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I missed my blog anniversary last month, and while this is a milestone I usually like to celebrate, this year on January 20th, I was a bit preoccupied.

I’m a month in to my new position with the library, and I could not be happier. I feel like I’m making a really positive impact on my teen patrons here, though I really miss my old group. I’m gearing up for my first book club meeting, and we’re reading Neil Shusterman’s Unwind (meanwhile, I’m tackling his new title, Scythe, for my own sheer joy). I’m helping plan programs and events for Teen Tech Week in March, putting together bulletin boards and book displays for the teen area, etc. It’s been great!

Plus, you know, there was this whole wedding thing that happened last week. So, V and I finally got married. It’s been officially in the works since August, when I finally proposed to the girl who’s been my closest friend for over a decade.

I’m working on more book reviews, I promise. There are so many coming out soon! I just finished reading M-E Girard’s Girl Mans Up, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it. Plus a follow-up to my review of The City Stained Red when I review the sequel, The Mortal Tally (because the final book, God’s Last Breath, is out in July). And A Conjuring of Light is out in two weeks! So many good books lately, I’ve barely been able to keep up.

Anyway, thanks for sticking around for so much of the last six years. I’ll try to get the anniversary post in on time next year.

It’s the first day of a new year, and it’s a good time to look back at some of the big positives of 2016, and see how I did as far as achieving my goals for the year.

Per last year, I said I wanted to write more. Well, in 2015, I wrote 12 blog posts, down from 51 in 2014. I know that a part of that was the end of the Trifecta Writing Challenge. So in 2016, I got myself back into writing with a lot more book reviews and non-fiction posts. I got myself back up to 43 posts. My goal for this year is a minimum of 52 posts, one per week. There are some things that are going to facilitate that, and I’m pretty excited.

I mentioned that I’d like to submit more work. I only came close on this one, didn’t really hit it as well as I would’ve liked (I lost track of several deadlines for submissions to magazines, and that’s no one’s fault but mine). Still, I did manage to send a piece to a local counter-culture newspaper for a zine that they were making, which was a fun way to get my work out to a new audience. This year, if more time allows for writing, I’d like to send some new stories out.

Goal #3 from last year was to draw more. To an extent, yes, I got more drawing done. I did some more doodles, but also worked on some new costume designs. I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to start assembling more costumes and cosplays, but I’ve got a pretty good start to the look of several. It’s fun to find more inspiration in things around me and start working on transforming that into a physical bit.

Communicating more was another goal that I set for 2016. I think I did okay there, but you can always tell me differently if you disagree. I got to meet a new nephew and see the other before he went off to Europe, so that was definitely a good thing. Now I’m going to be relying on things like Skype a lot more to keep in touch with my family, but it’s fun to look forward to those moments. It feels more important to me to talk more now that we’re farther away.

Goal #5 was to vote. Been there, done that, and I’m not going to get into politics in this post. I want to continue to increase my political literacy over the coming year, though, because there are a great many challenges that will have to be overcome.

I didn’t manage to hit my sixth goal until almost the end of 2016. It took many tries over the year, but my determination paid off. I start my first full time job with my library tomorrow morning. It’s bittersweet to be leaving my old location, but I’m super excited about having a regular schedule. This is one of the biggest changes in my life in years, and it’s going to make it much easier to accomplish a lot of my other goals. No more dependence on substitute hours to bring in the income I need, and no more moving from location to location, putting in split shifts six or seven days a week.

My final goal for 2016 was to read more. Per goodreads, I got through 187 books in 2015, and bumped up to 217 last year. Again, my current reading list contains a lot of comic books, but I’m working on a lot of teen fiction for this year. I’ve got a couple of books I’d like to revisit this year too. I’ll be aiming for at least 200 titles this year, so we’ll see how that goes.

I’m looking to learn a couple of new games this year, as I picked up my first Malifaux crew. It’s something that V has been telling me about for a while now, so I’m going to eventually be assembling and painting these: rasputina

There are a lot of other big changes on the horizon, folks. Thanks to all of you for sticking around. I’ll be keeping you updated.

Earlier this year, I read If I Was Your Girl, and it is one of the most timely books I have ever encountered. Meredith Russo’s tale of a young girl moving to a new town is so much more than your standard teen romance.

Amanda just moved to Lambertville, a small Tennessee town where the big events are high school football games and church socials. She’s nervous about getting a fresh start for her senior year of high school, but she quickly makes a handful of friends. However, she’s hiding two big secrets. One, she attempted suicide while she was at her old school. Two, Amanda is transgender. Amanda is not expecting to fall in love, but encountering Grant, a young man with secrets of his own, leaves them both struggling to be honest with each other.

Amanda’s parents are separated, and she moves from a larger city where she lived with her mother to a small town where her father is still coming to terms with his daughter’s identity. If I Was Your Girl tells Amanda’s story almost flawlessly, interweaving flashbacks to her old life and helping the reader understand Amanda’s reasons for transitioning and her acceptance in her new home. Meredith Russo blends some of her own life experiences into Amanda. As readers, we’re shown an incredibly deep look. We see the psychological effects, glimpses into the recovery from the surgical procedures, and her experiences with a local support group prior to the move.

As has been mentioned in many reviews of this book, If I Was Your Girl covers a fairly easy take on transition. Amanda knows from a young age who she is, and has no trouble covering the costs of hormone therapy and various surgeries while she is still young. It’s an idealized version of transition, and it is important to note that this is currently quite rare in reality (I personally was waiting for tragedy to strike throughout my read, because everything seemed to be going too well). This is also noted by the author. “I’m worried that you might take Amanda’s story as gospel, especially since it comes from a trans woman. This prospect terrifies me, actually! I am a storyteller, not an educator. I have taken liberties with what I know reality to be.” However, this does not diminish the importance of a book by a transgender author, starring a transgender character, and featuring a transgender model on the cover in a year when transphobia is at a terrifying high.

All in all, I loved this book. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Is it perfect? No. But it’s a much-needed beacon of hope in what has been a very dark year for LGBT+ folks around the country.

November is Transgender Awareness Month. If you’re able to make a donation to GLAAD, please do so.

Want to read more like If I Was Your Girl? Check out Bookish’s list of 21 books to read for Transgender Awareness month.

Update: This review can now also be found here and on my goodreads page.

“We Are The Meteor”

We are the meteor
We are bringing change
We will see the end
Of the dinosaurs’ reign

We are the meteor
We can not be stopped
We just pick up speed
And we’re coming in hot

We are the meteor
We are the reset
And you won’t believe it
When you see our impact

We are the meteor
We are bringing change
We will see the end
Of the dinosaurs’ reign

“Stargaze”

We spent the summer’s nights
Gazing up at jet-black sky
Pierced by fierce crystal
And deftly marbled with the
Swirling grasp of the Milky Way.
Hand in hand, we kissed, and
We wished
That we would be as endless
As all that we could not see.

I pitched a D&D campaign idea to some of my old group the other day. Partially inspired by Overwatch and HBO’s new take on Westworld, I began to think about a party of warforged gunslingers (this would be a 3.5/Pathfinder hybrid game). There are enough archetypes within the gunslinger class to give a party of 5-7 players a few unique abilities. I think probably a single session, with a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven sort of plot. A group called in to defend a small village against an overwhelming force. I’m going to make this happen. It’s just a question of when. It’s always fun to have a one-shot ready to go should the opportunity arise.

Chuck Wendig’s latest writing challenge asked for us to share a real-life spooky experience. I decided to write a bit about something that happened about this time last year.

I’ve written a lot about doors. Secret passages, locked doors that contain various secrets, portals to other places… It’s definitely a recurring theme in my work. So imagine my surprise at finding something that wouldn’t be out of place in my work showing up in my apartment.

My girlfriend and I were moving in together for the first time, and we’d finally found an affordable place with enough space in the right neighborhood. We leased the apartment without looking at it, so we didn’t notice it when we first moved in. Not even when we were doing our walkthrough with the checklist the office had given us. Looking for chipped paint, broken blinds, etc. Maybe it was just the shift in lighting after we got the bedside lamp set up. Eventually, though, we spotted a small seam in the wall. There it was. A vertical line, a slight indentation too deep to just be in the paint.

“That’s weird.”

“Oh, damn. Yeah, it is. It’s like they patched the wall over here, and didn’t care that you’d be able to see a gap in the drywall. Weird.”

We didn’t think about it for a while after that. Occasionally, we’d smell smoke, though, like the next door neighbor was enjoying being in Colorado (despite lease clauses). Then, there was a revelation.

“Holy shit.”

“What?”

“Uhh… It’s not just a seam.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a door.”

“What the fuck?”

Sure enough, there was a second line running parallel to the first, about two feet over. Then we followed them up.

“Yeah. It’s a door. There’s frame here too, and look. There’s the lintel.”

“What the actual fuck?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it was a leftover from when the construction guys were building the apartment. A way between this one and the one next door without having to go back into the hall.”

“Then why would they frame it and then fill it in?”

My girlfriend even asked the leasing office about it. The agent who came to look at it had no clue it had ever been there. We pulled the bed away from the wall, and the lines ran all the way to the floor. It was unmistakably a door. Filled with drywall and painted, yes. But a door.

That was when we looked up at the ceiling and noticed the scratches in the popcorn ceiling. Gouges several inches long, spaced closely together, about a foot from the filled-in door. Another group of them a few feet away, nearer to the entrance to the bedroom. Almost like something had crawled across the ceiling from the door to the not-quite-door… Or been pulled…

 

 

 

Happy October, everyone!

 

 

 

 

“An Invitation”

Your gravest error
Was inviting me across
Your threshold that night.

“Fort”

My sister and I once built
A fort out of sticks and
Tumbleweeds, burrowing
In where they had blown
Against the row of pines.
We took snacks and water
And spent afternoons
Pretending to be explorers
Stranded on some distant
Island, though we had only
Once ever seen the ocean.

I managed to accomplish quite a bit this summer, and I’m almost sad to see it go. I survived (and thrived!) during an extra-long anniversary season of the Colorado Renaissance Festival. I attended my 10-year high school reunion. I blew past my Goodreads goal (granted most of those were graphic novels, but still…). I reprised my Kimblee cosplay at NDK over the Labor Day weekend. I met Shinichiro Watanabe and Dai Sato, and now I must re-watch all of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. I was recognized for five consecutive years of service to my library.

Not too bad, all in all. Here’s hoping for an equally productive autumn.