a maid of honor, a middle school English teacher, and an author walk into a bar …

… and she asks for a margarita, no salt on the rim.

Hi world, it’s me again.

In no particular order, here is a list of goings-on since I last wrote:

    • upped my crochet game
    • lost the contents of my laptop SSD in a random act of catastrophe (this is why, gentle readers, you always always always make extra back ups)
    • went from a day job to an actual day career
    • moved states again in the process
    • made some new friends
    • adopted a cat
    • my sister is engaged to be married this autumn

So the time for writing has been … well, suffice to say, sparing.

And yet I am alive and kicking and ready, when work releases me for summer break, to WRITE!

What joy!

(And here, an obligatory cat photo:

Percy, a small black and white cat, curled up on a sofa.

His name is Percy.)

old habits die hard, so make sure you kill ’em right the first time

So: recalibration is in effect.

(Hi everyone, I’m not dead, all of your assassination attempts have failed and I am back and here to post my horrendous opinions on the internet once more. You’re welcome.)

By recalibration I mean picking up and moving out of state. I’m at that point of my life where I can say “I’m looking for a change of pace” and nod mysteriously, and people will accept it and not pry. Thank goodness. Having to wear a mask in public only adds to that je ne sais quoi. I am thinking of sewing more masks in new colors so I can match them to my outfits and really lean into the whole thing.

Is it taking an embarrassing amount of time getting my feet under me in this new place? Yes. But I’m not embarrassed. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. I’ve been thinking about shame for a while now, the ways it eats up little pieces of our lives, and I’m noticing that most of the places where I struggled most in life — where I needed help more than I expected, or where I didn’t understand what was happening, or where I did understand but was too scared to do anything about it — most of those things all, eventually, somehow, came back to shame.

Shame at the idea that I needed help in the first place. Shame that I didn’t understand what was wrong, that I wasn’t smart enough to identify the problem. Shame that I wasn’t brave enough or strong enough to fix it on my own.

The thing that shame does is it makes you quiet. Or, it made me quiet. So whatever problem I had, which could have been more easily fixed at the beginning, instead spiraled and snowballed until it was a big ugly mess. Shame, it’s a hydra: when you try to take a blade to one insecurity, two more pop up in its place, until eventually it’s a huge seething creature finally too big to be ignored. At which point I tend to either break down in tears or enter the kind of depressive state that means sleeping all day and forgetting to eat more than one meal every 24 hours, and then finally get help, and then finally fix the problem.

So: this year — among everything else it’s been (and it’s been so many things) — has been about excising shame. And the further I go, the more I see that pruning it out is doing good things for me. See, if I’m no longer ashamed of needing help, then I ask for it sooner and my problems become easier to fix. And if I’m not ashamed of my own enthusiasm or the ideas I’m enthusiastic about, it becomes much easier to put that enthusiasm to work executing those ideas.

(Throwback to my analysis of 2019’s word count: if I make it easy for myself to write, then I write a hell of a lot more. PS: yes, the sticker tracker works fabulously. I am eyeing a sheet of shiny Sandylion goldfish stickers for when I run out of my current set, before Halloween if I reach my daily goals.)

Is it messy and weird and sometimes frustrating and really really not what I was expecting? Yes. Yer darn right, yes, it is all of those things. But I’ve been through worse, and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to be where I am now. Especially when it’s shaping up to be something good.

we’re all just going through the Spider Stairs right now

I’ve been sitting on this subject for a while — since senior year of college, actually — but there’s no time like the present, and, well, we could all use a little distraction.

In senior year of college, I took my first actual creative writing course.

My professor was one of those guys. I’m sure you know the type. Eyebrows that would make Einstein proud, tweed jacket with the little elbow patches, you name it. He also had a little brown notebook that he carried around with him everywhere, for writing down useful quotes and ideas that struck him, though he never mentioned that in the intro course. It’s a shame, because that would have helped.

Maybe if I had taken my first creative writing course sooner, so I could take more of the advanced classes, that would have helped, too. But I had other requirements to meet and other classes I wanted to take, and in any case, a friend had already taken some of the more advanced classes and shared her experience, so I felt that I didn’t stand to gain much from them in person. Still, I felt I had to take at least one creative writing class before I graduated college, so I did.

(This was the year after I successfully finished my first ever novel draft, a steaming trash fire which will never see the light of day; it was also the year after Sir Terry Pratchett died. This helps to put things in a bit of perspective.)

I did learn some useful things. Things like how to make someone care about your character as soon as you put them into a scene. Things like the “so what” and “what’s the point” of a story. Things like poem structure, short story structure.

That bit, I have no quarrel with. But I also learned that genre fiction was considered a secondary tool for carrying your “so what” and “what’s the point,” tertiary, quaternary. And that escapism was a “so what” and “what’s the point,” but not the primary focus of literature in general.

Frankly, on that bit, I call BS.

In fact, I would argue that all literature, even including some variants of nonfiction (can you say “self help”?), focuses on escapism.

Yes, even regarding tragedies and horror, even regarding the stories of woeful high school English teachers having affairs with their students. I may not agree with the subject material, the manner in which it’s executed, or the end point of the story itself — but every story we write that is not purely factual from stem to stern has some element of escapism, and even there you can make an argument for it.

The tragedy of Macbeth involves the laws of man and nature themselves turned upside down, but it also involves the restoration of that order and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet involves the machine of hatred destroying every life it touches, but it also involves (albeit after far too much bloodshed) the realization of the culprits that their actions were wrong.

Pick a horror movie. Any horror movie. Don’t tell me what it is, I don’t like horror, but do you have one in mind? Yes? Okay. In that horror movie, the world becomes wrong and fear is everywhere. But at the end, something, some small something, is right. Even if it’s only the catharsis the audience gets when the horror is over and you can come back into the world and know the horror has not followed you.

Romance is full of escapism. In a romance, that leather-bejacketed bad boy can actually be a good person, the cute geeky nerd isn’t creepy, and the jock that the shy girl could never dream of catching can be caught. The main character’s happiness and safety are front and center to the narrative, and — key to the romance genre — there is always a happy ending.

Fantasy and sci fi are the only ones that people look at immediately and call escapism, but they’re hardly the only ones that do it. And each genre has its own strengths and weaknesses for telling a story, for giving the audience the “so what” and “what’s the point.”

There is value in a story about flying cars, or talking dinosaurs, or dragons, or witches. There is value in escapism, because as Tolkien said, only a jailer is against escape, and as Pratchett said, we must have somewhere to escape to as well as from.

So what? What’s the point? The point is that humans have been telling escapist stories, in which the good are rewarded and the evil are punished, in which human minds and hearts triumph over the cold dark of the forest or the sea or outer space or even death, ever since we first had languages with which to tell them. The point is that, human as we are, we need escapist stories, to help us dream of a better world than the one we have. Because how can we make a better world if we don’t know one exists, somewhere, even if only in the imagination?

The “now more than ever”s and the “in this time of”s and the “new normal”s and all are suffocating. Near the beginning of this, my most recent post mentioned King Lear having been written during a plague — well, after the Black Death, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote The Decameron. A series of stories within a story, and very likely a great influence on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which is framed in a similar fashion. A group of people whiling away the time on a journey together by telling stories to each other, to make life a little more bearable.

The journey of quarantine is different from that of a pilgrimage, without a doubt. But some things remain the same. The escapism of a good story, whether it’s tragic or epic or simply domestic, is a necessary light in the dark.

Stay safe, everybody.

the recluse writer, but on purpose this time

So plague-blogging is a thing now!

I’ve gotta be honest with y’all, being shut up in the house is not doing as much for my productivity as I would have hoped. Previously I had been going to the library to get my work done, and, well, the libraries are all closed. Along with everything else. It turns out a change of scenery is one of those load-bearing things that helps put me into work mode just as much as pen and paper and reliable audio do, and without it, I get a little — how do you say — antsy. And not the good kind of oh-man-gotta-write antsy, the I-need-to-get-outta-here kind.

Crochet is very good for combatting the antsiness and keeping my hands busy (and watching new-to-me Austen movies at the same time, hello Persuasion and Emma, 1995-6 was a very good time for Austen yes indeed), but very bad for my overall word count. We’re over the 15,000 word mark on the draft now, but less than 5k written over the course of 10 days is not what I call a good sign. Of course a small amount of writing is better than no writing at all, but still.

Well …

Reader, I was trying to avoid marathon sprints, but life in the time of corona means I can go ahead and subject my eyeballs to the blowtorch and write 10,000 words a day and not have to worry about being an utter recluse (quarantine means social distancing is a GOOD thing!) or about being utterly useless afterwards.

And hey, once I finish the draft, then I’m perfectly justified in crocheting my little heart out until my eyeballs recover. Then editing, and publishing the darn thing.

Maybe I’ll even dip my toes into audiobooks. Hey, I’ve got the time for it now.

According to a whole bunch of people on Twitter (and any number of articles written in the last few days; apparently Twitter is a primary source now) Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a plague. Well, I’m no Bill Shakes, I know that for sure. But I can see how madness being a factor makes a whole lot of sense; same as witches talking about regicide in Macbeth makes sense when you take into account King James’s fascination with witches and his brush with an assassination attempt. Well, maybe my main character being shut in a tomb for safekeeping is a bit too on-the-nose for COVID-19 … but in my defense, the thing she’s hiding from isn’t a virus, just other people.

Talk about social distancing.

getting things done

The other Monday, coming home from the airport, I observed aloud that the con crud hadn’t affected me so far, so I must have escaped it this year. So naturally I started coming down with the crud two days later.

One of these days I’m gonna need to stop treating constitution as my dump stat. And stop tempting the evil eye while I’m at it.

Some observations on the writing front:

Writing longhand seems to work better than it used to. The sensory feeling helps make it feel like a ‘new’ thing, and I’ve always liked using different types of writing accessories, so this way the crow brain gets a little justification for having bought that multipack of gel pens a while back.

Using the sticker journal method combined with Writeometer helps to reinforce the daily habit as well as tracking progress. Being sick and brain-foggy over the last week of February hurts to look at in terms of empty writing time, but that way I wasn’t splitting my concentration between writing and getting better, and when I got better, I was able to maintain the same level of productivity from before.

Especially since I didn’t get sick in the middle of a 10k-in-one-day sprint. See? I’m learning.

(Note: there is a difference between the brain fog of coughing one’s lungs out, and the brain fog of sneezing one’s lungs out. I just haven’t properly quantified it because I would rather be concentrating on literally anything else.)

You’ll notice I’m using things like gel pens and stickers to make the act of writing more sensory. That’s on purpose. I like tap-tap-tapping on a keyboard just fine, but if I’m gonna be out of ideas, lately I’d prefer to be so with a pad and paper than with my computer — because with the former, I just generally stare into space and click the pen a few dozen times and then just get back to it. It’s its own fidget toy, basically. With the latter, not much to fidget with unless you decide to whip out the Google Chrome no-internet-connection dino game. And at that point, the siren call of the internet starts up, and, well. In any case: it’s part of this whole “working with my brain instead of against it” thing.

Piggybacking off that idea of making writing more sensory is the auditory dimension. Some people function best with pure silence, others with white noise or variations (and there are many sites where you can adjust the white noise to sound like a coffee shop, or rain, or even a space ship); I function best when I have something to listen to that I already know inside out, and that also functions as a time-measure. So I cue up movies that I’ve seen a thousand times before. This has its own pros and cons … it has to be something I know down to its very bones and am used to watching, or I will get distracted by the actual movie rather than what I’m writing. At this particular moment in time, that means Jane Austen and romcoms. By the time that Lizzie rejects Darcy’s proposal, I know I should have already written at least 500 words.

(I have an idea rattling around my head of not only keeping track of word count with a graph and stickers, but with little game tokens to track chapter and novel count. But at the moment this is less feasible, and frankly feels like similar efforts from my crow brain to try to persuade me to buy more tabletop rpg dice. Yes, that d20 is very shiny. No, I do not need another one.)

While I don’t make graphs detailing every single plot beat, I do need a general map of where I’m going before I start. Which, for my current project, I have! Which I made during downtime at LTUE, actually. But which I haven’t actually looked at much since then. Might try doing that more often, the further into it we go. Especially since the big thing that I stumble into as a roadblock is “what the heck do I do next”. (Yeah, past me has declared before that writer’s block is only a matter of wanting to write, not not-knowing what to write. Past me has said a lot of things that turned out not to be accurate.) One thing that I do to combat this is by jumping around and writing scenes outside of chronological order. Hopping around the timeline can be fun, and is actually pretty helpful — if I don’t write it down, I will forget — but when it comes down to connecting the dots after the scenes are mostly written, how to transition from X to Z, well, that’s when it starts getting tricky. So having the outline to refer back to is gonna be handy.

But even if I haven’t been quite using all of the tools at my disposal (cough outline cough), I’m still writing much more than before. 2k or 3k a day is a lot more manageable than a 10k sprint, and so far I’ve been able to sustain that momentum. As of this morning we’re already over the 10,000 word mark — that’s pretty exciting. I’m hopeful that this story will be just as fun for readers as it is for me, writing it.

Well, buckle down and back to work!

LTUE 2020

Obligatory LTUE recap time!

One reason I love going to this con is that I always get so many ideas, just being around so many other writers and going to so many panels. From zombies to medieval sieges to colonizing the ocean, I’m so chock-full of thoughts they’re about to start pouring out of my ears. Fabulous.

The commute to the con is also part of what makes it such a good trip. I love planes and trains, and once you get past security, airports are pretty good too (despite the jacked-up restaurant prices). Something about liminal spaces just really really does it for me.

I also got some new reading material, and have already polished off one of the four books I bought at the signing on Friday. (Goodreads review is incoming — but in the meantime, suffice to say I love a good villain manifesto.) It’s really cool to connect with other indies, and that’s actually going on my to-do list for 2020: reading more indie work. Classics like Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and The Martian by Andy Weir are good (no, I’m not just saying that because they both got movie deals out of it), but there’s so much more out there. And that’s the whole point of indie! That you can put anything you want into the world. What wonderful freedom as a writer; what wonderful freedom as a reader. Time to get going!

Related to that point, or kitty-corner to that point, is something else that hammered in this time that hadn’t been emphasized in the other LTUE cons I’ve been to. Brad R. Torgersen was the writers’ keynote speaker, and it was really cool. The guy’s worked really hard for a really long time. A guy like that says something, and you best listen. And one thing he said was that if something (a story, a genre, whatever) isn’t working, try something else.

That sounds like the most obvious thing in the world. But it needed to be said — or at least, I needed to hear it.

I’ve pretty much been bashing my head in trying to write the fourth Iron Gentry novel. I’m about 2/3rds of the way done with the manuscript. But I just can’t get any farther with it. Ok … so I took a break, and wrote a whole 40k draft of a romance. And then I went back to bashing my head against that Iron Gentry book for the rest of the year. And wondered why I wasn’t able to get anywhere with it.

Brad R. Torgersen’s keynote was like a lightbulb going ding! over my head.

If romance is what really scratches my id right now? If that’s what I’m excited to write? Then, dude, what the heck am I doing writing anything else??

Now, it’s still gonna be historical or supernatural or scifi, because it’s still me we’re talking about. I’m not completely switching gears. But the Tomelin books are (mostly) done; the main trilogy for Callan and his family is over. I can afford to branch out into different worlds at this point.

And, you guys, I’m really stoked. I have SO many ideas. I’m already almost 3k into a new draft.

And that’s the whole point of LTUE, after all. To develop, to get better — and to get out there and write.

So I’m off to go and write.

the only place left to go is up

So — a 2019 recap is in order. The second week of February isn’t too late for that, right? Right.

I was not active on here. I should have been, but if I’ve learned anything from the last year, beating myself up over not doing something is the best way to ensure I continue to not do it. So there’s that: it is what it is, and we learn, and we move on.

I got a new day job. A step up from the old one, and a step closer to where I want to be.

I picked up some new/old skills. I learned how to fight with a rapier and a dagger in addition to a longsword, and I relearned how to crochet, and I sewed my first big clothing project. (A brocade jacket, which I’m pretty proud of. I should post pictures.)

I lost fifteen pounds. I blame that on rapier class, mostly, which can be blamed on Alexandre Dumas, because I read The Three Musketeers and just had to learn.

I got more active with tabletop rpgs. Even started my first ever campaign as a DM, which has been an amazing experience.

And I wrote.

I didn’t publish anything. Not original fiction, and not fanfiction. My AO3 account has been dusty and silent for over a year now, and, well … you know how my Amazon page has been.

But even if I never published a word of it, I still wrote. I polished off an entire 40k first draft of a novella. And here and there — halfheartedly, but still better than nothing at all — I worked on a partial draft of the fourth Iron Gentry book, adding just under 20,000 words to the draft in 2019. Most of these were written before I got the new day job; and the majority of the novella draft was written in a caffeine-fueled marathon that lasted for three days, clocking a total of 28,617 words in that time.

Not exactly sustainable. Add a day job to the equation, and … yeah. No. Definitely not.

(No, NaNoWriMo did not happen in 2019. Partially because day job, and partially because I got sick twice.)

But 60k words in a year isn’t anything to sneeze at. That’s a novella and a half, and it’s more than I wrote in the year 2018, if I remember correctly.

But in addition to that, I also wrote just under 225k of personal projects with a friend, most of which was based on The Three Musketeers.

Yeah, Dumas is definitely the criminal mastermind here, not me.

Will any of that ever be shared with the public? Probably not. It was damn fun, and I have a good time rereading it, but it wasn’t written with the intention to be consumed by anybody except myself and the friend I wrote it with.

… which I think goes a long way toward explaining just why I was so prolific with that, but not with the original fiction, or even the fanfic I pop on AO3. It’s a hell of a lot less pressure to goof around with a friend where no one else can see than it is to try to make something worth putting out to the public, to say nothing of putting a price tag on it.

The other main explanation is that because it was a personal project, a series of ongoing conversations with a friend about a book (and a movie, or multiple movies) that I love, in the year 2019 we wrote pretty consistently from the middle of March all the way through December 31. We did it in our free time, in stolen minutes during lunch breaks and in the morning before work, after work, long stints on the weekends. I haven’t tracked it on a graph, and I’m sure we had a few dry spells, but if we didn’t average writing 5 days out of 7, I’ll eat my tablet stylus.

It wasn’t a job. It was a hobby: it was fun, and I looked forward to doing it, and I did it whenever I could.

A third, smaller and sillier explanation is that formatting factors into it more than I’d thought. There’s this darn thing called smart quotes, and when I’m plunking along in the message system I use with my friend, smart quotes don’t register and it doesn’t matter what device I’m typing on. Whereas in Google Docs — my go-to for writing original and fan fiction on-the-go — on my laptop, smart quotes populate; but on my mobile devices, neither love nor money could convince those little Android keyboards to give me smart quotes.

Google Docs used to let my tablet do them, but it updated in the middle of last year and now… yeah. Nope.

This is why there’s a saying that goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

(See, I told you it was silly.)

In any case, altogether that’s nearly 300,000 words that I wrote in 2019. The equivalent of four novellas, or three nice-sized books, or one doorstop.

There’s a number of lessons to be learned here.

  • Get past the block of “oh man this has to be perfect on the first try,” so stuff can actually get written. Give myself permission for it to be silly and florid and dramatic, and to goof off with it a bit.
  • Getting excited, looking forward to it, leads to doing it whenever possible. Make it as easy as possible to do.
  • If something else is blocking me, find a way around it. Writing longhand seems like a good solution here, since I don’t have to worry about mobile devices formatting all my quotes the wrong way.
    • Related to the “make it easy” bullet — bring a notebook and pen with me everywhere I go, so I can write wherever I go. Not just my personal journal, but a writing one.
  • Reward my brain for writing, instead of beating it up when I don’t. Joy Demorra over at @thebibliosphere has a writing log that’s part of a rewards system for her daily routine, which is basically tracking the daily word count by putting a shiny sticker in her journal for every X amount of words. Does it have the same basic function as one of those NaNo tracker graphs, or my Writeometer app? Yes. But oooh boy, my crow brain is a lot happier about shiny stickers than it is about graphs.
    • At the same time, don’t fix what ain’t broke. The journal is for tracking total daily word count; Writeometer is best for tracking progress in a specific project. So I’ll probably end up using both.
  • Last but not least: when all of these conditions are being met? When I’m enthusiastic, when I’m giving myself permission to go off the rails, when I’m writing every minute that I can and not worried about formatting? I actually write a hell of a lot.

And that’s pretty reassuring.

So 2019 wasn’t a total bust after all — and hey, it can only get better from here.

alexa, play “the boys are back in town”

That there is a joke, because I will never own an Alexa, because the Internet of Things scares the living daylights out of me.

— Anyway.

The thing about the internet is you can start a sentence with “the thing about” with absolute confidence, and sound like you actually know what you’re talking about, as though you’re an expert.

I am not an expert.

I mean, clearly, considering my last post was from (*checks blog*) March. Yikes.

Procrastinator? Me? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

There are a few factors into this. One, the day-job-search which turned into the new-job-navigation (five-month-mark at the end of October, woo!). Two, the attempt to Konmari my living space, which has had middling success thus far. Three, the re-engagement in my local European martial arts club, which I had dropped last fall and only got back into this summer. Four, jumping headfirst into more tabletop rpgs with some long-distance buddies, including my own pseudo-homebrew LOTR campaign. Also, this month I picked up sewing as a hobby, and actually made a pretty cool  brocade jacket on the first try, if I do say so myself.

Life goes on. I’m not going out dancing every night, but I am busier than I was this time last year.

But the fact of the matter is that these things don’t excuse my absence on this blog. If nothing else, I could have at least spared a few minutes here and there to write “I ain’t dead”.

And if I’d taken a few minutes here and there to work on my novel drafts every day, then — well — see my previous post in March about writing being like brushing your teeth.

Writing-wise, I am full of cavities right now.

And then you look at the pile of Things To Do, which seems to get bigger every minute, and then (if you’re me, at least) you balk, and then you decide to ignore it, because in the moment that’s easier. That’s a problem for Future Me is practically a slogan of mine by now.

It’s not a good way of doing business. I can’t write this on my taxes next year, that’s for sure, unless something miraculous happens in the next (*checks calendar*) two and a half months.


It feels disingenuous to tell you now that I’m gonna work hard to be better, when I’ve made those promises before and not kept them. It feels disingenuous to say I’m going to try to post a weekly update, and write SOMETHING every day.

But the alternative is to do nothing at all, and I’m done with that.

I want to be better. So I am going to try — actively try — to be better.

And hey, NaNoWriMo is coming up soon. What better time to start holding myself accountable again?

writing is like brushing your teeth

or: get ready for an overly-explained metaphor that you’ll have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post to read.

My new laptop has been up and running again for just over a week now, and in that time I have written nearly 28,000 words — today I’m hoping to cap it off at a neat 35,000. On Goodreads the other week I mentioned that using the Writeometer app is a good way of making writing fun, because the neat little bar graph and line graph show my progress (and the bright green graphics certainly make it nice, and the little inspirational writing quotes on the main app page are super cute).

But what it also does is it keeps me honest in not only how much I write, but how long it takes me to do it. What it comes down to — and I can’t claim that it makes sense, all I know is that that’s how it works — is that if I don’t time myself to write as much as I possibly can within 20 minutes, and do so multiple times a day, then I waffle around a bit and at most I’ll write 5,000 words.

The week before my old laptop died, I clocked almost 12,000 words, none of those using timed sessions.

Between yesterday and the day before, I clocked nearly twice that amount. By timing myself, 20 minutes at a time, for nine hours yesterday and six hours the day before.

Now, that wasn’t all in one go each day. I had to get coffee and eat food and take out the recycling and water the plants and get the mail and sleep. And what I found is that I naturally fell into a rhythm of 4 sessions in a row, then getting up and stretching my legs and running errands as needed, then getting back in the saddle.

And waking up this morning, I knew very well that doing marathons like that isn’t sustainable: because my wrist hurt, and because my eyes felt like they’d been dried with a blow torch. I normally spend my days staring at a computer screen, but not quite in such a concentrated manner, and dang if it doesn’t make a physical difference.

So: writing is like brushing your teeth. If you’re anything like I was as a teenager (and college student), and you forget to brush for days at a time until finally about a week later you realize your teeth are absolutely covered in gross slimy fur, then when you finally do brush your teeth (taking five minutes to excavate and floss and all the rest) your teeth feel so shiny and slick and clean that you wonder why you don’t do this every day.

I do brush my teeth regularly these days. And (knock on wood) I haven’t gotten a cavity yet. But the procrastination to the point of discomfort, and then the mad rush to do a week’s worth of time in a matter of hours, is the exact same whether you’re brushing your teeth or whether you’re writing.

And frankly, it’s healthier to write 3,000 words a day for eight days than it is to write 24,000 words in the space of 48 hours.

The long and the short of it is that by the end of the day today, the rough draft of my first romance novella will be going up for edits — and by the end of next week (given a more reasonable pace rather than a marathon), so will the fourth Iron Gentry novel.

Les Mis BBC, a review

or: the one where I’m tempted to use capslock, and must manfully refrain, otherwise it would be all capslock.

I wrote a post almost a year ago mentioning the BBC adaptation of Les Mis, and made a lot of placating noises about how adaptations are never exactly like the book, and how in some cases I actually prefer adaptations that are wildly different from their origins. And in some cases, yes, that is still true. But with Les Mis BBC …

Oh boy, how do I put this.

Wicked the musical has some of the character tropes from the book, and has the same basic plot beats, but is completely different from the book in terms of tone and outlook. The book is nihilistic and pessimistic; it speaks of terrorism as the only way to combat a totalitarian regime, it speaks of death as inevitable, none of the characters (and I do mean none of them) are sympathetic, and there is so much weird R-rated stuff going on that it’s frankly amazing my parents let me read it in middle school.

Wicked the musical is about none of that. Wicked the musical is about finding meaning in life even when it’s easier not to, and about friendship and love saving people even at the eleventh hour; its characters are all sympathetic, except for the main antagonist, and nobody dies. And yeah, there’s a suggestive scene, but it’s nowhere near as raunchy as something from Heathers or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Frankly, it barely hits the PG mark.

Transforming a pessimistic book into an optimistic show, that’s something I’m fine with. More than fine. Enthusiastic about, even.

But what Andrew Davies did with Les Mis was the opposite.

Continue reading “Les Mis BBC, a review”