Another day in America

In general, I try to keep this blog at least vaguely on topic. Books, writing, etc. But I need to share this somewhere and this blog seemed the best place for me to do it.

What follows is a letter I sent to my Senator yesterday in the wake of yesterday’s massacre. I am ideologically opposed to my Senator on most every issue. I have never voted for him. My feelings are not warm…they cannot even rise to the level of neutral. Not in this toxic climate, not when there is so much to resist. I know whenever I contact him it will be like running straight at a brick wall. But I try. As much as my mental health allows, I try.

This is what I said yesterday:

Dear Senator Burr, (or, more likely, the overworked Aide who will be the only person to see this letter: hello, overworked Aide)

 

I am writing to you tonight because I am, to be blunt, pissed off. I am saddened and exhausted and bewildered but mostly, at this moment, pissed off.

Sixteen months ago in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub massacre, I wrote to you begging for you to address gun control. I received an empty, meaningless form letter, fumed for a few days, and we both went about our business, while you collected thousands of dollars from the NRA for your 2016 campaign.

Well, here we are again. Both America at large, in the wake of yet another devastating act of domestic terrorism, and me, with this little email box that will probably spawn nothing more than another form response. So be it.

I am pissed off.

59 people are dead tonight who shouldn’t be, and a staggering number of hundreds more injured, because people are able to access assault rifles by the dozen and huge stockpiles of ammunition while people like you take blood money from the NRA and scream about second amendment rights. What about the right to live, the right to not be gunned down for going to a concert, or sitting in church, or shopping at the mall, or going to school? Where is that right? Why is my right to live secondary to someone else’s supposed right to hold weapons of mass destruction?

We’ve been here with Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook, and Aurora, and Orlando, and so many other places I could name but I know you will not care. You offer “thoughts and prayers” and continue to do nothing while the violence gets worse. I wonder what will happen when it’s Charlotte’s turn for the next big mass shooting, or Asheville, or Chapel Hill, or Winston-Salem, or Raleigh. Will you offer empty platitudes and meaningless “thoughts and prayers” when North Carolinians are bleeding out in the streets? How much money from the gun lobby will it take to make you look away, to say “now is not the time to talk about gun legislation”?

Senator Burr, now is exactly the time.

You have a platform. You have a voice. You are supposed to be *our* voice. So once again, I am begging you, give back your blood money and turn your platform to solving this American crisis. What steps will you take to stop this wave of senseless and preventable gun violence? Stand up. Use your voice. Say something for once other than insulting and empty words without action.

To borrow the words of the great American musical: if you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?

You have shown through your continued inaction that American lives mean less to you than campaign funds. Now is the time to change that. Prove me wrong. Stand up. Stand for something. Or I guess I’ll be emailing you again the next time we have a new deadliest mass shooting in American history. They seem to happen about twice a year these days, after all.

 

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Some slight maintenance

I’m in the process of removing my Short Story Sunday posts from the blog. It’s a feature I haven’t been able to focus on in a long time, and it’s the number one attractor of spam to this site (pretty much all my views are spam anyway, so I’m not quite sure who I’m writing this for, but it is what it is.)

My hope is that the short story posts were helpful for some of you in finding new writers, new venues, and new worlds to explore. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to incorporate my love of short fiction back into this blog at a future date.

In the meantime, I have a few things planned for the future, but I still don’t have the spoons to be back at this full time. Until you next see me, happy reading.

-Heather

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I wrote a thing!

People, I have written a novella.

It’s a really short one, so it feels kind of weird to call it that (stories are typically categorized as novelettes until 17,500 words, mine just bumps over the 18K line), but that’s what it is.

It’s called “The Heartless Knight,” and it’s included in the wonderful queer fantasy anthology Heart of Steel. The anthology is officially out on Wednesday September 20th, but you can preorder it right now and get a bit of a discount, if you are so inclined.

So let me tell you a little bit about “The Heartless Knight,” and where it came from.

The story’s about Isi, a young man of color who has been a slave for most of his life and is now trying to navigate a world where he is not. He’s stuck between cultures, and pulled in different directions depending on what different people expect of him. He’s also aroace, and he is suffocating under the pressure of both performative masculinity and performative sexuality. He doesn’t know he’s suffocating. He’s just trying to be “normal.” But he doesn’t know how to do that.

Then he ends up on the run with a princess who forces him to confront all the things he’d rather hide about himself.

Isi has been a character in my head for quite a while now, one of those quiet ones who hides in corners that you don’t much pay attention to. For a couple of years now, I’ve been trying to write a novel about Anne, a character who you’ll meet briefly in “The Heartless Knight.” I was even making something like progress when I decided to finally settle down and work on it as a NaNoWriMo project…at least, until November 9, 2016 happened. Anyway, that project’s still going to happen some day. In some form. But like I said, Isi’s been on the edges of that in my head for a long time, and at one point I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be fun to write something to get to know him a little?

BAM!: novella.

(It didn’t quite work like that. It never really does. I’ve been living in this piece for something like 18, 19 months by now. And it’s far, far different now than what I initially conceived it to be. Still, let’s go with BAM!)

“The Heartless Knight” was written mostly to alt-J’s “Nara,” which I ended up listening to on many repeats through the drafting process. Later, it was edited to a godawful amount of Sylvan Esso, particularly “Dreamy Bruises,” and “Coffee”  (I don’t think you’ll necessarily find anything of those songs in the text, but I thought someone might find it interesting)

I’m more nervous about this one than I have been for a while. There are a lot of things that I need to get right and I don’t know if I fully suceeded. But it’s finally time to let it out in the world and let other people decide.

So that’s it. I hope you all like it!

Be sure to check out Heart of Steel and the rest of the great queer stories on offer from Less Than Three Press.

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I wrote a thing!

…I know. Been a while, ain’t it?

My story “Maps of Infinity” is in the newest issue of Shimmer, which is super, super exciting! The whole (excellent) issue is available for purchase now, and “Maps of Infinity” will be available online on August 1st. I’ll update this post with a link then. For now, feast your eyes on some cover art:

Update: “Maps of Infinity” is available online now.

I hope you all enjoy!

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I wrote some things: nonfiction edition

While my regular blogging has trailed off, I’ve spent a lot of 2017 trying to focus on some new directions for my writing, namely nonfiction and personal essay. Now when it gets to the “personal” in personal essay, a lot of the things I’ve been writing about have been really hard to put out there. I’m still learning how to pitch them, and where to draw my personal boundary lines on how I talk about myself. Many of those essays may never see the light of day, but some might, eventually. But the process of learning how to write these types of pieces is valuable in its own right.

However, when it comes to less personal nonfiction, I have had a couple things out this year. And since I’m an eternal dope, it just occurred to me now that I might want to post these reviews to the blog where I actually, you know, occasionally still review things.

So. Both of these pieces were written for the ever-wonderful romance review site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (seriously, I was a dedicated reader of this site before I even started reading romance, they are so fantastically funny.)

I wrote about one of my favorite books as a teen, Meredith Ann Pierce’s The Darkangel, right here.

And I wrote about my newest favorite binge-watch, Harlots, here.

And who knows? Maybe getting used to writing reviews again will help kickstart me into more consistently reviewing books here again. As always, stay tuned.

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Judging books by their covers

Summer is by far my favorite season…until right about now, in the middle of July. It’s hot. My local pool is inevitably closed for maintenance. Everything seems to slow down. There’s a long, long slog to Labor Day and my next day off, and I definitely can’t afford a vacation. The air feels like soup when you walk outside. Hot soup. Have I mentioned that it’s hot?

Anyway, my point is that I don’t have much patience or energy at the moment for anything other than superhero movies, TV binges (currently: Star Trek Deep Space Nine and The Handmaid’s Tale, which I will finish) and very, very light reading. So it felt like a really good time for a very light sort of post. Let’s judge some covers!

I don’t know about you, but so far 2017 has seemed pretty excellent on the cover design front (which really means that 2016 was excellent, because these things take a while, but still…) I’ve been seeing a lot of new things that make my jaw drop. If I immediately want a print of a cover to frame and hang on my wall? Well, that is a damn good cover.

So let’s dive in!

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

This cover is just so happy. I haven’t had a chance to read When Dimple Met Rishi yet, but even if I didn’t know a word of the blurb copy, I would want to. It’s so bright, and cheery, and I really love the placement/typography of the title. I really, really, almost instinctively hate the color orange. I don’t know why, I just do. But this cover pulls off the impossible and makes me love orange. I can’t get enough of it.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Compared to the relatively spare cover above, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue has a ton going on. And I love it. You have the formal image of the protagonist contrasting with the loud, busy text and random doodles. It really gives you a good feel for what the tone of the book will be. I looks different than a lot of what’s out there right now (though I have a feeling over the next year or so we’ll be seeing more covers that look a lot like this.)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

By using blank space so brilliantly, The Hate U Give packs a punch with its central image. I have to admit that I didn’t understand the title until I saw it spelled out on this cover. It’s an image that almost forces you to look, to engage. And the book is brilliant, too.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

I want to talk about An Extraordinary Union not because it’s a beautiful cover (although I think it is), but because I can see what the marketing department was trying to do. (At least, I think I can. Indulge me.)

So,  An Extraordinary Union is a romance novel, full stop. It follows a very typical romance novel structure–two characters, POV traded back and forth, Happily Ever After achieved, etc. But while there are all kinds of different romance covers, you tend to have certain expectations. The torrid embrace, the smoldering glances.

This? This looks like a mystery.

I think this was very deliberately chosen to appeal to readers outside the genre. By packaging it this way, it sort of gives permission for people who avoid romance or even denigrate it to pick it up. And maybe it will be a gateway into the genre for some of those people. And for that I kind of love it.

Also, by centering Elle, the image shines a spotlight on a character who has spent her life underestimated, sidelined, and stereotyped. It shows you that she is without a doubt the hero and the center of this story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Soldier’s Scoundrel, The Lawrence Browne Affair, and The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian

(I’m going to cheat a bit with a 2016 cover on here, don’t mind me)

While the above was all about wrapping a traditional romance in somewhat nontraditional packaging, the reason I love Cat Sebastian’s covers is that they are very traditional romance covers…with one obvious twist.

I read a fair amount of queer romance. Most of it is being self-published or put out by relatively small presses. And as a result, a lot of covers are hodgepodges of stock imagery. Now, that’s not to knock stock imagery. Some of those covers end up being quite good. But the quality definitely varies and doesn’t always match the book inside.

The reason that these covers immediately jumped out at me is that they are very much traditional romance covers. You have the embrace, the smolder. The painterly quality. This is very much how the popular consciousness “expects” romance novels to look, only the characters on the cover are all men. Which is not something I’ve seen any other publisher do, yet.

I also love that each cover has a very specific pop of mostly-solid background color the ground the image of the characters.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

When I first saw this cover, I’m pretty sure I made a happy squeaking noise.

I haven’t read the book yet (it doesn’t come out until the end of August), but everything about this cover just screamed to me. From the thumbnail.

I’m still not entirely sure why. It’s got pretty much the elements you expect of a romance novel that we’ve already discussed. Skinny girl, floofy dress, half-clad hero. Embrace, smolder, yadda yadda. But I think it’s something about the colors, and the lighting that give a very specific feel to this cover. It’s soft and dreamy and, well, romantic. I kind of adore it.

So, that’s a rundown of some of my favorite recent covers. What are some of yours? What elements do you think we’ll start to see on the shelves over the next few months?

 

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Review: A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant

Title: A Lady Awakened

Author: Cecilia Grant

Rating: Like, all the stars

So, recently I found myself in need of a little fluff. A book that would make me forget myself for a few hours and help me set aside some anxieties. I’ve read a fair amount of romance over the last few years, and I’ve read a whole lot more than usual since the world went to shit. Cecilia Grant is an author I haven’t read a lot of, but I like what I have seen. I figured A Lady Awakened would be enough fluff to lift me out of my mood.

Turns out, it might be my favorite romance novel ever. 

At least, since the last favorite romance novel I read and before the next one.

In any case, I really, really, really loved. it.

Recently widowed Martha Russell is in a predicament. She’s about to be tossed out of her home, with a significantly reduced dowry, in favor of her deceased husband’s brother, unless she turns out to be carrying an heir. More than for herself, though, she worries about her brother-in-law’s bad reputation, and what it means for the community she’s been trying to better since her marriage. She is decidedly not pregnant by her husband, but in desperation she comes up with an audacious scheme that could save or destroy her.

Theo Mirkwood is a dissolute rake who has been banished to the country by his father in the hopes that he will learn land management and grow up a little bit, prospects which completely bore him. When the stern widow next door calls on him he’s intrigued; when she proffers an indecent proposal wherein he will have one month to try to get her pregnant, he is unexpectedly tempted.

These two strangers jump straight into what they think should be a simple business arrangement, only to inevitably become more entangled as the days go by.

I worried a bit at the beginning of A Lady Awakened. The characters are lying straight off the bat, pretty big lies with pretty big consequences, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to like them as a result. However, Grant does a superb job of developing these characters, making their motivations real and immediate. They understand the madness of their situation, they face the various consequences of their lies. They are empathetic and compelling where they very easily could have come off as selfish or reckless. So that concern was put to bed pretty early.

One of the reasons I enjoy romance is because of how often it is intensely focused on two characters and their development, separately and together. Oftentimes one character will stick out above the other to me. That’s not the case here. Theo is fantastic. Martha is incredible. Put them together, and I was constantly like now, kiss:

I have a select few romance heroes who are perennial favorites. Winter Makepeace of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Thief of Shadows. Colin Sandhurst of Tessa Dare’s A Week to be Wicked. Basically every character K. J. Charles has ever written. And now, Theo Mirkwood.

Let me tell you about Theo and how beauteous he is.

Theo doesn’t have many high expectations of himself for the sheer fact that no one else ever has. He likes spending his father’s money, enjoying the society of London, and having lots of sex with lots of ladies. He’s ridiculously proud of his…ahem, endowments. When Martha doesn’t immediately come undone due to his ministrations, he takes it as something of a personal affront, and engages on a quest to successfully seduce her as well as knock her up. He devotes himself to finding the key to her pleasure whether she wants him to or not.

Meanwhile, out in the world, he begins to develop relationships with the tenant farmers on his land. He sees problems that have contributed to poverty, and is inspired to think of solutions. He learns, and tries, and fails, and tries again. He isn’t naturally the smartest or most business-minded, but he is good with people, and has a stronger sense of duty and responsibility than he ever would have realized had he not met Martha.

So often in romance, even good, modern ones, you have a hero who starts out sexy and cocky but emotionally distant, who has to learn that love isn’t a dirty word. They often don’t grow very much beyond that. But Theo, though he starts out sexy and cocky, is never emotionally distant. He’s bright and open. And over the course of the book, he grows up. You watch him reorder his priorities, you see him mature. It’s quite lovely.

Then, we have Martha.

Heroines in romance suffer from just as much tropeiness as the heroes. As with any trope, it’s all in how the authors handle it. But a lot of modern heroines fall into one of a few narrow templates–feisty bluestocking, imperiled virgin, and the like–which can get boring.

Martha was unlike any heroine I think I have ever read. At the start of the book she has been married for only ten months, but in those ten months she has worked diligently to open a school and further the education and opportunities for the children of her tenants. Her husband’s sudden death puts that work at risk, but more than that, when she learns that her brother-in-law has a reputation for raping servants, she is determined to keep those servants safe by any means necessary. People see her as cold, because she shoulders the responsibilities of the world without opening up to anyone. But she feels deeply, and has a keen sense of justice. She has a steel backbone. She’s not a snarky bluestocking rattling off one-liners. She’s not flashy. She takes a long time to realize her own worth and value. It’s a deeply relatable character arc, one that I treasured.

Romance works best when characters are interesting on their own, but become better versions of themselves together. A Lady Awakened is one of the best examples of this that I have ever seen. Martha inspires Theo to become more responsible and adult, Theo helps Martha open up emotionally and not shoulder so many burdens on her own. They build a partnership in the truest sense.

Most romances, particularly historical ones, require suspension of disbelief to one degree or another. Dukes didn’t marry kitchen maids, queer people could be imprisoned and killed, and knocked-up widows couldn’t remarry within two months and ever expect to be accepted by society. Yet in fiction, these characters get happily-ever-afters all the time, across a spectrum of believability.

Frankly, the solution to Martha and Theo’s problems, the setup for their happily ever after, is absurd. It never would have worked out in real life. And I know that bothers some readers. But for me, in this case, I was able to accept the fantasy and totally go along with it. The characters were so strong, their development so believable, that I totally bought into any absurdities of their situation.

Add to all this character work some really strong, vibrant prose, a taut and intriguing plot, and supporting characters who don’t at all feel like cardboard props, and A Lady Awakened is an all-around winner. If you haven’t read romance, or have become bored by some of its tropes, this is definitely a great example of the genre to try. And, hey, it got me out of my head for an entire weekend. That’s always a fantastic thing.

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A poll!

I am conducting a class about blogging at my local library (Rocky Mount, NC, if you’re in the area on May 2nd!). While The Bastard Title has lately been woefully ignored due to real-life circumstances and blogging fatigue, I’d like to ask any of you reading this to take part in a brief poll about blogging in general. Thanks in advance, lovelies 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

If you have any other advice for aspiring bloggers, feel free to hit me up in the comments!

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Some rambling thoughts on representation

I was kind of looking forward to the new Riverdale show. It looks completely bonkers, but it seemed fun. But the main reason I found it interesting was that there was (at least, I expected) a canonical asexual character.

Yeah, guess not.

I didn’t grow up with the Archie comics, but I’ve caught some of the newer graphic novels and really enjoyed them, and a big part of that is seeing asexuality written in an open and thoughtful way.

It’s just one stupid show, so what’s the big deal? Well, it’s not just one show. It’s everywhere.

I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek for the first time lately, and, without fail, every character that I think is obviously ace ends up having some sort of heteronormative romantic arc. Voyager’s Doctor chases and makes out with a holographic Viking lady (I quit Voyager soon after that for other reasons, so I don’t know what else they put him through). Odo, a mass of sentient shapeshifting goo, is apparently in love with Kira (I’ve only started season 4, but spoil away.) Data…I’m not even going to talk about Data. Of course, Star Trek is not particularly good at any sort of queer inclusion, or in talking about gender identity (fuck you, “The Outcast”). But it makes me sad that a series so ostensibly about the full range of human experience cannot possibly think of what to do with characters other than “male-coded + female-coded = sexytimes.” And then it makes me angry.

I don’t particularly like labels, nor do I really use them for myself. I find them limiting and pigeonholing. But I also don’t use them because, when I was a teenager and I needed them, we didn’t have the labels, or at least, I didn’t know them. I didn’t have the words. I’d never heard them.

I never saw anyone remotely like me, in any media, anywhere. The only characters who were ever coded asexual were the crazy cat-lady maiden aunts or swishy gay-male best friends who could act ~sassy~ but never actually express sexual desire, or god-forbid have sex. There was never anyone, ever, who just didn’t want to have sex, for whatever reason.

I spent so much time when I was younger worrying about what was wrong with me, trying to figure out how exactly I was so awful and undesirable that no-one ever wanted me, that it took years for me to realize that, maybe, just maybe, it was that I didn’t desire, not that I was completely undesirable. Because I never saw myself reflected anywhere. Not once.

I saw the crazy cat-ladies as my warning from the future (“if you don’t subscribe to these cultural norms, look what you risk becoming!”) I saw characters thinking about sex, and talking about sex, and having sex, all the damn time. I saw characters who were never, ever single for a second, and those that were desperately looking for the next link on the chain. I saw only a reflection of things I wasn’t, and I thought that I was broken. For a really, really long time. Sometimes still.

So I jump at every crumb of representation, every “possible, maybe, are they?”

I remember that I once read a novel where I was certain that a side-character was asexual, and it actually gave me chills. The next book in the series came with the reveal….that she was a closet lesbian. Oh. And I mean, lesbians are great. Queer rep, yay! But there it was again, this feeling that something so obvious to me was apparently completely invisible. Again.

I didn’t expect Riverdale to “solve” representation in any way. I didn’t even expect Jughead’s experiences to be like mine. (People are not all asexual in the same way, just as people are not all sexual in the same way). But it would have been really nice to have a character who doesn’t have romantic or sexual relationships, and doesn’t want or need to, and isn’t broken or desperate or mocked. It would have been really nice to have one character, somewhere, who wasn’t shoved into the heteronormative mold (different rant for a different day, but I actually think most queer relationships on TV are forced to “pass” by fitting into heteronormative standards too).

I’m tired of having to read between the lines to find characters who feel (or don’t feel, as the case may be) like me. I’m tired of jumping at every crumb. I’m tired of sex being the center of every motivation, every character development. I’m tired of being forced to try to see myself in the robots and holograms and alien puddles of goo, and then even those robots and holograms and alien puddles of goo letting me down. I’m tired of it.

And I’m pissed.

And I’m skipping Riverdale.

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2016 in review

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2016…ugh

It’s become a cliche that 2016 has been a horrible wasteland for basically everyone on planet Earth. When you really get down to it, who can say for sure that 2016 had any more loss or terror or heartbreak than any other year, but things seemed to coalesce towards some sort of breaking point through the vortex of inescapable social media.

In any case, it’s been a hard year for me personally in a lot of respects. I don’t want to dwell on it too heavily, especially with 2017 right around the corner (though 2017 doesn’t look to be shaping up to be much better…), but I will admit to this much. If 2014 and 2015 were years I focused on recovering my health and working hard to stay alive in the face of some pretty bad odds, 2016 often made me wonder why I had bothered.

I got low, but it wasn’t all lows. So, in the interest of faking it til you make it, here are the things that made this year worth it to me.

The Good Bits of 2016

My nephew.

The greatest thing to happen this year was the birth of my first nephew, Jude, the best baby in the history of all babies. (Plus, he’s a great excuse to play the Beatles.)

Hamilton.

To be fair, Hamilton happened in 2015. But it’s not at all like I let it go in 2016. I listened to it more than is probably healthy. I bought the vinyl. I watched the documentary and LMM’s Drunk History. I got my mom obsessed. And then the mixtape happened. And then I got the Hamiltome for Christmas. So yeah, it just keeps on going.

My Favorite Murder

I’ve been a true crime addict ever since I was a bitty baby watching Unsolved Mysteries in the 80s (and suffering many subsequent nightmares.) I’ve never been a big fan of podcasts, but when I heard about My Favorite Murder, hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, it seemed right up my alley. And oh, how it is.

One of the best things about MFM is that it opened up a community so that suddenly I realized there are so many people out there just like me. I’ve had a couple of problems with the way Karen and Georgia sometimes express their thoughts (particularly regarding body shaming and mental health in a few episodes), but they are honest about being human and making mistakes and always striving to be better. Plus, they are able to take truly awful things and find humor in them.

My motto throughout 2016 has definitely been Stay sexy, and don’t get murdered.

Yuri!!! on Ice.

Yuri!!! on Ice almost single-handedly saved this year for me. I watched the entire series twice in the space of just a few days, and it makes me so damned happy. An anime about figure skating, anxiety, and true love, YOI is so sweet and funny. And the animation, particularly the skating sequences, is breathtaking. YOI has it all. Puppies. Sexy men lounging around hotsprings. A Canadian jackass. Excellent music (or at least- music that starts out corny but somehow becomes progressively more excellent each time you hear it). Pork cutlet bowls. Drunk pole dancing. A surly Russian teen with impeccable fashion sense. It is, basically, perfection, and I don’t yet know how I’m going to survive the wait for more.

Live music.

Something I really miss about my twenties is all the concerts I used to go to. I only managed to make it to two live shows this year, but they were really amazing ones.

In February, I splurged on myself and drove all the way to Nashville to see the tenth anniversary tour for Jenny Lewis’s Rabbit Fur Coat. It was a really special celebration of one of my favorite albums [And Jimmy Buffett showed up!!!].

In October, I saw Kaleo with Bishop Briggs. I already liked Bishop Briggs’ single, but live she was so much more dynamic and incredible than I was prepared for. And Kaleo just blew me away. (Their album, A/B, was one of my favorites of the year, and one day they’re going to be superstars.) It’s been a really, really long time since I stood in the front row of a tiny club to hear rock and roll. It was a feeling I’d thought I’d forgotten.

Here’s one of Kaleo’s songs that I absolutely adore:

Books with my name in them. 

When I was in first grade, my school published a “book” of stories written by the students, including two of mine. But whoever typed up those books made one crucial mistake….they spelled my name wrong.

I have been trying to correct that injustice for twenty five years. It may seem silly, but that typo in my name has been one of my biggest motivators to seeing my real name in print. I’ve had stories in online journals before, but this year, for the first time ever, I got to see my name. In. A. Real. Book. Look!

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It was so fucking cool.

Now I just need to get my name on the cover of a book.

Books without my name in them*. 

This is still a book review blog, if only in name, because I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet. So let’s make some space to call out the books that kept me sane in 2016. I read significantly less than I have in years past (as of this writing, it looks like I will top out the year at 97 books), but as always they were what I turned to whenever the world went pear-shaped.

Most of what I read was pretty good, tbh. But here were my absolute favorites, vaguely in order of when I read them:

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Sarah Vowell- Lafayette in the Somewhat United States , Jhumpa Lahiri- The Lowland, Lily King- Euphoria

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Roan Parrish- In the Middle of Somewhere, KJ Charles- Think of England, Marissa Meyer- Winter

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Marie Brennan- In the Labyrinth of Drakes , Naomi Novik- Uprooted, N.K. Jemisin- The Fifth Season

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Lyndsay Faye- Jane Steele, Tana French- The Trespasser, Cat Sebastian- The Soldier’s Scoundrel, Celeste Ng- Everything I Never Told You

*I give up on trying to format this correctly . WordPress what the fuck are you doing? 

Well my lovely friends, that’s all. Have as happy a New Year as you can. My dearest hope is that all of my crippling fears will turn out to be unfounded. Only time will tell, but in the meantime keep enjoying books and all the other things that make you happy.

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