The Muse: Actually on a Monday!

HELLO, Cactus-landia! And welcome back to Nerd Cactus HQ, where we had a bit of a hiatus. Adulthood got in the way of things, and we hadn’t seen each other at all in over six months (probably more) when we finally managed to catch up with one another last week. Aside from discussing Infinity War ad nauseum, becoming nauseated by the state of the nation, and then getting delicious ice-cream, we also discussed how we’re going to move forward with our venture.

I mean, we were hardly going to shut down, right? No way. But the fact of the matter is, we’re not really able to continue doing things the way we did before when we could basically get together once a month and figure everything out. It’s just not possible. And, unfortunately, it is also not going to be possible to continue doing things the way we did when we first started. Which means there’ll be some changes in the way the blog is run from now on.

Basically, the scheduling that was so good for us before is now no longer good. We’re not able to read a book every two weeks and we’ve basically gone through the backlog of books we want to pair, so we have to move forward. This means that Boozy Books will no longer be a weekly feature, but will only appear when we finish a book worth pairing. I’d venture to say once a month is probably a good guess, but I promise that, since it’s becoming a monthly feature instead of a weekly one, it’ll be an actual feature. Our weekend posts on Shakespeare and silliness will also be on a “I found something interesting” basis, but that’s basically what they’d become already, so that’s nothing new.

The Muse will continue to be a weekly thing. But it could appear any time during the week (the others will remain Friday and weekend posts), mostly because the muse might strike at any time. We’ll try to keep it on Monday by writing things ahead of time and scheduling them like grown-ups, but… let’s face it, we barely qualify as grown-ups as it is. The whole adulting thing is what’s caused this mess in the first place. Damn adulting.

The fact of the matter is… life sometimes forces you to put your creative endeavors on a schedule. You’d like to write whenever you want to or whenever the muse strikes, but you can’t always do that. There’s bills to pay and animals (or kids) to care for. Families to see. Nations to save (on that note: please be sure to vote in any upcoming elections. The only way to prevent the death of democracy is to exercise our most fundamental right). You know… life. And though it may betray that wannabe bohemian artist pouring their soul over the page as they die from consumption up in the frozen garret of your creative mind, sometimes you need to be left-brained about all those right-brained activities.

So, we’re scheduling writing time. We’re getting all disciplined and shit. And while it might suck (especially since we’re still in the querying phase for Merc, and it’s literally soul-sucking), it’ll be the way we get to move forward as a partnership when life seems so determined to get in the way. So… here’s to growing up!

Sorry, Peter.



Silly Sunday: It Is Sunday, Right?

Hello fellow nerds and cacti! So, I think everyone’s noticed that our regular posts have become a little irregular, but we want you to know that we’re here and we haven’t forgotten you!

C’s explanation was right on target: we’re in a transition. Personally, I’m going through 3 or 4 life transitions as I get in the habit of working regularly, keeping a reasonably clean house, caring for a dog-child, and balancing my personal creative pursuits.

Thankfully, the living room is more or less complete, so that’s one less thing. Of course, we still plan to buy a NEW couch, but that probably won’t be until next year. I mean, you can’t even get a decent chair for $5,000, so what’s a couch going to cost???

Anyway, seeing as C and I both had the impulse to get in touch with our readers on this subject, it looks like our “bestie brain” is still active. And that gives me all the confidence I need to know we’ll find ways to pursue all of our projects.


Obviously, We’re Dealing With Technical Difficulties

Sorry guys. I apologize for not writing. Nerd Cactus is going through a process right now, transitioning to a relationship where we don’t get to see each other more than a couple times a year. Without regular communication, our ability to get work done is obviously… not as good as we thought. Now, C, you might be saying… there’s things like e-mail and facetime and stuff like that, but… it’s April, and I still haven’t sent her her Christmas present, so you can see how effective that is for me.

So, yeah, this is definitely my fault. I’m basically crap with technology, and I do my best work in person. Well, no… I do work just fine over the internet if that’s how the relationship started, but I don’t transition well into new circumstances. It’s a fault of mine; the way my brain is wired is a bit wonky.

That being said, we’re not giving up. Killing Mercutio is finished, and it’s as good as it’s going to get without a professional editor, and we’ve got a whole list of agents to query. Whether any of our future projects get done will depend a lot on if we’re able to make this transition. We’ve got a lot of cool stuff we want to do; stuff I don’t plan to give up on. It just might take a while.

Damn adulthood. Seriously.


A Post! A Post! I finally wrote a post!

Hello! Salutations! Top of the morning (literally) to all of you, since it’s just after midnight on Thursday. Yes, I know I’m woefully late on this post. You’ll forgive me, yes? I’m trying not to force posts out when my mind isn’t in it, so as not to inundate you with crap.

Oh, hell… that’s not it. I just get lazy and forget to post, and then I spend a couple days coming up with a suitable excuse. I’m not very good at keeping on top of blogging, I’m afraid. I’m barely adequate at keeping on top of household chores, and those keep the house clean, clothes on my back, and food on the table, so…


An update on Killing Mercutio before we get any further into today’s festivities! I’ve finally finished the latest (and hopefully last) round of cuts. I mean, I suppose that any publisher worth their salt will have me go through this again (and again and again), but for now… I think the novel is in its best form. It’s at 113,850 words, down from just shy of 120k. Six months of pouring over 45 chapters (and an epilogue), looking for places to make cuts. Phew. I’m glad it’s done. With the new query, we’re finally ready to send this thing out again!

Now. On to what has been taking up my time. As you may know, I’m working on some serious worldbuilding. Like, building a from-scratch world into which I will place characters and write a story and do all these amazing things. You know, the kind that gives way to coffee table books about the world’s history and geography and the like. Middle Earth and Westeros and the Malazan world. Not quite like Sanderson’s Cosmere in that I don’t intend to write books with only hints of the greater world within the stories. I’ve got maps, notebooks, some characters, a vague idea of a story, and years worth of work left to do. It would be so nice to be able to go to a store and pick up a worldbuilding kit that helps you design cities and nations and continents and histories, etc, but that doesn’t exist yet.

However, I have found a really cool site that is helping me somewhat. At least, it’s helping me store everything online and asking some cool questions for me to ponder, the answers to which inevitably end up taking me down a fun track. I’m also reading a lot of history books (right now, Ancient Egypt has become a pretty big influence since maat, or the truth and order of things, is such an important part of their entire society), which I cannot recommend enough. But since books are the purview of Boozy Books, I thought I’d share the website I’ve been using. There’s an alright free version that I find is most helpful for characters rather than world, but the $10 a month (well, $9, but I round up) has a lot more. I’m actually thinking of trying it out and seeing if I like it.

Edit: I just realized I never posted the site. Oops. It’s here–

I admit, though… I still wish I could walk into a Target and pick up a box, and when I’ve completed everything in the box, I have a world. Because trying to come up with a world that doesn’t feel like I created it specifically for a story (i.e. the story is one of many within the world. And it exists outside of the story entirely) is  hard, yo.

We should all come together and make one of those. Then we could sell it and be rich. And have amazing worlds.


Boozy Books: The Philosopher’s Flight

Happy Friday, dear readers! It’s time to put away the work-related reading and pick up your weekend escape.

This week: The Philosopher’s Flight.

Technically, I haven’t finished this one yet, but I’m close enough to the end that I feel confident putting together a pairing.

Here’s what you need to know!

If you grew up with Harry Potter, this will very likely appeal to you.

If you enjoy thinly veiled social commentary and seeing a diversified roster of characters, this is a great book to pick up.

If you like science and love fantasy, pick this up.

The basic premise is this:

Set during WWII, (in an alternate version of the past, obvs) this novel shows off a world in which women (and a few men) have philosophical powers. Essentially, magic.

Women are far and away the masters of sigilry and are portrayed as super strong and awesome. (Yay!) The narrator is a male philosopher who grew up in a family of strong females who taught him everything he knows. (He’s pretty good for a boy.) So, he goes to school to study Philosophy (at an all-girl’s school) and tries to work his way into the noble rank of Corpswoman in the role of Rescue and Evac.

The concept is very well-developed and the story is a lot of fun. I even broke the “don’t recommend shit to C” rule, because the style is so reminiscent of grown up Harry Potter.

Enjoy a glass of champagne with this one. If you read it, you’ll note several scenes in which champagne appears to be the drink of choice.



Monday Muse: Inspiration for the Uninspired

It’s Mondayyyy. And, lordy, was it ever a long one. BUT, I’ve been a very bad blogger as of late, so I’m going to put together a Muse even if it kills me.

So, lately, I’ve been pretty uninspired. I’m tired, I’m bored, I’m feeling unproductive, and the news/political nonsense have me on edge. All. The. Time.

Also, I haven’t done much writing. This, in spite of the fact that I’m pretty much always daydreaming about my latest projects. I take notes as necessary, but trying to sit down and find the right words for these characters seems like a Herculean task.

I’m slowly crawling out of this funk, and the catalyst was undoubtedly having the chance to meet Imbolo Mbue. Her author talk back for Behold the Dreamers provided tons of inspiration, but it was after the event that this uninspired writer truly found inspiration.

I spent a few minutes speaking with Ms. Mbue one-on-one, asking her writer-y questions that she graciously answered. I was most interested in the fact that she is a “self-taught” writer. She has several degrees (none of them in writing) and she never intended to be a writer, it was just something that felt right.

As someone who has loved writing forever, but never really gotten a chance to take a “formal class,” this gives me so much hope. My writing could, indeed, be worth publishing even without a master’s degree in writing. It’s all a matter of being true to the story and knowing that sometimes the process of writing is going to feel like I’m chipping away at a house-sized hunk of rock.

Mbue described writing as a journey of self-discovery even as you discover the story and characters that speak to you. Writing is an extension of yourself, so, yes, it has ups and downs. The important thing is to come back and keep chipping away at that rock, because eventually you’ll end up with a diamond.


Boozy Books: Mission Update!

Heyo! Sorry I was gone Monday. I’ve been a little under the weather and wasn’t really in any place to write anything. Managed to finish out a chapter I was working on, but that took it out of me entirely. I’ve been chipping away at Mercutio slowly but surely, but I have to make sure to stop once in a while or the sentences stop making sense. They literally just fall apart into phonemes and morphemes, and I’ve got nothing.

But I have definitely been working on my re-read of high school books. Faves or otherwise. Right now, I’ve only got a couple, both of which I’ve already paired, so I’m going to post those here and go about my merry, if sneezy, way. Yes, I know… another round-up. Apologies. Eventually, I’ll get to something new.

The Three Musketeers

Huckleberry Finn


I do, for the record, have a few different non-fiction books I’m reading, including biographies of both Eleanor Roosevelt and Hatshepsut. When I finish them, I’ll definitely pair them, though booze and non-fiction do not good companions make.