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Predation 02: We are all the butterfly

posted on: March 15, 2016
in: Blog, Predation: A Cypher System Setting
[If you haven’t already read the Predation Overview, you might start here.]
We are all the butterfly.



There are a number of groups and organizations in Predation. Some work together. Others are at odds. And still others join forces in public, while they put darker, more insidious plans into action under the surface. Player characters can interact with these groups and organizations by becoming allies, foes, business partners, or even members.

Here are two of Predation’s more prominent groups:


The Cretaceous Period and the information thereon is the property of SPACE AND TIME, INT. and may only be used for the purpose for which it is supplied. Use of this time period, or the information thereon, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express digital permission of SPACE AND TIME, INT.

~CLAUSE C-786b of the Space and Time, Interglobal, Cretaceous travel contract

The largest and most established organization is Space and Time, Interglobal (SATI). Originally, SATI was an interglobal conglomerate that began sending bioengineers, paleontologists, and other specialists back to the Cretaceous period on top-secret scientific/business missions. In the hundred years since, SATI has evolved from a group of scientists and explorers into a more militarized organization.

SATI continues to control the majority of the original time-travel operation bases—fortified underground bunkers filled with supplies, technology, laboratory equipment, and more that were set up by the early arrivals—but their hold is tenuous at best. Everyone, SATI or not, knows that whoever controls the bases also controls the supply flow—including any remaining time-travel technologies. As the asteroid draws near, attacks against the bases by groups like the Butterflies are growing more frequent and increasingly difficult to repel; the group spends much of its energy and resources keeping a tight hold on what it has, while still attempting to find a way back “home.”

Over time, many of the bases have become more self-governing and self-sufficient, a change that is also starting to threaten the larger structure of SATI. The capital base, SATI;0A (commonly called Soway) is attempting to bring the other bases back in line, but not everyone in this new generation shares the same beliefs, and it’s becoming harder for the organization to present a unified front.

The Butterflies

In the flickering firelight, the Queen of the Butterflies bows her head. A book—hand-bound in red leather—lays open upon her palms. She wears gloves, black and thin, nearly threadbare. When she begins to read, the group gathered around her becomes silent. Not a scuff. Not a breath. If anticipation were a sound, it would be this utter stillness.

The Queen’s eyes are closed. The words come from memory, from repetition, from belief.

Out of chars and ashes, out of dust and coals, like golden salamanders, the old years, the green years, might leap; roses sweeten the air, white hair turn Irish-black, wrinkles vanish; all, everything fly back to seed, flee death, rush down to their beginnings, suns rise in western skies and set in glorious easts, moons eat themselves opposite to the custom, all and everything cupping one in another like Chinese boxes, rabbits into hats, all and everything returning to the fresh death, the seed death, the green death, to the time before the beginning. A touch of a hand might do it, the merest touch of a hand.

She pauses, closing the book slowly, two delicate red wings folding soft around a pale body.

“We are all the butterfly,” she says.

“Stay the path,” they answer.

Together, as they slip away into the darkness: “And listen, always, for the thunder.”

The Butterflies are a subversive, guerrilla group. They believe that humans shouldn’t try to fix the time machine technology, that they should die out in the upcoming cataclysmic event so they don’t screw up even more of the evolutionary time path. These beliefs are based on the ”bible” that the Queen’s grandmother brought back in time with her, a copy of Ray Bradbury’s short story, “A Sound of Thunder.”

As a general rule, Butterflies eschew technology, subsisting on what they can make, steal, or scavenge. They identify themselves by painting or carving an image of a butterfly on the bottoms of their boots. It’s rumored that their spies have infiltrated all levels of SATI, and if you look carefully, you can find their graffitied messages on cliff faces, large trees, and the backs of certain dinosaurs.

Interested in Predation? You can back the Kickstarter here.



Predation 01: An Overview

posted on: March 15, 2016
in: Blog, Predation: A Cypher System Setting

Predation art by John Petersen

I’m working on a new game setting for the Cypher System, called Predation. It’s in what I call the “shower idea” stage of creation, that weird brainplace where you just suddenly have the most brilliant idea at the most inopportune time. I know that some of you are following along on progress as I work on The Poison Eater, so I thought I’d start posting about Predation too. Writing a novel and writing a game setting are very different and yet also the same, and I think there’s a lot to be gleaned by watching two very different types of projects come to fruition.

In short, the idea for Predation came about because I wanted to make a game about dinosaurs. BUT I also wanted to make stuff up. (I like to research, but I hate having to stick strictly the research when I write; my preference is to use it as a jumping point for wild and weird ideas). So I was trying to find a way to do both things, and came up with the premise for Predation: that the humans walking among the dinosaurs are scientists from the far future who are stuck in the Cretaceous period. They brought back high-tech weapons and advanced sciences, the ability to bioengineer themselves and the creatures around them, and a knowledge of the future–a future that they might be changing with every choice they make.

Predation Overview

The history of Predation is actually in the future. A few hundred years in the future, to be exact. That’s when an interglobal conglomerate known as Space and Time, Int. (SATI) began sending bioengineers, paleontologists, and other specialists back to the late Cretaceous period on top-secret missions.

For those traveling back in time, it was the career opportunity of a lifetime. The unprecedented chance to walk among the dinosaurs, and return with tales of discovery, scientific breakthroughs, and experiences. But something went wrong—no one knows how or why, but the time travel process broke down, leaving them stranded with the dinosaurs.

Predation Cover by John Petersen

That was almost a hundred years ago now. Those early travelers had to find a way to survive, and even thrive, in this harsh world. Using the technology and knowledge they brought back with them, they built communities; bred, bioengineered and hunted dinosaurs; raised families; and never gave up hope that they would find a way “home.” That generation is dying out now, leaving the world to a newer generation, one that has only ever known this place, this time as their home.

That’s where you as the player come in. You’ve read the story in history books of the asteroid that destroys your home, and you know it’s coming soon.

In this land of tame and wild beasts, a land of far-future technology and far-past materials, of a historical catastrophe that is about to become your future, can you find a way to survive? Will you instead try to use your skills and knowledge to accomplish what your parents and grandparents could not—find a way home? Or will you join the fight to let this humanity die out, so that future humanity may still find a way to rise from the ashes of evolution?



The Poison Eater: Singing Cities and Angry Robots

posted on: March 11, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Enthait is a city that sings. No. Singing isn’t the right word. The city’s sound isn’t one of mouth or lungs, throat or tongue. It is stormvoice–thunder crack and cloud breath and rain pattering on a bloodied blade. It’s a beautiful and terrible chorus that makes her bones howl in reply. 

Enthait is a city that sings. And every time Talia hears it, it knocks her back.

She hadn’t meant to emerge from the tunnels here, but she also wasn’t surprised to push open the door to Emont’s underground room and instead stumble into the bright daylight and open sky of the athenaeum. She staggered as the song threaded through her–everyone told her she’d get so used to it that she hardly heard it, but that day had not yet come.  

As she stumbled, a hand caught her by the elbow, rings clanking against the metal armband.

“Affah,” she said, nodding her thanks.

It was Burrim’s voice that answered, low and close. 


[new draft chapter, work in progress]


Big news on The Poison Eater this week, and it is this: we’re partnering with a really awesome publisher called Angry Robot to publish softcover versions of the Numenera and The Strange novels! That means that not only will the books get a wider distribution, there will be more of them in the future AND we get the benefit of the really smart Angry Robot team.

I did a Twitch channel? broadcast? show? last night (my first one ever) for a really fantastic sci-fi podcast called Speculate with Monte Cook and Patrick Rothfuss about Torment: Tides of Numenera, and in it I talk a bit about the writing process. It might be of interest to some of you.

That’s all for now.

Finwa, Poison Eaters. Moon meld you.



Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

The Poison Eater: Double Fisting Your Writing

posted on: February 21, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.14.03 AM

I can’t remember if I told you this already, but in addition to The Poison Eater, I’ve been working on the sourcebook for the upcoming Torment: Tides of Numenera computer game. (As well as thinking about dinosaurs and guns for this other thing).

I’ve always been someone who likes to work on multiple things at a time. I think it comes from my own nature of loving to start and learn new things (I once had someone tell me, “Well, of course you never finish anything. You’re an Aries.”), but it also means that if I get stuck on one thing, I can jump over to something else. That (plus, of course, damn and lovable deadlines) is what keeps me from hitting writer’s block (or, more commonly, writer’s “what the hell am I doing?” inertia.)

I like to have one book that I’m just starting (all these awesome ideas! and I haven’t written anything but ideas so it’s still perfect! WOOO!); one that I’m still in the “I got this” stage (cool. I know what I’m doing. This is going well.) and one that I’m in the “OH NO I NEED A NEW JOB!” stage (Ugh. This is awful. I can’t remember what I wanted to do with this book or my life. I should just tear it all up and start over.”)

Currently, that’s Predation (new), Torment: Tides of Numenera (knee-deep) and The Poison Eater (Ugh. I’m the world’s worst writer).

Having three projects that were all in the same mental space would be awful, I think. Particularly if it’s in the world’s worst writer phase. I might never write again.

On the other hand, I know lots of other writers who like to deeply immerse in a single thing. Anything that takes them from that thing is a nuisance and a distraction. I envy that in some ways. I don’t think I have the focus or patience to sink that deeply in a single thing, but there’s a lot of value in that process.

I think one of the biggest fallacies in writing (beyond: There’s only one way to do it) is the idea that you are going to figure it out right out of the gate. That you’re going to finally carve time and space out of your life and you’re going to sit down and make a single book and you’re supposed to just know how to do it. And that’s just utter bullshit.

It took me years of shame and “I’m doing this wrong” to finally admit that I worked on multiple things at a time, because I’d never heard anyone else talk about that. Worse, I keep trying to do it “right” — in this case, by writing a single thing. And, my god, the time I wasted.

Allowing myself permission to work on many things at a time might seem obvious to lots of people, but it wasn’t to me. It was one of the many blind spots I had in my own writing process. So if there’s something that you do that feels like it works for you, but you don’t think you’re supposed to do it that way, I say: keep doing it. Maybe, in the end, it isn’t your thing. But maybe it’s one of the important keys to your writing process.

Double- (or in this case, triple-) fisting your writing can be weird sometimes, I’ll admit. Today, for example, my task list looks like this:
Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.24.05 AM

And there’s a very different tone and sensibility for each book. So I have to figure out good ways to transition. I have talismans at my desk for that process. There’s a dinosaur with bright colors and feathers that reminds me to do good research and make sure we’re representing dinosaurs as they really were. There’s the cover and a map for The Poison Eater. All I have to do is look at Talia striding across the Ninth World and I remember what I’m doing. When I’m about to start working on Torment, I often jump into the beta of the game for a few minutes, immersing myself in the interactive version of what I’m making.

Working on more than one thing keeps me excited about each of the projects. Because I know that if I get stuck on one, I can jump to something else. And by the end of the day, I’ll have words and ideas to move all three projects forward. And that, more than anything, is what I know about what it means to be a writer: What words I have made at the end of the day.




Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

The Poison Eater: Say No to Say Yes

posted on: February 18, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Photo on 2-17-16 at 10.28 PM #6a

How do I say no to thee? Let me count the ways:

  • Sorry, can’t make it to your event/wedding/game/dinner party/awards ceremony.
  • No thank you, dirty dishes.
  • Just walk by the XBox… walk right on by. Fallout 4 will wait for you.
  • “I’m sorry. I’m booked out with clients for the next six months.”
  • I can’t do your podcast/radio program/video blog until May.
  • Oh, puppy. I know it’s a beautiful day for a long hike, but how about a bone instead?
  • What dinner?
  • What shower?
  • Go away, social media. Go away, cute puppy pictures. Go away, trolls. Go away, interesting and informative articles.
  • I’d love to, but I must decline for secret reasons.

Saying no is, for me, the hardest part of writing. I WANT to say yes to all the things (Okay, not all the things, but many of the things). I like people (mostly), I like fun things (a lot), and in all truth, there are days where I’d rather do ANYTHING other than write. Those are the days where I almost convince myself that I like cleaning out the fridge.

But. That’s not my road. My road is the No Road on the way to the Yes Road. In order to find writing time, I have to leave something behind, like so much litter out the window on the highway of life. (Don’t actually litter. Duh. It’s a turn-of-phrase).

When I was 20, I thought I’d have time to do everything. Write all the books. Love all the people. Have all the sex. Eat all the desserts. See all the places. Learn all the things. Watch all the movies and read all the books.

Now I know better. Now I know that every gain is a loss. Every yes is a no. Every recipe perfected is a chapter unwritten.

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t want to suck the joy out of my life. One of my oldest, most favorite shirts just says HEDONIST on it in big, bold letters. I want it all, goddamn it. And there’s a part of me that’s still angry that I can’t have it. But the older, wiser (?), more realistic me gets it. It’s a return-on-investment equation. The bigger the NO, the greater the YES.

Today, I said yes to this blog post. I said yes to dinner and watching X-Files and playing with the dog. I said yes to work tasks that can’t be put off.

And then I said no to everything else. Because this novel needs a lot of yes from me today.

What will you say no to in order to say yes?


PS – Did you snag the sample copy of the first chapter of The Poison Eater yet? Grab it here.


Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

Day 24 The Poison Eater: You Don’t Know What You’re Doing

posted on: January 24, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Photo on 1-24-16 at 5.24 PM #3

Here’s the secret to writing, creating, and living life that no one tells you. Or that someone did tell you, but you didn’t hear it or you thought, “no, that can’t be true” or you heard it but thought it didn’t actually apply to you.

You don’t know what you’re doing. AND THAT’S OKAY. It’s how it’s supposed to work.

All the parts of that truth have to go together. Don’t say one without the other two. In fact, I’ll say it again, as a single sentence, in case you didn’t hear it:

You don’t know what you’re doing–AND THAT’S OKAY–because that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Every day, I sit down to do my job. And I don’t know what I’m doing.

Every day, for twenty+ years, I have sat down to do my job. And I didn’t know what I was doing.

Every day, for twenty+ years, I have made a career out of doing something that I don’t know how to do.

And that, I think, is how it’s supposed to work. To be a creator, you have to create. The very act of creation is to make something brand new, to do something that’s never been done before. How could you know how to do it if it’s never been done?

There’s no secret potion. No magic bean or button. No book or class or teacher that’s going to give you the perfect key to the creative door. (And having read a lot of books, taken and taught a lot of classes, I’m all for them–I think they’re great, and they help you learn–but they’re only part of the process). 

If you want to be a writer, a creator, a life-liver, this is the only way I know how:

Be okay with the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing.
Sit down and do the thing you don’t know how to do.

It’s a catch-22, but the very best kind: Because every time you sit down and do what you don’t know how to do, you start to figure out how to do it. Rinse. Repeat.

To do it is to learn how to do it. So, the sooner you start screwing up, the better.

Today, I screwed up 2500 words of this novel. Tomorrow, I will screw up even more.

Go. Start screwing up. Right now. I dare you.




Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

Day 15-17 The Poison Eater: On Choices (and the End of Choices)

posted on: January 17, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel




Some days, you have to choose between writing a blog post and writing another paragraph on your novel. Or between writing a blog post and working out. Or, on the really rough days, between writing a blog post and taking a shower. The past few days have been like that for me. Blog posts got scrapped for more novel writing, an hour-long walk with the dog along the nearby Cheasty Trail, a shower, and even a little Fallout. This is the trade-off you make, every day between now and the day you die. Every day, small decisions. Do I write? Do I spend time with loved ones? Do I take a nap? Every day, words that you give up in lieu of other things. There’s no right or wrong. There’s only today and choices. Tomorrow and choices. Until all of your choices are behind you. That’s how stories work too, I think. The character makes a choice every scene, and those choices inform the next scene, and on and on until someone (the writer, in this case) says, “Okay, you’re done. You’re out of choices. How do you feel about your life?”

In general, I don’t take much time off. It’s the danger of being driven, of hearing death’s pen coming for me, of owning and running a fairly small, fairly new business where people (both fans and employees) are counting on you, of thinking you can do it all. But on Friday, I checked everything off my to-do list for the day (a rare accomplishment), played some Numenera with the Monte Cook Games team, and then took the rest of the day off. I needed it. My creative sponge was wrung dry, and there was nothing else to get out of it.

I thought I’d jump back into the book on Saturday morning, raring to go. Let me tell you, that was not to be. I was like a school kid who’d gotten the taste of playing hooky in my mouth and who never wanted to go back. “Snow day!” I cried (even though it wasn’t snowing). “But I’m sick…” (even though I wasn’t). “I just don’t feel like it.” (that one, at least, was true). Most of the time, tight deadlines don’t allow me to listen to that whining little voice. I have to wrestle it into submission, lock it in a cage, and refuse to let it out until I’ve done the work. But sometimes I just let it run wild and I listen to it, deadlines be damned (yes, yes, I know that the odds are very good that past Shanna has just screwed over future Shanna in a very big way, but she’s done it before and I know she will give me cookies and I will forgive her).

So I decided to read instead. I am very careful about what I read when I’m writing a novel. I unconsciously steal other author’s voices the way that some people unconsciously mimic other people’s accents. Short stories are okay. Non-fiction. Graphic novels. So I read The Art of Language Invention. I read about the deadliest rocks on the planet. I read a paragraph or two out of every book on the coffee table (it probably doesn’t surprise you to know that’s a lot of books, and if I didn’t love coffee so much, I would call it a book table instead).

And when I had read enough that someone else’s words had filled me to the brim, I put down the books and started writing again. Because the writer that is Death gave me the choice, and who knows how many more I will get before he decides my story is at its end.




Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

Day 9: The Poison Eater

posted on: January 9, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel


Writing in Small Spaces.

By writing in small spaces, I don’t mean like in a closet or inside a dryer (although I’ve known more than a few writers who sneak off to the bathroom to write, since it’s the one place in the house that they know they won’t be disturbed). I mean in small spaces of time.

I like to write in big chunks. Ideally, a week. I’m kind of kidding, but also not really. My ideal way to work on something is to have a long stretch of time where nothing else is required of my brain. I can do nothing but think about the story. The most productive I’ve ever been was when I lived on a tiny, rural island in Scotland. I only knew a few people. I didn’t have a job. Internet was sporadic. I walked and ate and read and wrote A TON.

But the truth is that space rarely happens. Thankfully, I do have a life where I can often grab two or more hours of solid writing at a time. Not always though. This weekend, I’m a guest at a lovely convention called OrcaCon. I’m doing panels on sex, gender, GMing, spending time with people I adore, and doing some other fun and interesting stuff.

I’m also trying to write this novel. Which means small spaces of time. I’m at a coffee shop now, and have just finished writing for the 15 minutes it took me to fuel up on caffeine and sugar (and to recharge my introvert battery). I managed to get some solid words down, to rework a small section that’s been bugging me, and to jot down the ideas that I had on the drive to the convention this morning. It’s taken me another 3 or 4 minutes to shoot a photo and write this blog post (which probably means there are typos, so I’ll apologize in advance).

Now I’m going back to the convention, feeling like I’ve accomplished something. I’ll probably try to get another 15 minutes in later in the day as well. One of the things I’ve learned is that successful writers are often the ones who find time for what they love. I once had someone tell me, “Everything you want to achieve requires some kind of pain. Choose your pain wisely.”

So here is my pain I choose: that sometimes I don’t have my ideal of long spans of time to write, but I find a way to make the time. Even if it’s just 15 minutes. Small spaces make big things.




Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

Day 7: The Poison Eater

posted on: January 7, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Photo on 1-7-16 at 9.52 AM

Today’s work is going back to the beginning, both literally and figuratively.

The idea for The Poison Eater came about when I was working on a short story for one of our fiction collections. The story idea was really exciting to me, but the story itself wasn’t quite coming together. I realized that part of the reason was because the story was bigger than I could tell in a short piece. It needed breathing room to explore the characters and the situation.

So, when I needed to come up with an idea for a Numenera novel, I dug up the draft of that story and used it as my inspiration. So much has changed since then, but the essence of it and the main character have stayed the same.

My novel-writing process is a jumbly process that I honestly don’t recommend to anyone else. It takes forever, it’s confusing, and it’s a lot of extra work in the end. But it works for me — and if there’s one writing “rule” that I believe in, it’s: Find what works for you.

To start, I write an “outline” — I put that in quotes because I’ve seen other author’s outlines, and they’re beautiful binders full of detailed plot points, chapters, scenes, and character backgrounds. Mine is a sentence. Or maybe two. And then I start writing. Each section that I write continues to add to that outline sentence. It’s very much like exploring the Ninth World in a game. Oh, look, here’s a new character! I should put them in. Look at this crazy place I just made up. I should put that in. Here’s a cool artifact. I should put that in!

Of course, it’s more complicated than that. Because each time I encounter something as I’m writing, I have to ask questions: What is the significance of this? Does it mirror the characters’ emotional states, the thematic elements of the book, or this particular plot point? What is its role in the story? Where do I need to “back fill?” (A good example of backfill: I was writing a chapter in the middle of the book and I wrote about one particular character wearing an object. The object just showed up as I was writing (this happens a lot, I think, if you’re open to discovery). And I realized that it was the perfect object for the character, but it needed to show up earlier in the book, so that it had even more emotional significance when it showed up in the middle. So I made a note in an earlier chapter to mention the object there for the first time).

Which brings me back to rewriting the opening chapter. Now that I know so much more about the characters and the story and the objects that matter, rewriting the first chapter is all about adding those elements and giving readers the foundation to understand the story. The opening chapter is a promise of what’s to come–and until I know what’s to come as the writer, I can’t promise it to readers. I’m sure the first chapter will change again, as I continue to write and learn about the novel. In fact, this is pretty early in the process for me to go back and revisit the first chapter, but we’re sending it out to KS backers as a reward soon, so I want it to be as close as possible to its final form before it goes out.

Remember: Poison never lies.



Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

Bring on the Year of the Motherfucking Heart.

Bring on the Year of the Motherfucking Heart.

posted on: December 31, 2015
in: Blog, Life

2015 was a rough year for so many of us in the world. Private and public heartbreak, hopebreak, lifebreak everywhere. I won’t list all the reasons, because you’re paying attention to the world and you know them already. And you know the way your heart feels bruised, like bad fruit, and how your bones feel heavy, like you’ve landed on the wrong world and the gravity is killing you.

But. But. But. But, 2015 was also a brilliant, bold, and fucking fierce year. 2015 was teeth and claws. Fur everywhere. Scratching and clawing for shit that matters. 2015 was a battlefield, a howling mass of force that wouldn’t shut up, wouldn’t sit down, and wouldn’t go quietly into the night.

Maybe that’s every year. Maybe I’m stating the obvious. Maybe I’m just getting old and I feel my wounds more this year than I have in the past. But I don’t think so. I think we’re on the brink of big change, and that takes its toll. I believe in fighting–getting down in the mud and dirt and blood–but I also believe I can change the world by kindness, human empathy, respect, communication, education, and the fierce beats of my blood.

And that’s why I am declaring 2016 to be my Year of the Motherfucking Heart.

What does that mean? Time will tell, but I already know that it means a few things:

  • More writing. I don’t protest, I don’t yell, and I don’t sign petitions. But goddamn it, I write shit that changes the world. And I will continue to do so this year.
  • More fiction. See above. Fiction fuels my heart, and when I’m fueled, I’m ferocious.
  • More time with and focus on those I love. As an introvert, an overworker, and someone who struggles with social anxiety, I forget to connect with other hearts.
  • More movement. My literal heart–the one that keeps me alive–needs to keep me alive a lot longer. And that means taking good care of it as I move into my mid-40s.
  • More sex. See above. Sex is good for the heart (literal and figurative) and it keeps me connected to my body, my passion, and my communication skills.
  • More kindness and human empathy. To myself, to others. Input and output, both. The world is hard, we’re all broken and wounded and scrambling for some tiny foothold. I have the power to offer a hand, a dollar, a kind word, and I will do so whenever possible.
  • Be the octopus. Adaptable, playful, inventive, original, and gives the best hugs.



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