Deep Change, Therapeutic Magics

Hypothetical reader(s): “Wow! The climax of your latest novella, ‘The Self-Construction of Couch’, was really something! How did you come up with the magic system used to send your dragon protagonist through time??”

I’m glad you hypothetically asked, friend(s)! Like much of the stuff my ‘Big City, Little Magics’ stories are made on, I based Couch’s renovative journey on aspects of my actual life – in this case, my exposure to a little magic (and by ‘little’, I do somewhat mean ‘massive’) magic known as Transformational NLP.

But I’m really not the best person to talk to you about that. If you want to hear from someone better informed, allow me to introduce (and interview) my most beloved friend, Tavern Duncan!

*

What even is Transformational NLP? (as asked and answered on Tavern Duncan’s website)

Tavern: NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, seeks to offer a user’s guide to the human brain.

Transformational NLP takes a more holistic and flexible approach than more traditional iterations, respecting the vast complexity of human experience, recognizing that creating deep and lasting change takes more than a recipe book of techniques, and honoring the original value of maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

We use precise questions and physical anchors to create new neurological connections, working with your inner landscape until the path to your desires becomes the path of least resistance.

How did Transformational NLP come into your life?

Tavern: It all started with my next sibling up, who walked this path long before me. They didn’t hasten me into their footsteps, but when my life was at a point of particular despair, they gifted me a book – Money Magic, by Michelle Masters, who was trained by NLP Marin – and I grabbed it like a lifeline. When the book wasn’t enough to do the trick for me, I decided to attend a 2-day course of the same name. (“It didn’t work? Try  it harder!” is probably not an ideal way to approach my life, and it’s certainly gotten me into trouble before, but I lucked out in this instance.) In-person practitioners brought NLP to life in a way a book simply can’t. 30 days after the course, I had a new job in the location we wanted to live in. 30 days after that, we were unpacking in the apartment of our choice.

I kept taking NLP Marin’s courses whenever I could afford the time and money, and everything in my life – professionally, relationally, psychologically – kept improving. That trajectory definitely… took a nosedive when the pandemic hit. But NLP had positioned me to survive it, in a way I genuinely might not have without it. And now my trajectory is recovering from the trauma of the pandemic, even while we’re still very much in the thick of it.

What motivated you to go into this field professionally?

Tavern: NLP Marin extended me a unique opportunity to take one of their biggest courses, The Core Competencies of Communication and Change, on a payment plan I could afford. Unlike the little 2-day or evening courses I’d done before, this 100+ hour training is their practitioner certification course. I wasn’t planning to be a practitioner when I started – I just wanted the tools, to use for myself and for, well, you. 🙂 But it wasn’t long before I realized that, not only do I have a knack for the work, I find it deeply satisfying and exciting.

Having earned my NLP Marin certification last month, I’ve continued on to their Master’s course even while I begin my practice!

Who is your target clientele?

Tavern: On the one hand, I’m naturally inclined to want to help people whose struggles have been similar to mine – namely, neurodivergent and/or queer people dealing with trauma and/or anxiety. People who feel overwhelmed and desperate, like the treadmill of life is too fast and too steep – I would feel honored to help that treadmill slow down and even out, to give them a chance to breathe.

But I’ve enjoyed working with people struggling with work/life balance, addiction, procrastination, perfectionism, and relationship issues – basically, I’m happy to work with anyone who doesn’t like their current experience, or wants an experience they’re not having!

How does a session with you work? (as answered on Tavern Duncan’s website)

Tavern: My sessions are an hour and a half long and conducted via Zoom – and we dive straight into the work of change!

We’ll talk about your current experience, determine what you would like to be different, and find ways that you, your habits, and your brain can get on the same page about creating your desired reality.

(I might ask you to do a few odd things, like hold your eyes in a certain direction, squeeze your own arm at a certain time, or exercise your imagination.)

We give the effects a month to get settled – even when your mind is past ready for change, the body needs time to integrate! – then we can have another session.

Many outcomes can be reached within 6 monthly sessions, so that is my recommended course, though you would be free to opt out sooner, or keep going for as long as you choose.  

Now that you’re officially open for business, what are you most excited to achieve?

Tavern: I really look forward to being a part of people’s journey to better. I feel like I’ve found my true work, in a way I haven’t felt with any other job, or even with my art. I want to wake up looking forward to working with people, and go to bed happy that I did. I am most excited to turn this practice into a way of life!

*

Thank you, Tavern! – on behalf of both Couch and myself. ^_^ If any readers of this blog post feel that there’s an overlap between what they would like and what Tavern has to offer, I encourage them to visit Tavern’s website – ReachDeepChange.com – and, well, reach for the deep change they desire.

‘Til next our paths of transformation traverse,

~ Danielle

Big Heart, Little Braveries

I mentioned in my last post that I was working through some personal issues – how else? – by writing yet another sequel to “Big City, Little Magics”.

Since that post (*waves back to distant mid-July*), I am happy to report that:

1) I have bid farewell to a workplace I was more than ready to leave and gained temporary employment elsewhere. To leave the devil I knew was brave. To try my chances with the devil unknown, also brave. Plus the temp gig’s duties include making a lot of phone calls, and if that doesn’t take bravery, what does??

2) Five years after falling into obsession with the soundtrack – and fifteenish months after the heartbreak of our tickets to the show succumbing to the plague – Tirzah and I finally got to watch the musical “Hamilton” onstage. Strangely enough, allowing yourself to reach for a good time can take more bravery than you think. Not just the part where you have to find decent parking in San Francisco, either. The part where you have to make your heart big enough to hold old wounds and new joys together.

3) And oh yeah, I finished the story! A brave project to undertake, yet less scary to try than this series’ first installment. After all, with every little magical tale I create with these characters, the surer I am that it wasn’t a fluke – I’ve really rediscovered my writing.

Presenting my latest from the BCLM world:

*

Once upon a time, there was a road trip…

Farther back.

Once upon a time, there was a slaughter…

Farther.

Once upon a time, an unbearable goodbye…

Back.

Once upon a time, there was a monster…

*

Once upon a time, and again, and again,

Several times upon a time, there was a darkness.

And the dark contained a demon – or, perhaps, a deity…

Certainly, the dark contained a dragoness.

*

But ‘contained’ is not the word. Nothing kept in check about it,

Though she fought to hold herself controlled and tight.

Shadows leaking out the cracks, blackness creeping past the edges,

And we all know only wrongness shuns the light.

Right?

*

What if

Once and twice and thrice the monster reached across the times,

Claiming all the potent power of the inverse of the sun?

What if

Time could be rewritten through the act of self-alliance?

If the dragon truly saves herself in this one?

*

What would having that do?

Dream it true.

*

The Self-Construction of Couch” – now available to read (for free! Or for Ko-Fi tips, if it please ye) on Wattpad.com.

‘Til next we brave this life together,

~ Danielle

Big Struggles, Little Niceties

Couch is having a rough time.

Which is to say, I am having a rough time, and have been attempting to work through some of it via Couch (of “Big City, Little Magics” fame). In some ways, our current struggles are largely unrelated. But in other, more internal ways, we’re both basically fighting the same fight.

I shan’t go into much detail about it right now, because 1) I’m tired and – as I’ve only lately come to realize – 2) I put off reaching out to talk about myself until I feel there’s something nice to share. Still, despite my unhurried pace, I’ve got the majority of the project written; probably only a small percentage to go. Once it’s all finished, of course I plan to upload it to Wattpad alongside all my other “Big City, Little Magics” stories.

And speaking of, I’ve added some fun new fictions to my “Extra-Little Magics” collection. If you enjoyed better getting to know the band through the group text exchanges peppered into Book 2 / “Big Feels, Unlimited Magics”, then these four (and counting?) “Band Chats” should prove a treat! In any case, I had a ton of fun writing them. ^_^

One more nice thing to share: This dope band poster I made for Manchester Leif.

If you think I’m mad I can’t just hop planes of reality and catch one of their live gigs, you’re right.

‘Til next there are nice things,

~ Danielle

Hugely Magical Little Artworks

If I had to name a favorite artist, living or dead, then I would make my apologies to runners-up Van Gogh and Monet and hand first prize to the incredible Geneva Bowers. You may know her as GDBee / Prinnay on Tumblr, or as the Geneva B behind the fan-flipping-tastic cover illustration for my second “Inspired” novel, “Out of My Head”. Or you may not be familiar with her art at all, which would be SHEER TRAGEDY, because her work is just spilling over with JOY and WHIMSY and UNLIMITED MAGICS. Perhaps it’s more than coincidence, then, that I so deeply love gazing upon her pieces: They share hella vibes with my beloved Big City, Little Magics story world.

Matter of fact, I have observed to myself time and again – most recently when drooling over “Weightless”, the brand spanking new artbook I helped fund on Geneva’s Kickstarter – that she’s created many a work that straight-up reminds me of this or that BCLM character.

In celebration, therefore, of my receipt of said book and its connection in my heart to my latest novellas (and related shorts), I took a bunch of photos showing off my characters’ spirits, as happy-accidentally illustrated by GDBee.

**Official disclaimer: All artwork pictured in these snapshots are credited to and the property of Geneva Bowers. If her art brings you joy, I encourage you to support her by visiting her shops on Redbubble, Society6, INPRNT, or TeePublic. (Gosh knows its where my spare dollars like to go!)**

On Air #4 / Amygdala Wroth

I could easily point to a half-dozen other GDBee portraits that scream “Amygdala” to me – either because they more or less look like her, or they simply embody her upbeat, casually magic personality. But in the interest of selecting one image that captured the best of both, I went with this piece from the “On Air” series. (It happens to the be the piece featured on the “Weightless” cover, too!)

Flourish / Manchester Leif

While I wish I could buy this one as a sticker or tote bag or something, it’s so far only available as an art print. Ah well. At least this guy’s look is remarkably akin to Manchester’s. The coloring, the hair texture, the unassuming air… not so much the flowers bursting out of his clothes, although he would totally rock that jacket!

The Knight / Couch

A perfect match for Couch in the GDBee oeuvre, I’ve yet to find. Some share her stylishness, others her fire; some stare at you shadily while sipping tea. But choosing one to stand for all, I’ll flip a coin and go with this – which I actually did buy as a sticker. The face is only semi-her, but the girl’s a fighter out to save herself as best she can. If she could get hold of some metaphorical sword to wield instead of rage and powers of petrifaction, that’d probably be to the good.

Healer (or Cleric) / Sleeves

7/10 for kinda-sorta looking like him, 9.5/10 for carrying the sense of his personhood. Street chill, check. Ties to music, check. Magic stick to cure what ails you… I mean, he’d absolutely own and use it if he could.

Cinderella / Dirigibles / Harkness

Okay, I literally could not choose just one for everybody’s favorite selkie sweetheart, so I’mma cheat with two. On the left, a match for her grace and beauty. On the right, a glimpse of her adventure glee.

Emporium / Travis Marina

I’ll be real, this isn’t what I picture Travis looking like at all. But the part where he’s hanging out behind a small-business counter, looking to hook you up with some (possibly enchanted) elixir or whatnot? That is peak Travis.

The Gardener / Telemachus Cannon

That’s right, there’s even a decent piece of Tel rep in the mix! Why he’d be creepin’ in a shed with wayyy too many eyes is anybody’s guess, but that’s not to say he wouldn’t. It’s Tel. The possibilities are endless as authorial imagination.

Penumbra / Agamemna Wroth

And here’s one for Amygdala’s little sis! That face carries Memma-tude for days, and you already know she crafted that hat herself.

Closed for the Day / Just… the BCML world, fam

A little apartment over a little shop… California palms, a beach perhaps just out of sight… A girl and her dragon companion, making magics in the twilight… That is the universe in which I found my lost word wizardry. That’s the space I turn to for deep breaths of enchanted air. The same air breezing through the colorfully creative skies and streets, oceans and galaxies, greenscapes and cozy corners of Geneva Bowers.

And hey. The Kickstarter may be over, but preorders for the “Weightless” artbook are open now through June 10th! There’s loads more beauty and awesomeness inside than any blog post of mine will do justice. Get a copy of your own to ogle and cherish. The wonder is worth it.

‘Til next we marvel,

~ Danielle

Thoughts from the Weekend

(Photo via Unsplash.com)

*

It’s putting our selfhood aside for the sake

of the customers’ right to be wrong

Indentured service to

neo-feudal lords

Too broke for excitement?

It pays to be bored

We tick to their clocks

we dance to their tune

They say ‘jump’ and we

shuffle so high

Boss makes a dollar,

and you and me? Well,

after taxes,

I figure we’ll see

*

And then it’s the far side

of the crawling rush

The key in the door,

our smells in the walls

The shucking of clothing code compliant,

the shimmying into our not-quite-pajamas

The sounds or the silence

that our ears have craved

The sprawl of us

over the space ours to claim

The words to be shared

in unmixed company

The night stretched as long as we dare

*

It’s labor for The Market’s benefit

(At least this gig comes with full benefits)

The spending of our finest resource

(time)

in exchange for pretend paper

wired to the bank

These are not your friends,

but Company Family

sans real companionship

or chosen blood bonds

Talk of the weather and

/that/ supervisor

That look ‘cross the floor

is all that you share

*

And then it’s the one

who will dream alongside you

A lazy morning with no rush until tea

Last time, ‘twas the shore

Shall we now to the forest?

Or shopping (eyes only)

or buying (we’ve earned it)

A book ‘neath the sun

and the moon in the blue

A moment of nothing

but wind in the green

You show me a joke

and I tell you a story

Tomorrow, let’s do it all over

*

It’s do what we must so as

to make a living

And then it’s the living

we do in between

It’s full- or part-time waking hours

asleep

And then, love,

It’s back to the real world

*

– “A Living, A Life” by Deshipley

Big Feels, Unlimited Magics

So! I recently uploaded the sequel to “Big City, Little Magics” onto Wattpad.com!

And it may actually take me a minute to remember how to talk about it, because my heart’s still living in another story – a related short, set pre-BCLM, entitled “A Thing About Sleeves”.

As I’ve confessed in blog posts past, I’m a little bit obsessed with muh boi Sleeves right now, and this 6K-ish-word story is an attempt to articulate why.

Told in Manchester first-person, it is essentially:

– A tale of friend-courtship ‘twixt a man and a dragon (sing hey all the way for a bromance!)

– A peek into Sleeves’ life prior to slash outside of the band

– A reminiscence of my visit to Hawai’i, some years ago

– A memo to self – (and to whoever else needs to hear it) – that feeling sad is allowed

Unlike BCLM 1 and 2, this story doesn’t include any original song lyrics. But if you want a song that captures the spirit, like, insanely perfectly, check out “Pacific” by Christa Wells.

I just, urrgh, now I’m mad I finished the story, because it means I don’t get to be writing it anymore. Nice going, me. Good luck digging up another happy place.

In any case, that’s now up on Wattpad, too, as a fresh addition to the shorts collection “Extra-Little Magics”.

BUT! Back to novella number two. I didn’t want to figure out a blurb for it, so I let Amygdala ‘n’ ‘em take care of it for me.

*

Amygdala: “Poll question! What’s the best part of the sequel to ‘Big City, Little Magics’?”

Couch: “Why is there a sequel?”

Sleeves: “Pretty sure the author’s just obsessed with us and wanted to see what else we’ll do.”

Manchester: “Authors do be like.”

Harkness: “My favorite part is the conversations like these, because it is fun that we ask and answer such important questions as ‘What is home to you?’ and ‘What do you think red smells like?’ and ‘What do you love about Harkness?’” *smiling sun emoji*

Travis: “I like— well, /most appreciate/ the Manchester POV chapters. Far from easy, but deeply important. I hope they reach the readers who need them.”

Amygdala: “Of which the author was one.”

Amygdala: “Best part in my opinion? Getting a chance to further explore the different social dynamics between our various friend combos within the band. I like us liking each other. :)”

Sleeves: “I like us speaking probable blasphemies while high.”

Couch: “I like the new song.”

Couch: “Not new to us, but to anyone who hasn’t heard it yet.”

Couch: “Edit: /read/ it yet. (The author needs to get around to making audio for this shit.)”

Manchester: “Best part of the sequel? Same as the best part of the original: Friend-family making the most of their magics to deepen each other’s lives.”

Sleeves: “Plus the Pride Night aesthetics.”

Manchester: “Oh, HELL YES, the Pride Night aesthetics.”

Big Feels, Unlimited Magics: More Days in the Life of Amygdala Wroth (and Friends)

*

All that, and they didn’t even mention the cursed laundromat. Ah well, no blurb can contain the whole of a story’s awesomeness.

Let me know if you read and enjoy my new fics! I accept comments, Ko-Fi tips, fanart, and good vibes sent my way in these trying times.

‘Til next we magic,

~ Danielle

Thoughts from Alongside a Lacy Sea

Today (or ‘however many days ago’, by the time this post goes live) I visited a nearby beach.

The day was cold. Or rather, the beach was cold, and silver-toned, and fog rolled overhead like the gray-brown-green surf below. But out of the hills and nearer my neighborhood, the weather was merely chilly, and warmed by shining sun.

The Bay Area – also known, several microclimates stacked inside a trench coat.

Tirzah was further up the beach (the better to catch a little cell service and chat with family), leaving me all by lonesome. Though ‘lonesome’ is hardly the word, what with all the calling gulls, strutting corvids, and healthful quiet time for company. And, of course, the ocean, heaving and frothing and gliding over saturated sands, sliding like rain-patterned lace over satin, shush, roar, sigh…

Seated on a rock, weathering the cold, I got to thinking (by who knows which roads) about the books I’ve published.

First thought: They make me proud.

Swift second thought: They could have been better.

Thought 1: For crying out loud, let me live.

Thought 2: I’m just saying. She could write them better now.

Could I, though? Yes and no.

I’m close to a decade older than I was when I first started self-pubbing. Since then, I’ve written a heck-ton more words. I’ve been exposed to countless more experiences, conversations, points of view, and stories – both fictional and non. I think about more stuff, and from more angles. I have different ideas about how to make a book its best self.

What I do not have – unlike in days of yore – is the mad creative energy to turn every bit of spare time into art.

So, pure theoretically, if I were to write, say, The Wilderhark Tales today, they could be masterworks. But speaking practically, there is no way I would write The Wilderhark Tales today, because I am Tired™.

A comforting thought, then: Writing my books when I did = writing them the best I ever could.

And I mean, the alternative is what? Waiting until you see the Grim Reaper coming for you across the street, then real quick hitting ‘publish’ on that book file you’ve been fiddling with for the last fifty years? ‘Cause that’s pretty much the only way to guarantee that you won’t come up with a better version of the story later.

Done with her phone call, Tirzah rejoined me nearer the waterline. By now, my fingertips numb and yellow from cold, I was about ready to call the beach trip quits. But first, we detoured a-ways to investigate what had one group of gulls so excited. Some sort of driftwood pile, perhaps? Looked kinda like massive bones.

On the way, I shared my proud/discouraging/comforting musings – including a recollection of The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine. Maybe you’ve encountered them. Tiny little fairy story books, some not even a hundred pages long, spinning their take on The Princess and the Pea, Toads and Diamonds, and the like. Just the right size and subject for Early Reader Me. And an inspiring sight for Pre-Publication Author Me, those candy-colored bite-sized books nestled among other full-sized children’s and middle grade titles on the public library shelf.

“See?” they said to me. “Books don’t have to be thick. And they don’t have to be particularly profound. They can be short ‘n’ sweet fairy tale retellings, and still have a place on shelves and in readers’ hands.”

Another comforting thought: Like Levine’s Princess Tales, my Wilderhark Tales don’t need to be redrafted into something they’re not in order to matter. I wrote them as I wished them to be, and those slim, fanciful novellas are good. Imperfect? Yes. Just like every other book I ever read. Ever wrote. Ever loved.

And turns out? That pile of driftwood was massive bones. A whale carcass had made its way onto the shore, and the gulls were rightly excited about it.

All told, an entirely worthwhile beach trip.

Keep Calm and Magic On

Since the writing of my first NaNoWriMo project in ages, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the main cast from “Big City, Little Magics” – primarily with Sleeves and Manchester, who have sort of unofficially taken over socially as my new Will and Allyn.

This is not to say that Sleeves and Manchester are very much like Will and Allyn (or that muh boys Will and Allyn have fully retired from my brain space, because never). One could argue on paper, I suppose, for parallels between Manchester Leif and Allyn-a-Dale – both of them being singer-songwriters, prone to melancholy in the wake of past and/or ongoing tragedies. But I’m not seeing much in common at all between Will Scarlet and dragon drummer Sleeves, save for one important trait: They’re good at getting to the front of my brain and offering on-call life assistance.

Yes, sir, these are indeed my emotional support characters.

A couple attempts at Sleeves sketches, because my obsessions will out. Did not bother trying to include his tattoos, because he had not yet revealed to me what or where they are.

Sleeves serves best when I’m dealing with anxiety or anger (i.e., the majority of the time), because he has astonishing powers of mood self-regulation which I am striving my darnedest to learn for myself. When depressed, though, I’m better off leaning into Manchester, because he gets it, and his gentle, sympathetic encouragement can soothe places that Sleeves’ rougher-edged approach simply will not reach.

I’ve been getting to know these fellas and the rest of the band better not only through informal hangouts, but also via further writing projects. If you liked “Big City, Little Magics”, rejoice, because I have lately finished drafting a number of short stories and a sequel novella! The sequel will probably join BCLM up on Wattpad.com, ere long. And in the meantime, I proudly present:

Extra-Little Magics” – short stories, flash fics, and vignettes set in the world of “Big City, Little Magics”.

Like my first magical Wattpad upload, it’s free to read. (Ko-fi tips not required, but always appreciated.) I shan’t call the project finished, because I anticipate inspiration will strike for more shorts in the months to come, some or all of which will get added to the published collection. The three stories included so far (same ‘semi-mature’ rating / content advisory as the first novella):

“So This is Christmas” = a Sleeves soliloquy, set during BCLM

“Dearer Than Dignity” = a racy dragon romance, set pre-BCLM

“Odd Pod” = reflections on friendship, from one of seal-kind to another, set post-BCLM

Stay tuned for more happy authorial gushing after the sequel novella goes live. I don’t know if any of y’all have the least idea how truly magical it feels to have words dancing through me again after languishing so, so long at the bottom of an empty well. (Fellow artists in the house, maybe you’ve been there.) In lieu of quality therapy (maybe someday…), getting back into writing like this is doing me a world of good. As is making friends with these parts of myself! …plus Sleeves, who – unlike Manchester, Amygdala, and Couch – is not me, and none of us actually have a clue where the heck in the ether of imagination he came from. (It’s like the inexplicable arrival of Gant-o’-the-Lute all over again.)

Until we magic again,

~ Danielle

New Year, New Magics

Happy New Ye—

*pauses*

*notices it’s practically February*

Yeah okay, never mind.

Clearly, I’ve been up to things that are NOT blogging, this past month or so. But I figure now’s as good a time as any to bring you lovely readers o’ mine up to date. To that end, here’s what newer than 2021:

“Princess and the Moon” Thank-You Gifts

F I N A L L Y, I’ve gathered all the goodies promised to my extra-generous GoFundMe supporters! Picture books = printed. Bookmarks = Vistaprinted. Stickers = straight outta my Society6 shop.

Now all that remains is to get them in the mail, which I hope to accomplish tomorrow or next week, depending. I’ve got all the necessary addresses except – *checks notes* – is there a Pam/Pamela Williams in the house? I would love to see your much-appreciate donation rewarded, so… hit me up!

“Big City, Little Magics”

I mentioned in my December post that my last-ditch attempt at NaNoWriMo led me to create a cherished little project full of witches (and not-witches) and dragons and friendship and writerly angst and Bay Area vibes and and and. I am happy to announce that my obsession with the characters has not died, and I’m already several thousands of words into the sequel.

I may also have made several more character pics in various parts of the internet.

Best Amygdala (aka my inner lover of the world and all its magics, big and small. Made here).

Best Couch (aka my neurotic murder dragon side. Made here).

And I have yet to find a doll/avatar maker that does as perfect a job of capturing Manchester (aka my tragic inner artist. …Not Allyn-a-Dale, the one that’s extra me), so have a super cute Sleeves instead (made here).

In very much related news, my Tirzah was gently adamant that I give her a way to share this novella with the world, so… I let her set up a Wattpad account for me. The story can now be read here, for free (along with a blurb that Tirzah was kind enough to write for me, because my inner Manchester and Couch had WAY too many feelings to let me approach it myself without panic attacks). T likewise talked me into getting a Ko-fi account, so folks can leave tips if they found my words particularly delightful.

Which… a lot of people have??

Not left tips (although a few have! And I thank them!), but found my words delightful. “Big City, Little Magics” is in many ways very different from any of my other published works. If my “Inspired” novels were a picture of my mind, this story’s more a picture of my soul – which I guess swears a lot and is hella queer. XD Fair enough if that’s not up the alley of my usual audience. But more than one of BCLM’s earliest readers told me this was just the story they needed. And high goodness knows it’s been just what I needed. So for everyone in that boat, this Wattpad link is for you.

Lest I begin to doubt whether Tirzah’s as in love with this story as I am, she drew me this fan art with one of its quotes. ❤

Miscellaneous

Meanwhile, I’ve maintained a 389-day streak on my Duolingo French lessons. My maidenhair fern is thriving better than ever. (Turns out she’s a small sip of water every day kinda gal.) Work is still a wild and stress-filled ride because, y’know, pandemic. My hair’s grown out long enough that I can put it up in a Killmonger @ the Museum ponytail. And I am working very hard to figure out how best to manage my neurotic murder dragon brain such that I can maybe sometimes relax and have a nice time.

Wish me well (and best wishes back atcha!),

~ Danielle

Quotes and Aesthetics from a Reclaimed Space

From my NaNoWriMo profile:

The artist formerly known as Mastermaid22. … Prolific indie creative in my Young Adult Phase. Melancholy scribbler in my Blue Phase. Fallow Phase has been a silent scream of a 1/3rd-life crisis. Now reaching for a Renaissance.

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From NaNo forum on wanting to write again, but…:

It’s been four years since I’ve able to start a new novel project. Edit existing drafts, sure. Scribble flash fics and poems and the odd blog post, sure. But that thing that used to give me so much joy – brainstorming and pre-plotting and whipping out thousands of words in service to a shiny new story… I’ve lost that. To depression, anxiety, trauma, and whatever else. And most attempts to rally and try again are quickly shut down by a sense of utter pointlessness. ‘No one’s gonna read it. It’ll fail to sell, just like everything else you’ve put out there. Nobody but your mom truly cares about anything you create. Your art has no value, and if you’re not creating, neither do you.’

It’s a heartbreaking brain-space to live in. And I’ve come close to never-minding signing up for this NaNo at all. Maybe this is my last ride. Maybe if this NaNo brings no joy, I’ll finally quit trying to write novels forever.

Or maybe I won’t.

It’s too early to say. And although I may ‘fail’ as much as the next writer, I’m not very good at all at giving up.

A quick cover concept, thrown together with Artbreeder.com, Photofunia.com, and basic photo editing programs that came with Windows 10.

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From my novel summary:

My original project = Was not sparking joy.

My Plan B concept, as randomly generated on ChaoticShiny.com = Anti-witches, unicorns and rock stars in modern Rome. Some things you might run into: corruption, dragons, magic and a natural disaster. Don’t forget about the flail, armor, forge, bastard sword, cavern and hill.

The WIP so far = No sign of unicorns, but I’m getting plenty of mileage from the ‘anti’-witch narrator and her wrathful dragon roommate…

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Amygdala Wroth ~ The Anti-Witch

“I lugged two boxes of your crystals and candles and grimoires up the stairs last night, but you’re not a witch.”

I make a noise of disgust into my mug. “The word is dead. Used as a weaponized synonym for ‘woman’, then commercialized by Big Magic because neopaganism sells. I reject any and all affiliation.”

Her brow’s still up, but it’s gone amused. “With what all, exactly? Neopaganism? Big Magic? Women?”

“The second one, for sure. As regards the third, all women are magic. It’s just that not all of us know how to tap into our full power. Hell, maybe none of us do. I probably don’t. But I reach for what I can.”

*

Couch ~ The Dragon Roommate

Things I knew about dragons before ever actually meeting one:

– Dragons hoard things.

– Despite having wings, they can’t actually fly.

– Despite science being unable to account for it, dragons can breathe fire.

– Apart from the wings and the fire … and the scales … and the teeth … and the fact that they routinely get away with manslaughter because everyone’s too scared to prosecute … dragons are virtually indistinguishable from humans. […]

Things I knew about Couch, specifically, before agreeing to become her roommate:

– She has a cat.

– She has turned all of her previous roommates into stone.

– She’s a Scorpio.

Things I am learning about Couch now that we live together:

– Time shall tell.

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Harkness ~ The Selkie Sweetheart

She’s perfect in the way seals are perfect. Their grace in the water. The sculptural quality of their shape. The silly joy they spark while sitting oh-so-roundly and slapping their tummies and skooching up to nose at wildlife photographers’ cameras.

The light in her liquid-dark eyes is perfect. The dimples in her smile are perfect. Her poetic butchery of her second language is perfect. (Or would English be her third language, after le français and the tongue of the seals?)

The way she drapes herself over Couch, casually cuddly, is perfect, as is the artless glee she takes in any little thing. But no, not artless, because you can tell: She knows the effect it has. She sees the pleasure it brings.

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From another NaNo forum, on using heartache/trauma as inspiration:

The project I abandoned a few days in and the fresh one I whipped up instead have something in common: A character who used to feel confident about their writing/storytelling ability and found joy in it, but doesn’t know how to get to that place anymore – a loss that not only hurts like the dickens, but really carves chunks out of their sense of identity.

Plan B Project also features someone who’s really excited about a writing project, but hasn’t figured out how to translate that enthusiasm into “the right words” on the page, and another someone whose anxiety and misanthropy are messing with her quality of life.

I wonder how many other issues of mine will out themselves before November’s end…

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Manchester Leif ~ The Broken Writer

“Do you have any idea,” he says quietly, “how people react when I tell them I’ve written my books?”

“I’d imagine they’d be…” I shrug. “Impressed?”

“Oh, yes.” That chuckle had so little cheer, it should have its card revoked. “Everyone is always very impressed. Incredibly excited. It’s so cool that I’ve written a book. They’ll ask what my work’s about, and where they can find it. And then… Almost no one goes on to buy the book, Amygdala. And of the few who do, almost no one gets around to reading it.”

I almost say, That’s a shame. But that look of his tells me it is more than that. So I say instead, “That’s a tragedy.”

*

Sleeves ~ Just Your Average Guy from the Dragon District, I Guess?

“Work’s only bad when your job sucks,” says Sleeves.

I ask, “Does yours not?”

“Nah, man.” He smirks. “According to society, I’m an Underground fighter slash hitman slash tat artist.”

“Only two of those are true of you,” says Manchester.

*

Travis Marina ~ Born of the Bay

Travis holds out a hand for the labradorite, the May I? implied. I pass it along, and he studies it a moment in a particular kind of silence. “Solid,” he says at last, returning it with a nod of thanks.

In a company containing dragons, a selkie, and me, I wonder whether Travis might low key be the most magical of us.

*

From a third NaNo forum, on failure:

I used to be able to hit 50K in under 30 days, no problem. I was a writer on fire (who, conveniently, lived with her parents and didn’t have to hold down a day job while she pursued her authorial goals).

But this year was different. I knew that going in. My fire has been basically burnt out for a long while. Plus I’m adulting full time, and my mental/emotional health has been feeling the effects of 2020.

Could I have forced myself to reach 50K regardless? Yes. Would any of those words have meant anything to me? No. My real goal this November was to revisit the commitment of writing every day, and searching to discover whether doing so could bring me any joy.

The project I started on Nov. 1 did not end up bringing the joy I hoped. So I switched to a different story, seven or eight days in. I used to be a total Planner; this story came with zero planning, dreamed up in half an hour and then let loose without any idea where the plot was going to go. It’s ended up being a deeply personal, introspective, healing project to uncover, written at about half the speed I’d need for ‘winning’ NaNo.

November is done, with some 31K words clocked in. The story’s… somewhere past halfway through. (Hard to know for sure, without my meticulous outlines of old.) I may not work on it every single day, going forward, or may continue on more slowly. But I’m invested in the writing of it, now. I want to and will finish. I haven’t decided whether I’ll ever try to share the finished story with anyone… I have decided that’s not the part that matters. Not with this one.

I did not hit a 50K win this year. But I’ve found pieces of what I’ve been missing in my spirit. …That is its own kind of winning.

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Aesthetic images put together with Adobe Spark, mostly using images from Unsplash.com, Picrew.com (oh, and DollDivine.com), a couple photos taken on my phone, and a closeup of Eliot Spencer from the TV series “Leverage”, aka the best modern take on the Merry Men that I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and I finished the story. About 36.5K, all told. You still may never read it. But in some ways, it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.