Monday Muse: So Long! (But Not Forever.)


So, no… we’re not putting the blog on hiatus. I wanted to get that out of the way before anything else. But there’s, like, an 80% chance *I* will be on hiatus following this blog. No worries, though, because it’s for good reasons!

Though my birthday was almost two months ago, it’s finally time for my big birthday present: a just-under-two-weeks long trip to NYC! (I am also treating it as a post-NaNo celebratory trip since I’m only a couple thousand words shy of 50k!) Thirteen days in the Big Apple, including Broadway, ballet (which I don’t really like, but c’mon, it’s The Nutcracker), museums, Christmas lights, coffee, food, Christmas shopping, and actually wearing sweaters and a jacket! Fortunately, we’re staying with family, or else we’d each have to hock a kidney to pay for this, lol.

I’m really excited. It’s been years since I visited New York, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. It remains the only major city I’ve ever been in that didn’t give me panic attacks, which is a major plus, of course. And any place with awesome museums is a good place in my book, especially since where I am has shit ones. Plus, my family lives in Chelsea, so I’ll get to finally live the high life for a while.

Anyway, um… NaNo goes well, I’ll definitely finish on time, and there’s a chance I’ll still keep up with the blog posts. But if you don’t hear from me, it’s because I’m living it up in the greatest city in the world.

Except I’m still not seeing Hamilton, because a girl can’t expect to get everything.



Silly Sunday: The Reality of Daylight Savings

Hello again, friends! Welcome to Silly Sunday! 

Today’s silliness stems from my continued frustration with the absolute stupidity that is daylight savings time. If you’re in an area that participates in this social experiment, – that’s gone on for waaaay too long, in my opinion – you surely know that I’m talking about. 

Sure, it was nice on that one Monday when it felt like we all got a magical extra hour of sleep, but that was a lie. Now, it becomes pitch black rounding the corner of four o’clock and I never know what time it is. Like, seriously, I’ve gone to bed past midnight every night this week. I usually make my way to bed around 10! It’s nonsense.

Also, hi hello, uh, daylight savings time causes brain damage?? Why am I not surprised?

So, yeah. Today’s silliness comes to us from our friends on imgur. And it’s silly because it’s. Just. So. True.


See you next time!


Boozy Books: Sourdough

Helloooooo! Happy belated Turkey Day, Nerd Cactus followers. I hope everyone ate their fair share and stayed home to rest, relax, and digest today. Because Black Friday is commercial propaganda and waking up at 4am for doorbusters is a crime against, well… yourself.

Today, I’ll be pairing a book I just finished reading, Robin Sloan’s Sourdough. I’ll be frank, this was not some kind of life-changing, favorite-book-of-the-year read. But it was a super fast, fun-way-to-pass-some-down-time read. The kind of book you lend your boyfriend’s mom. (Which I did.) I liked it. It was appealing and just the sort of light and fluffy book I expected.

The basic premise is this: a super tech-savvy engineer inherits a sourdough starter with strange properties and finds herself tossed into a world of underground foodie-ism. That’s all you need to know. As our readers know, I hate giving away plot points and, in this case, the one sentence synopsis is really all you need to get going. I’ll tell you, the two things this book does really well is make you want to a) eat and b) learn to bake (specifically bread). So be prepared for that.

Now for the pairing. Craft beer. The craftiest you can find. Like ultra micro brew. Microscopic. And make sure you’re the first one of your friends to have tried it. That helps.

Happy reading!


Shakespeare Saturday: But Do You Actually Like Shakespeare?

Hello Nerd Cactus coven! It’s Shakespeare Saturday – probably my favorite day of the week. To shake things up, I’ll be sharing a conversation I had recently. Because sometimes the experiences of a Shakespeare fanatic are just as important to share as casting notices and historical findings. 

I think this particular topic is worthy of exploration because the question I was asked is one that Shakespeare-heads get asked a lot: “but do you actually like Shakespeare?”

I won’t lie to you, this question was posed to me by my significant other. It was a little bit in jest, but I know he is also genuinely puzzled by my ardor. And that’s fine, I know Shakespeare isn’t for everyone. Many people find it hard to get past the 400 year old dialogue. Plus, he’s just not a theatre person.

But, yes, I do actually like Shakespeare. I told him this and proceeded to explain that there’s a lot of depth to Shakespeare’s plays that still resonates with modern audiences. Also, because it is so well known it has become a special kind of art form that allows for constant reinvention and interpretation. 

I think I also have the advantage of having seen enough live Shakespeare that I don’t automatically think of stuffy classrooms and enormous chunks of text that look completely foreign. This, I believe, is the number one reason so many people are alienated from the Bard – Terrible teachers, failing to generate interest and/or forcing it upon students before they’re ready to grasp why it’s special.

Obviously, I’ve said all this before. So has C. But our loyalty to a long-dead playwright really has nothing to do with “fitting in” or being “elitist.” (That’s not what the S.O. was implying, but some people would.) It stems from a love of the English language, theatre, and admiration for the mastery of universal themes in works that are older than the United States. It’s pretty cool shit.


Boozy Books: What Even Is Reading?


It is seventeen days into NaNoWriMo. I am at 27,500 words and am about to begin my writing for the day with a goal of getting to 30,000. Because sprints basically cause me to vomit up useless words strung into incoherent phrases (don’t ask for sentences unless they’re run-ons because punctuation goes by the wayside when I sprint), I haven’t been doing them this year. This means I end up devoting 3-4 hours a day just to writing, and that’s for 2500 words.

What does this mean for Boozy Books? It means that I don’t really have time to sit down and read much. And even when I do carve out the time, I hardly have the inclination. I end up wanting to do my laundry (?!) or literally just go anywhere that doesn’t involve writing, thinking about writing, or even seeing other people writing. I have even missed not one, but two coupons to Barnes and Noble. The book I’ve been looking forward to the most this year just came out and have I had a single thought to go get it? No. The answer is no.

I do like NaNo. It helps push me past my distaste for drafting. Distaste is the polite term for hate here. I hate drafting. I would rather outline and edit for the rest of my days, but alas editing an outline isn’t really helpful toward getting to a final product. Which means, of course, that I need to sit my butt down and draft. Which is what NaNo really helps me do.

But… gods do I hate drafting. And doing it every day is deadly. I even found myself not wanting to finish this project the other day. And this is Lucky! He’s my baby. The idea of not finishing is sacrilege. I just… I don’t want to anymore.

The flipside is, of course, that without the push to win, I wouldn’t draft it at all. So I’m in this Yossarian-esque situation.

Read something. Maybe I can enjoy life again through you.


Monday Muse: On An Early Tuesday Morning


I realize it’s actually after midnight, so it’s technically Tuesday, but I was kinda worded out after my NaNo-ing today, so I needed to rest for a bit. I didn’t write this weekend for reasons of I had to adult, so I needed to spend today making up for everything. That meant almost 5000 words in one day, which is actually a lot for me. I managed to do it, though, and introduce a secondary villain to the novel.

Freyja’s a bitch, y’all.

I’ve noticed over the years a strange phenomenon in my writing. I seem to be able to write as much as I have to to meet a deadline, but I can’t write beyond that. If I need a twenty-page paper, you’ll get twenty pages easy. I could even do it in one day if it was due and I waited until the last minute, which I learned by waiting until the last minute over and over again in college. But with something like NaNo, I can rarely get more than a day ahead, and that’s because I round 1667 up to 2000 a day. And once I hit that 2000, I can’t write anymore.

Unless I don’t write anything for a couple of days, in which case I can write 5000 words at once, but only until I reach the point where I’ve caught up. And then nothing.

Weird phenomenon, eh? My brain has strange boundaries.

I hope NaNo’s treating you well if you’re doing it. And if you’re not, I hope this run-up to the holiday season hasn’t been too overwhelming. They were playing Christmas music at Starbucks the other day.

I wasn’t happy.


Silly Sunday: Holiday Gift Alert

Hello, friends! It is time for Silly Sunday… with a twist! Today’s post isn’t silly so much as amazing (and also a bit of a PSA for everybody scrambling for the perfect gift this holiday season).

I have already asked “Santa” for one of these delights, because this product is just so adorable and fun and perfect. Gather ’round, fellow tea drinkers and bibliophiles, this is for you.

Ok, enough build up. Are you ready for my pick for “hot holiday item” of 2017?


Noveltea tins.

Click the link.

Click it!

These beautiful and “punny” tea tins are literally everything I never knew I wanted. Unfortunately, the one I really really wanted (Pride and Peppermint) is out of stock, but I exchanged a few emails with the team to learn that it should be back by December/January.

Also, although the company’s Kickstarter fundraiser is over, they are planning an event on Backerkit (which is apparently a post-Kickstarter store to help meet stretch goals).

Their designs are positively gorgeous, and I highly recommend you check out their Instagram, which features terrific pictures of the tin designs for “Pippi Oolongstocking”, “Anise in Wonderland”, and “Pekoe Pan.”*

*Note: None of these are currently available on their website because they are the products of their last Kickstarter push. I’m assuming they will appear on Backerkit, but, if not, I certainly hope to see them in the online store soon.

I’m. Obsessed.

So happy holiday shopping, cacti friends! And remember, it’s always a good day to treat yo’self.


Shakespeare Saturday: Manners!

Hey guys! Brief interlude into the world of Shakespeare today since it’s my one day off from NaNo and I’m using it to watch Golden Girls and have eggnog spiked with Scotch. I rarely drink, so this is a banner day for me.

Whenever I have some time, I like to check out the Folger Shakespeare Library and see what’s up there. You’ll have noticed how many times I share their articles and whatnot. I was upset I couldn’t go with my family when they took a trip to DC earlier this year. They ended up not going to the Folger, but still…

So, given my time today, I decided to do a bit of reading and came across these great articles about Elizabethan etiquette. When you read the first words of this one, you’ll know exactly why I immediately thought we needed a Lord Walsingham’s Kingsmen-type thing. That link is part one: here is part two.

Who do you think should play Walsingham?


Monday Muse: Names are Important, But Let’s Be Real…

Hello and welcome to the Monday Muse! It’s been a while since I did a Muse, due to busy schedules, date confusion, and general forgetfulness. For this, I apologize.

But I’m here today! And I’ve been thinking about this particular topic for quite a while, to be honest. So, it’s time I finally put it down in writing.

As writers, C and I have repeatedly advocated the importance of world building, backstory, and names. Every little detail you put into your story helps create something that is multidimensional and believable (within the given parameters of your world, of course). 

Now, sometimes overzealous writers get carried away with the nuances they’ve created, and feel that it’s important that every aspect of their work has a hidden meaning. More often than not, this also applies to the names characters are baptized with. And, also more often than not, it results in lame, cheeseball revelations that most people saw a mile away… “Ezra means “help” so this character’s issues stem from childhood trauma.” “You can’t trust Janus, she’s two-faced.” We get it, you know how to use Google.

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is: yes, names are important – super important – in the journey to creating great characters and great places, but there is also a fine line we must dance as authors. Don’t overdo it with the magical, mumbo jumbo names that somehow manage to foreshadow your protagonist’s entire story.  And give it a rest with made up names within the context of a story that is supposed to take place in our reality. It’s unnecessary. And it takes away from how the story stands on its own.

I’ve been struggling with “overnaming” myself lately, and I think it’s important to step back and be as objective as possible when you ask: “is this character, under this particular name, believable? Would I make it through this story without scoffing at the title character’s prenom?” You might be surprised.

Also, please don’t name your characters something that’s so jarringly dramatic to the ear that it becomes off-putting. I know… Hard to do objectively, but that’s why you have bookworm friends to give you beta reader feedback, amiright? Because somebody should have sat Rick Riordan the f**k down and steered him clear of “Magnus Chase.” 

Long time followers will know that I have a soft spot for the Percy Jackson series, but I think Riordan has gotten a wee bit carried away.  I literally did a spit-take when I saw the cover of his new book – and I wasn’t even drinking anything! 

Magnus Chase? That’s not a name, that’s a punk rock band. Or a luxury sunglasses company. Or maybe what Kanye West might name his pet jaguar. Or his next kid… Hmm, maybe it’s not the most unbelievable nonsense name.

Anyway, for those of you participating in NaNo, I salute you. Name your characters wisely, and with love, and they will serve you well. 

Happy writing!


Silly Sunday: In-Jokes With Friends

Heyo! Welcome to today’s Silly Sunday!

I’m doing well during NaNo so far, with almost 11,000 words. And I’m just about to introduce the third of four major characters (on Team Good Guy), so that’ll be fun. I love Z, so it’ll be great to let her have her super literal sense of humor. There’s so much stuff I want to write. All the exciting stuff.

But, as excited as I am to get there, I still have to take breaks once in a while. It’s been five days so the word well is a bit low. So I’ve been having fun talking about Tricksters with a writer friend of mine.

Since we both write about them, we’ve decided we’re going to include references to one another’s Tricksters in our works. Since Lucky is the inspiration for all of them (he hasn’t physically been all of them, but that’s how the Collective works–look up Jung’s Collective Unconscious and make it a literal place, and that’s my Collective), he’s technically my friend’s character and that character is technically Lucky.

Have you ever read books by different writers that seem to have in-jokes? References to one another that aren’t explicit, but acknowledge the fun tie-ins that exist if, somehow, books lived in the same world? (Like, say, Thursday Next’s BookWorld?) I don’t mean things like Rig being black and joking that only Marvel managed to get that right (the ‘whitest of the gods’ thing was a joke Lucky played while he was still Loki); I mean small references.

If you’re a writer, have you ever gotten together with a writer friend and made jokes like that? We’re all friends; we should do it! Let’s be friendly together!