Chatting · Reading Recs

Book Review: The Steampunk User’s Manual

Synopsis: Steampunk, the retro-futuristic cultural movement, has become a substantial and permanent genre in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. A large part of its appeal is that, at its core, Steampunk is about doing it yourself: building on the past while also innovating and creating something original. VanderMeer’s latest book offers practical and inspirational guidance for readers to find their individual path into this realm. Including sections on art, fashion, architecture, crafts, music, performance, and storytelling, The Steampunk User’s Manual provides a conceptual how-to guide that motivates and awes both the armchair enthusiast and the committed creator. Examples range from the utterly doable to the completely over-the-top, encouraging participation and imagination at all levels.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars – Not what’s advertised, but still a good read.

I picked up this book at a Renaissance fair, in preparation for running a Treasure Planet inspired DnD Planescape campaign. I was hoping for a history of the steampunk genre and a primer on the main tropes, cliches, and foundational works of the movement. As an engineer who works at a maker space. I was also hoping it would live up to its self-proclaimed title as a “how-to guide” full of projects. Shame on me for not reading it more thoroughly in the shop, but I flipped through the pages full of bright, glossy photographs, and marched to the front counter without a second thought.

Don’t get me wrong – this book partially covers those topics, and I quite enjoyed those parts. But this book, in truth, is a collection of interviews with artists, musicians, authors, performers, and costumers talking about their craft and their relationship to the concept of “steampunk.” You can learn a lot from reading about their process and if a certain piece of work catches your eye, you can check out their work to learn more. It’s a convenient multimedia collection, best suited for a coffee table, not a textbook.

That being said, this is a delightful picture book full of oddities and curiosities of all kinds and I had a really fun time reading through it all the same. The most interesting aspect of the “steampunk” genre, at least to me, is the broad spectrum of opinions regarding “practicality.” On one hand, it’s an aesthetic, with form prioritized over function, and the look attracts many people to the subculture. It’s supposed to be fun and undermine convention, and if it’s impractical, then that’s all the better, right? But it’s also inspired by real steam-powered technology, and vintage sci-fi dreams of submarines and airships. Aren’t the glued-on gears a cliche, completely defeating the purpose of moving, ticking, living clockwork? Or is the stationary adhesive saying something profound about societal systems? It’s an interesting question I hadn’t really considered before, and while my intro can probably tell you which side of the isle I fall on (as I slowly push the “science is art and art is science and both are magic” soapbox away), I still appreciated the opportunity to read the alternative perspectives.

The book is separated into chapters based loosely on artistic medium: Art and Making; Fashion, Architecture, and Interiors; Storytelling; and Music and Performance. Each chapter has sections on finding inspiration with tips from creators of that type, various interviews, advice on developing your skills, a DIY project or two, and some essays on the philosophy of Steampunk. You do not need to read these in order or in their completeness to enjoy the book, but as a whole, it gives a comprehensive summary of the current genre as it existed in 2014 when the book was published. I would be curious to see a 2nd edition, talking about how the genre has developed in almost a decade. When I was 13, my parents still used flip phones, and I was strictly forbidden from touching social media, except educational YouTube videos. I can only imagine how much the boom of the internet has changed the community, with creators being able to make a living for themselves from Instagram, self-publishing breaking down the gatekeepers in the literary world, and the pandemic fundamentally shaking up how live performances were done. I am also curious to see how the themes of steampunk have reacted to current and developing issues of digital privacy and the pervasive role that technology plays in our world today, especially in the Zoomer generation.

All in all, I’m glad I read this, and it informed me about a genre I’ve been interested in exploring for quite a while. If nothing elese, it’s a fantastic well of inspiration for interesting tangents and trains of thought.

Thanks for reading! Are you involved in the Steampunk Community? What are your thoughts? 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!

Chatting · Monthly Goals

2022 Year In Review

Top Posts of the Year

  1. How to Finish What You Start
  2. How to Write a Fighter
  3. What I’ve Learned Writing Short Stories
  4. My Beta Reader Experience
  5. The Sea of Savage Stars

Reading Goals:

Goodreads: I failed this goal at 30/35 books. I take issue with goodreads as a system however, because I think reading ought to be counted by word count. It tracks “books” and pages, but formatting can wildly change the number of pages that a story takes up: from edition to edition and book to book. Of these, 8 were short stories, 4 were nonfiction, 5 were podcasts (the seasons of The Magnus Archives, which should count as short fiction anthologies), 8 were rereads, and 6 were indie publications. If you want to friend me on Goodreads, you can find me here! I’m also planning to start using Storygraph more consistently in the new year, so you can find me there!

Beta Reading: I finished two works by my fellow writing friends: Order of The Sun by @writeblrfantasy on tumblr, and Dreams Shadow by Quinn Siarven

The Inklings Challenge: I did not finish catching up on all the stories that were shared because there were SO MANY, but the ones that I did read were excellent. The Inklings Challenge is a month-long writing event for Christian authors of fantasy and science fiction, inspired by a real challenge attempted by the original Inklings writing group. For this tumblr challenge, participants were randomly sorted into one of three groups, with each assigned to a different type of speculative fiction story inspired by their namesake. You can read them all here!

Website/Author’s Platform Work:

    Scheduled for the Year, Writing, and Publishing Posts on a Consistent Weekly Basis: This was a mighty feat, as I was SUPER busy and scraping the bottom of the barrel for new ideas. Each post takes at least an hour to draft, and often another hour or more to make sure all the links are embedded properly, the metadata in tags, categories, photo, and summary are up to date, and making social media posts to go along with each post. It’s a labor of love, and one I am very proud to have kept up for two full years and counting.

    Fixed WordPress Tags and Cleaned Up Old Posts: I had over 100 posts up by this summer when I did this maintenance, and they were a disorganized mess. The archive should me much more navigable now! You can browse my most common topics by clicking any of the links in the cloud below!

    author interview author platform book review changelings character development Character Introduction children's literature classics creative writing creativity editing education epic fantasy fairy tales folklore free short story high fantasy indie author indie books magic magic system middle grade fiction Monthly Goals my writing newsletter outlining plotting productivity reading recommendation Runaways science fiction short story siblings Storge story structure the count of monte cristo The Laoche Chronicles WIP excerpt work life balance worldbuilding Writing Advice writing community writing goals writing resources writing tips

    Did Major Redesign and Blog Update: If you remember my old theme, no you don’t. It was rather boring and minimalistic, difficult to navigate, and very amateur looking. The new design is much cuter, I think, and hopefully easier to get around for a new user. As my hosting renewal expired (more on this later), I also made the choice to upgrade my plan, which gave me more substantial analytics on search criteria, and a bunch of backend tools to help with caching so the site can load quicker. This was a huge job that I had been meaning to do for aggeeesss and I’m very happy with my new home!

    Interviews: These were less frequent this year, but I’m super excited about the two indie authors who agreed to appear on the blog! Faye Fite is a fantasy writer I’ve admired for many years, and R.K. Ashwick is a good friend of mine on writeblr!

    First ARC Review: R.K. was also kind enough to let me review her debut cosy fantasy novel, The Stray Spirit.


    I’ve resisted this for a while because while I’m not by any means rich, I’ve been blessed to find work through school and internships that pay well enough to cover my bills and my schooling, and my parents let me live at home over breaks. I have enough income that I would prefer to donate it to other creatives instead of trying to crowdfund, when I don’t need the money to survive. It leaves a nasty taste in my mouth to think about competing with other people who urgently need funds for stuff like rent, utilities, and groceries.

    But it occurred to me that self publishing will rack up enormous costs I cannot currently afford, even with my reasonably stable financial situation. Hiring (at a living salary) a cover artist, illustrator, professional editor, and formatting services, paying for the ISBNs, and maybe setting aside a small budget for giveaway copies and advertising, can run up to thousands of dollars. Also, it would be nice to have some compensation for how much time I spend maintaining my website, because it’s almost a part-time job. 

    Then, renewal came up and WordPress, unannounced, killed the version of their hosting plan my website was on. I ended up switching to a plan that’s twice as expensive, at $8 a month, and gave me some nicer customization, as well as the ability to monetize the site through a donations box or ads. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t let me use many of the useful plugins that make WordPress work effectively, and the plan that gives me free access to the plugin library runs at $15 a month, which is prohibitively expensive. Domain prices are being raised in the new year as well. To my mind, the higher operation cost justified the choice to monetize this site. I briefly ran some unobtrusive ads at the bottom of my posts, but in the 5 months I had them enabled, I made less than 50 cents, and they can only pay you after you reach $100. This was, quite frankly, ridiculous, and unachievable, given my current view statistics, and I disabled them because nobody likes ads.

    My alternative solution is now opening a Kofi donation “tip jar”, and a sticker shop! If you want to support my work here, and help contribute to my publishing fund, I would dearly appreciate any amount ❤

    Mailing List/Short Stories

    This year, I put out three unique new short stories to the subscribers on my mailing list. “Brigid’s Visits” follows a minor character from Runaways. Brigid is a friend the girls meet in the Seelie Court and she leads a group of “powers” – humans the fae gift with phenomenal powers. This story follows her adventures through time with a few familiar spirits. “Half-Switched Siblings” is a split-POV story told by the Semivera twins as they attempt to find their way to each other again. “Edge of Infinity” is a short script: a conversation between an artist and her prosecutor arguing about the nature of her crimes. This final script is also accompanied by an audio drama! Merari is voiced by my friend Sarina Socko (Instagram, TikTok). I voiced Aella and edited the audio with sound effects.

    If you want to read any of these stories, you still can! When you sign up for the mailing list, you get access to the full backlog of fiction. I plan to put out a collection of these shorts eventually, when I’ve accumulated enough material, but subscribers get the first look! In addition to these, I wrote “To Light and to Guard” for the Inklings Challenge, which you can read on the blog, here.


    Storge: I did a full read through at the beginning of the year, and rewrote chapters 1-4, I think. It’s been several months, and I honestly lost track of which scenes I’ve edited 2, 3, or 6 times by now. I put the rewrite on pause so that I could re-outline the series, as I’ll discuss next. I realized there is a cyclical element to working with a timeline: if I change plot points at the beginning, it will obviously alter the order of events following that book, but this also works in reverse. If I alter the endgame of a story, then I have to change everything that comes before so the plot twists are properly foreshadowed and the character choices make sense to the reader. Storge will continue being a work in progress alongside the rest of the story.

    The Laoche Chronicles: Backstory time – once upon a time, baby, 14-year-old Etta, invented a fantasy world “heavily inspired” by her favorite stories. This original version had my own flair, with the protagonist being physically trapped in a book as a moving living illustration, but much of the surrounding plot and supporting characters I chock-filled with cliches and unnecessary drama. Over the years, this vision evolved and grew, until the thumb drive storing ALL my notes got stolen in high school. This forced me to rethink what I wanted to do with the series, and I went back in time to develop the prequel – which took 6 years to become Storge – during which time I learned a LOT more about storytelling, my writing style, and my personal taste. I also realized many of my previous ideas would need to be completely scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up. This summer, I did a full re-evaluation and sticky-note conspiracy board on the wall of my apartment, which resulted in the beginnings of a new spreadsheet outline. The story is far from complete, but this is more concrete progress than I’ve had for years, and I’m looking forward to getting to know these characters again.

    Runaways: I finished the 1st round of beta reading, which unfortunately took far longer than I hoped it would, and accumulated all the beta feedback by the beginning of summer. My hope was to finish the 3rd draft by the end of the summer and start another round of beta reading, but burnout struck and I failed in meeting that goal. During NaNoWriMo, I rewrote through chapter 5, and decided the story needs 2 additional POVs. This makes it a much more complicated project than I originally planned, and I will not be publishing this year, but I’m so excited to know that the book is better for the changes I’m including. I hope you all don’t mind the wait.


    This year, I learned how to use alcohol markers, practiced my embroidery by starting a patch jacket, and learned digital art! I already did a recap of my art this year, so you can read that post here to see all of the pictures without making this article any ridiculously longer than it already is haha. Some major projects this year included a pirate shirt, Vin Mistborn cosplay, and a comic for my Avatar The Last Airbender inspired DnD game.

    Resolutions for 2023

    1. Don’t burn out again
    2. Have fun.

    This is going to be a year of BIG transitions for me. I have another semester to spend with my friends, taking some fun classes, and finishing the last two classes of my degree. During this time, it makes the most sense to focus on enjoying that time with the people I love, before we all scatter to the winds, meaning my writing and creative projects will take a back-burner to everyday adventures. Thankfully, I already have a job locked down for post-graduation, and in June, I will move across 3 states, and start my new role. Between finding and furnishing an apartment, there are a few big family events I’ll attend, and later in the summer, I’m hoping to plan a trip to Europe with my sister who’s studying abroad. With so many events coming up, I don’t want to make any promises regarding my writing progress for the year. I plan to keep posting weekly, and I have some fun new series coming up that I hope you’ll enjoy. Happy new year everyone! I hope it’s a good one for us all.

    Thanks for reading! What are your hopes for the year? 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!

    Chatting · Writing Advice

    How To Find Creative Friends

    You’ve all seen the memes.

    The tote bags that proclaim, “don’t talk to me, I’m scheming your fictional death,” the mugs that argue “books are better than people,” and dozens of other introverted slogans plastered on merchandize items sold at the front of Barnes and Nobles. The endless pinterest boards and Instagram feeds full of #relatable #booklover content. Yeah. We’ve all seen ’em.

    I object.

    Listen, this is coming from someone as stereotypically socially awkward as your next INTJ “not like other girls” author, but finding a supportive community of other creative friends has been the BEST thing for my own creative motivation, the quality of my work, and the improvement of my overall mental health. I’ve shared in the past few weeks how my various friends helped me out through the making of my mistcloak and rambled about the joy and tears they bring me in our dnd games, and I consider myself very blessed to know them. There’s a certain disconnect between myself and people who don’t make stuff. On some fundamental level, I cannot understand people who do not have a story to tell, who don’t have that itch to share art with the world. I need other creative people who can share my passion to stay sane and happy, and with no exaggeration, the people I’ve grown to know and love in the past couple years are the only reason I survived the more difficult parts of quarantine and college.

    If you’re looking to expand your own social network of creative people, here are some ways to make friends in those spaces:

    Finding the nerds

    Join Clubs: If you are still in school, this is the easiest way to get a high concentration of artistic folks in one room. If there’s no such thing as a writer’s group, consider looking into the Dungeons and Dragons/Tabletop Roleplaying Game club (and read my post on how DnD made me a better writer), a book club, or art groups such as knitting/crochet/painting clubs. Show up consistently, and you’ll get to know the other regulars soon enough.

    Join Community Groups: If you’re not in school, this is the easiest way to make friends as an adult. These can be a little bit harder to find because they aren’t centralized in the same way clubs at a school are, but google and the library are great places to start. If you have a community rec center, that’s also a good place to look. Find the poster boards full of flyers, and take note of when the meetings occur for any clubs that look interesting. Many libraries have writing and crafting groups and book clubs. Your local game store might be able to get you in contact with other dnd players. Some community centers offer classes that you can sign up for. The point is to get out of your house and attending events regularly.

    Check Out National Organizations Local Chapters: The one that immediately springs to mind is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, and often for the camps in July and April, the local municipal liaisons host write-ins and other fun events to help people meet their word count goals. If you make friends with the writers there, you can keep in touch and challenge each other to sprints throughout the year as well, use each other as sounding boards, and cheer each other when you meet major milestones. I’m sure there are other national organizations dedicated to fostering the writing and creative communities, so do some investigating to see if there’s perhaps an inktober drawathon or a fantasy writer’s month doing events in your city. Renaissance Faires are also a great place to hang out and network.

    Online Communities: To be clear, you need real people friends to pull you out of your house as well, but I can’t stress enough how fantastic the writeblr space is on tumblr. If you’re into fanfiction, then you’re probably already familiar with wattpad and Archive of our Own. If you’re reading this, I would encourage you to check out more blogs under the writing tag on wordpress! There are so many wonderful people to meet despite the distance.

    Ok, so you found them. Now how do you talk to them?

    Show up: The sooner you can become a regular, the sooner people will start knowing your face and striking up friendly conversation. The reason making friends in elementary school was so much simpler was because you were forced to spend 8 hours in close proximity to those people. If you simply put in the time to attend weekly meetings and regular events, you may find yourself making friends effortlessly as you bond with your shared interest!

    Find the Extroverts: They’re probably the ones leading the club, and they’re probably the ones who will come up to welcome you first. Don’t try to squirm out of those conversations, but if you can endear yourself to one social butterfly, it won’t take long until you find yourself dragged into an extensive friend group. Don’t be clingy or creepy, but if you stay near to them, eventually the other people will come to you by proxy.

    Never Say No (Within Reason): Did you get invited to a write in? A trip to the local museum? A music venue? Out to eat after a regular meeting? Unless there’s a legitimate safety or scheduling or health reason not to go with them, try to say yes as often as possible! More often than not, you’ll find yourself enjoying the experience, and it’s an opportunity to get to know the people better, outside of the structured meeting times, which is how deeper friendships form. Making the conscious effort to spend more time in social situations with people who could be potential friends will slowly expand the amount of space for interaction in your social battery. Likewise, being reclusive will make you require more alone time. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a healthy amount is a good thing, but not to the point that it’s harmful and uncomfortable. It’s perfectly ok to go along to a bar, then order a soda and listen to the conversation instead of being the life of the party. They’ll still appreciate your company.

    Networking in real life: Yes, this word is scary. I still find it terrifying. At a Ren Faire this past summer, my friend Ben had to all but force me to self promote my stories to an interested librarian, so I’m certainly no expert, but this is the formula that tends to work in my experience:

    1. Strike up a conversation naturally with a stranger. They might be a shopkeeper at a faire, or someone you’re randomly paired with at an event.
    2. Find something you have in common – usually through the event.
    3. Vibe Check – is this someone you’d like to get to know better? Is this someone that could help you out with a problem you’re having? If yes, proceed to step four, if not, proceed to step five.
    4. If you want to connect with that person, say, “Hey I really enjoyed chatting with you and I’d love to stay in touch. What’s a good way that I can keep in contact with you?”
    5. If you don’t want to connect with them, say, “Thanks for chatting,” and return to step 1. Always be polite, never burn a bridge.
    6. Acquire contact information, either through a phone number or social media. If you get their number, include a little section in the notes about where you met them and something memorable about them or the conversation you had to jog your memory later, and ask for a picture so you can match the face to the name if you have a terrible memory like me.
    7. Follow up. That evening, whenever you get home from the event, or the following day, text or DM them and say, “Hey it’s [Name], it was really nice talking with you at [event] the other day. Thanks for [relevant detail.]”
    8. Continue that conversation if possible by asking appropriate questions about them and their work, especially if your previous conversation got cut off due to time constraints or something like that.
    9. Ask if they’ll be at the next meeting and say you’ll see them there, that way they know to look for you and keep chatting later!

    Networking online: This is slightly less terrifying because you can operate behind a screen name and take time to formulate responses, but still can be intimidating if you’re trying to get into a new community. I have another formula for you!

    1. Introduce yourself with a formal post – pin it somewhere convenient so people know who you are at a glance. Update your profile picture so you don’t look like a bot.
    2. Lurk for a bit to learn the etiquette so you don’t accidentally make a fool of yourself – but not too long, so you don’t get intimidated
    3. Follow a few people who seem cool and start sharing their work with friendly comments – if you show up regularly in someone’s notifications, they’ll start to recognize you as a friend and check out your work in turn
    4. Post your own work! Do not be afraid to throw your personal blorbos at the internet! Be as passionate as possible and people will wonder what’s up with that and become curious to learn more
    5. Participate in trends, tag games, ask games, community challenges, and stuff to get you on people’s radar as an active member of the community
    6. Be patient! Social media is meant to be a social place – don’t worry about building a brand, just be yourself and hang out.
    7. Unofficial Rule Seven: Say hi to me! Comments are always open. Just saying! I don’t bite.

    Volunteer: Is it too hard for you to network as an attendee? Try signing up to help run these events instead! You’ll receive specific instructions on what to do, which takes the pressure off figuring out social situations yourself, since you’ll be busy setting up and conducting the activity. And people will come up to you to strike up a conversation, so you don’t have to initiate the interaction. Additionally, the staff usually have special privileges and security, smaller group chats, and the shared experience creates closer bonds between them. In my personal experience, people who volunteer for one job are involved as leaders in ten other groups too, so this is an extremely efficient way to make connections with the extroverts who always know another guy. You might even become one of them!

    Thanks 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 by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

    Chatting · Misc. Creative Projects · Writing Advice

    Never Stop Making Stuff

    I discovered something delightful the other day whilst backing up my files. (Here’s your complementary reminder to save all your old work. Go do it now, and come back to read this.)

    (Everything duplicated and safely archived?)

    (Welcome back!)

    My art archive starts in October 2019 – I’d just recently joined Tumblr and wanted to participate in the Inktober trend I saw trending. Since I was working on Storge at the time, my bright idea was to illustrate various scenes from the story based on the daily prompts. I’d never picked up a pen for the purpose of drawing, not writing, but armed with a healthy amount of enthusiasm and a staggering amount of sheer audacity, I boldly started posting pictures of my new creations. The result was, unsurprisingly, less than spectacular, but despite the childish style, a few lovely people took the initiative to encourage me – @siarven, @abalonetea, and @inkwell-attitude were some of my first friends in the writing and artistic community, and they remain some of my best friends to this day.

    An ink drawing done on dotted paper of a teenage boy standing in a fighting pose with red magic flowing from his fingertips. He has long hair cut around his chin, wears no shirt to show his branching scars in the same red, and basic shorts. The drawing looks almost cartoony, drawn by an amateur.

    I kept drawing after that, and my 2019 folder clocks in at 54 items, half of which are reference images of myself posing to figure out how to draw hands. Mostly, I used ink, pencil, and colored pencil. They are truly atrocious and so I will not inflict you with any more than this, but the experience was a solid start to learning how to draw!


    This year has 217 items! Look at that huge increase in quantity! This is partially because this folder spans a whole year, rather than a few months tacked onto the end of a year. This year also saw the rise of zoom university during the first round of pandemic lockdowns, and I kept drawing as a stim to keep my hands busy during class. I started learning anatomy and character posing. Mostly I used ink, pencil, and colored pencil, and with the spike in quality, the quality and my speed dramatically improved as well.


    This year became much more busy with school and work so it has a pretty significant decline in quantity to 140 items. HOWEVER, this year saw probably my largest improvement in developing my personal style. I became much more comfortable with “eyeballing” natural looking poses and conveying the right expressions.

    [Image Descriptions: 5 photos in a tiled gallery.

    Photo 1: Shows a pencil drawing of a humanioid bird-person mid-flight. He’s angled facing the viewer, and looks at something to his top-right with a mischevious expression. He wears a simple tunic and holds an object in his hands clasped close to the chest. His wings and tail feathers are outstretched.

    Photo 2: Shows a woman from the waist up, spinning around to look at the viewer with a shocked expression. She has dark skin covered in small pockmark scars, and hair in braids that swing around her.

    Photo 3: Two drawings on one page. The top right drawing shows a young girl with dark skin, freckles, and long curly hair wiping blood off her nose. She wears a simple white tang-top dress. Lower drawing shows a teenaged boy mid-run, one arm in front of him with hand oustretched, the other flung behind him. He has dark skin, freckles, short curly hair, and a determined expression. He wears a simple white tunic, grey pants, and a cloak that billows behidn him. Golden magic is thrown between his hands in an arc.

    Photo 4: Shows a picture of a sketchbook page, done in pencil, against a red carpet background. The page shows a figure with a smirking jack-o-lantern head standing on a beanstalk. He wears jester’s clothing, a broken crown, and a cloak with frost curling at the edges. He carries a pail of water that sloshes over the edge and drips into ice crystals, and an axe is belted at his hip. Below him, a bridge is lit with candles, while the moon is bright in the sky above against a dark background.

    Photo 5: A pencil drawing of two figures hugging. The shorter one is a woman with long blonde hair and wearing a long dress, burying her face in the chest of the taller man. He wears a tailcoat and has light hair cut around his chin, and he looks at her with a surprised expression, not quite sure what to do with his hands as he moves to hug her back.

    End Image Descriptions.]


    The year isn’t even finished and we’re at roughly 411 items! I learned markers! I taught myself digital art and experimented a ton with my style and rendering! I drew a whole comic! I designed stickers! My mediums have expanded into laser etching acrylic, 3D Printing, and audio editing! I embroidered a ton of patches, hand sewed a shirt, and machine sewed a cloak! I started playing with my hair and nails and makeup for the first time since I was eight and I am turning myself into the piece of art!!!

    [Image Description: 14 images in a tiled gallery.

    Image 1: A pencil drawing of a young girl with dark skin and long curly hair wearing a white tang top dress. Her eyes are completely black, and she has a shadowy halo behind her. She appears angry and focused. / Image 2: A photo of me sitting next to a river wearing a white billowy pirate shirt. I’m turned away from the camera so you cannot see my face, but I have dark hair in a french braid and wear a hoop earring. It’s a cloudy day. / Image 3: A blue pen doodle in my school notes on lined paper of a woman in profile. She has curly blonde hair that tumbles around her shoulders and has a sad distressed expression. Her freckles are stars. / Image 4: A photo of my hand holding a large clear knife cut from acrylic against the backdrop of the laser cutter I used to make it.

    Image 5: A photo of my hand holding a sticker from my shop, titled “A Well Armed Author.” It depicts a white saber against a dark blue background full of stars. Black ink swirls with a magic golden glow burst from the bottom of the sticker and swirl around the sword to form a fountain tip pen at the point. The shop is blurry in the background, and my thumbnail had chipped black polish. / Image 6: A photo of a red articulated 3D printed velociraptor sitting on my open notebook. It is slumped backwards and resting on its tail as if tired.

    Image 7: A marker drawing of a teenage boy with dark skin and dark curly hair cut around his chin. He smiles and holds up his arms, casting a spell. Shreds of white and golden glowing magic swirl around his open hands. / Image 8: A mirror selfie showing off my patch jacket, holding my phone in front of my face. The jacket is a dark grey-green. On there shoulder there is a homemade Bridge Four patch from the Stormlight Archive – a white and blue geometric design. There is also a karate patch showing the US and Japanese flags. Over the heart is a heart-shaped patch with The Amazing Devil band logo – a stylized abbreviation of the band name. Over the other lapel is another karate patch showing a fist in white and red. On my hip is an oval shaped patch that reads “Crafty Bitch” with various art supplies. Over each pocket is embroidered flowers and mushrooms, with added plastic foliage stitched on. / Image 9: A photo of me wearing a white shirt and twirling in my black cloak. I’m standing against a stone wall in the woods, and grinning. I have tan skin, brown hair cut in a bob, and I’m smiling.

    Image 10: A digital painting of a man in armour with a billowing red cape, facing left and shown in profile. He holds out an arm towards the viewer, holding a curved sword. The background is dark blue. He has an angry determined expression and blood streaks off his blade. / Image 11: A digital painting of a woman with pale skin and a short curly bob knitting. The fabric hanging from her needles is transluscent and shows stars caught between the threads. The fabric and the needles are bloodstained and she has a wicked smile, being lit from behind by white light. Text reads “The Edge of Infinity” in white letters over the fabric.

    Image 13: A digital painting of a girl from behind wearing a dark green coat looking out over a mountain range in the distance. She’s surrounded by trees and the whole painting is done in shades of greens and blues. / Image 14: A digital painting of a teenaged girl looking distraught. She has olive skin and freckles, and muddied brown hair being whipped by the wind. She wears an orange wrap with green borders and a yellow undershirt, and clasps her hands to her chest. Blood and shadow swirl around her head. Black and white lineart overlap the watercolor texture. / Image 15: A digital painting of a young woman sliding down a roof in an acrobatic pose. She’s wearing a sports bra, baggy pants, and wrapped boots, and wears her hair in a high pony tail that’s messy and coming loose. She has black geometric tatoos on her face and wrists. The entire paining is done in shades of red, pink, and purple.

    End Image Description]

    I hope that watching this progression serves as some small inspiration for any other discouraged artists. Never stop making stuff.

    Future you will thank you.

    Thanks 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 by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

    Chatting · Misc. Creative Projects

    The Making of a Mistcloak, part 2: Creating and Community

    There comes a time in the life of any maker that one has more good encouragement than good sense. These moments, when enthusiastic friends push you to do the wild, half-planned idea, far outside of your comfort zone – these are the projects that one remembers most fondly. If you’ve noticed me taking a bit of a detour from my usual writing fare, I hope these tangents don’t deter you from coming with me on this creative journey. Seldom does fiction occur in a vacuum, unaffected by the author’s other interests, and seldom does Making Stuff occur in a vacuum, devoid of influence from other creative friends. Your life becomes more interesting as you become more well-rounded, and I’m a firm believer that the same goes for your fictional worlds.

    Is this a lengthy excuse for inflicting you with my latest fan project? Yes. Yes, it is. But this is my slice of the internet and I’ve spent altogether too much time and money on this project not to show it off literally everywhere. There’s a moral in here somewhere, I swear, but in an age of ~Careful Branding~ and ~Targeted Marketing~ I hope it’s more fun to read this blog when it’s just me. Some nerd. Enthusiastically and unashamedly rambling about my self-indulgent hobbies for whoever cares enough to listen. Somehow, doing just that helped me to find all the lovely people who worked on this project with me ❤

    Continue reading “The Making of a Mistcloak, part 2: Creating and Community”
    Chatting · Monthly Goals

    October goals

    Hello everyone and welcome back to another life update. My biggest update this month actually has nothing to do with my writing projects: I secured a job for post-graduation! I sunk so much time in submitting dozens of applications, spending my afternoons interviewing over zoom, travelling to work sites, and travelling to conferences, but it’s finally paid off. The job market is hypercompetitive right now, as the US is heading into/already in a recession, and companies are slashing hiring budgets, so I needed to make sure I had an offer on the table before I could focus on anything else this year. Now that I have that security, I can drop all of that networking to focus on school and writing!

    Last month, I also announced a temporary hiatus for my major writing projects. In reality, these have been on an unofficial hiatus since June because of a combination of burnout, needing distance from the stories in order to edit, and lack of time as I pursued job hunting. I still have final exams coming up, and I want to prioritize spending time with my friends in my coveted free time, but I’m calling the hiatus on Runaways off, as I’m returning to Draft 3 for NaNoWriMo. After taking such a long break from a story, having external motivation to get excited about it again can help overcome the activation energy barrier it takes to get started again. I’m hoping to finish the draft by the end of the semester so I can print off the manuscript using my school account! But that’s enough scheming – I’ll update you on that project in December. For now, let’s go over what I got done this past month, despite the hiatus.

    Won by 1 point – 5/8 Goals Completed

    Write short story and cross post to blog for the Inklings Challenge: If you’re unfamiliar, The Inklings Challenge is a month-long writing event for Christian authors of fantasy and science fiction, inspired by a real challenge attempted by the original Inklings writing group. For this tumblr challenge, participants were randomly sorted into one of three groups, with each assigned to a different type of speculative fiction story inspired by their namesake. I was in the Chesterton group, so I chose the prompt “Intrusive Fantasy”: Stories where the fantastical elements intrude into the real world. There was also a prompt list of seven Christian images to incorporate into the themes of our stories. If you’d like to read more about the challenge, and read the other submissions, you can find all relevant links on the tumblr blog that is hosting the challenge! If you missed my story, “To Light and To Guard” is available here.

    Sort out Reedsy Discovery and update reviews on all book sites: I’ve talked about Reedsy before when listing writing resources, but if you haven’t heard of them: it’s a site full of writing and publishing advice that hosts a database of vetted professional editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and marketers so that indie authors can easily find the right person to hire when they’re preparing their book for publication, and those professionals can find easily find clients. They also have courses and webinars, an entire suite of tools that are free to use, short story competitions, and Discovery, which is a book review database similar to Goodreads. Anyone can sign up and import their library, but I’m trying to get approved as an official reviewer, which is a slow process. I also have tons of reviews to publish across Goodreads, BookBub, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Storygraph, but I ran out of time this month to write them, or read anything new.

    Blog and IG scheduling: Hurrah, another month come and gone without falling off the face of the earth!

    Archive PMs and reviews before it goes down: Ok, to clarify, is not going down immediately. The fictonpress twitter updated after a year of radio silence, saying they plan to fix things and keep the site running, at least for now. There was a scare earlier in the month though, that the entire thing might crash and burn soon, and so a mass recovery effort was made (by other people) to back up the contents of the site so it wouldn’t be lost to the void of the internet. is unique in that there’s no way to copy/paste the contents of a story from the web, and so it must either be backed up to other sites by the author who has access to original document, or it must be typed out word by word by readers. There are also fan-binding communities who make physical hardcover copies of fanfiction, which is an incredible labor of love I’d like to learn one day. Additionally, there are tens of thousands of words in private messages and reviews that could be lost – which breaks my heart. Books can be reprinted as long as one remaining copy exists. Burning a box of letters means that correspondence can’t be retrieved ever again. I was in the midst of midterms when the information came out, and without the imminent demise of the site looming, I felt comfortable procrastinating this a little while longer while I had job applications to do. This is still high on the to-do list now that I have a little more time.

    Draw gifts: I have several writer friends with birthdays in October and so I did OC illustrations for all of them!

    Finish ATLA comic: This was technically a gift for my friend whose birthday was in August, but I vastly underestimated the amount of time and work that drawing a whole comic would take, and so I was determined to finish it this month. I might post this in a later post because it was a lot of work and I want to brag.

    Make Vin Cosplay for Halloween: If you’re on tumblr or instagram you probably saw the reveal for this already, but there’s too much to show here, so a full “Making-of…” breakdown is coming in a later post!

    Make author stickers for inventory: I spent most of my time at work sewing instead of printing stickers, but these are coming soon!

    Thanks for reading! What are you working on this month? 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 on my Kofi or donating using the secure box below. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!


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    Chatting · Reading Recs

    Horror for Halloween: House of Hollow

    Happy Halloween! This month I wanted to share a horror-fantasy reading-rec, and this is a book I’ve wanted to cover since I read it last year in one sitting the night before an exam. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland is a thrilling combination of fantastical and terrifying and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a creepy autumn read, or looking to improve the mood and ambience of their prose!

    Warnings ahead for suicide, manipulation, body horror, and general discussions of death and horrific topics, so if that bothers you, reader discretion is advised. This book is written for a YA audience.

    Continue reading “Horror for Halloween: House of Hollow”
    Short Stories

    To Light and to Guard

    This story is my entry to The Inklings Challenge 2022. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a month-long writing event for Christian authors of fantasy and science fiction, inspired by a real challenge attempted by the original Inklings writing group. For this tumblr challenge, participants were randomly sorted into one of three groups, with each assigned to a different type of speculative fiction story inspired by their namesake. I was in the Chesterton group, so I chose the prompt “Intrusive Fantasy”: Stories where the fantastical elements intrude into the real world. There was also a prompt list of seven Christian images to incorporate into the themes of our stories. If you’d like to read more about the challenge, and read the other submissions, you can find all relevant links on the tumblr blog that is hosting the challenge!

    Marcia squinted into the fog and cursed the night. Roiling storm clouds obscured the clear light of the full moon, casting shimmering beams and warping shadows over the bog. Wind whipped her short, straight hair across her face. It stuck in the corners of her mouth whenever she took a panting breath and flicked into her stinging eyes. For the dozenth time in half as many minutes, she swiped it behind her ears, frustratingly aware that it was a futile effort. The sky hadn’t opened into a downpour yet, but the freezing mist clung to her clothes, her clammy hands, her eyelashes. Any other night, she could hear frogs croaking, birds crying, and the water rippling as turtles breached, but now, only the howling gale filled her ears. She gritted her teeth and stomped forward aimlessly.

    This was all Conner’s fault.

    Continue reading “To Light and to Guard”
    Chatting · Writing Advice

    The Blurry Line: Between the Developmental and the Copy Edits

    Line editing is an often misunderstood and surprisingly nebulous stage of the writing process. To make sure we’re all on the same page in terms of vocabulary, I’ve copied a common definition:

    A line editor is attentive to the writer’s individual style (for that reason, the job is sometimes called stylistic editing) A line editor works line-by-line, tightening up sentence structure so the language is sharp and clear. They look closely at how a writer’s word choice and syntax contribute to the tone or emotion of a piece of writing. Finally, a line editor is concerned with the overall pacing and logical flow of a piece… Where line editors are concerned primarily with questions of style, copy editors are concerned with mechanics.

    This description makes the process sound nice and linear. In fact, I fell into the same pattern when I wrote my earlier post on the complete start-to-end editing process for a manuscript, placing it after the beta-read, and before a professional copy edit. I thought of it as a dividing line between the unwieldy draft and the polished manuscript. I also wrote that post before I’d actually completed those editing stages on Storge. The information is still useful, albeit generic, and not pulled from personal experience. That’s why today I want to do a deep dive on just this one step, to clarify some of my older points and elaborate with my experience in editing Runaways.

    The first thing to remember is that writers never obey definitions. After all, you have to know the rules so you can break them! The line editing stage is extremely nebulous at best. How long it takes and how many rounds you complete largely depends on the style and quality of your previous developmental edits, how long you’ve had to develop your writing style, if you’re comfortable in the mood and tone of the story you’re trying to tell, and your personality. Some people pay closer attention to details, others are impatient to fix issues as they arise and bounce between steps as needed. Both are totally valid ways to write.

    When preparing a book to share with beta readers, eventually you reach a threshold where you have to decide “this is good enough.” In most cases, sharing the draft with readers means they will comment on the high-level issues with the story: all elements that fall under the developmental edit. Meticulously editing for style and tone could be a complete waste of time if your readers end up recommending that entire chapters need to be rewritten, reordered, or scrapped. However, if the prose is not polished enough, the clunky writing may be enough to distract the reader from the larger issues they should be focusing on, and diminish their enjoyment of the book as a whole. Most beta reader feedback is a combination of the two types, and so all the edits in between rounds of feedback become a combination of developmental and line editing. Once you get to a certain point in the story, the changes you need to make to things like the character arc or to clarify world-building are less in the form of scrapping-and-rewriting whole scenes, and more making subtle tweaks to word choice and sentence structure to convey a certain tone properly.

    For a Runaways example, when Cecelia disappears in chapter 1, I wanted to portray the Teagan parents as good folks who are worried about their missing daughter, but trying to keep calm so they can find her, and keep Hannah from panicking. Most of my feedback said that the parents seemed too callous and unconcerned because a few lines of dialogue just hit off target. While that plot-point hasn’t changed, I altered the sentence-level structure so that Hannah perceives how her parents really feel and it adds to the growing tension of the inciting incident. Other scenes need to be rewritten completely in order to fix the pacing, such as the sequence of introducing Hannah to the Seelie Court. Some scenes are fine as they, but contain some clunky sentences, which my wonderful reader, Arva Bake, highlighted in yellow. This flagged the problem lines without changing the feedback on the story. Green highlight also told me where my delivery had an excellent impact, and red markup showed inconsistencies.

    As I write the next draft, I’ll work my way through the feedback from the developmental to the line edits, before doing another round and starting the process again. In each new draft, my final step is to go through the prose with a fine-toothed comb and make the writing as clear and engaging as possible. This includes doing grammar and punctuation checks, which fall under the purview of a copy-edit. This is why I now refer to line edits as the blurry line between stages of the process. Resolving one issue often bleeds into polishing that section in other ways as well, and it’s impossible to draw a clean differentiation between them when you are doing edits yourself.

    When both you and your beta readers are satisfied with the manuscript, then it is time to hire a professional editor, or several. When employing a professional, the distinctions between developmental, line, and copy editing DO matter. There’s often a significant difference in price tag for more intensive edits, and it’s recommended that you hire different people for each stage, to get fresh sets of eyes on the story with every change in focus. Understanding the difference between the three is important when discussing these terms in industry, and they provide us as authors with a helpful vocabulary to describe what elements of the story we’re focusing on when we self-edit. I hope this was a helpful guide for you!

    If you found this post useful, please let me know what you think! Do you have any other questions about the editing process that I can answer? Next week, I’ll be travelling for a school conference, but I’m hoping to put up a short story for the Inklings Challenge! If the post is a few days late, that might be why. Catch me scribbling away on the plane while I don’t have any internet to distract me. 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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    Chatting · Writing Advice

    My Beta Reader Experience

    Last week, I announced that I’m putting my novels on hiatus for the semester. In case you missed that post, I’ll recap here: I know this will delay my publishing goals significantly, as I wanted to release Runaways shortly after graduation, but I think ultimately this is the better choice for my mental health and the quality of the writing.

    For one, I need more distance from the story before I can edit with a clear head, and without the self-imposed pressure to rush, I’ll do a better job of cleaning it up. I also need money to pay illustrators and editors, and if I can save up for a year with my Real Life Adult Engineering Job, I’ll be able to afford more detailed and a larger quantity of illustrations, as well as several rounds of rigorous editing. Additionally, I need to focus this semester on getting good grades, applications, and networking, so I can find a Real Life Adult Engineering Job, and that’s eating a significant portion of my time. With what little free time I have left, I want to spend it with my friends before we all scatter to the winds in May.

    But I figured this is a good time as any to go over my beta reading process in the hopes that you can learn from my experience! If you missed it, I’ve also put together a post about my full editing process, but today and next week’s post will do a deeper dive into the steps. A beta reader is someone who’s not familiar with the story who volunteers to give you their honest opinion of the draft. While your critique partners, alpha readers, or Designated Writer Friends might already know all the plot twists (or helped you come up with the plot twists), generally speaking beta readers go in with the basic knowledge any reader would have if they picked it up at the library. They don’t have to be writers. In fact, it might be better to have some who aren’t writers and won’t be looking for the behind-the-scenes craft. Here’s how I went about this step of the writing process:

    Continue reading “My Beta Reader Experience”