God, I really love being alone. Sitting on my couch with my laptop and a paperback, thinking up stuff and burping out loud. Its indulgent, rebellious even, especially when you have plans to meet people. I feels so good in my comfort right now. They’re going to wonder where I am and what happened. Or, they don’t notice at all and it’s as if I never RSVP’d on Facebook.

Right now, I have somewhere to be. I’m an hour and nine minutes “late” to a “party.” If I didn’t go, I’d have the whole evening to myself. I’d continue reading An Excess Male. I’d journal or prep for my writer’s meetup tomorrow [ I really need to do that]. I’d watch funny YouTube videos cuddled a blanket on the couch. I’d go to bed at 10 pm. I’d also be thinking about how I’m not there, who is there, if someone was looking forward to seeing me, if there is someone new I could have a moment with, if someone is disappointed I’m not there, that I won’t stop thinking about the fact that I bailed all fucking night. Ugh.

I will go. I will change into comfortable-cute clothes and be around people. But first I will post this.

The Kernels of Knowledge from the 2018 Tucson Book Festival

The 2018 Tucson Book Festival in Arizona was the most inspiring, motivating, and useful event I’ve gone to in the last year. I attended 8 events over the course of 2 days and I didn’t want to go home. I met Nikki Drayden, Bell Hooks, Kristen Simmons, and a lot of other talented, successful, and friendly authors. Like the nerd I am, I took notes at every single event so I could take their secrets and techniques and become a successful author myself……and share them with the world. I condensed my notes into kernels of what I took away from each of the events and what could actually be put into action. Enjoy!

Writing in the Voice of the Other

  • Does the “other” ever find their voice?
  • Misperceptions are a part of life
  • Use Oxford dictionary to set a work in a particular time period by only using words from a certain time range

Creating Fantastic Characters

  • How to Create a Character
    • Explore by writing
    • Determine what they want and their overarching personality traits before writing
    • Keep a character sketch file of character ideas to draw from
  • Creating a Distinct Voice
    • Use the character’s background and word choice
    • Listen to real-life conversations for inspiration
    • Determine what’s important to them
    • Keep in mind that everyone looks at things differently and so should your characters
    • Are they going with or against their culture?
  • Creating Character Traits
    • Recommended Book: The New Astrology
    • Internet searches
    • Give them a birthday
    • Can you describe them without talking about where they are from and what their job is?
    • Use Meyers-Briggs
  • Getting to Know your Characters
    • Take a class in wat your character does
  • Creating Bad Guys
    • Need a good vision but poor execution
    • They are good and honorable about little things
    • What’s lovable about them? What endears the reader to them?
    • You need to sympathize with them
  • Non-Human Characters
    • They embody humanity better when place next to humans
    • What does being a god mean when you are born as one? You vs Divine Destiny
    • Robots with the same wants as humans but different execution…thus dissidence
  • Names
    • Determine common names in your world to repeat in background characters

Is the Future Dystopian?

  • It’s not about the disaster but the aftermath
  • Dystopian vs the human condition
  • What if X becomes the dominant trend?
  • Accidental futures
  • Stupid futures- easy solution to a problem but either a poor direction is taken or no action is taken
  • Perfect world that’s hell for the people living in it
  • Recommended Movie: Night of the Living Dead
  • Difficult world with characters trying to get by
  • When decisions are or are not made, options are narrowed
  • How rational are the actors making the decisions?
  • Who survives a dystopia?
  • Find a solution to a big problem and another problem secretly emerges
  • Planning for the dystopian future
  • Some helps another person while putting themselves at risk
  • Dystopias are not surprises, we build them everyday
  • True economic collapse
  • Something to lose breeds extreme views, desperation, and dehumanization
  • Books that Inspired the authors:
    • Feed by M.T. Anderson
    • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
    • Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents & Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler

Writing Short Stories

  • Habits or Techniques
    • Redemption or a moment of clarity set in stark relief
    • Research, write, move-on
    • Novels: Once you write your first draft, select all, delete…. then start again
  • Themes, Images, and Ideas
    • Track down experts in the fields you’re writing about
    • A weird incident or moment of crisis to which there is no resolution; a decision is made but there is no aftermath
  • Miscellaneous
    • We should not be making easy decisions in art
    • Short stories help you get your name known

Creating Multilayered Plots

  • Time
    • Use a calendar to visualize events
  • POV
    • No central character but a collective voice or narrative
    • Don’t identify whose pov it is but let the reader figure it out
    • Everyone gets a solo, then steps back
    • Multiple dominant voices and some minor ones
  • Genre
    • How do characters experience their lives? Sometimes different characters experience life in different genres
    • Don’t start with genre, start with a story

Writing Home

  • What if we perceived and practiced home everywhere?
  • A hunger for home
  • Where is the safe place?
  • Building home within catastrophe and epidemic
  • A contemplative life
  • Black people claiming beauty- we’re told we’re all that is ugly; home as freedom from hate and giving beauty, art, and life
  • Forgiveness allows for the formation of community
  • Home as an interior place
  • One’s own writing as a place of home
  • Longing for the end of domination
  • The gift of being an outsider
    • They can’t be sold to
  • A good book is an exercise in imagination and transformation
  • Home ¹ safe; why do we need to be safe? Why don’t we live in risk?
  • Emotional well-being
  • Who is it that society puts forth for us to look at?

Science Fiction and Society

  • Extrapolation on real world issues in an alternative world
  • The monster isn’t always a monster but represents something
  • Explore your character’s possibilities
  • Let your characters live and lead the way
  • Religion is group think
  • Ideology vs religion
  • Shadow jobs by telling them you’re writing a book and ask for free lessons
  • Google images
  • Bad guys who don’t think they are bad

Writing: It’s a Craft

  • Write down ideas as they come; they are probably connected
  • Sometimes you’re too tired to hear the muse but they are still there
  • Drafts
    • Let the first draft be shitty. Don’t edit or critique yourself. Don’t let anyone see it. this is some of the best material.
    • Be a gentle observer. Don’t judge your first draft. Look for the good stuff out of it.
  • Fear
    • Fears and fantasies are distractions from writing
    • If you fear it, it is probably your best writing. Grab onto it!
  • Time Management
    • As adults we give away our time and there needs to be certain times that are solely ours
    • Set boundaries- turn off social media, turn off phone, and it’s okay to say “no” to people
    • Show up for yourself
  • Craft
    • Take 2-3 writing classes a year
    • Go to presentations, panels, conferences, etc.
    • Don’t read to avoid writing

A Reason to Camp

Tomorrow, I’m going camping. It’s my first time. I know. I’m 26-years old but I grew up in Chicago so I get a pass. When I was growing up, only white people went camping and I’m not white. There are so many reasons why I wouldn’t like camping: (1) bugs. I have a phobia of bee-like flying insects and spiders; and I generally dislike all insects. That’s the end of the list.

Why did it take me take me so long to go camping? I finally have a guide. I am a cautious, skeptical person and I calculate all of my risks before taking them. (I’m not as boring as I sound.) With camping, I am a novice. I dont know all of the risks because I’ve never been. What if there is a bear? Do run or scream? Or what if I’m bit by a poisonous spider? I don’t know if these fears are realistic or not. So, I’m going with a group of friends who’ve camped before. I can feel secure in that. If something goes wrong, I’ll just blame them.

There’s something inspiring about being outdoors, like if i do it enough, I’ll become a mountain climber or find myself free diving in the Gulf. When you’re not surrounded by walls and a roof, the environment gives only two options—do or don’t. Enclosures give the luxury of doing without doing, for example, watching Netflix. Outdoors, you’re confronted with yourself. What will you do? There’s nothing to distract you. Its just you and your thoughts and nature. A vibrating silence.

This one-night trip is focused on partying and bonding with friends but I hop to find a moment to break away, hike a trail, and sit and be with myself. Take in the park. Watch the moonrise. Sit still enough to feel the breeze. That will make it all worth it. That is a reason to camp.



Come into my Garden, Come into my Home

Spring in the desert leaves much to be desired. Especially in the city. Growing up in the Midwest, I took grass for granted. I miss walking down to the local park and just lying under a big wide tree on soft cool grass. Gravel and rocky sand does not generate the same desire.

Last year, I found a local nursery that has hundreds….maybe thousands of plants from desert to humid. Having gone to my fair share of desert gardens and museums, I’ve fallen in love with succulents. Their floweresque plump leaves and variety of colors make them my favorite. Last year, I potted my own plants and they all died. Yeah, all of them. I’m pretty sure that I over-watered them and they rotted. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t even take a photo to the nursery to ask for help.

This time, I had a great employee at the nursery pot my plants for me and guide me on how to care for each of them. She made my succulent pot look better than I thought was possible and put in more plants that I thought could fit. I still have a glow from that day. Everyday, I walk out on my patio to see how my babies are doing and I’m sure to water them sparingly.

Succulent Garden

Click here to see more pictures of my garden.

When I’m sitting on my patio, in a hammock or on a floor cushion, I can’t help but be happy. Knowing that so much beautiful resilient life is in my home gives me a bright energy. They make me want to be. They make me more than alive.

Next weekend, I will take another pot of a former plant down to the same nursery and pick out some plants. I have 2 large pots and 2 mini pots. I have my eye on a few cacti. Aloe and agave are also high on my list. For the mini pots, I may do herbs like mint or rosemary. The more life I surround myself with, the more energy I will receive. The more my meager apartment will feel like a home.


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