2018 book reads

Well, we’re multiple days into 2019, and I’ve not yet updated the two of you (who still read this blog) on my reading list for the previous year. So here ya go.

To recap: last year’s goal was to read one nonfiction book concurrently with every fiction book. That sort of worked out. I met my goal in that I read more nonfiction in 2018 than I’d read in the previous decade; I didn’t meet my goal in that I didn’t match the nonfiction:fiction ratio 1:1, mainly because some of the nonfiction took WAAAAAY longer to read than the fiction. So I usually ended up reading 3 fiction to every nonfiction. I have not done the math on this and don’t intend to do it; just going by feel here, folks.

For 2019, I intend to continue a similar pattern, except that I’m not going out of my way to devour the nonfic. Fiction is still my true joy, and I need a crapton more of that in my life (who doesn’t?). My only real goal for 2019 is to beat 2018’s number of books read. I only managed 50 this past year, and although I’m in competition with no one but myself and refuse to beat myself up over my “low” number of reads, 50 just doesn’t feel like enough. Again, going by feel. It’s how I roll.

And now, without further ado or adon’t…

Courtney’s 2018 Book Reads

1. Invasive by Chuck Wendig
2. Cress (Lunar Chronicles, #3) by Marissa Meyer
3. God Behaving Badly by David T. Lamb
4. Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan
5. MaddAddam (MaddAddam, #3) by Margaret Atwood
6. Truthwitch (Witchlands, #1) by Susan Dennard
7. The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns
8. Carniepunk
9. Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz
10. Wicked as They Come (Blud, #1) by Delilah S. Dawson
11. Lament (Books of Faerie, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
12. The Blade Itself (First Law Trilogy, #1) by Joe Abercrombie
13. Dearly, Departed (Gone with the Respiration, #1) by Lia Habel
14. Virtual Unrealities by Alfred Bester
15. The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
16. Bad Girls Don’t Die (Bad Girls Don’t Die, #1) by Katie Alender
17. The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
18. The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritance Trilogy, #3) by N.K Jemisin
19. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
20. The Thief of All Light by Bernard Schaffer
21. Love Wins by Rob Bell
22. Beginnings by Gordon R. Dickson
23. No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
24. The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Day Two) by Patrick Rothfuss
25. Sex God by Rob Bell
26. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
27. Ballad (Books of Faerie, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
28. Finding God in the Margins by Carolyn Custis James
29. The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #5) by Tana French
30. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
31. The Divine Magician by Peter Rollins
32. My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
33. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
34. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
35. What We Talk about when We Talk about God by Rob Bell
36. Little Heaven by Nick Cutter
37. The Vampire Diaries (#1): The Awakening by L. J. Smith
38. The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad, #6) by Tana French
39. Cloudbound (Bone Universe, #2) by Fran Wilde
40. My Search for Absolutes by Paul Tillich
41. Blindsight by Peter Watts
42. The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski
43. Stolen Things by Stephen Parolini
44. Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
45. Gryphon in Glory by Andre Norton
46. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
47. The Collector by K.R. Alexander
48. Hiroshima by Laurence Yep
49. Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
50. Jackalope Wives by T. Kingfisher

Started but didn’t finish: Scripture and the Authority of God by N.T. Wright. I just wasn’t ever really in the right mental/emotional space for it. It’ll show up in a future books-I-read list, I’m sure.

2019 has started out with Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, which sets a lovely tone for how I want to live this year — and every year. 🙂

to blog or not to blog — is that the question

Hello, blog. Long time no write.

As the two of you who still read this blog already know, I went on a social media hiatus last summer. I call it that, but what I’ve really done is absent myself from the platforms of Facebook and Twitter. The reasons for my decision are myriad, but the most important ones are:

  1. Both platforms bring out the worst in people I know (Facebook) and in people I don’t know (Twitter).
  2. The more time I spent on those platforms, the stronger the Babadook became in my life.
  3. These two platforms have edges without railings, and there’s a sheer drop-off that will plunge you into an endless abyss if you step over the edge. I was too close to the edge.

So I flew instead: away from both platforms. And I’m a happier person for it. I’m also a more patient person, a more productive person, a more focused person, a more giving and forgiving person. No amount of online “social” interaction is worth losing that. I’ve checked back in lurkingly with both platforms twice since last summer. Both times, the people on them showed me that little has changed. (And where it has changed, it’s worse.) So I know I made the right choice.

In the meantime, I thought I’d be blogging more, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve felt no draw to use this platform, either. My lack of online presence is horribly detrimental to my book sales…but honestly, I can’t bring myself to care. The pocket change I get from book sales isn’t enough to make me want to try herding the cats of online presence, branding, blah blah marketing emergency blah.

Instead of blogging, I’ve been noveling. In less than one year, I finished the first and second drafts of The Flight of Elfled unBlessed, my latest novel in the Light-Walkers universe. I’ll publish it this year and probably spit out an announcement into the toxic cesspools of online social media, then forget those cesspools again. We’ll see. It’s a new year, I have lots of plans, I have no idea if they’re going to come to fruition, but I’m setting goals and loosing my arrows at targets to do my part in getting those organisms to produce. This is the year of mixing metaphors, and it is glorious.

I’ll say that I’d like to get back to blogging regularly, but I don’t know if that’s a realistic hope for myself or if it’s even a thing I need to be doing. If you see me here (you two Faithful Readers who remain), then you’ll know the answer to that. And so will I.

Toodles and kisses!

illustrations of depression (major trigger warning)

I’m using this post as a repository for images that resonate with me concerning depression, anxiety, fatigue, and so forth.

Who knows? There might even be happy stuff here on occasion.

But don’t expect it.

This is the darkness. Here there be dragons. And they’re not the cuddly kind.

_____________________________

For a long time now, this image has resonated with me the strongest. To varying degrees, this is exactly how I’ve felt for years.

_____________________________

Upon my counselor’s recommendation, I recently watched the movie INSIDE OUT for the first time. And then, a few days later, I watched it a second time. I’ll soon be watching it a third time, BECAUSE IT IS PERFECTION. It’s probably going to get its own full-length blogpost sometime soon. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s Sadness…who has her place and her vital purpose, and whom I’m slowly learning to love as my friend.

Sadness says, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.”

That’s a yes.

_____________________________

The 2014 film THE BABADOOK has come to mean different things to different people…but to me, it will always be The Spot-On Description of Depression (…and, now, of Grief).

The Babadook. Be careful clicking on this. It’ll give you nightmares.

From the movie:

I’ll wager with you,
I’ll make you a bet:
The more you deny,
The stronger I get.

You start to change
When I get in —
The Babadook growing
Right under your skin.

The more I deny…the more I don’t talk about depression…the less honest I am about it…the stronger it gets. And, as you can see, it’s horrific.

____________________________

This one speaks to my anxiety. I’m learning that a lot of my little habits lead back to this.

“Fear” by Alexandria Lomuntad

____________________________

More here, another time.

i am so tired and i’m not okay (trigger warning: depression, anxiety, anger)

“Hey, how are ya?”
“How’s it goin’?”
“How’s life?”
“Whatcha been up to?”
“How are you?”

These are all variations of the same question. They all mean the same thing. They’re all delivered in the same tone. They all expect the same style of answer.

Tone: bright, casual, cheery
Style: superficial

In reality, this “how are you” is not a question, in spite of the punctuating “?” at the end.

It is not a question but a greeting.

It requires, expects, and prefers no other response but an equally bright, casual, cheery, superficial “fine.”

“Fine!”
“Great!”
“Just as good as it can be!”
“I’m blessed!”
“Nothin’ much, how ’bout you?”

I’m so tired of receiving that “greeting.”
I’m so tired of giving that response.

I was probably a young adult when I first became consciously aware of this particular difference between the American culture I was born into and the German culture I was raised in:

In American culture: “How are you?” is a greeting that requires little content in a reply.

In German culture: “How are you?” is a genuine request for a run-down on everything going on in your life and how you feel about it. It’s a conversation-starter never offered in passing.

If you’re a member of either culture visiting the other, you’re going to have a very tough time interacting with people if you don’t understand this distinction.

I’ve understood it for a long time. I’ve adapted. I never ask a German how they are if I’m not available to listen to the answer. When I ask an American how they are, I make sure I emphasize that I really want to know. If I don’t want to know, I don’t ask.

Sometimes I do use “how are you” as a greeting — but only in American society, and only when the situation obviously calls for that style of interaction. It’s still not my preference, though.

And I’m tired of hearing that greeting.
I’m tired of giving the standard “I’m fine” response.

Because I’m not fine.
I’m not okay.

I.

am.

tired.

I’m tired of not sharing openly and honestly about my struggles.
I’m tired of not sharing frankly what’s going on in my life.
I’m tired of not saying bluntly how I feel about it.
I’m tired of feeling like it’s not safe for me to be honest.
I’m tired of feeling fear and anger and frustration and sorrow more than I feel joy.
I’m tired of getting out of bed in the morning when I don’t want to get out of bed.
I’m tired of having neither the mental space nor the emotional energy nor the hours in the day to engage in all the things that make me come alive.
I’m tired of watching tv every single night because it makes for effective anesthesia.
I’m tired of eating chocolate just because it makes me feel better.
I’m tired of how fat and lazy and old I feel.
I’m tired of feeling afraid to talk about my true beliefs on social media.
I’m tired of not being able to say, “I am grieving, damnit! I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel guilty, and I don’t need anybody to fix it or try to talk me out of it.” (It’s not your job.)
I’m tired of feeling like my words never come across the way I mean them.
I’m tired of my “everyday” as something I feel I have to slog through instead of live to the fullest.
I’m tired of not feeling as resilient as I used to.
I’m tired of always being the strong one.
I’m tired of always being the one who listens.
I’m tired of always being the one who understands.
I’m tired of always being the one who empathizes.
I’m tired of having my faith questioned by people who don’t see my life inside and out on a daily or weekly or even monthly basis.
I’m tired of being accused of complaining.
I’m tired of being accused of being negative. (Guess what? IT’S NOT ALL SUNSHINE LOLLIPOPS KITTENS RAINBOWS SPARKLIES.)
I’m tired of hearing all the voices in my life and in my head that say I need to have Joy instead of depression.
I’m tired of the “norm” that compares my life to others’ and says, “Look, they have it worse than you, so you should be thankful and grateful and happy for what you have.”
I’m tired of hearing people tell me I should enjoy XYZ when I’m unable to.
I’m tired of feeling like a failure as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a writer, as a human.
I’m tired of so rarely having a real, deep, meeting-of-the-spirits conversation with my husband.
I’m tired of feeling responsible for everyone and everything.
I’m tired of never getting enough sleep, even when I work hard to arrange my schedule for getting enough sleep.
I’m tired of worrying about, oh, pretty much every single person in my life.
I’m tired of the lying bastard named Depression, who is utterly beyond my control and is NOT a sign that I need more faith, thank you very sarding much.
I’m tired of feeding Depression by not acknowledging its very strong reality in my life.
I’m tired of my brain chemicals and neurons not functioning in an ideal manner.
I’m tired of the To-Do List.
I’m tired of worrying about money.
I’m tired of thinking, as I write this, that I’m going to get criticism in response and experience emotionally radioactive fallout as a result.

I’m…just…tired.

And I’m not okay.

_____________________________

It seems needful to add that in all of this, I do not feel suicidal. My “I am tired” is not a statement of “I want to end things.” It is a statement of this:

I am tired and not okay.

I’m getting mad over being so damn tired and not okay.

I want change.

I’m not asking for solutions, so please don’t give me advice because I don’t want it right now. (Again: It’s not your job. If you’d like to pray for me, that would be most welcome.)

I needed to continue my process by writing these things out and making them public. That is the purpose of this post.

I said what I needed to.

My hope is that it’ll help me feel less tired.

Time will tell.

listening to the rain (a brief treatise on fresh grief)

What do you do when your head and heart both are overfull and empty at the same time?

I’m sitting here in my car, parked in my driveway, waiting for my daughter to wake up so we can go into the house. She has spent the last few days and nights with my parents, and while I’ve enjoyed my mini-vay, I feel an urgency to get back to reading C.S. Lewis’s THE SILVER CHAIR with my kid.

A mother reading to her daughter.
Mothers and daughters have weighed heavily on my mind and heart of late.

One of the daughter’s favorite shows, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” asks the question, “What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad, you could roar?”

A similar set of questions has plagued me for the past 10 days…but mine go something like this:

What do you do with the sad that you feel?
When you feel so sad, you could soar
gently and without fuss on an updraft of foreign emotion
out of your daily life and
into some *between* state
neither dead nor truly living
simply drifting along
an automaton waltzing through life’s daily requirements
to the rhythm of
i-don’t-care
i-don’t-care
i-don’t-care
a beat as steady as a heart too calm
too deeply in repose
too distant ever to answer another call?

What do you do when you feel this grief,
this pain that underwhelms:

–i am not impressed with you
–i shall go about my life because i have such security
–oh pain, you do not own me

and overwhelms:
–i cannot begin to handle you
–i cannot anything
–what life?

How do you take your next breath?

Is it even yours to begin with?

Is the beginning of a next breath. even. yours.?

I do take my next breath
and the next
and the next

But they don’t happen in some serene cocoon
of Comprehension Of Death
no

Oh, on a certain level
I understand

We Live In A Fallen World
Death Is Not The End
At Least She’s Not In Pain Anymore
She’s In A Better Place
The Lord Plucked Her, Beautiful Flower, From His Garden And Took Her Home
do you really think any of that shit matters to me

when i grip my kitchen counter
trying to hold on
un
unable
sliding down the front of my dishwasher
oh so recently having completed its cycle
having done its job on the earth
having fulfilled its purpose
oh happy dishwasher
spewing its drying heat over me like vomit
all to the tune of
the cat’s ingurgitating her meat food
slurp smack
as i seek refuge with my cheek pressed against the floor
my nose in last month’s crumbs i haven’t bothered to sweep
scrubbing the cold linoleum with my tears

good
god
WHY

do you think any of your platitudes matter?
the strung-together syllables of anesthesia
that make so much sense when you’re not in agony

spare me

try listening to the rain
do you hear that hollow growling sound?

i tell you, it is Death

come too soon for her
come too soon for us all

come.
too.
soon

“I needed this today,” says I. “This quiet resting, this listening to the rain. They held her funeral this morning.”

“Rain washes everything away,” answers a friend.

That is the answer to what we do. That is the Truth.

So I let the rain come.

In my kitchen, in front of the dishwasher. With the heat and the filthy tear-washed floor and my soft-howled pleas for an explanation.

I let the rain come.

(completed and posted on 06/26/2017, backdated to June 2, 2017)

for Christians

I don’t often wax on (or off) about my faith on this blog–mainly because, if you’ve found your way here, you probably did so for the writing and reading and snark, not the “religion” stuff. (Note: I’m not religious. I’m a Jesus-follower. There’s a distinct difference. If you want me to wax and polish that in another post, lemme know. 😉 )

Anywho, ballyhoo.

The current social and political climate in the United States of America is bringing me way low. Still, I sit in a place of privilege because I’m white, educated, and middle-class-ish. Husband has full-time & long-term employment, gets benefits; we’d do better financially if I took at least a part-time job, but we’re not in a position that I *have* to, so I can stay at home with kiddo and stay at home and write (sometimes); we have biological family who help us out with kiddo’s schooling and with LIFE; we have an adopted community that helps with LIFE; we have a network of local connections going back 25 years; we speak English, blah blah more privileged stuff blah.

So, I can sit here fairly comfortably at my newish laptop, reading Twitter and Facebook and news sites and bemoan the state of the Union in *empathy* with the under- and non-privileged, but it’s not like I’m out there getting shot for wearing a hoodie. I know where my next meal is coming from. I can walk into a bank and immediately get service and talk to personnel in English about my needs. I don’t have to know what month Flag Day is before I’m allowed to be a citizen.

That said, my heart still breaks…my soul is crying…my spirit feels, in many ways, broken–all because I see (with my limited sight) the pain and anguish people are suffering all over the world and all over this country, and I see the leaders of this country apparently doing everything they can to increase that suffering instead of diminishing it as they swore to do.

And what rends my heart to shreds most violently is that I see humans who claim Jesus Christ cheering on these corrupt ones instead of rejecting them.

So, I have something to say to my fellow humans who claim Him as their Lord and profess to pledge their allegiance to Him alone (wording intentional, *ahem*). If you’re not one of them and don’t want to read further, I understand, and I hold no negative thoughts or emotions toward you. If you’re not one of them and you *do* read further, please don’t hesitate to ask me anything you like about what I’ve written.

I am always open to talking of these things.
They are the core of my very existence.

If you are one who claims Jesus as Lord and feel moved to converse, please also do not hesitate.
If you are one who claims Jesus as Lord and feel moved to excoriate me or anyone else who comments, check yourself or wreck yourself. I will delete inappropriate or abusive comments and block you from this blog without hesitation.

If you’re a Christian, this one’s for you.

(I have also posted a version of this on Facebook.)

“Take a good look at her. She has had five husbands. And the sixth man in her life, with whom she is presently living, is not her husband. But Jesus Christ does the unthinkable. He introduces himself to her as her new Husband–the seventh* man in her life, the heavenly suitor who will love her like no man ever has. He will turn her tragedy into purity, her ashes into beauty, her misery into joy.

“This woman is a Samaritan; she’s a half-breed–half Jew and half Gentile. In other words, she comprises both Jew and Gentile in her body. She depicts the bride of Jesus Christ, comprised of fallen, tragic humanity, Jew and Gentile, who have been re-created anew to be the masterpiece of God’s matchless grace.”

–Frank Viola,
FROM ETERNITY TO HERE
(*7 symbolizes perfection)

So. If you’re going to ally yourself with Jesus the Anointed One of God Eternal, here are a few facts about yourself you’re going to have to accept:
(Note: every following “you” is collective, not singular.)

You are a hybrid.
You are a half-breed.
You are a wayward, fallen, tragic creature.
You are hunted.
You are a foreigner.
You are a stranger.
You are despised.
You are destitute.
You are homeless.
You are a refugee.

In His glorious, immeasurable Love, God the Father has handselected you to be the Bride for his Son.
In His glorious, immeasurable Love, Jesus the Anointed One has paid the bloodprice that is your dowry.
In His glorious, immeasurable Love, the Holy Spirit has led you to the Lord Your Bridegroom.

(Again, every “you” is collective, not singular.)

You are become His Bride, one day to become His Wife.
You are adopted into His Family.
You are a Living Stone being built into His House.
You are redeemed.
You are safe.
You are a citizen under His Lordship.
You are known to Him.
You are Beloved.
You are abundantly rich.
You are home.

You are still a refugee.

You have refuge in Him.

He does not reject the poor, the homeless, the destitute, the desperate, the alien, the stranger, the foreigner. He does not reject the refugee. He gave Himself to such as these, NO MATTER THE COST TO HIMSELF. This is His courage, His strength, His obedience, and His Love.

(Again: “you” is collective.)

And He lives in you.
His fullness lives in you.
ALL OF HIM lives in you.
His love, his courage, his strength to act in compassion and grace.

Is there a risk in welcoming the stranger? Is there danger in harboring the refugee?

Maybe. Maybe not. “But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
With the time that is given us.
With His Love that “tabernacles” inside us.
With His strength and the courage that reside in us, the Bride of the Anointed One.

The Lord has purified for Himself a Bride who shares His spiritual DNA. As Eve shared Adam’s DNA because she was made out of him, so the Bride has a nature identical to the Bridegroom’s. There is no distinction between the two of them, and when God looks at the Bride, He sees His Son.

Jesus the unique, Anointed Son of God welcomes the refugee.

So does His Bride, the church, the collective of the Called-Out, who is Herself a (formerly destitute) refugee from a fallen world.

The Bride of Christ does not reject the refugee.

And if “the Bride” does reject the refugee, then she is not of Him; she does not belong to Him; and she is not the Bride.

reading and (w)riting, no ‘rithmetic

Last night, I wrote about my hope, my not-hope, and my forever-hope, all threaded through with the discouraging guanoshow that was 2016 A.D.

Today, I turn my mind and heart to lovelier things. When it came to reading and writing, 2016 was one of my best years ever. 🙂

On Reading in 2016

In 2016, I started reading 67 books, and I finished 64 of them. (The unfinished 3, I just couldn’t get into or enjoy, but I won’t mention them by title.) That’s 17 more books than I read in 2015, and I credit intentionality for the difference. Last year at this time, I purposed to read as many women authors as possible. At some point, my to-read list and to-read stack basically exploded. When the rumblings echoed away and the dust settled, I found a SMORGASBORD BOUNTY OF WOMEN’S VOICES, and I devoured them with vigor. YUMBLY IN MY READER TUMBLY.

This was the first time in my life I’ve read so many women in the space of a year, AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

These voices rang fresh and clear in my mind. They reverberated with beauty and sorrow, disgust and joy. They spoke things I’d never before heard. They made me laugh and cry and think. They inspired me to write more. They inspired me to write more freely.

Reading these women, I found myself living the reality that I could write as they do, unbound by shackles.

HALLELUJAH I’M FREE

But more on my writing later. First, their writings.

Books I Read in 2016

Asterisks indicate particular favorites.

  1. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee ***
  2. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke *
  3. Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse *
  4. Journey to America by Sonia Levitin
  5. Dark Beyond the Stars edited by David Gatewood *
  6. Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas *
  7. Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood, #1) by Aliette de Bodard
  8. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor *
  9. The Giver by Lois Lowry *
  10. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab *
  11. When the Silence Ends by Jade Kerrion
  12. In the Woods by Tana French *
  13. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin **
  14. Gateway to Reality (Reality Series #1) by Becca J. Campbell
  15. Kushiel’s Chosen (Kushiel’s Legacy, #2) by Jacqueline Carey
  16. “The Father Hunt” (A Flawed Story) by Becca J. Campbell
  17. The Selection (The Selection, #1) by Kiera Cass
  18. The Likeness by Tana French *
  19. Kushiel’s Avatar (Kushiel’s Legacy, #3) by Jacqueline Carey *
  20. Open Minds (Mindjack Saga, #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn *
  21. A Wind in the Door (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #2) by Madeleine L’Engle
  22. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) and short story “Glitches” by Marissa Meyer *
  23. The Haunting of Gillespie House by Darcy Coates
  24. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess **
  25. The Three by Sarah Lotz
  26. Blood Oranges by Caitlín R. Kiernan writing as Kathleen Tierney
  27. Hopeful Monsters by Hiromi Goto
  28. You by Caroline Kepnes **
  29. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  30. Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips
  31. The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal
  32. Sword-Bound (The Sword-Dancer Saga, #7) by Jennifer Roberson
  33. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
  34. The Wild Road (Book 3 of Karavans) by Jennifer Roberson
  35. Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1) by Rysa Walker *
  36. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  37. The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude *
  38. Just One Damn Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, Book 1) by Jodi Taylor *
  39. Of Bone and Steel and Other Soft Materials, a short story by Annie Bellet
  40. The Paper Magician (Paper Magician Series, #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg *
  41. The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater **
  42. Tiny Bites: A Collection by Stacy Claflin
  43. Kindred by Octavia Butler *
  44. The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl *
  45. Asylum by Madeleine Roux
  46. The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau
  47. Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse, #5) by Charlaine Harris
  48. Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
  49. Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
  50. Candles Burning by Tabitha King and Michael McDowell
  51. Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
  52. The Christening Quest by Elizabeth Scarborough
  53. Ill Wind (Weather Warden, #1) by Rachel Caine *
  54. Trey of Swords by Andre Norton
  55. Uprooted by Naomi Novik **
  56. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere, 1) by Meg Elison *
  57. The Fading Dusk (Smoke and Mirrors #1) by Melissa Giorgio
  58. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando *
  59. Jinian Footseer by Sheri S. Tepper
  60. The Kraken Sea by E. Katherine Tobler
  61. Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madeleine Roux *
  62. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope *
  63. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness **
  64. The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts *

Recalling these stories is like thinking back on the utter joy and satisfaction surrounding delectable holiday meals. Here’s hoping for even greater tastiness in 2017.

So…what *is* in store for 2017 A.D.’s To-Read List?

Well…lemme tell ya. The other day, during our family’s roadtrip back to Oklahoma from our Florida-panhandle Christmas, I decided to head a head start on my reading list for this year. I already had a few titles and authors in mind, but I hadn’t collected them all in one place yet. Here’s the tentative reading plan so far; the only order is “ladies first” again (with a single exception):

Currently reading: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Further reading
Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl
Sarah Maas, Throne of Glass 2
Aliette de Board, Obsidian & Glass 2
Lowry’s The Giver sequel
Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows
more from Kerrion’s Double Helix series?
Tana French on nightstand (that’s not the title, it’s where I’ve stacked the book)
Jemisin, 100k Kingdoms 2
Cass, The Selection 2
Quinn, Mindjack 2
L’Engle #3
Meyer, Cinder 2
Bloggess, Furiously Happy
Carrie Ryan 3
Walker, Timebound 2
Taylor, St. Mary’s 2
Holmberg, Paper Magician 2
Stiefvater, Raven Boys 2
Sookie Stackhouse #6
Caine, Weather Warden 2
Lilith Saintcrow, Night Shift
Delilah Dawson, Three Lives of Lydia
Ellison, Road to Nowhere 2
Harkness, Discovery of Witches 2
Kepnes, Hidden Bodies
St Crow, Strange Angels 2
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Slipping, Lauren Beukes
Wake of Vultures, Lila Bowen
Fifth Season, Jemisin
Thin Air, Paver
Copper Promise, Williams
Crosstalk, Willis

Wendig: Aftermath, Invasive, Thunderbird
Nod, Adrian Barnes
Dark Matter, Blake Crouch
My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Hendrix
NOS4A2, Joe Hill
Versailles, Yannick Hill
Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones
Paper Menagerie, Liu
Lovecraft Country, Ruff

Well, then. There’s my 2017 reading list already more than halfway sorted, and the year isn’t even a day old yet. And so it goes.

On (W)riting in 2016

Compared to previous recent years, I accomplished quite a bit in 2016. Not as much as I’d planned — I published only one book instead of two — but I ain’t kicking myself over it.

Not too much, anyway. 😉

The Elevator

elevator_cvr_lrgIn tags list at the end of this post, please to be clicking “The Elevator” for more details about this novel. For now, I’ll just say that I consider The Elevator my best published work to-date. As of this writing, it has but one Amazon review to its name, which makes me sad for it. Completely objectively and also quite biasedly, I think the book deserves more. Apparently, others’ mileage varies. Oh well. Can’t make everypony happy, and I long ago decided not even to try. 😉

But come on. It’s a space fantasy adventure with a chaotic psychopath, a cross-dimensional traveler, a vampire, a mech-woman, and two adorable smartass street urchins, all tied up in the nature of Reality at the heart of the multiverse. Who wouldn’t want to read that?

*ahem*

Don’t answer that. Unless it’s with a resounding silence in which you fork over money for my book. In that case, BRING IT ON.

I…uh, what?

elvendeadThe Elven Dead & Other Legends of the Light-Walkers

Ohhhhh, did I ever have such plans to publish this anthology in 2016!

Alas and alack, ’twas not to be.

I just ran out of oomph, y’all. In its final eleventh, 2016 managed to plaster me with that guano I mentioned before, and I didn’t cleanse myself of the disgusting sludge in time to hit “publish.” The short story collection *is* complete, minus a couple of touch-ups. I even have the cover art, thanks to fabulously talented Sam Hunt. All that’s left is to put in some butt-to-chair time to get the book out into all y’all’s greedy little reader hands.

Come on, I know you want it. 😉

Soon, my inklings. SOON.

Writerly To-Dos for 2017

What’s next? Well, that’s an excellent question, dearies. In early December 2016, I counted up the number of projects I could possibly turn to next — after taking care of the pesky pubbing details I mentioned above, of course. The count numbered 9. I repeat, NINE.

Nine project ideas with equal potential for becoming my next completed work.

People ask writers where we get our ideas. The better question is how can we NOT get ideas, so that we have space and time enough to work with the ideas we do have.

When it comes to writers’ ideas, picture a closet with all the junk just shoved in and the door slammed shut, in which each junky-seeming object represents a story or character idea. Except that the closet is actually a warehouse the size of Montana.

That’s why we never need people to tell us *their* ideas for a story *we* “should” write. Our ideas warehouse is already filled to bursting at the seams. Dude. The roof has practically exploded off. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S GOOD AND TRUE AND WRITERLY IN THIS WORLD, DON’T STUFF ANYTHING ELSE IN THERE

*ahem* But I digress.

In trying to figure out what to work on next, I enumerated and described my options to my writer friend Becca. She listened and asked pointed questions. Simply through conversing about my dilemma and sifting through the story ideas in my mind, I realized that I kept coming back with excitement to one particular idea:

the story of Taeven Ravenhair.

Taeven makes a cameo appearance in The Dying of the Light (Legends of the Light-Walkers 3) and gets a mention in Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers 2). I penned the first 12k words of her tale for NaNoWriMo back in 2004 — and promptly screeched to a halt because I had no clue which word should be number 12,001. The story’s been shelved ever since.

But in 12 years, Taeven has never left me alone. She’s not naturally a patient person, but she has exerted a monumental amount of self-control, waiting her turn. So, as I shared a bit of Taeven with a fellow writer, suddenly it all turned crystal clear:

2017 is the year in which Taeven finally gets a real voice.

Of course, as soon as I decided this, I frantically typed out four pages of notes and then started writing a completely different story.

And so it goes, right? Busy, busy, busy.

This new story, currently entitled The Flight of Elfled unBlessed isn’t part of my Legends of the Light-Walkers series, but it does take place in that universe. It promises to be a novella, so I’m hoping it won’t take up too much of early 2017. But more on it later.

Taeven’s story has gathered dust under the title The Bearers of the Stones. I never really liked it, so I tried to come up with something more suitable while I was taking those four pages of notes. As of a couple of weeks ago, Taeven’s story is entitled Sister of the Black Flame — subject to change at my writerly whim. AH THE POWER MUAH-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA

So. 2017 shall be:

  • pubbing Light-Walker shorts collection
  • first draft of Taeven’s story, hopefully final draft
  • Elfled’s story
  • getting paperbacks prepped and on sale pages for all the longer works

Plus LIFE.

And enough.

For now. 😉

these are the truths

Every time I clean, I lose things. Organized chaos tells me exactly where things are.
I try not to get too philosophical about this.

Living my faith is harder for me than giving faith up.

I am more aware now of the reality of my privilegedness than I ever have been in my life.

Chocolate-flavored vodka is my jam, but I don’t put it on my bread.

I have forgotten how to blog.

Freedom means more to me than ever before, and it has not a smidgen to do with patriotism.

I am weary of holding my tongue. I wasn’t built for it. (And neither were you.)

Writing cover copy for a short story anthology is vastly different from writing cover copy for a novel. This sucks.

I have come to the conclusion that no one who cannot bear or has not borne a child should have the right to tell me when or how I should bear one.

Pinkie Pie.

I possess more materials for unbegun art projects than any one human should.

It’s okay if you end a sentence a preposition with.
I think I decided this after learning Koine Greek.

ἀγάπη is the highest, and no single English word expresses it adequately.

If I could tell my late-teens self any three things, it might be: (1) dye your hair and get a tattoo, (2) turn every moment of your life into the most glorious dance, (3) but don’t dance in front of that fireman named Michael, because he’s going to get the wrong idea and it’s gonna be really awkward later in front of your mom and his sister.

This year I have read only women authors, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Nowadays I laugh at things I used to look down my nose at.
This isn’t a bad thing.

I still love sparklies.
I don’t think that’s ever gonna change.

Yay. 🙂

15045737_10154395327853113_212867872_n

that moment when kid quotes

that moment when your husband points out to you that the strangely liquidy laundry soap you’ve been washing clothes in for a week is actually fabric softener

well, that explains a lot

In Other News

4yo: You be Twilight Sparkle, and I’ll be Nightmare Moon.

Me: Well, Twilight Sparkle reads books, so let’s go read some books.

4yo: And Nightmare Moon kills people, so let’s go kill some people.

_______________

Um.

#kidssaythecreepiestthings
_______________

4yo: Mama, you are a normal person.

Me: Thank you, so are you. What does normal mean?

4yo: It means that you’re alive.

_______________

This seems rather deep and #existential for a preschooler.

Finis.

Exeunt.

social media away message

I posted a version of this on Facebook this morning.

CLARIFICATION

I don’t hate any one person.
I don’t hate any group of people.
I don’t hate any demographic.
I don’t hate.

I feel angry.
I feel hurt.
I feel concerned — not for myself, not for any religious institution, not for so-called “religious freedom,” but for non-white, non-gender-binary, non-straight, non-legally-protected –> READ: non-*privileged* people, a majority of whom went to bed last night and woke up this morning utterly terrified.

In accordance with my daily-challenged faith, I will state my belief that Jesus is Lord of all, even this whole debacle.
But I will not forget that He was also Lord during the Dark Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust, ETC. His being in control does not mean we humans don’t find a host of absolutely horrific things to perpetrate against one another.

His being in control does not excuse any of us — especially those of us who claim to follow Him — from doing everything we possibly can to prevent those horrific things. Including keeping other humans out of power who perpetuate those horrific things.

I feel sad.
I feel love.

I live out Love.

RELATIONSHIPS

Some of you are aware of my heavy heart after a former long-time friend unfriended me a few days ago over this whole debacle.
Some of you will call me a hypocrite because I unfriended someone over this whole debacle.

This difference is that I didn’t attack or question the faith of the one who unfriended me.
The one I unfriended was never more than an acquaintance, and he attacked me and questioned my faith.

I don’t need that kind of unhealthy connection in my life.

I want to retain connections in which I exchange life (Life) with others.

I’m not sure that’s a sustainable thing via Facebook.

There’s more to all this. But I don’t have the words right now. If I find them, I’ll holler.

VACATION

I am taking a social media vacation. It will last at least until the New Year.

I will pop onto FB to manage my author page (facebook.com/courtcanwrite/). But I don’t plan to interact there on my personal account.

I won’t be checking private FB messages. If you want to contact me, please email if you have my email address, text if you have my phone number, comment on my author page, or comment on my blog.

Until further notice, I’ll be interacting on Twitter (@courtcan) only to promote my books and talk about writing.

My main reasons for this vacation (from Facebook) are that I’m tired of being personally attacked, I’m tired of having my faith questioned by people who know little to nothing about my daily life or my beliefs, and I’m tired of providing a space where people I love and respect bicker with, yell at, and aim “friendly fire” at each other (necessitating my intervention).

I’m just weary. And this isn’t helping the depression I’m still in treatment for.

I love you all.

Facebook ya in January. Maybe.

 

In the meantime though, I’ll for sure be blogging here. Stay tuned!