Michaeline: Christmastide

Three angels, one playing flute, another a lyre and a third a triangle

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The first thing you should know about Grandma Hildy is that she loved a bargain. Since she retired, her summer hobby has been thrifting and garage-saling, and her winter hobby has been be-dazzling and a-jazzling up her treasures with rhinestones, feathers, yarn and anything else that suits her fancy. So, I guess in all, that’s about five things you should know about Grandma Hildy.

The first thing you should know about my cousin Skylar is that he can play anything with strings. And that he’s got weird ideas about the “soul” of an instrument. He’s got a collection of seven guitars, five ukuleles, three mandolins and one cello that he plucks rather than use the bow, and they’ve all got names, and he plays them every day without fail. Needless to say, he’s not the person to ask to come catsit for you – way too busy to come to your place, and if one of the cats peed on an instrument, well, you’d never hear the end of it (that is, after he started speaking to you again). (It was two years before he spoke directly to me again.)

Anyway, last Christmas Grandma Hildy outdid herself for Skylar. She picked up a really nice ukulele at an auction, and then proceeded to gild it. She’d also found an outlet that was getting rid of its “fill-the-bag” polished rock cart, so she had about 25 pounds of rose quartz, amethyst, turquoise and tiger’s eye – and more. So, when she felt that gilding the ukulele wasn’t enough, she hot-glued a bunch of her polished rocks to it. Continue reading

Michaeline: Farewell to the Old, Long Live the New

Ballroom scene with many colorful lights and dancing

The Northern Santa Ana Social Club and Chocolate Kingdom held their annual election in the old Toyota showroom on Pine and Douglas. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth gave us our sixth annual Christmas Story Challenge yesterday, and what a fun set of words! Please feel free to leave your own story and comments here or there. And now, a little slice of life in a magical alternative universe.

Vanessa banged the gavel on the podium. “This Christmas meeting of the Northern Santa Ana Social Club and Chocolate Kingdom will now come to order.” She shot an evil glance at me, as if *I* was the only one responsible for the late start. Fred, Zoe and Ignatia snickered and made rude gestures at me, and I flipped them the bird behind my recording notebook, so Vanessa wouldn’t catch me. We four were the Truffle Knights – the officers of the Chocolate Kingdom – and meant to support our Queen, Vanessa, during her term, which thankfully would end tonight after the annual election of new officers.

I glanced over at Trixie, resplendent in her dark green cloak, to see if she was watching. She had been, and I could feel the red creeping in my cheeks, but she Continue reading

Michaeline: Word of the Year!

Father Time with a butler snuffing out 1889's candle, and lighting 1890's candle.

Reflecting on words of the past year, looking forward to the new words to come in 2020. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Merriam-Webster (THE go-to official dictionary for many US publications) has declared that their 2019 Word of the Year is (drumroll, please) THEY.

I can’t help but think that M-W is absolutely right. Oh, sure, “they” has been around for a very long time. In fact, “they” has been used as a gender-neutral pronoun to correspond with “everyone” and “someone” for more than 600 years, M-W said on their website. It’s only recently that “they” has been used for nonbinary people.

I’ve seen “they” used in stories (both news and fiction), but in June, I heard it on my TV for the first time while viewing the BBC/Amazon Prime mini-series, Good Omens. (I talked about it in August here on the blog.)

The character was Pollution, and in the book, I remember Continue reading

Michaeline: Could This Be the Age of the Novella?

Seven short years ago, I worried a lot because I write short – my NaNos are almost never more than 40,000 words, which makes a decent novella (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America defines a novella up for the Nebula Award as 17,500 to 39,999 words). But I hadn’t read many romance novellas, or even seen them promoted.

This year, they seem to be leaping up to be noticed. Romance author Stacey Shannon tweeted that she loves writing novellas in reply to former Carina Press executive editor Angela James’ tweet about loving to edit novellas.

Book Riot has a 2019 post recommending 28 romance novellas. If you look carefully at the covers, you’ll see a lot of them lack a publisher’s mark – I know at least some of these are self-published, while others have found homes with traditional publishers. Notice all the big names here, including some of my favorites like Courtney Milan and Jackie Lau. Continue reading

Michaeline: Pre-suasion, Priming and New Beginnings

A lady gathering green branches in a snowy landscape that still has flowers.

December is a great time to gather your thoughts in the odd moments during your many tasks. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

This week, something odd popped up on my Google Calendar for Saturday. “Huh. I thought this weekend was free.”

It turned out to be a reminder from One-Year-Ago-Me, saying, “I really liked the pre-resolutions. Do it again this year?” Our Justine also talked about early resolutions in 2015.

Now, I know. This time of year is really busy for all of us. I’m preparing for New Year’s guests – cooking, getting the pantry stocked, buying new sheets and trying to un-dig myself out of mountains of clutter from the past year. I feel like this year was a particularly slow slog, although I started getting my mojo back in September. I’ve made a few in-roads on the housekeeping pre-resolutions, but now I’ve got to ask: “What about writing?”

I’m reading a book now called Continue reading

Michaeline: Mental Space, Flow and Writing

A picture of many colors denoting evolution from ape to man to robot. Butterflies, corals, jungle, houses, cities

Creative flow makes random ideas feel like they have a connection and a progression. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, Kay talked about Virginia Woolf’s famous essay about how writers find a dedicated physical space and an emotional space for writing very useful – and how women writers often didn’t/don’t have that privilege.

I mentioned that I find it easy to find physical space, but mental space is much more difficult for me to carve out. I got to wondering, what exactly do I mean by that?

For me, I don’t really craft my writing until I go into edit mode. Writing just happens to me; sometimes I feel like a fountain, sometimes I feel like a conduit. I get in that state called “flow”.

And I often fall into flow – when I’m reading an interesting book or article on the internet, when I’m listening to music with a good beat, when I’m making a worksheet for school. Time and space lose their meaning, and I’m riding a mental wave that is going to take me somewhere – I’m not always sure Continue reading

Michaeline: Enjoying the Process for NaNoWriMo

Just a quickie today, but I saw a good video (10:47) last week on YouTube that really rang a bell with me. It’s called “How I Tricked My Brain to Like Doing Hard Things”, and it’s not about writing, but rather getting to the gym. But a metaphor is a metaphor, and I think his points apply well to writing.

Enjoy the process was the biggest thing. What do you love about actually writing? I love it when the writing gods drop a fantastic idea down in the middle of my process – a cool character, or just the right word in a very good sentence. I feel a physical “click” when that happens, and it really is awesome!

Take a look. Point after point could be applied to writing, or any creative endeavor – whether it’s creating a story, or creating a better body.