Writer. Editor. Leximaven. Game Designer. Vorpal Blonde. Bisexual Brainlicker. Midas's Touch. Schrödinger's Brat.

Twas Brillig

6 (Impossible) Things Before Breakfast

posted on: September 7, 2014
in: Blog, Rejoice

AmpRoof

Our new rescue dog, Ampersand, in case you haven’t already met her.

It’s been a long time since I did this, but it feels like time to return to the positive. So here are this week’s impossible things:

  1. This short film blew me away: Abiogenesis by Richard Man
  2. Who Rescued Who? This amazing program pairs prisoners with dogs in need of training and rescue
  3. Why it’s important to be good to each other
  4. My current song obsession: Take Me to Church, by Hozier.
  5. I’ll be running Numenera online Sept. 27th. Come and watch. All are welcome.
  6. Bound by Lust is out in audiobook this week and As Kinky As You Wanna Be comes out soon!
  7. One extra today, because it’s been so long: I watched The Station Agent yesterday. What a beautiful movie.

What impossible things did you believe this week?

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

all my life I was a bride married to amazement

posted on: August 23, 2014
in: Blog

Sometimes you stand looking forward and step back and back and back. You think there’s nothing good behind you, just an expanse of future failures, missteps, tumbles, the hole that you accidentally dug for yourself ten years ago, the broken ankle, the quicksand, the cold shadow of that lie you told, an old disease come back to ache your bones, a swarm of wasps buried in the ground.

But then you step back once more and your hand touches silk, brushed cotton, a sheet on a line that smells of the ones you love. A dog’s tongue along your wrist. A tiny flower that releases a drunk, vanilla-scented honey bee. A laugh over something funny that you haven’t heard yet. The unexpected kindness of those who flit about your life, sweet moths. The good things you did last week, last month, last year, that come back to you, filled with light.

This year has been like that. So much dark and you step backward through it, falling, falling, having fallen, and feel stunned when you look up to find the promise of stars to guide your way.

The last time I blogged here, my grandmother had just passed away. I was heartbroken, away from my family, and to top it off, buried in the middle of what might have been the worst work experience I’ve ever had. Someone that we trusted completely dropped the ball on us. The action wasn’t malicious, but the result was the same: in the middle of grieving, I suddenly had to start working 16- and 18-hour days seven days a week to do a job that we had already paid someone else for (on top of my own work, which already exceeded a full-time job). That went on for weeks, and the repercussions of it all lasted for months, and affected our entire team.  I didn’t go home to be with my own family during my grandmother’s death. I had to cancel a trip to see my partner’s family. I worked through sickness brought on by the stress of everything. Everyone else took on more work, because I couldn’t do it all. I was turning into a horrible person from lack of sleep, no exercise, and too much stress. The low point for me was sitting alone in the house, so sick I could barely sit upright, while my partner was away visiting his family, and I realized I’d done nothing but work and sleep since he’d left three days before — and that I had another three or four days left of the same. 

It was a dark, dark time. I felt like the stars were just being snuffed out around me, one by one.

~

Why am I telling this story? Why do any of us tell stories of our darkness?

I don’t think it’s for sympathy. Or to show how brave we are. Or even to have other people respond with nice words and kind thoughts. I think we tell stories of the dark because it shows that none of us are alone. That we have all wandered in the shadow, and that sometimes we are wandering there side-by-side, and we don’t know it because we can’t see each other or reach out or even call out for help. 

The shadow didn’t lift for a long, long time. I can’t remember when it started going away, but I know that family, friends, and loved ones helped, that getting the work done helped, that finding a way to grieve for my grandmother and connect with my family helped. I tried to remember what I loved — great books, music, writing, movies, exercise, cooking, playing games — and I brought them back into my life. Even if sometimes I didn’t want to, I faked it. I faked loving those things until I could actually love them again. I remembered who I was. I apologized for who I’d been. I started to look forward again, and to walk more confidently in the world.

That seems so long ago, but really it isn’t. The light has been so bright since then, and I am so grateful every day for that. Here are the stars that are currently shining away my dark:

We adopted a dog from the Everett Animal Shelter. Her name is Ampersand (we call her Amp for short). She’s 2+ and a lab-something mix. She’s wonderful and there are few things as star-shining as belly rubs and face licks.

2014-08-22 13.57.13

photo 4

My baby sister (she’s 15 years younger than me and is awesome) got married and I got to be her maid of honor. She and my dad and I cried a lot, but always in a good way. Also, yes, that’s my dad in a pimp hat hanging with his two daughters. He’s a very good sport.

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We went to Gen Con, and Numenera — the game of our hearts — received a number of ENnie awards, including Product of the Year. I can’t even begin to say how much it means to me that the gaming community gave us their support in this way. It’s such an incredible honor. We also came out with our new game, The Strange, and so far, it has been very well received.

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~

It is light now, but I know that it will be dark again, and I know that I can live with that and through that. Despite it all, I don’t want my life to be only light. The darkness molds my bones into steel weapons with its cold hands. Dark squeezes the muscle of my heart until its beat is fierce enough to thrive anywhere. The shadow I’m walking through is my own, and it means somewhere there is light enough to cast it.

I want what Mary Oliver wants in her poem, “When Death Comes”:

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

~

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

PPS — Did you know that the average color of the universe is called Cosmic Latte?

 

There’s no getting out alive, but you hope to avoid a deadline

posted on: March 14, 2014
in: Blog

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A few years back, I read Haruki Murakami’s book, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.”

“I run,” he writes, “to seek a void.”

I wanted to seek a void too. But I had a complicated relationship with running. I used to be a runner. And I used to hate it. I was a smoker then, a wheezer, even though I looked like I was in perfect health and I hid my smoking habit from everyone who might think it was shameful. I did a couple of half-marathons, even a couple of full marathons. And I never, ever got my promised high. Agony and agony and agony. And yet, I thought it was something that needed to be mine. My dad does triathlons (and he’s spectacularly fast — or he was, until he had to get knee surgery). My sister and her fiance are runners (I don’t know if she’s fast, but I know that she is driven, and thus she is as fast as she can be, mostly due to ferocity of will).

I no longer smoke. It’s been years and years. And I no longer run.

I write. I have learned that the void is the period at the end of each sentence. The void is the thing that characters don’t say to each other but that the reader feels in their spine. The void is the place where you close a book and you forget, for just a moment, that you aren’t there, in that life, with those people anymore.

My grandmother passed away this week, and I am seeking a void. Is it possible to seek a void with someone else in it? If so, that’s what I am doing. I want to seek that place where she bought me choose-your-own-adventure books every Christmas. The place where she tried to teach me how to play the organ–and then taught me how to plug in headphones so only I could hear the caterwaul that came from my determined and supremely untalented fingers. How she always wore blue jeans in the winter and had her colors done regularly so she could choose clothes that were good for her skin.  How last time I saw her she teased me, with a kind of delight, “So I should look for your books in the sexy section of Amazon?” The place where she always put her cool, dry hands on the sides of my face when she looked at me, and then leaned in and kissed both my cheeks with a love so clear and true that you felt it in the very softness of your heart. She was 85, and glorious.

I write. And discover that the void is the period at the end of these sentences. That the void is the things you didn’t say to each other but felt in your spine. That the void is the moment where you close a book and remember, just for a moment, that she isn’t there, in this life, with you anymore.

It is agony and agony and agony. And worth every word.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

**Title line courtesy of Galveston, a novel by Nic Pizzolatto (he of True Detective). You should be reading this book. I promise.

 

Yesterday’s Words: 5,000

 

 

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

7. Numenera Short Stories (gaming/fiction) 1,000/12,000


6. Sir Arthour’s Guide (gaming)


5. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


4. Numenera CO (gaming)


3. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


2. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)

1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 50,000/60,000

 

Mothership

posted on: March 8, 2014
in: Blog

(An old poem of mine, a little something for International Women’s Day. May we all deflect our bullets).

 

Mothership
Shanna Germain

When observed from across the kitchen,
her bracelets are unending coils of red and blue

curved around wrists of steel, gauntlets that
deflect bullets, laser beams, showers of crushed cubes.

Look closer: it’s just a mother
keeping madness at bay with

paper cups, the bottoms cut out.
Instead of ice, she chews the edges of

her veins. The cold bothers her teeth,
makes it hard to hear the rabbit in the window.

Once, she opened a man’s heart.
Once, she stopped the moon from breaking.

Her apron strings unravel, cascading toward earth
in a coiled arc. If she knots them again and again,

she can turn back time. Before my birth, her tongue
tasted a dozen languages. Now when she crosses her wrists

in front of her, even her daughter cannot get through.
I am a weapon of her own making, gravitational

planet crashing every moment.
Wait. 

She will reach up to find the coarse salt,
expose the soft underbelly, the Amazon heart.

Once, she saved the planet.
Once, she took off her bracelets.
Once, she saved her fury

for a better place.  The earth moves.
Light speeds  
through glass, freezing us

in this island of kitchen. Her truth
rubs our hearts raw with its constant shift.  

~

My Butt Hurts

posted on: February 26, 2014
in: Blog

That is to say: I’ve sat on my keister and written for about sixteen hours straight the last two days.

Despite how it may seem, this, as Martha says, is a good thing.

Words, baby, words.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

 

Words for the Past Two Days:

6,000 gaming

 

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

7. Numenera Short Stories (gaming/fiction) 1,000/12,000


6. Sir Arthour’s Guide (gaming)


5. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


4. Numenera CO (gaming)


3. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


2. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)

1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 50,000/60,000

 

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.

posted on: January 31, 2014
in: Blog

Sometimes I get lost inside who I am. I contain more than multitudes. I am the view of dark space through the Hubble telescope. I am the ultra deep field, stars streaming my face like lost eyelashes. I contain 10,000 galaxies within the dark of my eye. With every action, I create a life. Destroy a species. Wipe out a pair of moons. Birth a dying star.

This is true of all of us. Infinitely large and utterly insignificant.

I got an email yesterday, from someone who thanked me for what I write. He said that this year, he came out to his wife as a transgender female. That women like me gave him the confidence to be himself. It made me cry. All things like that make me cry, that we touch one another across time and space, move planets, break stars open to make accidental light.

Since I was old enough to read, I knew what my calling was. Write stories. Write stories. Write stories. Change the world through words. Tell the emotional truths. Say the thing I’m not supposed to say, the hard thing, the difficult thing, the true thing. All of my multitudes know this. It’s the only thing they agree on, the only thing that keeps an infinity in equilibrium. And when I forget? A dying star writes its swan song. Light escapes from a black hole. The dark space goes beyond dark into something unknowable.

Sometimes I get lost inside what I am here to do. The internet pretends it’s a universe, but it’s just a shack on the outskirts of town. Important in its own galaxy, but small as the tip of an eyelash pressed to the Hubble. My real work is out there. In the dark space, where it is my job to bring the light.

My real work is to tell the stories that only I can tell.

What is your real work? Answer me that.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

 

**Today’s title courtesy of the poem, Flying at Night,” by Ted Kooser

New Words:

2,700 gaming

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

6. The Bone Key (novel)


5. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)


4. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


3. Numenera CO (gaming)


2. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 50,000/60,000

 

Now you hear what the house has to say.

posted on: January 22, 2014
in: Blog

I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious insomnia for the past few weeks. It’s the kind that comes three-fold, like a herd attacking from all sides. The first is that I don’t get tired as early as I’d like and so I stay up later than I usually do. Then, I wake up 4 or 5 times a night. And then morning comes, too early, to wake me again.

I’ve been here before. You probably have to. As soon as you wake, your mind goes to the millions of things left undone, the deadlines missed, the to-do list of house and work. It’s compounded by the fact that I don’t nap well–if I fall asleep for more than 10 minutes but less than an hour, I wake up groggy and grumpy and mad at the world.

I didn’t have insomnia until my 30s. In fact, I didn’t even believe it existed until it happened to me. Isn’t that human nature. Not mine, not mine, not real. Mine = Real. Damn.

Over the years, I have learned to go with it instead of fighting it. I stay up late and work. I lie in bed and think of solutions. I get out of bed as soon as I wake up and I go off and start writing. I tell myself that I’m just getting two sleeps the way that people used to. I stop trying to “fix” it and embrace it as a part of my pattern.

Why? Because experience has taught me that it will right itself. My body will move from this mode into a mode where I’m getting more sleep. Or my brain will. And maybe this period of sleepnessness is important for my creativity (at the very least, it certainly doesn’t hurt it — getting up earlier and writing seems to increase my productivity). Or maybe it’s just some weird quirk, a hint of my biological mother’s manic-depressive states bleeding through.

Don’t get me wrong–not sleeping sucks. A lot. But it used to suck worse when I stressed about it. And eventually the sand man will come back and hit me between the eyes. I’m looking forward to it. And until then: There are words and words.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

**Today’s title courtesy of  the beautiful poem, “Insomnia” by Dana Gioia. Go have a read.  

New Words:

2,200 gaming, 1,000 non-fiction

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

6. The Bone Key (novel)


5. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)


4. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


3. Numenera CO (gaming)


2. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 50,000/60,000

 

My name is an endeavor. My name is a song.

posted on: January 17, 2014
in: Blog

Sponging.

That’s what I call the thing when the work has wrung all the creative juices out of your skull and you are sucking on dry bone, trying to put just one. more. word. on the page. When what you really need is to take some time off so that someone else to fill your creative well back to the overflowing point.

It’s a difficult juggle, though, when you make your living as a creative person. Whatever that creative thing might be, you sometimes need to take a break (or at least make a change), or you start producing inferior, uninspired products. There are deadlines, and you have to meet them to make your money. But also there is the understanding that if you try to push through, you’ll end up with something dull and flat. (I’m not talking about writer’s block here. I’m talking about producing things until you hit the wall. Not because you’re blocked but because you actually have nothing inspired left to give).

That’s where I am right now. I am doing a last pass on my non-fiction book, those elegant fleur de lis, the little finishing touches that make something beautiful and take it from good writing to great writing… and I’m stuck. I know, I know, I know that a little down time, a little sponging time is all I need to come back refreshed and nail that sucker.

But deadlines. They stress me. I don’t like the miss them. In fact, I hate missing them. And so I sit here and I try and I try and I try. And eventually I realize that I’m just wasting time because there’s nothing left in me to give to the book. So, this weekend, I’m only going to input, to sponge, to absorb and soak in other people’s creativity. I’m going to read and look at art and watch movies and play games and then I’m going to come back to this on Monday morning and I’m going to nail it.

Just you watch.

In non-writing news, I went to see Her. Sexy, heartwarming, lovely, smart and tells some serious human truths that had me laughing one second and bawling the next. So beautiful. Get thee to a theater.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

**Today’s title courtesy of “The Names They Gave Me,” a beautiful essay by Tasbeeh Herwees. 

New Words:

2,200 gaming

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

6. The Bone Key (novel)


5. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)


4. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


3. Numenera CO (gaming)


2. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 50,000/60,000

 

That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

posted on: January 16, 2014
in: Blog

What writing looks like sometimes:

1. Get up, plan to think about the writing project while walking to the coffee shop, instead talk to dad on phone, help plan sister’s wedding.

2. Go to coffee shop. Plan to write. End up answering critical emails and dealing with scheduling snafus and warning off guy at table next to me who wants to talk.

3. Walk home, plan to think about writing project. Deal instead with having to hurry because someone is coming to install blinds and you forgot.

4. Listen to blinds behind installed. Plan to write. Deal instead with questions, issues, neighbor stopping by, two phone calls, and UPS which has yet again lost very important package but will not admit to losing very important package.

5. Plan to think about writing project while showering and on treadmill. Between shower and treadmill desk, discover that blinds were not done correctly, new person coming over to fix them. Noise. Screws. Questions. Ladders. “Can I have this room for a few minutes to fix this?” Do scheduling project that is due tomorrow since it requires less concentration than writing. Look at Numenera sketches that are coming in. Fall in love with them. Tell people so. Look at The Strange corebook layout. Fall in love with it. Provide more feedback for tweaks. Answer eleven million and one emails.

6. Do something pertaining to putting food near mouth while on phone with UPS. Who promises for fourth day in a row that package will arrive today… no, tomorrow. Clean kitchen in preparation for people coming over for tonight’s Numenera game.

7. Do something pertaining to running around the house waving tin foil and yelling “I am the Queen of Tin Foil!” (Seriously. I did that. I had the stress).

8. Write this blog post. Count words written on other things. Feel shocked at number. Wonder how that happened.

(Mary Robinette Kowal also talks about how you find the time to do the words that you need to do on her blog today. She has the smarts.)

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

**Today’s title courtesy of Walt Whitman. But I bet you knew that. 

New Words:

2,500 gaming

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

6. The Bone Key (novel)


5. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)


4. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


3. Numenera CO (gaming)


2. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 50,000/60,000

 

Perhaps we shouldn’t always get what we think we want.

posted on: January 14, 2014
in: Blog

I went to bed last night feeling stressed and panicked. Then woke up WAY too early this morning feeling the same way. Little things, you know? Deadlines not met (me falling down on the job, others falling down on the job). That sense of unease, like you thought you were juggling all the chainsaws just fine and then you look down and realize the floor is covered in blood and you’re feeling a little light-headed.

Okay, not that bad. Of course not that bad. I’m a writer. I exaggerate for story effect. I thought I was juggling kittens and now my arms are red-lined with scratches. It’s that small. But when I woke up this morning, it was definitely chainsaws.

Then things righted themselves. Things are okay. We all make mistakes and we are adults and we talk it over and we fix things for the future. That’s how it works. Helping each other. And now when I look down, I am covered in kittens. Fuzzy, purring. Cute little kitten butts waggling.

Someday I’ll learn to juggle chainsaws. But right now, I think I’ll just hug kittens instead.*

*there were no actual kittens, chainsaws, or juggling in the making of this post. 

(PS — If you see blank spaces instead of word meters in this post, that’s because the site that I use seems to be temporarily down. Hopefully it will be back up soon. But general tally is 10.5 miles and 20,000 words so far this year).

New Words:

3,000 gaming

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

6. The Bone Key (novel)


5. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)


4. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


3. Numenera CO (gaming)


2. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 46,000/60,000

 

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

**Today’s title courtesy of Jackalope Wives, a short story by Ursula Vernon. Read it at the link.

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