Hey Ian, Watcha Into Lately?

(Title with apologies to the “Hey Ash, Watchu Playin’?” video series on Youtube.)

Reading

Heroine Complex

HeroineComplexI’m out of town right now, and this book ended up being my bridge book. (Aka I’d started it before I left and finished it now that I’m here.) I’m not usually a big fan of the superhero genre, but this one knocked my socks off. A protagonist that wrestles with feeling overloaded all the time? I’m so there! Plus a boatload of female characters, and everyone is well-written and feels like actual people instead of just cardboard cutouts, even if they hit a bunch of standard tropes. I wasn’t completely there for the romance of this book, but the relationship grew on me as the story went on and the characters involved were explored further. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It’s a great fast read and a ton of fun.

Fireside Magazine

18334520I’ve been spending part of this trip I’m on catching up on Fireside Magazine. I absolutely love the publication and the people behind it, but I haven’t been keeping up well at all, only reading a story here and there since issue 3. (This is in spite of subscribing constantly since it first started as a kickstarter!) I’ve just finished reading issues 4 and 5 and loved them both. I especially enjoyed my reread of “Love Song of the Lizard Boy” by Delilah S. Dawson and getting started with “The Forever Endeavor” by Chuck Wendig.

A Fine Romance

AFineRomanceAnother big part of this trip has been tackling my backlog. One of the first items off the pile was “A Fine Romance” by T. Neilson, which I think I bought within a week of it coming out and then promptly lost in my pile of unread ebooks. But no more! I don’t read a lot of straight-up romance, but I love Neilson’s work here. The book manages to pack a lot of character depth into its small page count, and the descriptions provide an excellent sense of place for the small island setting. It’s a fun, breezy read, despite the fact that nobody’s perfect, and it fits in a fun mystery alongside the main romance plot, too. The mystery also arises organically out of everything else, which was nice, as it made the two plots feel very intertwined instead of just pasted together like they can in some books.

Watching

Ghostbusters 2016

Ghostbusters2016

I saw the new Ghostbusters yesterday! It was great fun, and I’m pretty sure I like it better than the original. (Sacrilege, I know.)  It has its problems, but overall it was a funny and lighthearted movie and I’d have a great time watching again on a cozy evening with some popcorn and snarky friends.

Steven Universe

StevenUniverse

My boyfriend and I have been making our way through Steven Universe, as I’d never seen it before, and we’re finally done with Season 3. I love love love this show. It does a great job of being constantly subversive without ever patting itself on the back, and it never shies away from adult issues. Fights? Lack of consent? Trauma? All handled deftly and realistically, while still wrapped up in a fun, colorful children’s show. We also need more shows where the main character never uses violence, or uses it only as an absolute last resort in favor of talking and negotiation.

Marco Polo Season 2

Marco-Polo-Season-2

Season 1 of Marco Polo was an absolute masterpiece in terms of production design. It created a great sense of place (to steal my boyfriend’s commentary), and that helped me buy into the plot even more than I might have otherwise. Quick, go watch it now! Season 2 feels like a more modern continuation of that same design, which is somewhat disappointing, as it feels like the core of the show has been chipped away at a bit. It doesn’t help that the writing feels weaker this season, too, but we’re only a couple episodes in, so that might well change.

Playing

Emily is Away

EmilyIsAway

Speaking of backlogs, I’ve been trying to chip away at my games backlog while I’m on this trip, too. The first one I played was “Emily is Away.” It’s all done through an AOL Instant Messenger (circa 2002)-like interface, and it managed to pull an amazing emotional gut punch by the end of it. Does a great job of capturing how friendships change over years and distance, and the interface filled me with a ton of nostalgia.

The Stanley Parable

TheStanleyParable

I’ve been hearing amazing things about this game for years, and I think I had it overhyped for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like how the base game is very short, and it’s interesting that you discover new story threads by literally disobeying the story as written. But after getting through a few of the endings I’m not sure I’ll be going back to it. It was funny, certainly, but not so funny that I’m driven to dig every achievement and little nugget of new dialogue out from the game’s fundamentally repetitive nature. Still, a fun game that I’d recommend picking up when it’s on sale.

Undertale

coverundertale

Yes, I’m finally playing this. Yes, I know I missed the boat on the entire Internet exploding with love for it. I’ve only played about an hour so far, so I don’t have a complete opinion on this one yet. I like that it’s dark and creepy despite its colorful graphics. I really like that you can be a complete pacifist throughout the game. Now I just have to hope I’m smart enough to figure out how to do that for all of the fights.

And that’s what I’ve been into lately! How about you? What’ve you been reading/watching/playing/listening/(I dunno, sousaphoning) lately?

Image Sources:
(All book covers are from goodreads)
Undertale art: https://manekin3k0.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/no-sew-cosplay-frisk-from-undertale/
The Stanley Parable: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/6aCrnUaM2vE/maxresdefault.jpg
Emily Is Away: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Ns4rWyTuErA/maxresdefault.jpg
Marco Polo Season 2: http://cdn2-www.craveonline.com/assets/uploads/2016/06/Marco-Polo-Season-2.jpg
Steven Universe: http://images-cdn.moviepilot.com/images/c_fill,h_551,w_780/t_mp_quality/rgvy4l8m5pdx6us0n84c/7-reasons-you-should-watch-and-love-steven-universe-713420.jpg
Ghostbusters 2016: http://cdn32.sptndigital.com/sites/asia.sony/files/styles/image_1170x658/public/ct_movie_f_primary_image/gb-sitetakeover_marquee_1920x1080-2.jpg?itok=-psvNf_j
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On Mornings

Morning sun out my bedroom window.

Morning sun out my bedroom window.

It’s weird when something about yourself goes from “I might be this way” to “oh shit I *am* this way.” You know, figuring yourself out and such. In this case, mine relates to how I spend my mornings and how it sets the tenor for the rest of my day.

For those of you unfamiliar with my sleeping habits, I prefer to get up early whenever possible and start doing things almost immediately. Unfortunately, this has the habit of making me not sleep enough, because even if I go to bed around eleven or midnight I want to get up at five thirty so I can get a jump on the day! This is, perhaps obviously, not the best idea. Especially when I end up fighting my alarm so much that I end up getting up over an hour later than I meant to. (And I have *three* different types of alarms: a sunrise clock, a fitbit, and my phone. It’s a lot to ignore!)

So I’ve been trying something different. On the advice of my therapist, my boyfriend, and literally every single one of my friends, I’ve been trying to get more sleep. Which has helped my days, to be certain. It’s always good not to be so running on fumes that moving your body feels like piloting a bulky Jaeger (but, like, in a not cool at all way).

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Source: http://rebloggy.com/post/my-stuff-guillermo-del-toro-jaeger-pacific-rim-gipsy-danger-raleigh-becket-yancy/64988492576

But that’s not the key to making my day better. Again, it helps, but it’s not enough on its own. I’ve found recently that I feel my best when I manage to get my body moving before I head off to start the rest of my day. Usually this takes the form of fitting in my workout, weightlifting or otherwise.

A photo posted by Ian Brown (@hummingrain) on

I just feel better. It gets me through the sluggishness that might otherwise last all morning, and I also feel nicely accomplished having checked one of the big things off my to-do list. Now if only I could figure out how to do it while consistently sleeping for seven hours, and making sure I get off to my day job on time to work the hours I want. I’ve been trying to go to bed earlier, but habits are hard to break.

Hopefully I’ll figure it out. 🙂

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Melancholy May and Hopeful June

It’s been quiet around here, for a number of reasons. Most of it was school, which started towards the end of January or so and only wrapped up a few weeks ago. It was my first semester of my Masters of Library and Information Science, and it was intense towards the end. Mostly because of an intensive class that was run in half the time of a usual class, meaning I essentially went from taking one class to taking three, instead of having a nice and even two classes throughout the semester. *Never* doing that again. It was a lot, and stressed me out something fierce. To make it worse, near the end I was so overwhelmed and busy that I stopped doing fiction writing for a while. Even when I did do it, it was slow. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back into it, and tonight and Team Tentacle writing group I did a decent job.

Woo! First time I've hit 1k in over a month!

Woo! First time I’ve hit 1k in over a month!

The semester has since ended, of course, so what have I been up to? Not much, unfortunately. That sneaky grey specter, depression, came up from behind and smacked me over the head. There’s probably a lot of sources, including being sleep deprived and just being too busy in general, even without school, but I can’t quite pinpoint a cause yet. Still, I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, make sure I spend time doing things I enjoy instead of just sitting around feeling bummed out and doing nothing. And playing a lot of Fallout 4. Not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. Hopefully everything will work out on the mental health front. (Updates as events warrant.)

There are happy parts, of course! I’ve moved into a new apartment with my lovely boyfriend, which has been quite the adventure. Except for the part where I lost my work keys in it over this weekend and we can’t find them, but I digress. It’s in a new neighborhood of Seattle, much more residential than the old one. I’m loving the quiet, and the ability to pull out of my unit’s driveway without risking the nose getting taken off of my car by passing traffic. The space of the apartment itself is great, just the right amount of space for the two of us, allowing for privacy without isolating us from each other. It’s also close to nature, with a park literally out our back window, and Discovery Park just a couple blocks away.

Woodpecker friend as seen from the back deck/balcony of my new place.

Woodpecker friend as seen from the back deck/balcony of my new place.

It's pretty cool waking up to this view every morning.

It’s pretty cool waking up to this view every morning.

Over the weekend I got a chance to go and hike the loop trail of Discovery Park with a friend from out of town. All the moving and school chaos had completely destroyed my exercise routine, so it was so refreshing to just get out and exercise for a while. Being in nature was fantastic, too, something I don’t get a lot of even though I live in the Pacific Northwest, land of a thousand forested hiking trails. It was definitely a nice change from a lot of where I spend my time day-to-day: in a windowless, heavily air-conditioned server room where I spend a lot of time sitting in the server’s airflow output for warmth. (Those boxes get hot when they’re running 24/7!)

One of the great views from Discovery Park bluff.

One of the great views from Discovery Park bluff.

I’m looking forward to what’s next. I’m trying to treat June as a clean slate, where I get back into consistently doing the things I love. Exercising will be a big one (need to order the weight equipment, but I want to start running/biking again ASAP). Writing, including submitting more things to markets. It’s been far too long since I’ve had anything published. And perhaps most importantly to long-term project finishing, working on finishing up the current draft of Nautilus and editing my doorstop of a fantasy novel.

So here’s to a hopeful June, everyone. See you again soon.

PS I got an Instagram, and will be trying to post one picture a day to encourage myself to do more photography. Please check it out if that sounds fun to you!

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Goals for 2016

whvdy(This is continued from my 2015 in Review post.)

If you’ve stuck with me so far you are both a real trooper and awesome, and I salute you! I’ve decided not to do strict resolutions this year, bcause that’s a good way to accidentally overcommit. (I’ve noticed resolutions tend to be pass/fail and rely on hard numbers, making them easier to blow, whereas goals can be worked on and refined as you progress towards them (or stall).)

This is an ambitious list, and I don’t expect to be firing on all cylinders for all of them all the time. But hopefully I’ll make enough progress on each of them to say I met my goals nonetheless. 🙂

1. Write More, Write Better, and, perhaps most importantly: SUB MORE

Like most years, my goal for this upcoming year is 365,000 words, an average of 1k a day. I’ve never quite made it, but this year could be the year! And I definitely want to finish my shit. 2015 is strewn with the junk heaps of half-finished stories, whether they never made it out of draft zero or never got edited once they were done. I think if I pre-plan a little more (I’m bad at prewriting, which for me means my plots tend to go nowhere fast), more of my stories will end up in a fit state to be fixed up and sent off. So it’s not just about wordcount, it’s about stories that are truly finished stories.

I’d also like to push my writing. I’ve felt very stagnant as far as skill level over 2015, so this next year I want to do things like write outside my genre, push my use of language, try more formats for stories, etc, all in an effort to up my skills as a writer. If you’d like to recommend any articles or books that you think could help, please comment! I’ve also felt the creative well drying up a bit, so I’ll need to work on finding more inspiration so I don’t just keep writing the same sorts of stories over and over and over. I’ll also shove writing more blog posts into this goal, as I’m the worst about keeping this blog updated and I should also work out my non-fiction/personal narrative writing muscles more.

And subbing more! As noted above, I’m terrible about writing up a story, and then not editing it or subbing it anywhere. That’s no way to make a living in this business. So I want to go through the whole submission process more often this year, which should train me to take more stories through editing, finish my shit, and hopefully net me a few publications in the process. 🙂 Continue reading

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2015 in Review

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So, this is the time of year that I generally do a big end of year wrap-up and some resolutions for the New Year, and this year will be no different! It’s a little late and a little abbreviated because my December 31st ended up far busier than I planned for it to be. So, without further ado:

(Note: This was originally written as one post but has been split in two for easier readability, since it ended up so long. This post has my Year in Review. Here are my goals for the New Year.)

The Year in Review

2015 was a year that ended up being a crazy see-saw ride of ups and downs that probably ended with little Timmy hitting his head and his mother suing the city for allowing such a dangerous toy at the park. (It has now been replaced with a foam brick that is bolted in place. Timmy managed to break his arm jumping off of this onto the soft rubber padding that replaced the wood chips five years ago. Legislation from his mother is pending.)

Some of the big ups include:

– Getting to see not one, but TWO of my stories hit print. The Ones We Leave Behind was accepted last year but came out this year in the Tales from the Stop anthology. It was my first story ever accepted for publication, and I’m so excited to see it out there in the world. His Name Was Pumpkin Spice was a blast to write and is now in the Coffee: Hot anthology. It was accepted this year, which means I had one whole story get accepted this year. Woo hoo! It also meant I got to write outside my usual genre, which was really fun and now I want to do it again.

– Meeting PK. This is a personal romantic thing, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail (sorry, all 1.5 readers), but PK has been great and wonderful and so supportive of me in all my endeavours, even when he thinks they might be a little crazy. So yeah. Definitely an up. 🙂 Continue reading

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Tales of the Stop, And Interviews!

I think this officially goes in the “Better Late Than Never” pile as far as my own self-promo goes. On the heels of Coffee: Hot, I was published in Tales of the Stop, a book of tales from the Azrael’s Stop universe edited by Lucas J.W. Johnson. My story, “The Ones We Leave Behind,” somehow got second in the book! Which is exciting to me. It’s a story about friendship and community and dealing with the death of those we care about.

I also did an interview with Lucas about my story, and it’s posted over here. We talk about writing for pre-established settings, using the themes of an existing work when designing your own, and other topics.

Lucas also wrote a really good post at Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds about the entire Azrael’s Stop/Tales of the Stop concept that you should read.

You can get Azrael’s Stop and Tales of the Stop from Silverstring Media, Amazon (Azrael’s|Tales), Barnes & Noble (Azrael’s|Tales) (please someone else buy Nook books I feel so alone), iBooks (Azrael’s|Tales), and Kobo (Azrael’s|Tales). (I recommend buying it directly through Silverstring because then you can get both books and the soundtrack in a discounted bundle!) I hope some of you check it out.

P.S. Also, speaking of Coffee: Hot, did you see that Avery Vanderlyle interviewed me about my story? You can see it here.

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Coffee: Hot: An Interview with K.L. Noone

Image by Randy Auschrat. Source: https://flic.kr/p/5i1suv

Image by Randy Auschrat. Source: https://flic.kr/p/5i1suv

Hey everyone, today I (as Greer Thompson) am interviewing K.L. Noone, one of my fellow authors in the Coffee: Hot anthology! We talk about her adorable (and sexy!) story “One Mocha, with Enchantment,” about a man named Nate and his boyfriend Gavin, a retired god who runs a coffee shop, as well as consent between fictional characters, how she likes her coffee, and romantically-involved characters who actually like each other.

 

First off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Anything you like, so feel free to range further afield than the general age, occupation, location stuff. Maybe in your past you ran off to the circus and trained performing pygmy goats?

A little bit about me…hmm, well, I was a lifeguard and swimming instructor for seven years; my PhD areas are fantasy fiction, medieval literature, and popular culture and adaptation studies; I sing along to Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” in the car; and I’ve published academic articles on all sorts of geekery, from Joss Whedon’s series Dollhouse to medieval references in World of Warcraft. How’s that?

 

How did you hear about the Coffee: Hot anthology? What made you want to write a story for it?

How did I hear about the anthology? A friend (a friend I know from fandom writing days, in fact) sent me the link and said, “This sounds like exactly the things you write!” And she was right.

 

Can you pitch your story for the readers? Every time I try I just devolve into “It’s so cute you guys everyone read it right now” and tug them towards the nearest e-reader, which isn’t a particularly effective summation.

Cute! I’ll take it. 🙂 I always hate writing summaries/synopses, I admit–it’s a certain kind of skill! Let’s see…it’s about things that happen in a relationship, really: the extraordinary in the mundane, and vice versa; the jump from ‘boyfriend’ to ‘moving in together;’ the ways people learn to live together (even when one of said people is magical and one is an artist), and commitment. Also coffee. Also erotica. That’s not really a good summary, is it? Um, established-relationship erotica-with-emotions, artist’s creative-block woes and sympathetic coffee-cups, and jokes about magical cows.

 

Continue reading

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Coffee: Hot Google Hangout

Last Sunday I did a Google hangout (as Greer Thompson) for the Coffee: Hot anthology. It was fun, as the editor (Victoria Pond) asked questions and we read from our work. Check out the video below the cut:

Continue reading

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My Top Ten Auto-buy Authors

So I found out about the Broke and Bookish Top Ten Tuesday meme/prompt today (original here: http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html) and thought I should give it a shot! These are the authors whose books I will automatically buy, or at least put on the to-buy list, regardless of what genre it’s in or what the story’s about. I trust them to be damn good, or at the very least highly enjoyable. In no particular order: Continue reading
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Coffee: Hot is Out Today!

Hey everyone! So Coffee: Hot, a science fiction and fantasy erotica anthology that focuses on coffee shops, came out today. You should get it! It features a bunch of great writers and the theme is really fun.

Cover art of the Coffee: Hot anthology.

The official description:

Coffee-flavored erotica! Taste the bitter roast when a barista brews alone at closing time and is joined by coffee’s physical manifestation. Roll the rich smoothness of steamed milk along your tongue while spies hide from the enemy and pass the time in tense pleasure. In this anthology of speculative erotic fiction featuring coffee shops, COFFEE: HOT, editor Victoria Pond brings together nine authors to explore coffee’s connection with the erotic fantastic.

I have a story in there, too, under my romance and erotica pseudonym of Greer Thompson. (I hinted rather unsubtly about this on Twitter earlier today.) The title is “His Name was Pumpkin Spice” and I had a blast writing it. Spies! Sci-fi black ops wars! Sex! (That last one’s a shocker, I know.) Also, everyone was a pleasure to work with, especially the editor, Victoria Pond.

So, yeah! Please do check it out. As of writing it’s available at Circlet’s site, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks, and iTunes. It should also be available on Kobo and Google Play, but I can’t seem to find links.

I hope you enjoy it!

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