Sunday, December 30, 2018

Patreon Problems

I’ve been on Patreon for a couple years now, and the more time I spend here, the more I think it’s just not a great format for writing, though I think it works great for visual art. (If anyone has ideas on how to make it work better for writing, that would be very helpful, and much appreciated!)

Things like when I tried to share my novel were just…not convenient. (What I really love, for that kind of parceling out of a longer work over an extended time, are fanfic sites. AO3 is just a lovely format, and I wish there was something like that I could use the way I try to use Patreon.)

But the real, main problem I have with Patreon is very much an issue with me, and not the site: the format of the fundraising just doesn’t make sense to me, as someone who has large-scale, long-term goals, rather than several small milestones to reach.

If my goal is to save x amount of money to purchase ISBNs, how do I convert that into a monthly goal? I can’t say “I need to make x amount of money per month,” because actually what I need is to make x amount of money for y months, or maybe y amount of money for z months.

And meanwhile I feel obligated to fill my page with smaller goals. If I make x amount of money per month, I can do this, and if I make y amount of money per month I can do this, and if I make z amount of money per month, I can do the thing I actually want to do. So in order to fit in with the format of Patreon, I’m setting all these goals I don’t have the time, energy, or desire to meet.  And I’m spending money on those things that I would rather be devoting to my actual, long-term goal.

Plus, I really hate deciding, okay, this one thing I wrote is worth this amount of money, this thing is worth more; only these people can see these things, and only these people can see these things and those other things—it isn't enough just to support me, you have to support me THIS MUCH every month to see this thing, this thing that I wrote because I wanted people to read it, not because I’m desperate to increase my monthly income by $1.

So. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Patreon moving forward. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Year in Review/Coming Up

It’s been a busy year. Not, I suppose, from the perspective of my readers, but in distinctly un-artistic ways, it’s been a lot.

It’s just past eleven, and I’m writing, tonight, in between baking Christmas cookies. I’ve been trying lately to maintain a better sleep schedule, but some rebellious part of my brain insists that baking is a late-night activity.

2018 has been my first full year working a fulltime job. It’s also the year I bought a house, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and OCD. I tried new meds (which WORK!). I got two guinea pigs, three hermit crabs, a fish, and a snail. I tried dating and decided it wasn’t for me. I wrote almost exclusively indulgent crap under a pen name, for no purpose but fun. I made boring, grown-up purchases, like crock pots and blenders, address labels and Christmas trees. My new house has a piano, and I finally bought a TV. I’ve been working through my complicated relationship with the church, and though I haven’t found the place where I belong yet, I have some good leads to check out when all the holiday chaos dies down. This week I got a puppy. (More on that later.)

It’s been a big year for life. It’s been a slow year for writing, especially as I try to work out a good schedule with all my new responsibilities.

I’m not going to make any promises, because the balancing act is still a major struggle. But here’s a bit about what’s been going on, and what my thoughts are for moving forward:

I have one major goal for 2019, which is to start my own small press, so that I own my own ISBNs, and am ACTUALLY self-publishing, instead of technically being published by Createspace or Lulu.

Over the last twelve months, I’ve continued to work slowly on my next poetry collection, which will be called Small Scars. I’ve also begun work on a short story collection. This is going to be called The Shoemaker Prince, and will be made up of two longer stories and several much shorter ones, all fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. There may also be another chapbook in the works, similar to thin but about asexuality, tentatively titled Dear Somebody.

My goal is to get back to weekly fairy tale blogs; I have content outlined for the first three months of the year. For my church blog, I’ll be aiming for one post each month. I’m also considering monthly book reviews; in theory these will all be of Beauty and the Beast retellings for the next year.

One thing that remains really difficult for me is Patreon. I’m not getting much use out of it, primarily because I just don’t find it a useful format for my purposes.  There will be a post about that soon, explaining my struggles with it and asking for your feedback. For now I’m putting it on the backburner.

Despite the changes and challenges of the past year, and despite the fact that I genuinely enjoy my current job, my long-term goal is still to write and publish fulltime. As always, I appreciated your support as I work toward this goal.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Match Girl

And the quest continues.

(The quest, for those of you who may be wondering, is to drag out a happy ending, kicking and screaming if necessary, from every story Hans Christian Andersen ever wrote.)

(Well, maybe not every story. But a lot of them.)

I believe Andersen is what I’m going to call a Religious Optimist. Basically what that means is that for a lot of his work, you have to shift your perspective for a thorough understanding, because his definition of a happy ending is based on a strong faith and a crappy life.  Which means death=heaven=happily ever after, as opposed to the general misery of daily life.

If the idea of returning to school didn’t fill me with horror and dread, my big thesis paper would totally be on this topic. “Happily Ever After: The Religious Optimism of Hans Christian Andersen.”

The facts: Andersen was a deeply religious, deeply depressed gay man in the nineteenth century. We have documentation on this from the most reputable of sources, i.e. Andersen himself.

Just try to comprehend what it would mean, the level of love and joy in Heaven, to a man who was so sad and alone on earth.

And my man Hans, he’s a realist. Does a homeless child alone on the streets in winter get whisked away by her fairy godmother and become a princess? Of course not. Life doesn’t work that way. But can a girl with no chance of a happy, healthy life on earth be happy and healthy in Heaven?

Absolutely. That’s, like, a given.

Here’s the deal. You’re an orphan living on the streets in the dead of winter. You survive on selling matches. Shockingly, not a hugely profitable career.

You die. Of course you die. You hallucinate and you die and you welcome it, because life is hell and now you get to be where the hallucinations are. What is there to live for, anyway? You’re tired, and you’re hungry, and you’re cold. Everyone you love is dead already, and everything always hurts.

Why would you want to be alive?

There are days when every thought you have, every step you take, every sight you see, brings only sadness and pain. We don’t all get to be princesses. The world doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you’re lucky just to survive. Sometimes it’s not surviving that’s really lucky.

If I ever get my hands on a time machine, the first thing I’m doing is getting Hans on some antidepressants; poor dude needs them almost as much as I do.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

12 Turtles

Today we’re gonna talk about a story I found in my collection “The Turnip Princess,” which is all stories compiled by Schonwerth. (Guys they’re amazing.)

So it’s a pretty basic story. Think “The Boy Who Set Forth to Learn What Fear Was.” Same basic pattern. You’re trying to win the hand of a princess, so you go and spend a long weekend at the local haunted castle.

There are a lot of things that can happen when you spend three nights in a haunted castle. Demons might go bowling, with your head as the ball and your ribs as the pins. They might roast you on a spit. They might peel off your skin. The ghosts come. The ghouls come. Every night you die, and if you’re brave enough you wake up in the morning alive.

Each night it gets worse. The third is the climax. And on this particular third night, in this particular story, there appear twelve turtles the size of washbasins.

In order to win the princess, you must kiss each one of these twelve turtles.

Now, fairy tales tend to have a lot of euphemisms, granted, but I don’t think that’s what we’re dealing with here. Schonwerth and his translator tend to be pretty direct. All this dude has to do on his final night in the haunted castle is kiss some turtles.

Which brings us to the next thing about Schonwerth. He actually did that thing we like to pretend the Grimms did, where he wandered around collecting stories from random people across the country. And then he just wrote them down. Didn’t edit, didn’t clean them up, just wrote them down.

So these ridiculous stories he’s telling are all stories that someone told to him. Educated people, uneducated people, old people, children, mothers and fathers, people from the city, people from the country—we have no idea who.

For this particular story, I like to imagine it being told by a small child. A girl of six, perhaps.

“And then the demons boil him into soup!” she tells Schonwerth, very excited.

“Oh? And what happens next?”

She pauses, considering. “And then there are turtles.”

“And what happens with the turtles?”

“He’s gotta kiss ‘em!”

I just love Schonwerth so much, guys. There’s so much personality in his stories, and not even his own personality, a good chunk of the time.  I’ve talked a lot over the years about collective storytelling, about folklore as a conversation we’re having throughout history. Men like Schonwerth make our conversation partners feel like real people again. And it’s beautiful.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Cottage

I bought a house!

As long as I’m rearranging everything else in my life, I thought this would be a good time to rearrange my writing, marketing, and social media presence as well. Now, these things aren’t going to all take effect right away, since I’m working on them in the middle of getting set up in this new place. But here are some things you can expect moving forward.

For a fairy tale blog, I get bogged down in church issues a lot. To prevent this continuing in the future, I’ve started a separate blog exclusively for church issues. For the first few months things are mostly going to be recycled, but I’ll have new content up in a while.

I’m also preparing to start a series of book reviews for every Beauty and the Beast retelling I’ve come across. And more poems are going to be posted as I continue to work on my next book.

Over the next few months, keep an eye out for updates on goals and rewards on Patreon, new content, and information about my upcoming projects. I’ll try to make sure all content is on Patreon, as well as whatever site it originates on, so if you want to keep track of everything, just head over there; things are free to read unless I’ve specifically stated otherwise. Remember, financially supporting me on Patreon gives you access to my novel Lindworm!

Friday, July 20, 2018

This is my house

We're gonna blame the lack of recent content on this thing. New blogs and general updates coming soon; stay tuned!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

In Defense of the Beast, Part Two Hundred Eighty Seven

You are a little boy. Ten, maybe eleven years old. Your parents aren’t here; you don’t know where they are. Maybe there’s a war. Maybe they just left you here because they didn’t want a child under foot.

It’s been a long time since you’ve seen your parents. You used to miss them. You used to cry for your mama in the night.
Version 1                                                                         Version 2
You have a new mama now. She’s much nicer than your old mama. She always pays attention to you, and she hugs you and kisses you and holds you when you’re sad or scared.

But you don’t stay eleven. And it begins to seem…strange, how affectionate she is. It makes you uncomfortable, but you don’t know why. You don’t say anything, because she is your mama, the only one who’s been here for you, and surely she knows what she’s doing.

And then she asks you to marry her.

You say no.
But you hardly think of them anymore. You have new people to take care of you now.

These people aren’t your family. They’re your employees. You think they care for you, at least a little; after all, you are their prince.

But it isn't the same. They don’t hug you. Their children don’t want to play with you. They call you master and prince and sir, until you think you might forget your own name, it’s been so long since you’ve heard it.

One night, a strange old woman comes to the door, and all the grownups turn to you. You are young, a little spoiled, a little afraid. You tell them to send her away.
She doesn’t take it well.

You are not the bad guy. It wasn’t your fault. It was never your fault.

As you have probably noticed, I like Beauty and the Beast. A lot. Yesterday I saw the Disney musical at my local community theater—and oh my goodness, I know I’ve said this before, but I am head over heels in love with how awkward and adorable the Beast is in the second half.

And I know there isn't anyone actively arguing with me or anything, but I felt the need to defend him. Again.

I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve been around—sorry. I bought a house, and now I’m in the process of moving into a house—more about that later—and I’ve been so busy I’ve hardly had a chance to write at all. It’ll probably continue being slow going for the next month or so, but I’m working on it. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 12, 2018

East of the Sun

There is a peasant in the woods, and his family is large and he is poor and his children are terribly ill.

One day, a large white bear comes up to him in the woods and says, “Hey, man, if you give me your youngest daughter I’ll give you a ton of money and your crops will prosper and your kids will be healthy.”

And the father is all like, “Excuse me? We do not just give people away. Especially to talking forest creatures. She’s a person, not a pair of spare boots.”

He pauses, considering the general financial situation of his family.

“I’ll ask her if she’s interested.”

Initially, our girl is not wildly enthusiastic about this opportunity, and hey, who could blame her? But things are pretty bad at home, and if she can help, well.

The bear comes back and she climbs on his back, and they travel far and far and far away, to a beautiful castle in the snow. And the bear goes off to do bear things, and the girl goes to the fancy bedroom provided. Night falls. Sleep falls.

And then, the door opens. And then, some dude gets into bed with her. And our girl, she just rolls with it. Like, okay, I’m in a magic castle with a talking bear, hundreds of miles away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known, and now there’s a strange man in my bed. Whatever.

I dunno. Maybe she’s thinking, well hey, at least it’s not the bear. Maybe she’s just too freaked out to react. Who knows?

But this keeps happening. Night after night after night. And she keeps letting it. Are they lying there in awkward silence? Are they talking? Are they sleeping? Are they having sex?

I mean, okay, they’re definitely having sex, because that’s just how fairy tales work—they never spell it out, but the implication is always there.

Anyway. Most of a year goes by. Girl gets homesick. Talks to bear. The bear is a pretty cool bear, because he’s like, “Yeah, sure, but you can only visit for a month. And also, um, please don’t talk to your mom alone?”

Now me, I’d think that last bit was a little sketchy. But our girl figures it’s a pretty good deal.

Her mom, on the other hand, her mom agrees with me. Sketchy. And of course, she manages to get her daughter alone eventually. And then she finds out about how her daughter is spending her nights.

In a move that will eternally villainize her, as it has countless other concerned fairy tale parents, mom objects.

“You’re sleeping with a strange man every night? You’ve never even seen his face? Are you even using protection? Did you listen to none of my lectures about safe sex and stranger danger? This is not okay. This is really not okay. Here. I’m gonna give you a candle and some matches. And the next time this creep shows up in your bedroom, you’re going to wait until he falls asleep, and then you’re going to light the candle and figure out what you’re dealing with.”

So when she gets back to the castle with the bear, our girl listens to her mom and lights her candle.

And this guy she’s been sleeping with for eleven months? Turns out he’s really, really cute. Like, record-shatteringly cute. Like, my-mom-would-totally-understand cute. Like, I-am-physically-incapable-of-looking-away-from-his-beautiful-face-and-my-candle-is-dripping-onto-his-nightshirt cute.

Then the hot wax gets to him, and the cute guy wakes up.

Turns out our boy is the enchanted talking bear, and he just had to get through one more month of sleeping with this girl while providing no information about himself, and the spell would have been broken and he could be a person full time again.

But now the girl, having exactly zero information about what was going on and what was expected of her, has screwed up. So he has to go to a land east of the sun and west of the moon to marry his evil troll stepmother’s evil troll daughter.

Stepmom comes, boy and castle disappear, girl is left alone in the snow. End Part One.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Conservative Christian's Guide to Not Sucking: Love

My first memory is of a little boy in a red shirt. My second and third and fourth memories are of church.

A lot of people are leaving the church these days, especially people my age. And honestly, I’m more likely to sleep in most Sundays.

It’s not about God. It has nothing to do with my faith.

I think it’s worse if your parents are pastors. I think it’s worse if you’re from a small church.

See, my early memories aren’t of sitting in a pew while adults drone on. I remember being in basements for Bible study, playing with dolls on the floor. When I get bored they set aside their Bibles to hold me. A prayer meeting turns into a birthday party, with a Barbie princess themed cake. The people at church often babysit me. I love them. They’re my friends. They’re my family.

And then they’re not.

That’s the problem with being the pastor’s family. You’re born into it, and you don’t realize what it means. Not until it’s much too late.

There will always come a time when you are set apart. Something in the church goes wrong. Your family has to move on. You have to leave. And they never call, and on the streets when you see them they don’t smile, and everything is over. Everything is gone.

You grow up, and you move far away, and you go to a church where you’ve never been what you always are—the pastor’s daughter.

And you stay there for months, and no one even learns your name, and you realize things will never be the same.

These people don’t love you. These people are not your family.

And even if they were, what then? What’s the use in loving, when the people who love you always leave?

I have plenty of good church memories, but they always end when people ditch me, and everything is tainted by the sting of abandonment and betrayal. And it’s been eight years but I still don’t quite know how to forgive. And I’m so afraid to let a church be my home again, because it hurt so much when I ended up alone.

So. A word of advice for those concerned about young people leaving the church: if you remembered how to love us every day, maybe we wouldn’t have to leave.

You cast us aside so easily.

The second church family I lost, it was because some people were mad at my dad. It was nothing even to do with me. But they vanished from my life like I was nothing.

I wasn’t allowed to go to a movie theater until I was eleven, because someone at church disapproved, which is unimportant in the long run, but it’s always troubled me.

I thought you loved me. You thought the big screen was sinful.

I never expected any of you to be perfect, but eight years later I’m still stumbling beneath the weight of the pressure that was the unspoken center of my childhood. Be good. Be better. Be perfect. Be the kid that all the other kids can look up to like their parents look up to your dad, and the moment either of you fails to be flawless enough all bets are off.

Here is the thing you have to understand: you drive us away.

Your response to mistakes and disagreements is rejection. Every time.

Here is what the church becomes to me, on a Sunday morning as I think of getting up and dressed and going. Church is about being turned away at the door because your skirt is too short. It is walking in with tattoos and shoddy clothes, walking right out again to escape the disapproving, judgmental, even frightened stares. It is your baby left undedicated because you are an unwed teenage mother. It is a pastor refusing to perform a marriage because it will never last. (Forty years later they prove him wrong.)

What we learn from our mistakes in church is mostly that Christians cannot be trusted. It has little to do with God.

How can you honestly say you want to reach new people when you actively drive away the young and confused ones you already have? We were born in the church. You never even had to reach us. You only had to keep us. And you failed.

I used to take unconditional love for granted. Now, it mostly makes me laugh, since it’s either that or cry.

I would love to be in church on Sunday. Give me a reason. Give me love. Give me trust. Make me feel safe, and maybe I’ll come back.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Eve's Children

As I have mentioned in the past on multiple occasions, the Grimms’ version of God needs to Chill. Additionally, I am presenting this story as further textual evidence that the Grimms absolutely did not wander the countryside collecting tales from peasants.

So Adam and Eve are at home with the kids. A lot of kids. (No word on whether this is before or after the Cain and Abel fiasco.) And God decides to come over for a visit.

Now Eve wants to show off how well she’s doing after being kicked out of Eden. So she hides all her ugly, stupid kids in the basement, and gets the good ones dressed up to meet God.

And God is all like, wow, Eve, what a great batch of kids. I’m going to make them kings and queens and priests and governors.

Eve’s pretty pleased with this result, so she figures she’ll get the rest of the family out of the basement, see what cool stuff He’ll do with them.

And God’s like, well, I’m all out of good jobs, so they can be beggars and stable cleaners and stuff, I guess.

And that’s it. That’s the story.

“God made us rich and powerful because we were smarter and prettier than you.”

“Poor people are ugly and stupid and God doesn’t love them.”

What about “The meek shall inherit the earth?” What about “The first shall be last and the last shall be first?” What about “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God?”

And you expect me to believe you got this off one of those basement kids? Yeah, not unless you asked them in front of the king or something.

Jacob. Wilhelm. Guys. Come on. This story is not biblically sound, and your source material is a blatant lie.

-6/10. Very poor work. You’ve disappointed us all, dudes. You’ve disappointed us all.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Enchanted Trunk (Schonwerth)

So we’ve got a king. This king is the father of a rambunctious little boy. He’s also the owner of a magic flying trunk. You see where this is going, right? Insert prince in trunk, insert trunk in tree halfway across the world.

Now for all his rambunctiousness, our prince is apparently quite a sensible little boy, because the first thing he does, upon finding himself alone in a strange land, is climb down from the tree and go to learn a trade. He becomes a cobbler, which is convenient as he can continue to replace the fantastic red shoes he arrived in as his feet get larger.

In this new kingdom, there is also a king. He has a daughter, and because he sucks, she gets to spend her life locked up in a tower, Rapunzel-style.

But our boy has a flying suitcase, so visiting is not a problem. At least not until the king notices his daughter is a lot happier than someone in complete solitude should be, and tars up the windowsill, Cinderella-style.

(Whoever gave this man a fairy tale collection should be shot.)

Naturally, one of the distinctive red shoes gets stuck on the sill and left behind. And proving once and for all that he is a despicable sneak, the king announces that he’s had a change of heart and is going to let his daughter marry whoever was clever enough to get up into her tower.

Then, when our shoemaker prince comes forward to claim his footwear, the king preps to have him and the princess burned at the stake.

(Have I mentioned that he sucks?)

Well, you can probably guess what happens next. Deus ex luggage! The trunk flies in, grabs the kids, and whisks them away, back to the prince’s parents. After a decade or two, they’re pretty glad to see him, and everyone lives happily ever after.

14/10. Ridiculous. Magnificent.  Great work, Schönwerth. Excellent first impression.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

New Year, No Spoons, Schonwerth

I had a lot of big plans for things to launch in the New Year, but alas, I forget to take into account that the changing of the calendar would not make me magically cease to be mentally ill overnight. I haven’t so much as caught a glimpse of a passing spoon in weeks.

Also, I’ve got a largish project going for a client, so that’s going to slow me down even when my brain does get itself back in order.

So what I have for now is this: There are a few fairy tale rants I threw together before Christmas and New Year’s, and a couple poems, which will all be trickling out slowly as I try to work up the energy for writing more. For those of you supporting me on Patreon, Lindworm is almost completely posted. I know it’s been a bit of a hassle to read on this platform, but once the last chapter is up, I’m planning on posting the entire thing as a PDF; please feel free to bug me if I forget, as I have been beyond spacey these last few weeks.

My hopes are still to release another poetry collection by this summer, and it will be a full book, more like Goodbye or Avalanche than like thin. Please remember that while I have novels, and not only Lindworm, that I intend to publish, I am waiting until I have saved enough money to buy my own ISBNs and start a publishing company. I appreciate your support, both on Patreon and in buying my poetry books, as I work toward that goal.

Lastly, we need to talk about Schönwerth.  Franz Xaver von Shönwerth collected fairy tales in Bavaria in the 1850s, and five hundred of these were discovered in an archive in 2009. I’ve got the first English translation, which contains a fairly small selection of the whole, but every single one of them is amazing. They follow a lot of the patterns that most folktales share, but the deviations are delightful and absurd, and I figured you guys should have a heads-up because I’m planning on talking about these stories a lot.