Not-Quite-Monday Muse: Hunh.

Hey! So… it’s very close to Wednesday. And we still haven’t posted a Monday Muse. Which, I mean, I know is completely undermining your ability to trust us as a viable pair of writers. Are we professional? ARE WE JUST LOSERS?! HOW CAN YOU TRUST US AND BUY OUR (not-yet-published, which probably doesn’t help matters) STUFF IF WE CAN’T EVEN GET BLOGS OUT ON TIME?!

To be fair, we both have excuses. A just started a new show, for one, and perhaps more importantly, Monday was her day for finishing up those edits on Juliet, aka the chapter from Hell that every one of our Betas commented on and always seems to come out a little bit worse when we try to fix it. Finally, however, we seem to have found the right mix of keeping what we loved about the original chapter and fixing what people thought didn’t work. You know, without fucking up a character it takes a little longer to appreciate than some of the others. (Juliet isn’t the easiest character to love, especially compared to Mercutio, Benvolio, and even Romeo, but her badassery is pretty amazing once you see it.) We love her, it’s her introduction, and it’s also, perhaps most importantly, chapter two, which means it’s an important part of our query.

So… that’s why A’s been busy.

As for why I missed the fact that her busy-ness obviously meant I probably had to step in and do the Muse (we… we probably need an assistant, guys. Someone to remind us when to do this shit and not get caught up in our creative places), well… look at the date. It’s still, for one more day at least, NaNoWriMo. I’m a completest, so I like to write a little bit every single day and finish on the 30th (one would be correct in assuming I have obsessive tendencies, yes), which means my head wasn’t in the write place to Muse. Unless you wanted to hear all about how Hedy wants to be President one day, but would settle for a position in the Cabinet if necessary (Sec. of Energy, of course). She also wants to travel the world (you might be thinking, why not Sec. of State, then you do not know Hedy), win a Nobel Prize for Metageophysics, live in a castle… you know, be a fucking hero. For the record, she is nine.

My nine-year-old character might actually be my hero. She is amazing.

So, yes, that’s why we didn’t have a Muse on Monday. For that, I sincerely apologize. November’s a hard month for me and showtime is a hard time for A. But, after tomorrow, I swear… I will be (mostly) on-the-ball. It’s also December, and I have to do research into the food of Al-Andalus so I can make a Moorish Christmas dinner because I WANT TO and, frankly, ham’s boring. And then there’s all the damn present buying (which I treat as seriously as Leslie Knope except I don’t have her ridiculous level of spending power — seriously, how does a government employee have that much spending power?!), wrapping, decorating, wishing people a Happy Holidays and seeing who forgot to take their blood pressure medication, etc.

But I’ll try to be better about being here. Because I consider starting a blog as creating a compact with our readers, and I don’t want to let anyone, especially myself, down.

C

Boozy Books: Trickster Makes This World

Hey guys! Welcome to Boozy Books! Sorry I’m late. It’ll stop as soon as NaNo is over, I promise. I’m glad I warned you ahead of time, though, or else I’d feel like I was being a real asshole.

I don’t think I’ve ever done a non-fiction book here on Friday. I’ve always tended to stick to the fiction I love because I don’t think a person should drink while reading non-fiction because non-fiction is for learning. It’s for having your brain at its sharpest… the ‘edit sober’ portion of good ol’ Papa Hemingway’s always-perfect writing advice. You need or want to learn? You don’t drink.

But, in deciding to do this, I have effectively cut myself off from half of the books I love. You know, I am… well, I am not a literature person. I love literature, I love to read good stories and lose myself in amazing worlds, and I’ve been known to get into arguments with random people over whether or not Shakespeare wrote his plays (he did). But I am, first and foremost, a lover of history. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to tell the story of humanity, preserve it, save it for as many of our children and our children’s children as possible. Our science, our inventions, our great moves forward as a people… I have never thought that was humanity. It has always, always been our past. It has always been history. So you’ll find me nose-deep in non-fiction, in primary sources, and getting into arguments over whether Shakespeare wrote an accurate Richard III (he did not), and you’ll find that more often. I am, simply put, a non-fiction lover.

So… fuck it. I’m sharing one of my favorite non-fiction books this week. Because I can. And because I want to. Those of you who know me and talk to me (seriously, guys… if you want to talk to me, follow us over on Twitter and it’ll be me talking back) know about Lucky. He is ridiculously popular among the writing community on social media (well, you know, the people who talk to me, anyway), and it’s actually throwing me into a spiral of anxiety regarding living up to that reputation he’s earned for himself. Lucky (birth name Jacob Trucco… in this life, anyway), also known as Loki, Hermes, Set, Coyote, Liar, Trickster… god. Original human name mostly lost to time. People want to know him.

Trickster Makes This World helped me develop Lucky. And probably explains why so many people love him so much. The Trickster archetype is change, and change is, invariably, creation. Trickster brings and takes, but even in taking is respected as doing what is necessary. Trickster is not evil, no matter what Christian scholars tried to do with pretty much all of them (except perhaps Hermes, but only because Hades existed to vilify unfairly). Kings (because, as you’ll learn reading this book, they’re almost invariably male) of the liminal space, the space between (those of you who know Lucky recognize this factor perhaps most of all). This book discusses all the great Tricksters from myth, talks about how it is the Tricksters more than any other that have formed our relationship with the world and the gods. And it talks about how our creations — our art, our music, our literature — are our own, in a way, expression of the Trickster within. Sort of. Lewis Hyde writes it better.

My recommendation is to drink tea with this book. Tea or water or coffee or whatever you want that makes you comfortable and takes you to a reading place. Like I said, I don’t like drinking when I want to read non-fiction, and this book in particular requires a relatively close reading to penetrate. If, when you’re done, you want to drink in order to get the thoughts flowing and the creativity going, I’d say something that makes you warm, loose, calm. A nice glass of Scotch, perhaps, or Bourbon. You know… Whiskey-type stuff. That always gives me that nice, warm feeling. OR you could always combine the two and do an Irish Coffee, or something. But, again, save that for when you’re done reading and just need to work through everything you’ve just taken in.

I’ll be back Sunday!

C

Monday Muse: The Fields of Creativity

Hyo! Is that a word? Should I stick with my usual ‘heyo’ from now on? I guess I should.

Heyo! How is everyone? Doing well? I hope so.

So, it’s been a fun time for Nerd Cactus. I am in the midst of NaNo, reaching that final stretch. Six days of 2k each and I am donezo. Will I have written anywhere near the entirety of the draft? No fricken way. I’ll have barely finished the first third, which puts me on track to write a 175k word draft…

If there’s a downside to writing using word sprints, it’s the fact that a good 3/8ths of what I’ve written is utterly useless to the overall novel. It’s good, it’s in character, it involves Hedy spoiling Return of the Jedi for Joel… but it really doesn’t belong in the novel. (OK, I might keep the Star Wars talk. It’s fun. And I love it.) But it’s amazing being in that place where you just let your consciousness float atop the fields of creativity and churn out content. I’m such a slow writer naturally, picking out a couple hundred words a day because I’m… obsessive. So writing in sprints has been amazing for me. But, yeah… it does lead to a lot of bloat.

Totally worth it, though.

I hope NaNo is going well for all of you who’re doing it and continues to go well! It’s a great thing for productivity and for community, and I love it very much.

Before I go: one more thing! An update on ACTUAL Nerd Cactus business. A has written our query and submitted it to be torn apart and rewritten by professionals before we actually begin shopping the novel around. She is just about done with the final edits on one last chapter. So… by the end of this year, Killing Mercutio will be out in the world. Send it love. Send it good juju. Send me the names of great agents who might be interested in a Shakespearean thriller. Or, you know… good juju.

As for our curret project… we’re getting ready to do some workshops on Bill and Ben’s Excellent Adventure. One of the benefits to A being an actress is, for the low, low price of giving them food, we have access to all sorts of actors. Hopefully we’ll be able to get the thing on a stage soon. And next up, while we learn how to structure a TV show, we’re delving into a fantasy project called Talentless, following a boy who’s about to turn sixteen and find out if he has the magic that’ll allow him to join society or if he’ll be forced to spend his life outside of it, among those whom society has deemed unfit. It’s a great project that we developed a couple years ago but kept putting it off because it’s so different from Mercutio. But we both loved it too much to hold off any longer, not the least because it has amazing characters and… is remarkably pertinent right now. We love it, and we’ll keep you posted on the awesomeness.

First up: Black. “Played” by Oberyn Martell himself. No head squishing involved, I swear. He’s a bitter, sarcastic fuck. Sorry for the cursing, but there’s no other way to put it.

So… Nerd Cactus are in a very creative place! I hope you’re there with us. We can have a party!

C

Shakespeare Saturday: The Bard On Refugees

Heyo! Welcome to Shakespeare Saturday. No, I know it’s not Saturday anymore, but I… was an idiot and there was blood involved and then, when I got it all cleaned up, I got inspired to write for NaNo and then, lo and behold, it was now. And I realized I hadn’t posted anything.

The Muses… who knew all they demanded was blood sacrifice?

Anyway. I want to remind you, fair readers, that there is exactly one piece of writing we still have in Shakespeare’s hand. Yeah, that’s it. One piece in the hand of the Bard himself. And, you know what it’s about?

Refugees. More to the point, not being a dick about them.

Sorry about the naked link… but I figure, it’s the content that matters. Read it. Be inspired in our modern world by the immortal words of the Bard.

Shakespeare, Sir Thomas More, and the refugee migrants

C

Boozy Books: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Well, it’s not Saturday anymore… But only by a few minutes so let me just get in a quick literary pairing for your weekend read. Today I’d like to recommend The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It’s a great story, told in a thoroughly unique way and has even been adapted for the stage. Neat!

The mystery novel is told from the perspective of a fifteen year old boy who has an unnamed behavioral condition (most probably high-functioning autism). But Mark Haddon, the author, has been adamant to state that this book is not about Asperger’s or autism, it is about being an outsider and seeing things outside of the box. The process in which the main character, Christopher, goes about solving the murder of his neighbor’s dog is unusual and demonstrates that what makes him different gives him a different perspective.

Pair this with something full-bodied, unique, and complex. I’d say a Malbec, but it seems like an obvious choice. So think outside the box!

Sorry for the late (and short) nature of this post, but I’m ears deep in tech rehearsal and kinda need to go to sleep like a responsible adult… 

Happy reading!

-A

Monday Muse: Thoughts From Last Week

Hello, Nerd Cactus followers! Welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday Muse. I’ve honestly been dreading writing today’s post because there’s a lot on my mind and I fear that this isn’t the most appropriate platform to vent my frustrations about the past week. While this post will certainly be a reflection of my tumultuous emotions there will be no pointing fingers and no attempt to place blame. What I want to talk about is this (and let me stress that I am directing this to every person reading this, regardless of political views): what should we do now that we’ve seen the great, ugly divide in our country?

I haven’t been particularly hopeful this week and I refuse to jump onboard the “we have to come together” bandwagon because the damage has been done. I’m not saying it’s irreparable, but it certainly won’t be fixed with a shrug and a Facebook status that essentially reads: “let’s let bygones by bygones”. No, I will not let others try to normalize the hate and violence. I will not let go of my anger, because this is the kind of anger that can fuel action.

Now is the time to act. We have to create the change we want to see and we certainly can’t rely on party lines or politicians to help achieve a better world for us. The system is falling apart, the world is laughing at us, and already there are those who have resigned themselves to complacency with a shrug and a “well, what’s done is done”. 

We all have to start being more active. We have to educate ourselves and leave behind the vast echo-chamber that is our collective newsfeed and seek truthful and informative journalism about not just our country, but the world. We have to stand for the things that are important to us whether that means donating time or money or skills. I’ve seen far too much timidity. I’ll be honest, I too could do a better job trying to talk to and understand the other side’s viewpoints, but people have become so encased in their little bubbles of like-minded “news” sources that nobody wants to debate misinformation or concede that other opinions even exist. We have to communicate with one another and TRY to make sense of how and why we’ve landed on such different ideas. We have to be better.

So yes, I’m angry. But I’m not going to use that rage to attack. I’m going to use it to try and make a difference.

-A

Silly Sunday: I Think We All Need a Laugh

So. Here we are. The first Sunday after what is arguably the… well, yeah. So I’m pretty sure we all need a bit of a laugh today.

I’ve been using these all week, myself. I feel like the whole internet has seen them at this point, but they never, ever stop being funny. And this is the kind of thing I’m going to miss so, so much once the White House turns orange.

Joe Biden Memes. So many Joe Biden Memes. You get him, Joe.

Some different Joe Biden Memes! Well… some of them might be different. I don’t want you to miss any.

OK. Go laugh. Go have all the laughs! Because laughter is how we defeat fear and anger both. In any form.

We’ll be back tomorrow with a Muse.

C