really screwed with pacing. I tried a few different ways to work on the pacing and keep the scenes I wanted, but it just wasn’t working.
The solution was pretty clear. Some of those scenes had to go. It would serve the story best, both in thinning the word count and helping the pacing. As they say, ‘kill your darlings.’ So, I was ruthless with the editing for the next draft.
And it really was a better draft. But it still clocked in at almost one hundred fifty thousand words, and I wasn’t prepared to cut any more, especially now that the pacing was right. The solution was also pretty painful. The story, which I’d given the working title that ended up being used for the first part, The Stars Are Black and Cold-or simply ‘Stars’-would have to be broken into two parts. After a few more conversations with my editor as well as with a friend who’d been totally sold on the story idea from the start, I found that the story had a rather natural point that it could be split.
It did, however, mean that I had to totally rewrite the chapter that would become the last chapter of the first book, as well as the chapter that would become the first chapter of the second, so that they felt more natural.
Then it was time for another draft.
With the story now broken into two discrete volumes. I was able to knock out a polished draft of the first book pretty easily and send it off to my beta readers.
While it was in their hands, I started on a polished draft of the second book, which I was now calling ‘In the Shadow of Stars.’
By the time I got the first book back from all the betas, I was ready to send out the second book.
The beta comments were incredible and I was able to do another draft from them before handing it over to my editor again, and while she had it, I was able to get the second book back from betas and finish its draft for Janel.
Then it was done, and I felt like I’d pulled off all the goals I’d set up during that NaNoWriMo. All from a stupid exercise. And the whole thing still in the first person.
And by mid-June, the whole thing was out there.
I’ve really loved hearing what folks have thought about it. And I’m so proud of the ‘Spectrum of Stars Duology.’ And the thing is, the Spectrum-verse became so big in the worldbuilding phase that I think there might be more stories to be told, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
July started off pretty quietly, other than a little sad. I’d spent most of June getting ready for my favorite book event, Once Upon A Book in Frankenmuth, Michigan. They were sad preparations because this was to be the last OUAB and that was heartbreaking. The organizer had done an amazing job of creating an event that wasn’t just about the book signing, but was a community. Writers and readers alike got to know each other and to support each other.
On Thursday, the 13th of July, I woke up at 2:45 am to hit the road to Frankenmuth for the last Once Upon A Book. It’s a thirteen hour drive from Philadelphia, so I had a long way to go. I took plenty of stops along the way and met an author friend in Ohio (along with friends who were serving as her PAs) and we trucked off again, on the second leg of the drive.
The first day of OUAB is a big thing, registration, opening remarks, keynote speakers, two different panels, all sorts of stuff. Then a break before a dinner/ball/award banquet.
The whole first day had a much different energy than it had the previous year. Sure a bit of it felt like mourning, but there was also a general vibe of celebration. Celebrating what this had been.
At the banquet, that strange vibe felt even more present. There was a slideshow of pictures from the previous years that almost felt like an ‘in memoriam.’
Then as the award portion wrapped up, Stacey, the event organizer gave a little, emotional speech about what Once Upon A Book had been. She ended it with ‘so what do you do when you come to the end of a chapter like this?’
There were a few call outs from people, many of whom had held out hope that maybe we’d be back next year. One called out “start another chapter,” and another called out “turn the page.”
“Funny you should say that,” Stacey continued before this was displayed on the screen:
And then there were tears again. We were going to be back, not to Frankenmuth, but we’d be together again. The community, the family that is OUAB would continue.
I looked at my friend, Victoria Perkins, and almost in unison we both said to each other “looks like we’re going to Florida.”
Having this information made the second day of the event, the signing, an even more amazing experience. It was a general celebration without the looming feeling of ‘this is it.’
Last year at OUAB I felt like I’d made in roads and met some amazing people who I now think of as friends. This year was more of that, but it also felt like the nurturing of those relationships. Deepening the connections I’d made and making new ones. So far, both OUAB events that I’ve attended have felt life changing. I have no doubt that they will continue to change my life.
With OUAB 2023 over, it became time to double down.
Earlier this week, I finished the next draft of The Cryptid Chronicles, book two, and I’ve got a title reveal coming this fall (stay tuned), there are a half dozen new ideas I’m stewing on, on top of the dozen that I’m already working on!
No rest for the wicked.
And I’m fine with that, honestly. There’s not really anything else in the world I’d rather do.
Art is sacred, I think. It reveals truths about who we are, as observers, and, in my opinion, as human beings.
That means storytelling is sacred. All storytelling. The format doesn’t matter, from the great epics and high brow ‘literature’ to fan fictions posted online. The genre doesn’t matter. From adventures and high fantasy, to the smuttiest of romance novels; they all reveal deep truths about ourselves. They all tell pieces of the human story and build community and family. That is sacred.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to get to express ourselves, our art, in the form of stories get to be the voices of those truths. And damn it if that doesn’t feel like something amazing.
While at Once Upon A Book, I got to talk to people that love to consume those stories. They reach for them because they crave something. Sometimes it’s a change of perspective, sometimes it’s an escape from reality, sometimes it seems as simple as a means of entertainment. But I think at the very core of it, it’s because we all crave to experience those truths that stories reveal.
Last year, I got to have a life changing conversation with a young man about queer visibility. This year I was proud to be more visible as a gay man, as well as to have dozens of conversations about queer visibility, about possible responsibility as a queer person for the next generation, and about representation. I got to have conversations about our art and about nurturing our artists within, and about the value of art.
Art is one of those incredible places where we are seen, it's the soul of society. It’s the very spirit of us as a race. It is inestimably important and therefore, priceless.
Art costs time, effort, talent, and money. And it deserves all of that.
Over August, I was able to build up the list of subscribers to my newsletter, The Write Stuff (if you aren’t subscribed, please consider it. I promise I won’t bombard you with crap.) Over the next several newsletters, look out for new artwork based on folks and scenes in my books.
I hope that for each and every one of you, the summer is special, is life-changing and soul feeding. I know that OUAB did that for me and I can only hope the summer keeps going that way.
For the next few weeks, I’ll be doubling down even harder, getting more and more of the final book in the Cryptid Chronicles done. Which, is weird in and of itself, but that’s for a different post.
I hope you are all well. Stay safe, stay cool, take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.
And always remember:
You are seen, you are loved, you matter.
Here we are again. PRIDE 2023. In some ways it feels like it PRIDE 22 was just a few months ago and in some ways it feels like it was a decade ago.
I admit that I've put this post off quite a bit this year. I've been really struggling to come up with what to say this PRIDE. I don't know why PRIDE posts can seem so difficult. I rarely feel like I'm at a lack for words. Last year's was difficult too but it still was easier than this year.
And then, as I showered this morning, a seed of an idea started to blossom, and it was watered by the hot waters of my shower.
I think I'm coming to realize that each year, the "why" of PRIDE is little different for me. Last year I talked about the strides we've made in terms of queer representation in the media. The year before was more of a response to a single situation.
This year, I want to talk about what in the 'queer world' that makes me feel PRIDE.
I don't talk much about my husband on here, mostly because I want to respect his own privacy. But since I'm talking about things that make me feel PRIDE, I'm gonna dote on him for a moment.
My husband, Joseph, is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. And I know. I know. The word 'evangelical' is pretty terrifying for a lot of queer people. But this is one of those places where the real meaning of words matter. The ELCA is not a fundamentalist evangelical church, even if the 'E' is for evangelical. In fact they've been ordaining gay folks since 2009. (And had an outside procedure called "Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries" to help ordain gay pastors even before that.) Any way moving on. This year, Joey's synod held a PRIDE event on the 1st of June. They invited Joey to be the guest preacher!
Now, this is the part where I'm a bad husband, because I actually didn't go to the event, I stayed home and packed for a whirlwind trip to Chicago that we left on the next morning at an ungodly time.
But despite the fact that I didn't go, knowing who my husband is, and knowing how he preaches, I know that it's given me a feeling of PRIDE.
Next up is a friend of mine. Who is also a pastor. And some of you might actually know who he is! A few years ago, the Netflix show, Queer Eye, spent an entire season in Philadelphia. If you watched that season (season 5) you'll no doubt remember the gay pastor, the Reverend Noah Hepler. Well, Noah is a friend of mine. I'd go so far as to call him one of my best friends. I watch the following Noah has and how he engages with folks on social media, as well as when we talk or get together. Despite the trolls and those who try to tear him down, Noah always deals with those situations with dignity, and a level head. Seeing how he deals with that and how he maintains his beliefs gives me the PRIDE feeling. Also, those of you who watched the show know he was working on his PhD. Well, he finally got it.
Both Joey and Noah are shining examples of faith and sexuality not being at odds, but being interwoven.
Another is my editor, Janel. Janel works an incredibly difficult job as an educator. And then after teaching, reads my mess of drafts and manages not to wring my neck or the students. Janel is a brilliant mother who puts every ounce of energy into be the best mom, professor, and editor possible. Janel is a brilliant example of queer parenthood, of a queer teacher, and honestly, one of my very best friends. Janel makes me feel PRIDE.
But the things that make me feel that queer pride aren't just the people I love. They're people who I've never met, people who I'll never meet. Stories of kids standing up to their school boards to protect queer books. Young queer actors who live their lives genuinely and authentically, who tell queer stories that we deserve.
I also feel PRIDE when I listen to straight members of my family. Members who have learned so much about queer life in order to understand queer loved ones. I feel PRIDE when I open my professional Facebook page and I see all these amazing author colleagues making Pride posts and celebrating queer diversity.
I'm gonna tell a quick story now. It happened several years ago. But when I think about it, it gives me the feeling of PRIDE. My cousin has a young son (well actually now she's got a whole herd of kids). Joey and I had gone back to Ohio for a visit, about two years after we got married and moved to Philadelphia. We were with my aunt and my cousin (this aunt is also the cousin's aunt, not her mom) I was in the front seat of the car with my aunt. Joey, my cousin, and her son (who is maybe 6 at the time) were in the back seat. He asked her "Mommy, are you and daddy married?" My cousin says, "no we aren't." He thinks about it for a moment. "Is uncle blah and blah blah married?" Again my cousin says no. "Okay, what about Mark and Joey?" She answers yes and thinks about it before laughing and saying 'if that doesn't blow up 'traditional values'' and we all laughed. Years earlier the same group of us were in the car, and the same son of my cousin looks at Joey and me and then says "Yoey, are you Mark's girlfriend?" Now, we all laughed about it for a second and my cousin said "Joey's a boy so he's Mark's boyfriend but it's the same." He smiled and simply said "Okay!" Regardless of not fully getting the language of it, he was able to recognize the relationship and his mom had done a great job of making sure it was simply normal - whatever normal means. The idea of two boys or two girls in romantic relationships wasn't something he ever questioned. Now fast forward a few years, just after Opportunity came out. This same cousin messaged me to tell me that the son had been suspended from school for a day because he slapped a classmate who was making fun of a queer classmate. My cousin wasn't angry with him. And yes, I know, violence isn't the answer. I get that, but damn it, some times you've just gotta revel in homophobes getting smacked around a bit. That all made me feel PRIDE.
Here's another one. Alan Turing. Plenty of people know that Turing is considered the father of modern computers. It was his work that helped crack the Nazi codes in World War II. Turing was also a gay man (and isn't that delicious that Nazi codes were cracked by someone they hated!)
Another one for you. Since you guys already know how much I love space and the space shuttle. Sally Ride. In 1983 Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman to go into space on the shuttle Challenger. And while Dr. Ride chose to keep her personal life private, when she passed away just a few years ago, her obituary confirmed that she had been in a monogamous relationship with the same woman for 27 years, making Doctor Ride not just America's first female astronaut, but the first known queer person in space.
But science isn't the only field where queer people exist that make me feel PRIDE. Writing is filled with queer folks who've mastered the use of words to paint incredible pictures, either with books, screenplays or with songs. The first that come to mind are the likes of Oscar Wilde, Lee Daniels, Russel T. Davies, Alice Oseman, Christopher Isherwood, Steven Sondheim (caveat: I am not a big fan of Sondheim, but his contributions to music and theatre can't be overlooked), Albert Atlee, Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera, Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Colfer, Sir Elton John, James Baldwin, Emily Dickenson, Allen Ginsberg, Larry Kramer, Terrance McNally, Jonathan Larson, Wilfred Owen. The list goes on and on. This is just a miniscule sampling of the contributions we've made to story telling.
And then there's singers and actors. People like Elliot Page, Matt Bomer, Ben Whishaw, Janelle Monae, Sarah Paulson, Kate McKinnon, Titus Burgess, Wilson Cruz, Lee Pace, Yazmin Finney, BD Wong, Samira Wiley, Billy Porter, Sam Smith, Sir Elton John (again), Tig Notaro, Lavern Cox, Troye Sivan, Joe Locke, Rock Hudson, Anthony Perkins, Kit Conner, Jonathan Bailey, Sir Ian McKellan, Jodie Foster, Stephen Fry, Olly Alexander, Jane Lynch, Freddie Mercury, Rufus Wainwright and more and more and more.
These lists are in no way comprehensive.
My point with this is that we are at the cutting edge and forefront of every major field. We've revolutionized the world, fought tyranny, and we've contributed to global culture, and in many cases, created it.
This makes me feel PRIDE.
PRIDE in who we are, PRIDE in what we've done, PRIDE in what we're doing, and PRIDE in what we will do.
So let's have PRIDE in who we are, and what we've done.
But also, let's keep talking about it. What queer person makes you feel PRIDE? Seriously, I'm truly asking. Comment!
Keep your PRIDE about you, not just in PRIDE month, but always, because only you can be you. And that's something to be proud of.
And above all, remember:
You are seen, You are loved. You matter.
Well, well, well! Fancy seeing you here again, Friends,
It's been a wild few months since I'd posted anything here. So far in 2023, I've finished edits and getting betas for TWO that's right two, new books! (Ok so that's a technicality, it's a single story that I sliced up into two books. But still, two books.)
Joey and I took a mini trip down to Rehoboth Beach for a night to just disconnect from all the craziness around us, and spend time just us together. It was a great night.
We've had a couple weekends with visitors. In fact, we hosted a get together we called our 'toxic exs' party. We watched the musical, stage version of the Heathers, and made drinks that representing exs. I served simply a shot of bitters - because short and bitter. That's all I'll say! haha.
I also spent time and set up my welcome email, and started working on how I'm going to do newsletters! You should totally sign up!
The next few months for me (possibly the rest of the year) are going to be pretty busy too.
On May 2nd, the first book in my new sci-fi duology releases. And just five short weeks later, on June 6th, the second part will come out. Yup, rapid releasing that. Partly because I'm trying something new with releases, and partly because I'm really excited for everyone to experience the full story.
I've connected with this one on a level that I'd never expected. It was only supposed to be an exercise. I'm not a big fan of writing in the first person. I feel so limited by it. Third person give more scope. So for 2021's NaNoWriMo, I decided to experiment, to do something to grow my writing abilities. Every new thing is a learning experience, right? Well, the story that I started, which was supposed to be rather short, at most 55K words, hooked me. I became absolutely addicted to it and because of the nature of the story, the limits of first person actually made it easier. I ended up falling in love with the characters and just kept writing! I wrote more than I'd ever planned to for it and realized I'd stumbled into a story that I now needed to tell.
Once I'd decided that this was a project I wanted to actually develop and something I'd commit my energy and time to, the word count exploded, and I found that I'd set subconsciously set goals for the story. I decided I wanted to tell an authentic autist's story in a war. I wanted it to not be the story of the quiet kid with autism being like a superpower, and I didn't want it to boil him down to just the autist. I wanted to tell a story about the horrors of war but leave some small sliver of hope. I wanted to tell a sex positive story that had romantic elements that wasn't a romance, and I wanted to avoid the 'chosen one' trope.
And I think I succeeded. Even if it went from 50,000 words to 130,000 words.
After many conversations with my editor and a friend who I'd inundated with snippets and ideas, it became clear that it was too much for a single book, and it had a natural breaking point to split the story. So I re-worked some of it make the break fit.
And now it's done. Now both books are done and they're coming down the pike fast. The Stars Are Black and Cold is just over two weeks away. The second part, In the Shadow of Stars, is just five weeks after.
So, here goes nothing.
After the book release, I've got Once Upon A Book coming in July. I really, really can't wait for that. Last year was my first year at the event. And yes I was there with a MASSIVE toothache, and yes I did end up getting COVID while I was there, but honestly, given the interactions I had, it was worth it. It was so worth it. I got to meet readers and reviewers and other incredible authors. I met folks I'm proud to call colleagues, and even happier to think of some of them as my friends.
And I know this year is going to be even better! So yeah, I can't wait.
**Side note: Once Upon A Book is going to be held at the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth, MI on July 14th and 15. If you have the time to travel up there, or are in the area and want to attend, please let me know. As an attending author, I get a few free tickets! Click here and send me and email.**
After Once Upon A Book, I get a week to decompress - alone. The day I get back from Michigan, Joey leaves for a work conference in Arizona... in July. Because that's going to be a comfortable week...
Then, one of my best friends is coming to visit for a week. Jesse is a writer too, and as much of a history nerd as I am, so we'll have a good time of it while he's here, writing and nerding out over history, watching one of our favorite queer shows (which will hopefully have season 2 out). And all around being idiots. It'll be a great way for me to take a break from the crazy year, for just a week.
After that, things will pick up again. I'll be refocusing on the next draft of the third Cryptids books, and all while gearing up for the summer 2024 release of Cryptids II.
Then in September, we're going on an incredible vacation. We're off to the UK, and then an amazing transatlantic crossing on the way home. This trip is our way of celebrating our ten year anniversary.
Part of why we like cruising is because when you're at sea, it's much easier to disconnect. Much more difficult for people to get a hold of you and even if they somehow can, there's nothing we can do about it. It forces us to actually relax and be on vacation.
It'll also be important to me because I'm a Titanic researcher. We're going to be staying in the hotel that used to be the offices of Harland and Wolff shipbuilders in Belfast. H&W built Titanic. So that's going to be a massively emotional experience.
Once we get home from our trip, I'll have VERY little time to prepare for NaNoWriMo which will consume November.
Then the holidays.
Like I said, the rest of the year is a wildly busy period for me. And that's okay. I know how to take care of myself (even if I don't always take my own advice), and I've got a great group of caring people who are my found family.
I can't wait to see what the rest of 2023 will bring, throughout all these amazing events.
Even with it being as busy as it is going to be, one of the most important things for me (and all of us) to remember, other than taking care of ourselves, is to stay ourselves. Don't let ourselves get so caught up in the fast paced lives we're in, or the projects we're working on, or the people we're surrounded by, that we lose ourselves.
Our universe is 13.5 billion years old. There are 200 billion trillion stars in the universe (yes that's billion trillion. Not a mistake). Each of those stars could have dozens of worlds. And there are literally unknowable amounts of worlds that could have life. It has taken 5 billion years for our star to get to its age, and 3.7 billion years for life on Earth to get to this point. And yet, among those incomprehensible numbers and despite the infinitesimally small possibility, you are you and you are the only you. You are the culmination of billions of years and nearly infinite permutations and chances. And regardless of if you believe in a god of some sort or if you believe purely in science, if you're a person of any faith or a person of none, you are exactly how you are. And who you are is infinitely valuable. Because mathematically, there's no reason for any of this.
And yet, in this moment, in this strange equation of possibilities, you're you, and you're the only one there is. And I'm me, and I'm the only me there is.
Maybe the age of the universe, the number of stars and planets and all those incredibly absurd numbers and possibilities might make you feel small, I know when taken for just that, it makes me feel small, but in the end, the perfect chain of events occurred to create each and every one of us. A chain of events that created each of us differently, and unique. We are one human family, yes. But we are also each special, and different, and amazing, and beyond value.
And to know each other, even through these small windows on a computer, and to consider you friends and family, is a gift of the highest order.
You are important, to yourself, to those around you and to me. You're a gift, created by an infinite number of events going back 13.5 billion years. And now two person's events are the same.
Because you are important and special and unique, be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself. Take the time, in the middle of the craziness of work and projects and vacations and travel and everything else going on in your life to take a deep breath, look around even for just a moment. Value each moment, because like you, it's unique and it'll never come again.
Know your value.
And because those around you are important and special and unique, be kind to others, take care of each other. Love each other.
And as always remember:
You are seen. You are loved. You matter.
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."