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

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Shall I at Least Set My Lands in Order?

posted on: October 1, 2014
in: Blog


My house in not in order. Yes, my literal house: dishes unwashed, clean laundry unfolded, the dog hair unswept from its new home on the floor. But also my mental house. My mental house is messy. I mean, it’s always messy–I’m a creative, impulsive person who changes her mind, her opinions, and her desires from one day to the next (What? I know that on the day we met I said I didn’t like olives, and it’s awesome that you remember that, but I tried them last week and now they’re my favorite food!).

But this is different messy. This is darkly messy and bleeding, like when you dye your hair black and it stains the back of your neck and rubs off on your sweater and sheets and lover for weeks. And you notice the stains everywhere, and you know that if you just washed your hair a couple of times, it would stop bleeding all over, but you’re just … too tired to care.

That last part is the important part in all of this. Knowing that none of your houses are in order, and not being able to find the energy to do more than notice it and feel unsettled by it. But fix it? Why bother? The dishes will be dirty again tomorrow, the dog will shed again, my mental space will derail into the dark.

None of this is new to me. I’m 42 years old, and self-aware, so I recognize this for what it is: a very mild form of depression brought on by repetition, boredom, a sense of sameness. I’m a neophile. I need something new to keep me excited about life. I am easily bored, easily overwhelmed by having to do the same task again and again, easily discouraged by the thought of living a life where I am not constantly growing and learning. I would rather fail wildly at some ridiculous new thing than succeed, exhausted by repetition.

Former partners of mine (and probably some of my friends) have found this part of me to be an overwhelming flaw. “Why do you always have to want more?” “Things are fine, why do you need to change things?” “Why can’t you just be happy/content?”

It’s a fundamental difference, I think, in ways that people see the world. Because I can be stunningly, beautifully, ecstatically happy while still striving for something more and different and better. I am an optimist. I believe I am lucky every day to be alive, to do what I love, to have amazing friends and family, to be who I am, with a healthy body and an inquisitive mind.

It is only when I am stuck, when there is nothing new to explore and entice my senses, that I feel discontent with my current life.

Last night, I saw a program by Jad Abumrad, host of Radio Lab, on “Gut Churn” and the process of uncertainty in creativity. He talked about “going into the German Forest,” this dark scary place that happens to most of us when we’re about to take a big leap, creatively or otherwise. People who want to make their living doing creative things must find a way to walk through the forest, or sit in it, or otherwise deal with it, so that they can come out on the other side. And they must recognize that they will do this again and again, their whole lives, each time that risk appears.

I was listening to him, and nodding, but I was also thinking that I like the German Forest. It is one of my favorite places. Perhaps this is why I am so enamored of fairy tales, why I adore the big bad wolf, why I like the teeth and claws more than the basket of cakes.

There’s always been talk of the way that mental illness and creativity goes hand-in-hand. I don’t buy it as a blanket statement (but then I rarely buy blanket statements), because we’re all so very different. For me, creativity is the thing that keeps the wolf at my door — and I need the wolf. We have a symbiotic relationship. She scares me so that I feel alive. When I feel alive, my house is in order and I create the beautiful bloody things that feed her. And this is how we go round and round.

But sometimes she doesn’t show up, for reasons that I have yet to figure out. And then I don’t get scared and I don’t feel alive. And I don’t make anything, and she doesn’t get fed. It’s a great cycle when it works but when it breaks… like now… I am lost.

I miss the sound of her claws on my door, the scent of her breath in my face, the long slow flick of her tongue over her bloodied teeth. My house is not in order, and maybe, in the end, that is why she doesn’t come.

But here’s the thing I know: by breaking through the walls of my own apathy and depression to write this post, I have cleaned up one small bit of my house. I have created something new. I have cared about something. I have found my way back to the German Forest, and I am going to sit here until I hear the pitter-patter of claws scuttling across the dark earth. And then I am going to feel alive again.


Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

**Title line and last line courtesy of The Wasteland, by T.S. Eliot

**Image is from this artist.


Kinky Copyedits

posted on: September 24, 2014
in: As Kinky As You Wanna Be, Blog, Erotica, Writing All The Things


I love getting copyedits for books — they’re always such a cool compilation of weird and wonderful words. I just finished the copyedits for As Kinky As You Wanna’ Be, and though I’d share the list with you. Because they’re fun and they give an interesting look at what’s between the covers. (Clearly, you know, don’t read this aloud to your children or your boss or anything. It’s not Goodnight Moon. Although it’s almost as lyrical, in its own way.)

ball gag
ben wa balls
blow job

cum, precum; come, precome

Daddy (in role-play)
dom/dominant (in text)



oh my god; thank god (but “God” the creator)





nos (plural of “no”)


role-play (n, v)
’round (around)

strop (tantrum)

turnoff (n)
turn-on (n)
toy box


Proper Nouns


My Internet Search History

posted on: September 18, 2014
in: Blog

The very wonderful and funny writer Bronwen Green recently did a blog post sharing her internet search history. It was so much fun to read that I decided to keep track of my own search history yesterday and see what I looked up.

This is a combination of work and play. Right now, my work includes: writing the Numenera Ninth World Guidebook, copyediting As Kinky As You Wanna’ Be, working on the mature topics in gaming questionnaire, and other stuffs.

Life includes: a recently adopted dog, planning a bunch of trips, doing some long overdue house stuff, playing games, etc.

  1. What are the scariest sounding names/words? — for naming scary places, natch
  2. How do plants attract predators – Numenera worldbuilding
  3. Psychedelic properties of mushrooms – see above*
  4. Bioluminescent mushrooms – yeah.
  5. The etymology of the following words: prostitute, crystal, circle, forge, furnace, induce, the letter j, ullage
  6. Teach dog not to pull on leash – we have a rescue. She has some extra energy and a need to hunt squirrels. and birds. and leaves.
  7. Octopus tights – because one must
  8. Lunar power tidal – because I needed to know how, exactly, a device could be lunar powered
  9. How to make chocolate cupcakes with pudding mix – do you really need an explanation on this one?
  10. Scientists create solid light – they did and it is awesome
  11. Destiny grimoire cards how the hell do I use? – i still don’t know exactly
  12. Finger vein technology — making a cypher or something
  13. Lightspeed Women Destroy Fantasy — I have an article in this issue and can’t remember when it comes out
  14. Bathroom decor — wow, there’s some ugly out there
  15. Octopus art prints — for the pretty-making
  16. How to properly capitalize Saran Wrap — for copyediting purposes
  17. Is Saran Wrap trademarked — also above
  18. Kink-friendly medical professionals — making sure my lists in the book are up to date
  19. bSafe — free personal safety app; it’s in the book, so I want to make sure it still exists
  20. Handcuff injuries and prevention — go with leather cuffs, is the right answer
  21. Who plays Henry on Party Down — love him, love that show, can’t remember his name ever
  22. When does Brooklyn 99 start — not soon enough, is the answer
  23. How to print on sheets — I want to make sheets with quotes on them
  24. Can you tell how long a person has been dead by the firmness of their skin? — dear government agencies. I write fiction. Don’t come and get me.
  25. Electrical impulses from our fingers — science vs. magic
  26. How to keep metal from rusting underwater — this is hard, it turns out
  27. World’s largest amphibian — it’s the Chinese salamander
  28. What is fake snow made from and can I make it at home? — seriously. the stupid ideas i get
  29. Treibbal away to me — I’ve been teaching the dog to “come bye”; next is “away to me”
  30. Wired Numenera — I heard a rumor that Numenera was in Wired and had to see for myself.


God, my life is insane. How do I get anything done? Also, how did I get anything done before Google?

What did you search for this week?

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

*did you know that some mushrooms are called smuts?

6 (Impossible) Things Before Breakfast

posted on: September 14, 2014
in: Blog, Rejoice


This week’s six impossible things:

  1. I rewatched two incredible movies this week: About Time and Edge of Tomorrow. Both about starting over/time travel (kind of?)/love. Both smart and beautiful and true. I highly recommend them.
  2. The evolution of humanity is freaking crazy.
  3. Scientists figured out how to create solid light. What?!
  4. I’m working on this mature topics for gamers questionnaire. Want to help?
  5. Black Horizons, a poem by Carl Sandburg.
  6. Destiny is tons of fun to play. (If only it had couch co-op, I would love it all the more). But I’m still having a great time.
  7. BONUS: I LOVE Kid Snippets. You probably already watch them, but if not, they get their kids to tell a story, and then the adults reenact them. Check out the Wand of Universal power. There are three parts — this is the first one, and they just get better and better.

What impossible things did you believe this week?

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

Call for those interested in Mature Topics in Gaming!

posted on: September 9, 2014
in: Blog, Games, Numenera


During the Mature Topics in Gaming panel at Dragon Con, I made the suggestion that GMs who had mature topics in their games give their players a questionnaire to fill out before their game or campaign (similar to the way the BDSM/kink/sex community recommends filling out a sex-themed questionnaire before you engage in kinky activities with someone — if you haven’t already seen these, here is a very detailed printable BDSM checklist and here is a list of other checklists and resources.). I also suggested incorporating aftercare–taking a few minutes for everyone to talk about the experience and make sure everyone’s okay before you leave the table.

Some people have emailed me since that panel to ask if I have a questionnaire like the one I suggested, and since I don’t (and couldn’t find an existing one), I thought it would be a good idea to create one.

The questionnaire would cover a wide variety of mature topics at the table, including sexual and romantic experiences and relationships, violence, coercion, gender and sexual orientation, and more.

The goal: to provide GMs with a good sense of what mature topics their players are comfortable with and interested in, and to what extent (e.g. “Sex is okay, but only if it fades to black” vs. “I am okay with explicit sexuality at the table.” Or “Violence and death are fine, but please no gore” vs. “Give me all the grisly details!”). It also allows players to unequivocally state what topics or themes they want no part of. Being able to answer in writing — as opposed to talking about it — sometimes allows people to be less self-conscious and thus give more honest answers. Overall, the hope is to provide a better, more inclusive, non-judgmental, non-triggery experience for everyone around the table.

Once it’s done, I’ll make it available for free to anyone who wants it (and might also include it as part of the download for the Numenera supplement, “Love and Sex in the Ninth World“).

For now, I’m looking for some people to be my sounding board — those with experience or interest in mature gaming topics who would like to offer suggestions for questions or topics, see if it’s missing anything, check my language for accidental toe-stepping, etc.

Here’s how to get involved: send an email to shanna.germain@gmail.com with the subject line MATURE TOPICS IN GAMING. Once I’ve got a draft of the questionnaire finished, I will send it along to everyone who emails me for their feedback.

Please pass the word along to anyone you think might be interested. The more voices, the better!

6 (Impossible) Things Before Breakfast

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


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.



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.




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


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



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).


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.

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


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