By Any Other Height

I’ve noticed something peculiar about me.

Say I’m imagining Sleeves, my rock ‘n’ roll dragon homeboy from the “Big City, Little Magics” ‘verse. As near as I can figure, Sleeves happens to be about 5-feet-6-inches tall. And yet, in my imagination, I tend to be viewing him from above. As if I am more than 5-feet-6-inches tall.

Same thing happens when I envision myself alongside my “Wilderhark Tales” / “Outlaws of Avalon” minstrels, Gant-o’-the-Lute and Allyn-a-Dale – both of them in the neighborhood of 5’3”, 5’4”.

And mind you: I too am 5’3”.

So why in the worlds do I picture myself as being so much taller?

For that matter, how much taller do I seem to think and/or feel I am?

As tall as Robin Hood’s right-hand Merry Man, Little John, at 7 feet? No, not nearly; everyone, including my imaginary self, has to look up at him.

What about Sir Wilbur Lamb, from my “Inspired” novels? His in-world author Annabelle marked him down as 6’1”, and I find myself looking up at him, too.

So, good, we’re narrowing this down. Do I think I’m 5’11”, as Manchester Leif noted himself to be in “The Self-Construction of Couch” (BCLM, book 3)? Not quite; he feels a little taller than me – as does Will Scarlet, at 5’10”.

That leaves me apparently thinking I’m somewhere between 5-foot-7 or -9-inches tall – at least on the inside.

I have no idea why my brain behaves this way, but it’s easily the least of my problems.

*

In marginally related news, I’ve lately written another “Big City, Little Magics” short story!

Starring whom: Manchester Leif.

Set roughly when: A short while after Book 3.

What it’s about: Coming out of a soul-fog and into yourself.

The title: “By Any Other Name”.

You’re welcome to read it for free (in the “Extra-Little Magics” section) on ArchiveOfOurOwn.org (also known, AO3).

‘What?’ says somebody. ‘Not on Wattpad.com?’

Nah. I’ve removed all of my works from that platform. Short answer, the terms of agreement there meant Wattpad would be permitted to make money off of my story ideas, and I’m not interested in allowing them that option. But no need to fret, because – like this newest short story – all the BCLM fics once on Wattpad can now be found on AO3. Enjoy at your leisure.

‘Til next I imagine out loud,

~ Danielle

Big Personality! (Little Else Known)

Trying to pin down what Amygdala Wroth looks like has been tricky from the start because, unlike with the majority of my characters, I just jumped in assuming that she looked like me.

Not identical to, but like. And like can mean any number of things.

“And oh, Amygdala was so very happy. So excited. Her eyes sparkled like the world.” (Harkness, “Odd Pod”)

Often, when one hears a Person of Color talk about someone who looks like them, they mean merely someone who shares their race. By that measure, the only criteria for Amygdala’s appearance would be ‘apparently Black, apparently female’. Worlds of wiggle room, there – and at that point, nothing to differentiate her from Couch, until the narrative lists some dragon-specific features that will necessarily set the roommates’ looks apart.

Her presence turns his pathetic closet into a different world. A world half again as small, of course, but twenty times as bright. (Telemachus Cannon, “Chess Not Checkers”)

Eventually, we see Amygdala describe her hair as ‘wisteria-like’. When I wrote it, I intended to evoke the full, fluffy shape of a blooming wisteria tree bough. It wasn’t until I started fooling around with online dollmakers ‘n’ such that I realized Amygdala may have also been describing her hair’s color – a sort of soft purple-pink.

So, hair: Check. Skin: Brown. …Though I wasn’t 100% clear on the shade of brown. Darker than Harkness’s ‘a brown more creamy-fair’ was all I had in mind for sure. But what in relation to Couch? I didn’t want my brain to default to the assumption that Couch – as the dangerous, monstrous, moody one – was the darker of the two. That would be colorist AF. And in the title image I’ve been using since Big City, Little Magics” went up on Wattpad, the Amygdala face ended up being quite a dark shade of brown indeed – which, for all I knew or cared at the time, may have been close enough to her truth.

On the other hand, there were my collection of Picrew avatars and whatnot, in which her skin sported a rainbow of browns, some of them rather light.

Mixed messages a-go-go! Part of that, of course, being due to the limitations of the medium (it’s Picrew; you get the palette you get), the rest being my own indecisiveness.

In her voice is all the power of the ocean. In her eyes, all the blessings of the stars. (Manchester Leif, “Big Feels, Unlimited Magics”)

More than a year now into the BCLM-verse, I believe I’ve decided on where to land. First idea, best idea: Amygdala looks like me. Her face is her own, but our skin tones more or less match. Lordy, though, was that face of her own hard to reach on ArtBreeder! I may have accidentally spent something like two hours trying to manipulate images into a semblance of hers.

But fortune favors the persistent! I am hella happy with the results of my latest labors. Behold ye!

More than wisteria-like hair, more than a Danielle-like complexion, we’ve got that unmistakable, instantly recognizable sunny sparkle spirit. This picture isn’t just her face. It is Amygdala Wroth.

Obscure Little References, No Big Deal

Alright, lovelies. I teased in my last post that I had a new “Big City, Little Magics” story hanging out just beyond your reach. But you’ve been waiting long enough – (or have not been waiting, because you forgot I mentioned any such story… or you never read that post in the first place… and lol, for all I know, there’s nobody reading this post now! But carrying on regardless…) – so today’s the day.

It all started when I remembered, ‘Oh hey – I can make my characters’ faces on ArtBreeder.com!’ I’d taken advantage of the site months ago, doing my best to create approximations of Amygdala, Couch, Manchester, and Sleeves (as seen in the title image for “Big City, Little Magics” and the band poster for Manchester Leif). Then the website’s existence got lost in the memory fog of my brain for a while… then I woke up and crafted a portrait for Pot Chip (as debuted on the BCLM band’s Tumblr).

And now that the muse and I have found it again, we’re eager to expand our BCLM character portrait series. As of this post’s drafting, I am most interested to get some good takes on Travis Marina and Harkness. In the meanwhile, though, I happened to end up with my first-ever rendering of Glass.

For any casual readers wondering, ‘Glass who??’: First briefly introduced in Book 2/”Big Feels, Unlimited Magics, then seen again with a bit part in “A Thing About Sleeves”, Glass is Sleeves’ coworker and friend – and this new short story of approx. 2000 words shows how that came to be.

Timeline-wise, the story spans from right after “Dearer Than Dignity” to an early-middle point of Book 3/”The Self-Construction of Couch”.

Title-wise, I call it “Riding High on Love’s True Bluish Light”. (Which may or may not be obnoxiously esoteric of me, but I have yet to think up a different title I enjoy more, so here we are. Love it, hate it, ask me to explain it… you’ll be valid, honey.)

Link-wise, you can read it on Wattpad here (for free! …or, if you’re inclined, for Ko-Fi tips).

That’s all I’ve got for now, m’dears.

‘Til next my quiet creative storm touches down,

~ Danielle

A Lotta Little Magics Add Up

What’s this? A once-in-a-blue-moon blog post? You can probably guess what that means.

…If you guessed I’ve made another “Big City, Little Magics” fic, you’re right. XD

Matter of fact, I’ve got a few little pieces I can share (and/or have already shared on the BCLM band’s Tumblr).

Two of them have been added to the “Band Chats” section of “Extra-Little Magics” – an “A Thing About Sleeves”-era text exchange between Sleeves and Manchester, and an interview with music group Manchester Leif.

Also to be found inside “Extra-Little Magics”: A collection-in-progress of diary entries from Amygdala Wroth. After all, this whole story universe started with Amygdala’s desire to be a diarist. It’s only right that I give her space to keep up the practice.

There are 3 entries in “Big Thoughts, Little Scribbles” so far. No promises that more are coming, but I’ll be surprised if that’s not the case. As ever, I’ll toss up a blog post when my Wattpad gets a content boost.

And wouldn’t you know, I started drafting this post with the intention to talk about and link to another short story entirely… only to realize how many other fic bits had gotten backed up in the queue. So as to leave you wanting more (#ShamelessTease) (#VillainLaugh), we’ll save that story for another day. Feel free to enjoy any and all of today’s goodies in the meantime.

‘Til next I wend my way Ever On Word-ward,

~ Danielle

Little NaNo, Big Successes

A text from a cherished friend: “Forgot to wish you happy NaNoWriMo!! Are you participating this year?”

What I say: “Not officially. If the muse allows, there are a handful of projects I’d like to work on. But I shan’t pressure myself to meet any metrics of progress. We’ll just keep it chill and see what art gets made. ^_^”

My panicky ass while composing the text: Can you even call it NaNo participation if you don’t sign into the site to announce a project and count your words? And without that day-to-day accountability, will you actually force yourself to accomplish anything? Yeah sure whatever, this isn’t supposed to be about ‘forcing’ anything, I know… but will the ‘keep it chill’ method /really/ result in art getting made, or will the 30 days of November slip by with little to nothing to show for it?

And legit, at the time, I had my major doubts. But the view from today – a third of the way into the month – is a different matter.

*

NaNo Project #1 (Ongoing): Hell Will Be Lucky to Have Us*

Perhaps it was only a matter of time. But you guys… I’ve given the “Big City, Little Magics” band their own Tumblr blog.

I wanted them to have a space to talk about whatever and share stuff they like and whatnot. And I figure it’s only fitting that the blog get its start now, during the one-year NaNoVersary of BCLM’s creation.

So if any of you like hanging out on Tumblr, feel free to follow my fictional faves @assortedbaysidebitches

*Blog title inspired by that one line from Pot Chip in Book 2, pah-haha

*

NaNo Project #2 (Complete): The Love in the Lines

From post-draft reflections in my journal:

I’d thought at first that this story needed to be a longer journey, like “The Self-Construction of Couch”. But when I tried starting the story that way, it didn’t feel right. Too… distant? Too dry?

In any case, when I tried this new way in, the words flowed much more comfortably. It put me in that space I love – sitting with the characters, watching how they live, listening to their chatter.

It just felt good, good, good. Making that story happen. Showing Amygdala and Sleeves in their togetherness. Granting Sleeves a joyful gift I’ve been wanting for him in canon.

Interested readers can find the completed short story here, among the growing BCLM collection on Wattpad.com. (It’ll live in the “Extra-Little Magics” section.)

*

NaNo Project #3… (As Yet Unstarted)

I won’t talk about this one yet, because sometimes it’s easier to do a thing when no one else knows anything about it. Maybe I’ll break ground on this project within the next few weeks, or maybe I won’t. I’m less scared at the notion of the latter now, having already made myself this pleased with Projects 1 and 2.

Also helping me maintain some of that chill I’ve aspired to, the coming across of the following poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

What is Success?

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;


This is to have succeeded.

To realize how many of these things I have accomplished in these first 33 years of life is a comfort to me.

This may not be the NaNo-est NaNo I’ve done. But I’m sure Ralph Waldo Emerson would agree: It is a Success.

‘Til another successful day,
~ Danielle

Chess Not Checkers

I’ve done it again, folks. ‘It’ being the writing of another story in the “Big City, Little Magics” ‘verse – this one longer than a flash fic, shorter than a novella. Think the same sort of scope as “A Thing About Sleeves”.

Timewise, this story starts at the end of Book 1’s climactic moment. Voicewise, this is our first BCLM tale narrated by Telemachus Cannon. Plotwise, it’s about Manchester’s fears and Tel’s desires and the struggle of learning to live with yourself/selves.

Titlewise, I call it “Chess Not Checkers”. And you can read it here, grouped within my “Extra-Little Magics” collection.

What made me want to go back and explore that piece of the greater BCLM story? Ha, what else? The want came from Tel. I felt it in a dream one night, and was compelled to follow it onto paper. And actually, I’d thought that this project would require an Act II to go with the section I was working through. But ultimately, Act I felt whole on its own, so I let it reach its natural end, and we’ll just have to wait and see whether the Act II thoughts I had ever end up in another story down the line. One never knows.

Case in point: This time a year ago, my AU San Francisco full of witches (and not-witches), dragons, selkies, etc. wasn’t even a twinkle in my authorial eye. I was straight-up doubtful that I would ever complete a new writing project again. Yet here I am now – 100% trash for this world, a diehard groupie for the band, with three novellas and hella small fics (and counting) up to share on Wattpad.com.

Hashtag blessed, y’all.

‘Til next we wanna,

~ 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

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