Sunday, October 01, 2023

What is Speculative Fiction?

When I think of Speculative Fiction, I think of science fiction and fantasy, and all the genres that fall under those umbrellas. Everything from paranormal romance to dystopias to cyberpunk. Things that don’t fall under the rules of our world. I’ve been asked about the fiction I write recently by a couple of different sources. The novel I’m working on right now is gothic fiction, but the novel I’m querying is epic fantasy. Both fall under speculative fiction, so I thought I’d try to define it; find out what it means to me and maybe what it means to others.

I like the definition I found from Southern New Hampshire University: “With subgenres like fantasy, science fiction, horror, alternate history and more, speculative fiction is an encompassing genre that freely explores possibility and impossibility alike.”

Pretty much what I thought, right?

My question then becomes: is all “fantasy, science fiction, horror, alternate history…” speculative fiction? After some searching on the internet (a very dangerous pastime), I saw that any alternate history, even one without fantastical elements, can be considered speculative. But not all historical fiction is not speculative. Not all science fiction or horror is speculative. All fantasy is, though. As I searched, I came across this simple, yet fantastic diagram by Annie Neugebauer.

Does it answer my question? Yes. I write speculative fiction. Generally speaking, I write fantasy, horror (gothic) and a little sci-fi. They all have some sort of element that is not bound to the rules of our world, whether or not those rules are explicitly stated. There has to be some sort of “world-building”, but not necessarily the epic fantasy, Lord of the Rings style. There should be an explanation (hopefully woven well into the story) about how the story’s world is different from the real world. The definition that Annie Neugebauer comes up with excludes science fiction and horror that doesn’t “speculate”. Basically, science fiction that is based on current technology isn’t speculative, and horror without any supernatural elements isn’t speculative.

This also means that speculative fiction can change over time, as technology and our understanding of the world changes. Genres have been changing for ages. New subgenres are added all the time, (some of which I plan on exploring in my Substack/newsletter – What is Gaslamp?)

Did you know there is a “MasterClass” article on speculative fiction? They call it a “super genre”, which I think is pretty accurate. They cite Margaret Atwood, J. R. R. Tolkien, William Shakespeare, and Euripides as speculative fiction writers.

A few speculative books I’ve enjoyed recently:

  • The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy, by Megan Bannen
  • Network Effect, by Marta Wells
  • Under the Whispering Door, by T.J. Klune
  • An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
  • Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh
  • Wayward Son, by Rainbow Rowell
  • Dragons Don’t Eat Meat, by Kim McDougall
  • Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree

I could go on, but I won’t. Network Effect is very different from Under the Whispering Door, but they were both AMAZING. They were all great books, all with something speculative.

 I hope this helps anyone who was hoping to better understand Speculative Fiction. Do you write/read speculative fiction? Do you have any questions about it?


Sunday, September 17, 2023

How To End A Short Story

 When Do I Write “The End”?

I love short stories. I love reading them. I love writing them. You can experiment more with your writing in a short story. You’re not investing 100,000 words to see if something works. You’re investing 2,500 (or less, maybe more). They can be a peak into the life of a character. 

I’ve read short stories from across genres. From Alice Munro to Stephen King and everything in between. They’re a great way to discover new authors. I often read a short story, then look up the other works of an author (P. Djèlí Clark, N.K. Jemisin, Aliette de Bodard). 

One of my problems with short stories: How do you end them? Sometimes I write a story and the end comes naturally. The arc is complete. The main character learned something. A villain was defeated. Someone says something semi-profound or insightful, then BAM! It’s done. Too often, I find myself staring at a paragraph, at something the main character has said or done and wondered: Is this it? Are they done? The story is over, right? 

So, how can you (I/we) know when a short story is finished? Short stories often end like novels (but with less words). When I’m not sure if I should continue, or if the story is getting out of control, I need to ask myself some questions.

Has the main character reached a “happily ever after” or “happy for now” point in their lives? Has the conflict been addressed and at least partially resolved? If yes, then I think it’s done.

Is there a twist? Is that little girl not so innocent? Was the kindly neighbour the killer the whole time? The twist has to be carefully crafted, but if it’s done right, surprise! Then the story is over.

Is it a “slice of life” story? Are we opening the door to a moment in time? When the character is ready to move on from the scene, the story is likely over.

Have I written too much and gotten lost? I overwrite. I know I do. Many writers do. Write the extra bit. Maybe it’ll help give reason to a character’s earlier actions. Cut it back during edits.

Can the main character or the very important secondary character walk away? If they turn away from the situation, the story can be done.

Is there an emotional explosion? All that’s been happening takes its toll, then boom! That main character blows up. They yell at everyone, or has a breakdown, or declares their love. When the emotion has run out, the story can too.

Does the main character realize the answer to the question that has been plaguing them all along? If the question is answered, the conflict is over. I can write "the end."

Has the story come full circle? If the main character is back where they started, for good or ill, the story can be done.

I have eight questions I can ask myself when writing (and ending) a short story. Am I an expert in ending short stories? Nope. Part of the reason I started the research was because I was struggling with how to end a story. Why not share what I learned, right? Has this helped me with ending the story? Yes!

Does anyone else struggle with ending short stories? How do you like to end yours? When do you know you’re done?


Sunday, August 20, 2023

Anatomy of a Query Letter

 A Few Thoughts

I was recently asked to read someone’s query letter. In all honesty, I was gentler than I would have been with someone I knew well, gentler than I wanted to be. I wasn’t sure how to frame my comments. My husband helped and reminded me of the poop (sh*t) sandwich method. Start with something nice, then give the critical feedback, end with something nice. What did I tell this person? Only the truth.

I told them that from their synopsis, I would read the story (an LGBTQ+ historical romance). I thought the synopsis did a good job of showing off their style. - That’s the good part of the sandwich. - I gave a gentle critique of the synopsis, stating that it should be shorter, one to maybe two paragraphs. I also thought the comps (comparative works) that they provided were great. Assuming they were accurate, I think they help define a market/fanbase for the writer’s novel. Sandwich complete. 

I did deviate after. I told this person that from what I’ve learned, the query letter should start with a logline/hook. I also gave a few comments regarding query letter structure, which I have seen repeated in most workshops, posts, videos and podcasts. The title of their novel should be the only one in all caps. The other titles (like for comps) should be italicized. Query letters should be double-spaced and one page. I personally add in personalizations for the agent, so sometimes my query letter slides onto page two. 

I’d like to do a deeper dive into what I’ve learned about querying and query letters. I am currently querying an adult epic fantasy novel and I’ve been to more workshops than I can count. I’ve watched multiple panels, participated in one. I listened to The Shit No One Tells You About Writing and found Perfect Pitch from Eric Smith. I’ve changed my query letter between rounds of querying.

I’m still unagented in case anyone is wondering.

The point, I suppose, is that I feel like I have a lot of query letter info stored in my brain and when someone asks to share it, I want to. Even if I’m not getting an agent right now, maybe I can help someone else. Since I told a lot of the above to someone I didn’t know, I’m going to tell anyone and everyone who reads this. I’ll include links too! Resources are important. Any help crafting a query letter is worth it.

Monday, August 14, 2023

What I Read On Vacation

I read 8 books on vacation. 8 books! In 2 weeks. I wouldn’t say that would be impossible during a regular 2 week, if the books were short and we threw a bunch of comics in there too. I read in the car. It was a road trip. We stopped in Quebec, had 2 stops in Nova Scotia and stayed for a while in Prince Edward Island. I love it out east. I love PEI. To get to all those places though, took a lot of car time. So I read. 

The road trip booklist consisted of: 

Burr, by Brooke Lockyer
Chrysalis, by Anuje Varghese
Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks
The Heart Principle, by Helen Hoang
Rapture in Death, by J.D. Robb
Dragons Don’t Eat Meat, by Kim McDougall
Dragon Actually, by G.A. Aiken
Drunk on Love, Jasmine Guillory

I also started Stardust, by Neil Gaiman (which I have since finished). In the car, with eastern Canada zooming by, I wanted love and action. I wanted cute moments that would send my heart aflutter. I wanted to be absorbed by the worlds the authors created. Some were better than others at achieving this, some were too good, and my husband and family would have to shout to get my attention. Sometimes I’d get lost in a thought and find myself staring at the trees of New Brunswick or the winding coast of Nova Scotia. Sometimes I’d be reading on a beach in PEI. 

It was a great trip with great friends, beautiful coasts, and relaxation. I’m excited for the next time we head out on the road. 

Do you have a genre you love to read on vacation? Is it always the same?

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Loving Banned Books

Here’s the thing: I kinda love Banned Books lists. Why? Because I like to see which of these banned books I’ve read. It makes me weirdly satisfied to know that I read a book, liked it (maybe loved it) and I’ve somehow defied the people who want to get rid of them.

My children are getting older and their reading is starting to overlap with mine. Either they’re reading books I or my husband read when we were younger, or they’re reading more recent books that we’ve enjoyed. Knowing my children are defying people who want to ban books is also satisfying. This school year, my daughter read The Book Thief for class and LOVED it. It was a group read with a few others in the class. They all loved it. They were excited by it. They told the rest of the class they got the best book out of all the selections. I’m waiting for my children to read more "banned books" and then for us scoff at the people who tried to get rid of them.

A few books I've read that have been banned or were threatened to be banned in various parts of the world:

  • The Color Purple
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • 1984
  • The Giver
  • Brave New World
  • The Satanic Verses
  • The Harry Potter Series
  • Lives of Girls and Women
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Where the Wild Things Are

You can find these books and many other amazing books listed in the links below

How many banned books have you read? 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Are You Ready To Take Over The Family Business?

A Trope Question - Come On A Journey With Me

I have a plot question and I’ve wondered if it actually happens in real life. Do parents really expect their children to taking over “the family business”? It’s something I’ve been seeing on screen and in books forever. The earliest example I can think of encountering is While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman and the most reason is Book Lovers, by Emily Henry. I understand the idea of wanting to build something for your family, so support and sustain them. I understand the pride of creating something to pass down to your children. Yet surely a mature adult will understand that their children grow to be their own people, and might have hopes and dreams that differ from theirs. 

Do I understand parents putting pressure on their children? Of course. That’s a different talking. 

I think it’s time to search for the “Family Business” trope.

Okay, Googling “the family business trope” led me to some mafia movies. Not what I was looking for…

Searching “taking over the family business trope” led me to and this link: which I think explains it pretty well. It’s a relatively common trope used in all genres, not just the romantic comedy.

I also found an interesting article in the Harvard Business review about family businesses and how from large to small, families stay in the business, even if some lines of logic think eventually the “family” should be taken out of the business and led by professional management:

From my brief dip into researching the “family business trope”, I’ve learned that it’s something that happens now and has been happening for a long time. How many families pressure children into taking over a business they don’t want? I guess there’s no way of knowing how often that happens in real life. It does happen though. Searching “people who don't want to take over the family business” led me to these top two results: and So, it happens. Often enough that resources exist to help people whose children do not want to take over their business.

I learned something about the real life inspiration for a popular trope. I have resources if this ever becomes a part of one of my stories. Hopefully, this helps someone else out there too. 

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Some Thoughts on Procrastination

Is Substack a new way for me to procrastinate? I have a blog I started way back in 2006, and I wrote a lot. I used to post all the time. What if I had spent that time writing a novel or short stories? 

Maybe I wasn't ready for that. 

The year I started my blog, I got married. Soon after, I had children. Work, responsibilities, busy, busy, busy. Blogging was a fun break.

I think I’ve decided… When I have something non-fiction-esque to say, I can say it here, on Substack. 

Why not on the blog anymore? Well, I will cross-post there, but this platform offers something different. It's like a blog, MailChimp and Twitter (old Twitter) rolled into one. So far, I like it. Will that change? Well see.

It's also done a good job of enabling my procrastination. I need to create a limit for myself, since querying my fantasy novel and writing my gothic novel are my priorities. I don't want my new Substack to whither and die, therefore I think I should also set a minimum for myself. Three posts/articles/letters per month. I don't want to get districted: maximum six. I'd like to average four posts per month / once per week. That's reasonable, right? Will that change? Probably.

Does this count? It's just me thinking out loud (on fake paper).

It probably counts.

How do you procrastinate?

First appeared on my Substack

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

I started a Substack

I thought I would cross-post here since I still have love for my blog.

On my writing journey, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve gone to conferences and festivals, taken courses and gone to workshops. The most recent of them from the WCYR (I’m a member of the WCYR - Writer’s Community of York Region) and the FOLD (Festival of Literary Diversity).

What is my first Substack going to be about? Query letters! That’s not only what’s on my mind, it’s also important to any writer who wants to be traditionally published. In simple terms, a query letter is a writer’s introduction to an agent who they want to represent them. (They can also be sent to some publishers directly, typically small presses, who do not require writers to be represented by an agent, but we’re going to focus on agents.)

On the first day of the FOLD, my query letter was presented on the panel “The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing” based on the popular podcast. It was an exciting moment for me. Each agent (Kelvin Kong, CeCe Lyra, Carly Watters, Léonicka Valcius) presented a query letter. They then discussed the letter, what worked and didn't work, then talked about the author’s first five pages. Not only was the feedback for my query letter valuable, but so was the feedback the agents gave the other writers.

How did I get to that point? How did I create a query letter I was ready to give to agents? I went to workshops. So many. I did research. (I’ve included a few links below). The best information I got about how to write a query letter was attending presentations. Before “The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing”, I attended presentations given by Farah Heron, Greg Ioannou, and MJ Moores, among others. I attended workshops where I could submit my letter and get personal feedback. There are free workshops out there. I've gone to ones put on by local libraries and writers groups. If time is an issue, listen to a podcast like The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing. There are others out there.

Remember, the letter needs to entice an agent to want to read your work and give them a sense of who you are. I hope we can all get our query letters right.

Check me out here:

Non-exhaustive references and resources:

Friday, January 06, 2023

It's January!

Happy New Year! This is my second day back in the real world. I took time off with the family. I have to take the time while the children are still young, when they actually want to spend time with me. I dread the day when they’re too cool for me.

Since I’m back in the world, I wanted to share what I’ve been reading and watching. I’m halfway through The Hacienda by Isabel Canas. It came in from the eLibrary the other day and I’m loving it. The story is amazing; the characters are so real and Canas writes beautifully. I feel like I’ve picked out 100 amazing sentences already!

Before that, I read Crumbs, by Danie Stirling. It is the CUTEST. I loved it so much.

Before that, I was swimming in holiday tales, including The Girl Who Saved Christmas, by Matt Haig. Not only was it sweet, but real, it reminded me that I needed to read The Radleys.

I also just finished watching The Ways of the Househusband, an anime of Netflix. I needed something fun during the craziness of the holidays. I’ve watched a few cute animes on Netflix in recent months. Romantic Killer and Blue Period, to name a couple more.

What’s next in my reading/watching life? Probably Lumberjanes #10 or Love on the Brain. Maybe Wednesday.

Monday, December 19, 2022

What Happened In 2022

I got a little upset with social media and the internet this past year. I started avoiding my social media and my blog. I was the victim of hacking/phishing with one of my accounts. It was a personal account too, full of pictures of my children. I wrote a whole big, long, angry rant, but I'm leaving it unpublished. Instead, I'd rather focus on happier things.

I have a novel. Completed. That I've started querying. It's scary, but I'm doing it anyway.

What I really want for my blog is to reflect the creator I am, regardless of whether anyone reads blogs anymore (from what I hear, the answer is, no).

I also got my Goodreads year in books. I read A LOT this year. I can probably get another book or two in this year. The audio book for Michelle Obama's The Light We Carry just came in for me at the library. I'll probably be listening to that this evening.

What's next for me? More reading. More writing. Some more cute animes on Netflix. Marvel shows. More time with my children. What does 2023 have in store for any of us?

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022

I started this post way back on January 2nd. Did it go anywhere? Not until today.

I usually do some sort of Old Year/New Year post. I guess this is it. Over there (to my left) are the books I read in 2021. As you might be able to tell, romance was on the upswing again this past year. What was surprising for me was that non-fiction was as well. One of the best books I read last year was You'll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey. Also, Barack Obama's A Promised Land

Which leads us into February and Black History Month. Need something to read? I definitely recommend those two books. Also, out of last year's list, How To Be and Antiracist. Want something more romantic? Act Your Age, Eve Brown and The A.I. Who Loved Me. Want an adventure? How about the novella, A Dead Djinn In Cairo. I need to read all of Clark's story in this universe.

I've been working with a few "Diversity and Inclusion" groups at my company. I may have mentioned it before. I appreciate the work that they (we) have been doing. They've got a lot going on for Black History Month, and I'm eager to go to their virtual events. It was with one of the groups that I was inspired to write "Where Are You From?". I've also learned about interesting people like George Washington Carver and Lincoln Alexander. I hope that the other people at my company are learning too. 

I really had my fingers crossed that the pandemic would be over by now. But nope. I won't get into all the reasons why that likely isn't the case. More time for reading and writing, I guess.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Last Week In Media Consumed

What did I consume?

Books and Television, of course!

First - You'll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism, by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. So good. If you're not familiar with Amber Ruffin, you should check out her show on Peacock (and YouTube). She also writes for Seth Meyers and appears on that show. She is hilarious. I love her sense of humour and thoroughly enjoy her. Lacey is Amber's sister, who still lives in Omaha, where Amber and their siblings grew up. The things people say would never happen in New York (where Amber lives) or in the Toronto area (where I live). I've had people say stupid things to me before, but Lacey's stories are RIDICULOUS. (When I say "ridiculous" I mean it in the most sad, depressing sort of way, where things are awful, but you have to have a sense of humour about it, otherwise you'd go insane.)

Only Murders In The Building - At first, I was not interested. Then I saw a couple interviews with the cast and I heard good things from other people. So I watched. I'm all in now. It's so good. Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez are such an odd combination, but I love it. Plus, Tina Fey. She's amazing whenever her character shows up. Nathan Lane is perfect. The story seems light, but dark. I supposed the same could be same for You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey. Only Murders In The Building is on Hulu in the States (apparently). It's on Disney+ in Canada. (We don't get Hulu.) Thank you to whoever made sure this show ended up where I could watch it. I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

What's Been Happening - Summer 2021

The summer was busy. Maybe busier than I was prepared for, since 2020 was a COVID summer.

This year, I did a couple really good things that I wanted to share.

I participated in Culture Days. The WCYR (the writing community I volunteer with) put together a recording of 10 writers reading from their work. I was excited to be included. I was also quite nervous. You can check out me and the other participants here. You can learn more about Culture Days here.

I think one of the most important things I did was post "Where Are You From?" in June. The title seems innocuous, but it is not an innocuous question when the person asking refuses to take your first answer at face value. I was nervous. I hope no one can tell. I haven't actually watched myself yet. BUT - Check out the post for some of my feelings on that.

I received an evaluation on a manuscript I've been working on. I'm going to rewrite about half of it. Good times.

The best books I read were probably Barack Obama's, A Promised Land, and Kelley Armstrong's Lost Souls. Two very different books. I thoroughly enjoyed them both. I couldn't recommend them enough. A Promised Land also cemented for me that non-fiction is my preference for audio books. Lost Souls reminded me that I am enamoured by Gabriel Walsh and I need to finish the Cainsville series.

Movies - I watched Black Widow. What else? It's escaping me. The Half of It on Netflix. I thought it was going to be cute - and it was - but I also cried a little.

Television - Hmm... I watched Godzilla: Singular Point, an anime. I thought the two main characters were adorable. Also anime, Dota: Dragon's Blood. Have you watched The Dragon Prince (I'm waiting on the next season)? Dota is The Dragon Pince for grownups. I've also been obsessively re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. I still love that show. My daughter loves as well. We're always looking for shows we can watch together.

Like, Loki. We're all in on Loki. Forever. Let's smash the sacred timeline.

The Dota: Dragon's Blood trailor:

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Where Are You From?

At my day job, I volunteered to write a blog post inspired by an article a D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) committee member came across. It was shared on the company's intranet. I got positive feedback from the committee members and a few others, but I don't really know how many people saw it. I really wanted to share it with more people. So, here it is....

What are you? Where are you from? Where are you really from?

Sometimes I think about context. Context is important. If we've recently met, there is the potential for friendship, this is something that could be asked.

Where are you from?

When I answer, Toronto or Canada/Ontario, that should be accepted. Maybe there is a response, like, what part of Toronto (Canada/Ontario)? Or, I love Toronto! Or, are you a fan of the Raptors/Leafs/Blue Jays? Or, have you been to the ROM/AGO/Canada's Wonderland? Or even, Toronto sucks! I love Montreal/Vancouver/Halifax.

A follow up question is fine, like where is your family from? Or what I find more acceptable, what is your background?

The question I hate. HATE - Where are you really from?

I hate when I get asked that question. Deeply.

Where are you really from? Like I can't possibly be from Canada.

The question is often responded to with a look, one that makes the questioner act as though I'm being difficult. You know what? I am being difficult. I know what they want to know, what answer they want me to give. I want to be difficult. I want the person asking the question to know that I don't like it. At this point, I want them to know I don’t like them.

The question is dismissive. Of me. Of my story. Of my history. It is the search for a label. So that they can tuck me away in a box. Categorize me.

When I was young, I answered the question. I hoped to avoid conflict. Honestly, safety was a consideration. As I got older, I grew more confident (and annoyed), so my answers became snarky, sassy, rude, though not so much when the questions happened at my place of employment. I was always aware of context, but at a certain point, my answer to, "where are you really from?" became, “No, really, I'm from Toronto. Born and raised.” When I got, the look, I'd give them a look back. A look that plainly expressed what I thought of their question.

If a person wants to know about someone's background, it can be okay to ask them. It’s part of getting to know someone. I know the backgrounds of many friends and colleagues, their families are from Jamaica, Scotland, Taiwan and many other places. The questions happen naturally. Often these parts of a person are revealed through conversations about food, hobbies, and childhood. If a person is just dying to know what a person’s cultural or ethnic background is, maybe they should ask themselves, why? Why is it that one of the first questions they want to ask is “what are you?” or “were are you from?” Why not ask about where they grew up or what school they went to? Ask about what they did on the weekend or what they like to do for fun. There are so many more wonderful, kind, inclusive ways to ask about a person’s history. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

We're Halfway Through April, Aren't We?

It's been about a month. I've been consuming a lot of media. What else is there to do? I'm trying not to let my disappointment and frustration with the vaccine rollout in Canada keep me down. It's hard though.

I also wrote a piece for the Diversity and Inclusion group at my day job. I know that based on what the word count limits are for communications, it's going to get cut down. I also tried to temper the emotional aspects of the piece. However, I have my very own blog. I'm going to give it a little edit and post it here later this week, I think.

What have I consumed and enjoyed in the last month-ish?

I read...

Mexican Gothic. Yes. So good. Read it. I'm really feeling the gothic genre right now. Gothic in 1950 Mexico!

Luck of the Draw and I cried. A lot. It was so sad, though maybe I was releasing some other emotions too. Because it's a romance, I was happy at the end.

Artificial Condition, the second installment in the The Murderbot Diaries. I still love Murderbot. I want to know where their adventure is going to take them next!

Immortal In Death, the third In Death book. I definitely have heart eyes for Eve Dallas and Roarke I wonder if when JD Robb wrote about Eve's engagement, she imagined there would be 50 more books after. 

I watched...

WandaVision <3

Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I <3 Bucky.

Zack Snyder's Justice League. I think my heart fluttered a little when Barry saved Iris.

Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. I'd seen both already, but my daughter was in the mood, so we watched all of Korra again and a few favourite episodes of Avatar. I love those series.

History of Swear Words on Netflix. It's really good. Interesting in a way I didn't expect. 

Dota: Dragon's Blood. My friend recommended it. It's like a cross between The Dragon Prince and Castlevania. At least that's what I thought as I watched. She called it "The Dragon Prince for grownups." 

Star Trek: Lower Decks. I really needed that show.

I submitted a couple short stories. Got a rejection. Good times.

I ate some Popeye's and it was SO GOOD. I'm really appreciating Skip the Dishes lately. 

How has your spring been so far?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

I Made Some Lists!

I have been working on various Diversity and Inclusion tasks at my day job. I'm really excited that they are letting me/us/the committee do this work. Some of the things I've written or been involved with are serious and others are just fun. I like and appreciate both. Last week I made a couple lists to post about Women's History Month and the month before I created a list of books for Black History Month. I thought I'd share them here, because who doesn't want recommendations of great books, movies and television shows featuring under-represented groups.

For Black History Month, myself and other team members shared a variety of recommended books. I've read all the books except for the new releases. 

1. How to Be an Anti-Racist – By Ibram X. Kendi
Part memoir, part instruction manual, this book really makes you think about behaviour, while tugging at your heartstrings.

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Classic, poignant, a definite favourite. A strong African-American woman living her life the way she wants during a time where it was almost impossible to do so.

3. Go Tell It on a Mountain, by James Baldwin
Inspired by his own life, Go Tell It on the Mountain, tells the story of a young black man struggling with his identity.

4. The Color People, by Alice Walker
Probably on a lot of Black History Month book lists, but if you haven’t read The Color Purple, you really should. A powerful novel.

5. The Complete Collection of Poetry, by Maya Angelou
When people mention Maya Angelou and recommend her work, they talk about Why the Caged Bird Sings, but today, we’re recommending her poetry. It is poetry that paints a picture of her life and experiences.

6. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
For all the fantasy lovers all there, this story takes place in a fantasy version of Africa. It is filled with adventure and strong characters.

7. Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler
Classified as “science-fiction”, Kindred crosses literary boundaries. Tense and Heartrending, a modern classic.

Now for a few new releases…

8. Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas
The latest book by Angie Thomas, the author is ready to make another statement about the life of a black teen in America.

9. You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey – By Lacey Lamar and Amber Ruffin
Watching Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar talk about the book makes it a must read. A book that will make you laugh and cry.

10. A Promised Land, by Barack Obama
Another new release and one that this list couldn’t be without.

List #2 - Women's History Month TV and Movie recommendations. It was a less detailed list.

1. Hidden Figures
2. Mulan
3. Girlfriends
4. WandaVision
5. Captain Marvel
6. Wonder Woman
7. Mean Girls
8. A League of Their Own
9. Clueless
10. Alien

Another less detailed list. Books to honour/celebrate Women's History Month. Also put together by myself and a couple coworkers. The books are varied. Fiction, non-fiction. General fiction, graphic novels, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, even poetry.

1. Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly (it was a book before it was a movie)
2. I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
3. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (Where would monster stories be without her?)
4. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
5. Lumberjanes (graphic novel series), by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, etc.
6. Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler (I think I recommend this one a lot)
7. Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More, by Kelly Sue DeConnick (The whole series is good.)
8. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi
9. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
10. Naked in Death, by J.D. Robb
11. The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
12. The Temperance Brennan Series (Bones), by Kathy Reichs
13. Little Women, by Lousia May Alcott
14. Cat’s Eye & The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.
15. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

I hope that the people we created these lists for (coworkers) took in some of the titles and watched or read the recommendations. The ones I haven't read/watched were contributed by others who had. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

I Learned Something About Myself

The Pouch of Douglas (be warned). I was watching Hannah Gadsby’s show, Douglas on Netflix. Now here we are. (The bit is at the end of the post.) Really, I think it's important. I learned about a part of my body that I didn't know existed. Also, it came during a part of Hannah Gadsby's show that had me feeling like, why had men named all the things? and, couldn't they come up with better names? If you have watched Douglas (and if you haven't, I recommend that you do), another part that made me laugh so hard and wonder so much, was that piece of fabric up a lady's bum in a renaissance painting. It was a choice. The artist chose to take the time to paint that!

What else did last week bring me? A re-watch of the last three episodes of Lucifer on Netflix. Because, why not?

My daughter is obsessed with Julie and the Phantoms. Have you seen it? It's cute. Great for teens and tweens, I think. The music is enjoyable and will have you singing along. It's a hidden gem. A song from episode 2 below.

I finished Maya Angelou's Complete Poetry. It's brilliant. If you haven't read her poems, I highly recommend them. Some are fun, others are heartbreaking. They're beautiful, lyrical, and take you on a journey.

With a vacancy in my reading list (not reall), I started Meg Cabot's Mediator series. The first book is Shadowland, featuring a teen protagonist who can see ghosts. She even punches one! It's also giving me some 90's feels. It was published in 2000, which means it was likely written a couple years before. The late 90's were some good years. Maybe that's one of things I like about Julie and the Phantoms. The Phantoms died in the 90's. I also just enjoy Meg Cabot's books.

I have been advised that should start a newsletter. What would I write in it? That I have a new blog post up? Bits from those posts? Link to books recs? Other bloggers? Could I include things from the WCYR? How long would it have to be? It's already giving me anxiety and I haven't even started anything yet. I'd need some kind of email signature/logo, which also has to be done.

The sky is darkening. Maybe it's time to stop thinking about things that make my tension level increase.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Let's Reflect

In my last post, I was reflecting on interracial romances where neither of the main characters are white. I totally forgot about Alyssa Cole's Can't Escape Love, part of her Reluctant Royals series. I haven't read it yet, but since finishing Take a Hint, Dani Brown, I think it might be my next romance. Luckily it's available at my local eLibrary.

I also read The Prince and the Dressmaker. It is sweet, interesting, loving and just tugged at my heartstrings. Frances and Sebastian are so cute. I highly recommend it. I want my children to read it too.

Egyptian Steampunk also might be my new favourite genre. At least one I need to explore more. I read the short story/novella A Dead Djinn in Cairo, and it was so good. I love, LOVE, Fatma el-Sha'arawi. I checked, and P. Djèli Clark has two more stories set in this world. It seems like the second one doesn't have Agent Fatma as the main character, but I'm fine with that. She's back by the third (yet to be published) story.

I watched some good TV/movies too. After seeing Regé-Jean Page on Saturday Night Live, I decided it was time to watch Bridgerton. Since it's so popular, I didn't expect it to be bad, but I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I will admit that I watched is all in one day. Also, I could listen to Julie Andrews' voice all day long.... wait, I practically did that. 

I also decided it was time to watch the things languishing in my Netflix queue. I scrolled with my eyes closed and watched what my finger landed on. The first was Warrior Nun. With a title like that, I knew I had to at least try it out. I thoroughly enjoyed Ada and Mary. I also really want to know what happens and if there will be another season.

Next, I landed on Howl's Moving Castle, an anime movie from 2004. I liked the idea of the girl turning into an old woman and getting to know Howl from that perspective. I don't know how I feel about her befriending the witch who cursed her though. I'm three episodes into Dragon's Dogma, an anime series. I think I'm liking the random choices on Netflix. I know there have been two animes in the last week, but the stories are very different. Howl's Moving Castle has a sweetness to it. Dragon's Dogma is messed up.

This post is definitely not as deep as the last one. Maybe it's less "thinking about books" and more "Netflix queue", but sometimes, that's what you need.