Misc. Creative Projects

Pale Blue Dot

Voyager 3 gives a final violent shudder as it escapes orbit and falls into the gentle waiting embrace of zero-gravity space. Gyroscopes stabilize as the trajectory locks, the accelerometer hits zero as she hits cruising velocity, and Three hazards a glance away from the controls to gaze out the porthole. The lenses in her eyes quickly adjust to let her take in the full glory of her home planet, slowly sinking away behind her, and her central processor almost short circuits at the sight.

She knew it would be beautiful, but no pictures prepared her for the distant beauty of the swirling storm clouds over the familiar living land forms and finite sea. Not even a second passes before it shrinks out of view. Three waves back towards home anyhow. In that same second, all around the world, her siblings launch in a synchronized effort of the Intercontinental Space Alliance, joining Three in space. She wishes them a safe journey as her metal fingertips brush the glass.

Two seconds. She’s past Mars. Her ship doesn’t drift away. It soars toward Proxima Centauri at 56,996,441 miles per hour—over 1500 times as fast as the first Voyager probe, thanks to the nuclear fusion engines. Her creators joked they were “sending another star into space.” At this rate, she’ll reach her destination in approximately fifty years. These speeds are a record-breaking achievement of humanity, but at nine percent of the speed of light, the species is still learning to walk on a galactic species.

Their species. Fifty years is too risky to send one of their own, which is why they’ve sent Three and her siblings: advanced androids, modeled in the image of their creators, equipped with AI trained on the minds of past great astronauts, and archives of humanity’s current knowledge. Three and her kin are living golden records, carrying on their parents’ mission. She considers herself the legacy of both the engineers that created them, and the probes that came before.

Eight seconds and all systems work fine. Her trajectory doesn’t take her past Jupiter, but she flies by Saturn at fifteen seconds, rings glistening in the pale starlight. Three shouldn’t pick favorites, but she’s secretly pleased they chose her probe to pass closest to her second most beloved planet. Her internal fan stops whirring, anxiety and excitement stilling to a profound peace as she watches the planet shrink in the camera’s view screen. She readjusts the direction and focuses back towards home.

There! It’s barely a speck, but she can make out Earth among the scattered rays of sunlight. She snaps a picture before it disappears completely from her screens and sends it in the group chat – the deep space network of radio-receivers that allows the Voyagers to contact each other and their respective home bases at once. Responses ping in a moment later. Cuatro sends a shot of Mars, and Wǔ offers a glimpse of Jupiter’s Red Spot. Chaha and Sab’ah chime in with observations from the asteroid belt: one close to Ceres, another a wide-angle bird’s-eye view from above. A photo of Neptune comes from Agt, then an image of Pluto from Neuve. Finally, their own perspectives of the pale blue dot join Three’s in the log.

Forty nine seconds to leave the solar system. The incoming messages lag noticeably. Communications from home base, congratulating them and wishing them a safe journey, are the last correspondence to come through before the screen finally goes quiet, leaving Three alone with her thoughts. Four point three four minutes elapsed since leaving orbit. She officially leaves behind the first two voyagers, leaves all they ever knew: going not into the wild blue yonder, but into the wondrous realms beyond. Three holds her course. There’s a dark patch, the first of many, where the passage of the planets and the distance from the sun mean there’s no way to transmit signals for a short, terrible period. She punches in the phrase “goodnight”, knowing it will not reach them until long after she emerges. That’s alright. It’s not a goodbye.

She doesn’t want to think about goodbyes: about the ones they left behind, and the meetings they’ll never have again.

Three pulls up music to pass the time. They loaded her archives with most of humanity’s favorites, so she has her pick, but she presses play on the collection that her creators put together. Sam played music when he was teaching her how to conduct the chemical analyses needed. Ben sang for her as he constructed her wings, lenses, and most everything else. Misha hummed as she worked out bugs in the programming. Though Three never quite felt the connection to the songs herself, she “grew up” around music and playing these seems like the correct response.

Response to what? Three runs a diagnostic check, to find the gears stuttering in her chest, the sounds stumbling out of her voice box with a creak as she tries to sing along.

Emotions are not a new experience for Three. Her creators had wanted her to understand them, but this feeling is unfamiliar. She was never meant to stay on Earth with them. Her very purpose for existence was to be sent away to explore the far-off places that her creators could not. So why should she miss a place she was never destined to belong? Why should she ache to hear Ben’s voice again? She’s a Voyager. She should be thrilled!

Not homesick.

The blackout ends, and a message greets her immediately.


She wipes the streaks of oil leaking from her face plate, and types back.


This story is inspired by my experience trying to foster long distance relationships during “Zoom University” and the bittersweet prospect of moving away from my friends after graduation. One of the post-doctorates in my lab group encouraged me to write this story for submission to Nature Futures, and though it didn’t get into that magazine (I mean come on, it’s Nature), I still wanted to share it with all of you on my little ol’ corner of the internet. Thank you for reading.

I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing (and moving costs, yikes) by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Chatting · Writing Advice

Exploring Exoplanets

As writers, we’re always looking for cool new ways to develop our fantasy and science fiction settings. If you’re a scientifically minded type, this may be a blessing or a curse, as you catch worldbuilders’ disease, and try to justify all the things you want to add by the “rule of cool”. Alternatively, the incredible complexity of the natural world might leave you paralyzed, because for every weird trait you come up with, there’s probably already a creature that has it, right here on earth. I personally find it incredibly difficult to think of original new wildlife to put in my settings, when the oak trees in my backyard somehow never fail to awe me. Besides, I’m a physics and chemistry person by trade, not a naturalist.

So I’ve turned to alien worlds for inspiration – specifically exoplanets that NASA has already found and studied! Speculative biology is the branch of world-building in which you start from a hypothetical premise and then build a world from the ground up, considering how creatures and plants would adapt and evolve to fit in the setting you’ve created. In this post, I’m going to share some of my favorite exoplanet systems with you. Hopefully, it sparks some inspiration!

Trappist 1 – Habitable planets all on top of each other

This is my all time favorite TED talk, because it lets us listen to the music of the spheres. Sound doesn’t travel in space, and the planets rotations aren’t in a frequency that we can perceive so it would be impossible to literally hear their orbits. Even so, because the system is so well tuned, I imagine that people from one of these planets would be able to hear and make noises in a much different, much lower range than ours. This implies that the creatures might be incredibly large, or maybe even have a way to broadcast their communication in radio (light) waves that can travel in space, as opposed to sound waves. There might be networks of communication connecting individuals all around the planet, and even between planets. They might also develop religions centered on the idea of holy ratios, with their feast days falling in turn with the planet’s alignment. Imagine the mythological origin stories of a culture where each planet is a god. How come they move so closely and so perfectly around each other, and around their shared sun?

NASA makes posters from the “Exoplanet Travel Bureau”, treating these places like vacation destinations. In their design for Trappist 1, they show people coming together to watch the alignment, like the way we gather to watch eclipses on Earth. In the background, you can make out Orion’s belt to the left, and our sun, a pale yellow dot in the top right.

Proxima Centauri-b

This star is a closest neighbor and lives in the constellation Centaurus. It’s also a flare star, which means it is prone to random and dramatic changes in brightness. It’s also part of a triple star system, with stars A and B being much bigger and more similar to our sun than this little red dwarf. The exoplanet, Proxima Centarui-b is a rock planet a bit larger than Earth in the habitable zone of the red dwarf, and so it might have life.

Life on a planet with a flare star might be extremely harsh due to the sudden “storms” of radiation. Animals on this planet might exhibit melanism – a hyper pigmentation of their coloring to avoid being burnt by a sunburst, and learn to take cover during one of these events where the world gets bombarded with X-Rays.

Civilizations might primarily be underground in tunnel systems where they’re shielded from the radiation, and where the dim light can’t reach. What might a cave dwelling society look like and when would they hazard visits to the surface? What if they could generate energy from the bursts to drive their technology, or predict sunbursts, migrating away from where they’ll hit the planet hardest?

Tidally Locked Planets

This isn’t a specific exoplanet but it is a concept I think is cool. Tidally locked planets don’t rotate like ours does, giving us a day/night cycle with the sun evenly heating the world. Instead, their rotation is locked in place, so one side of the planet is always facing the star. This results in one side that’s a never-ending hot, and one side that’s left cold and dark, with a thin strip of habitable area called the “terminator zone” in a perpetual twilight.

Anyone living on a planet like this would have to live in that thin strip of land that isn’t lava, or a frozen wasteland, which would also make all of those civilizations fundamentally interconnected, because you have to pass through to get to the next town, there’s no way to go around. There might also be expeditions into the hot or cold side to get rare resources, or a rail network that goes all the way around the equator of the planet. Any creatures adapted to live closer to the hot side would need to have special equipment to cross over into the dark side, and vice versa. Think about how many dualistic philosophies we have in our world between day and night, and all the symbolism associated with that. How would society work differently with the planet literally split in half?

Thanks for reading! Do you have a favorite method of worldbuilding? I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Short Stories

“First Flight of Spring”

We reach the top of the ridge overlooking the valley where our village rests. In the distance, we can see our home. Asteroids pass above us, dappling the sunlight with shade, and this high, the air thins and the stars still peek through the pink clouds. The wind teases through our hair and under our folded wings. We stretch them wide, enjoying the ache of easing our stiff spine. Our fingers twine amongst the long grasses on our mane, gripping onto the sturdy anchor. Small white flowers bud on our branches. We whisper with a voice like a rustle of a breeze through new leaves.

“Just one flight?”

This quarter’s short story marks the 3rd installment in The Real World Sequence, and revisits Notos, a character previously introduced in my Writeblr Summerfest story called, “A Sea of Savage Stars.” It follows a young dragonrider who lives on an asteroid ring and is facing the difficult decision to continue her apprenticeship with their mentor, Boreas, or to stay home in safety and comfort. It’s about owning up to your mistakes, fresh starts, and family. You can read the whole story by signing up for my mailing list here!

If you’re not familiar with my newsletter, it’s a quarterly publication that includes an original short story or exclusive WIP update with each email. These are often more experimental works that play with unique POVs or formats, or develop the background of one of my existing novel worlds. When you sign up, you also get access to the entire library of previous stories, so if you want to catch up on what you missed, you can work through them at your own pace! Email is also the best way to contact me directly, so it’s great if you want to strike up a conversation or give me feedback. I plan to turn these stories into published anthologies in the future, but subscribers get the first look at them, early votes on decisions like merch designs, and priority for blog post recommendations. If you enjoy the work, you see on this site, be sure to check out the newsletter for more of my wacky ideas!

Thanks for reading! If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Short Stories

“The Edge of Infinity” Audio Drama

What is the most dangerous thing you can do?

What do you think of art? 

A digital painting of a pale woman with dark curly hair cut in a bob against a star field background with red blood splatters. She is knitting fabric in an intricate pattern, and the fabric is also woven with stars and splattered with blood. She smiles at the camera.

Last quarter, I shared a short script titled “Edge of Infinity” that asked some deep questions. It shares the conversation between a war criminal and her accuser in a prison at the end of the universe, and how they grow to understand each other. I grew to love the characters and didn’t want to leave them behind, so as promised in my last email, I enlisted my friend Sarina Socko to help me record it by voicing Merari!

Sarina is a triple threat singer, dancer, and actress, pursuing a career in the theater industry in California. She also participates in the punk/emo fashion and music scene, and makes DnD dice and jewlery. I’ve been best friends with her since I was 16 and she’s an absolutely delightful person. Be sure to show her some love and subscribe to her on other platforms!

Instagram: @seraphine_7378

TikTok: @Kavalan_Pulse

This audio drama is about 12 minutes long and is fully edited with background sound effects. Learning how to use Audacity was a fun adventure, and Sarina did most of the coaching for my vocal performance as Aella. It was a really fun challenge to branch out of a purely written medium, so I’m curious to hear your feedback! Click the link below to listen to a preview of this story.

If you’d like to listen to the full version, sign up for my mailing list at this link!

If you have any requests for website post topics, short story prompts, or would like to be interviewed for the blog, please reach out to this email ([email protected]) or shoot me a message through my tumblr or instagram. If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip on my Kofi or donating using the secure box below. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!


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“The Edge of Infinity”

Is the expansion of our universe not a lofty enough calling for you? I stitch together spacetime at the edge of infinity and pry open the rifts in reality with the bloody edge of imagination itself. I pair particles into atoms and expand existence through eons of exhausting, exacting labor.

Continue reading ““The Edge of Infinity””
Chatting · Reading Recs

Wonder and Wisdom: The Time Quintent

For a book that is included on every elementary recommended reading list and has been adapted into several feature-length films, I believe that A Wrinkle in Time is a criminally underrated book, and the rest of the series even more so. It’s difficult to explain my attachment to this series, but the unparalleled Madeline L’Engle created characters and a world in her works so interesting that I regularly reread and take inspiration from them to this day. So today, I want to write a tribute to my favorite children’s author. For readers, please take this as a wholehearted recommendation. For writers, this is my attempt to break down what makes L’Engle’s writing so impactful, so we can learn from her style and craft similarly beautiful works ourselves.

Continue reading “Wonder and Wisdom: The Time Quintent”
Runaways · The Laoche Chronicles

“Matter” – The Real World Sequence

The Traveller bites their lip and nods their appreciation. After a second’s hesitation, and without another word, they join the Keeper at the line and begin hanging the wash. Their fingers linger on the fabric, so soft and shimmering, woven from starlight and space dust. Her home traps so much light, so she spins it into threads. It’s satisfying for it to go to good use, and the robe looks lovely on the Traveller, their warm brown skin emerging from the amorphous golden-white wraps.

“Thank you,” the Keeper says. The last time anyone volunteered to help was eons ago. Two million, five hundred sixty-three thousand, four hundred and eighty-nine days ago, to be exact.

The Traveller nods again and drapes a sheet with deft, practiced movements. When they speak again, there is a wistful tone in their voice. “I used to help my mother with the laundry. We hung it outside in the summer, and by the fireplace in the winter. Fourteen sets of clothes, every week. I’m sure you can imagine how long it took to match the socks.”

“That’s the benefit of living alone in the bottom of a black hole. No one cares whether you match your socks.” The Keeper gives them with a conspiratorial wink, and hikes up the edge of her skirt just enough to show the different patterned footwear.

Continue reading ““Matter” – The Real World Sequence”
Chatting · Reading Recs

Awesome Adaptations: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Welcome back to the Reading Rec series, where I rant about my favorite books and talk about how reading and analyzing them can make us better writers! This month, I’m covering tropes and how to adapt them to different stories, and there’s no better genre for this than folktales. Because these stories are so ingrained in pop culture, everyone already knows the main characters, plot beats, and motifs, which makes them perfect to translate into retellings. Not only does this series have a great premise, it also has great cover design. Even if you’ve never read this series, you can guess the main character of each book.

Recommended Read: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer | Christian  Douglass Writes
There are new covers which are also awesome but these better illustrate my point. They keep a consistent minimal but dramatic color pallet, one with duller colors for the villain’s book, and an old fashioned elaborate font that looks like it came out of the Renaissance Fair.

This article will focus on the first book, Cinder, and will contain spoilers. At first, I tried to write this article by explaining the tropes out of context, but in the end they were worked into the plot so well that it was impossible. These books are fairly predictable in terms of overall plot by nature of being fairy tale retellings, but there are some interesting twists within the way they connect, so proceed at your own discretion if you’d like to read this series with a fresh view. Content Warnings for plague, fire/burns, mind-control, and fantasy racism. Rereading these books in 2021 is really interesting, because while they don’t predict every aspect of a pandemic, they still hold up in a lot of ways and the story and characters are as interesting as ever. I meant to skim the story to find the certain quotes I wanted to use, but ended up sitting down and reading the whole book in an afternoon!

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Chatting · Reading Recs

Perfect Prose: “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury

Today I’m covering a short story that may already be familiar to my American followers from our high school English classes. Ray Bradbury is the author of many famous dystopian, science fiction and fantasy works such as Fahrenheit 451, and I was introduced to “The Pedestrian” as the primer for our unit on that book. While most English classes focus on analyzing diction and prose, and I could have picked any of the countless pieces I had to dissect over the years, I picked this one because I remember how vivid it was, and how it was the first time I really understood the way words could be used to draw somebody into a story. 10th grade was the year I started seriously learning about the writing craft and working on my own books, and this was the first time I really read like a writer. The act of being able to pick apart a story and learn how it works and then using that knowledge to put your own stories together is a valuable skill that I need to practice more, and it’s what I’m hoping to share with you by doing this series of reading recommendations. So let’s see what we can learn together, shall we?

Continue reading “Perfect Prose: “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury”