Sunday Musings #1

Image from Pixabay

I’m starting a new column on my blog called “Sunday Musings.” This is where I will share insights into my publishing and writing journey this year and these will publish every Sunday. I hope to avoid focusing in granular detail on my emotional state and my word counts and instead offer useful and engaging posts about creating with mental health issues, creativity and productivity in general, publishing, marketing and the like.

This last week I learned the importance of sleep for your creative mindset. After having an extremely productive week I guess I just needed a week of laziness. But seriously, it’s difficult to be productive when you’re tired all the time. You have to force yourself to get to the computer and the excuse of “I’m too tired” becomes all the more compelling.

Sleep and the creative mindset: Check. I need to be better about having an evening routine and winding down electronics before bed. I am experimenting with writing for an hour after dinner in the evenings; sometimes it can be overstimulating, as I go to bed with my mind racing with ideas for my stories.

Meditation and reading essays, short stories and poems would help with that.

I turned things around and wrote this weekend, mainly focusing on a story I am serializing to Patreon before releasing it on Kindle Vella in my grand experiment in web publishing for 2022. It’s the tale of a werewolf reporter who moves back home to help his pack investigate a series of murders, only to find himself falling for the local homicide detective. Added about 3,000 words yesterday and 1,566 today, meaning I was able to schedule posts out for three episodes, significantly reducing the pressure.

I actually am really enjoying this web publishing game; I find it’s not really that much pressure, in fact. I’m having loads of fun with it. I’m still editing myself and giving it my best, of course; but it’s different than publishing a book. Got its own special magic. It’s part of my efforts at building a platform this year and attracting new audiences for my writing.

Speaking of platforms, I also need to think some more about reinventing my newsletter. Everyone says email marketing is where it’s at, but I’ve found more success with my blog than with my newsletter. People just don’t subscribe. I skipped doing a January update because I’m dreaming up some changes for more engaging content. I just read Mary Oliver’s essay collection Upstream and I’m considering doing something like that. Creative nonfiction expounding on the creative life and nature sounds interesting to me.

I’m feeling good about the week ahead on this Sunday, now that I have written all weekend. My goal is to keep working on my horror novel, which I have ignored far too long, and finally hit 50,000 words. I have an idea for the ending at last so that’s not what’s stopping me. Guess I just get distracted by all these shiny other projects and ideas. Curse of the writer, eh?

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Today’s publications

Image from Pixabay

I’ve published a weird gothic short story on my Ko-fi: The Vicious Sky This one’s free but tips are appreciated.

I’ve also published Episode Six of CRY WOLF, my werewolf crime drama with a dash of queer romance (with a love triangle forthcoming!) exclusively for $3 a month Patreon supporters. In another month or two I hope to start releasing it on Kindle Vella.

December newsletter published!

My December edition of Bizarre Ink is now out in the wild! Read it here and be sure to subscribe for future updates!

Inside you’ll find updates on my writing projects, a roundup of links to short stories and blog posts I have published in December, and a free look at episode one of CRY WOLF, the werewolf story I am serializing to Patreon.

Thanks for all your support this last year, and here is to 2022!

My Top 10 Books of 2021

As you can see I have been pushing these last two weeks to squeeze in a few more book reviews at the end of the year and make a final crunch of progress on my Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge, but I am going to call it quits for the year at 44 books. I am still pretty pleased with myself. That is more than last year, which I believe was only 30. My goal had been 50, but that will just be next year’s target.  

For my last blog post of the year I will round up my top 10 favorites of those 44. I didn’t write reviews for all 44, as I go through phases of review fatigue where I need breaks from writing them. But this year I tried to see reviews as a sort of reading log, taking notes to remember what I read, and I kept them short and concise. That has helped me be more consistent with writing them. 

The first six months of 2021 I was trying to figure out a focus for this blog so I didn’t do a whole lot of book reviews. But the last six months of the year, I really got into keeping up with them. I find it’s an easy source of fresh blog content and if people like your taste in books, they’ll engage with you more. Book lovers are a wonderful community of folks from all walks of life. Without further ado…

My top 10 of 2021: 

Jade City by Fonda Lee

I’m currently reading Jade Legacy so expect that review in January. But Jade City is the start of the Green Bone Saga and it is simply fantastic. Asian-inspired epic fantasy with martial arts action and jade gemstones that give warriors wearing them special powers. Read my review here

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Space opera about the arrival of Ambassador Mahit Dzmare at the Teixcalaanli Empire to investigate the murder of her predecessor. I just love fantasy inspired by non Western cultures and there were some really great examples of that published the last few years. Read my review here

Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian

A wonderful literary epic set in China of the romantic and yet complicated early Communist past told in alternating points of view. 

All About the Benjamins by Zev Good

You rarely read self-published literary contemporary character studies anymore; it’s all vampire romances and cozy mysteries. So this was a refreshing change of pace about a family man who comes out as gay later in life. Read my review here

The Orchid and The Lion by Gabriel Hargrave

The best self-published book that was released in 2021 that I read all year. A wonderful erotic space opera about a femme gay sex worker and his trans man partner set against the backdrop of political intrigue. Read my review here.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

A wonderful, literary novella with more Asian-inspired fantasy. Read my Goodreads review here

Odessa by Jonathan Hill

A wonderful graphic novel epic following a family’s journey through a dystopian setting. Read my review here

Lonely Receiver by Zac Thompson

A graphic novel about love and what it means to be human or robot. Read my review here. 

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Finally got around to reading this grimdark classic. It’s an excellent study of a morally grey character, too. Read my review here

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri, #3) by Tarquin Hall

Lovely escapism in the form of a cozy mystery set in India following the travails of Indian PI Vish Puri. I definitely plan to read more of this series in 2022.

Looking ahead at next year’s reading goals

Thank you for reading my blog and following my reviews this year! Reading goals for next year include:

  • Read 50 books (1 book a week)
  • Be more consistent with posting reviews and keep them short and concise
  • Read more contemporary literary fiction (i.e. more Pulitzer and National Book Award winners, etc.). I get too fixated on science fiction and fantasy sometimes, immersed in the genres for my own writing and what I naturally gravitate to for pleasure reading, that I forget to expand my intellectual horizons.
  • Read more self-published authors; they always get a lot more engagement than traditionally published books do
  • Mix up my genres. I would like to keep reading epic fantasy trilogies but also historical fiction, mysteries and nonfiction.

Until next year, friends in literature! Thanks for coming along with me for the second year of this humble little blogging adventure of mine. More to come.

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Patreon has relaunched!

I’ve decided to relaunch my Patreon!

The main impetus for this was getting back into another passion of mine, boudoir and portrait photography, and needing a platform to post uncensored images. Turns out if you do not pay for some sort of web host, there are very few options for artistic nude content anymore. I will also post nature, landscape and other photography.

Additionally, I will be writing short stories and poetry, mostly with themes of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

My commitment is to keep it going for 6 months at least. Hope you will join me!

Newsletter out, and I’m back on Patreon

Got a few updates for y’all! So I have decided to return to Patreon, and I will be using it as an outlet for weekly flash fiction stories exclusive to subscribers. Find my page here. I also explain why I decided to come back.

Also, I now have a Substack email newsletter! Find Bizarre Ink here. These are free monthly updates collecting links to my work on my various platforms, blog posts you might have missed but wanted to read, and updates on my writing progress for the month. I promise to only litter your email inboxes once a month. This replaces the monthly updates I used to publish for this blog. I will still announce every newsletter here as soon as it is out.

For this blog, I’m mainly planning book reviews, as well as some essays on mental health awareness, politics and philosophy, but you can read more about that in my newsletter.

Thank you as always for your support!

January Wrap-Up and Looking at a New Month

Been neglecting my blog a bit so I figured it was time for a new post. I’ve mostly been focusing on reviews. I decided to change up my review plans this year a bit. I will blog all my reviews, even the negative ones, but I am going to write shorter reviews. If I stick with 500 words or less, then perhaps they will feel less like work.


I wrote one longer short story in January and submitted it, got a rejection in four days. I may look at it again and rewrite it to submit elsewhere, or I might just move on to other ideas. My shorter fiction has languished because I am focusing on longer works this year.

The NaNoWriMo project I started in November, the steampunk WIP, I was still working on until last month, and that clocked in at about 30,700 words. I am not sure I have enough “steam” for it, however; the plot seems stuck. It is still the longest fiction manuscript I have written in years, even if it is incomplete. I have decided to put that aside for awhile to focus on novellas. I think a novella will be a good transition length between short stories and novels.

I started a dystopian novella for a submission call from Black Hare Press, but I’m not really feeling that either. I have about 5,000 words in it so far and I’m not sure that idea has legs. Sometimes you have to write it out to get a feel for it. I am working on another novella which I am more excited about. The theme is “weird gothic” and so far I seem the most committed to this one, so I am waking up early every day and adding my 5 a.m. 1,000 words to it. We will see where that one goes.

So for February I may not write any short stories at all. I may just focus solely on the novella. I just want to finish more projects this year. I’m not concerning myself with quotas. I want to finish projects and I want them to be good. It’s a lot of pressure thinking about what kind of novel or novella you want for your debut; it’s almost like focusing too much on first lines. But that’s okay. Sometimes you have to keep your expectations low. It’s going to be another year of existential dread, I think; just have to see writing as stress relief.


I am digging my moody nature series so I hope to keep shooting a set every one or two weeks. Getting on Instagram again has motivated me to keep shooting. If people post pictures of themselves socializing with others, I just unfollow or mute them. That’s why I quit the last time. I couldn’t take the visual proof of people’s reckless behavior in a pandemic. It’s like someone shoving ice cream in your face when you’re on a diet, even if they mean well and take safety precautions. Had to clean up house and start all over again.

But now, I have a different mindset about it. It’s just an excuse to keep shooting.

What I’m Reading

I am currently reading “A Memory Called Empire” by Arkady Martine, last year’s Hugo winner, and an ARC from Netgalley, “We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep” by Andrew Kelly Stewart. I decided with the traditionally published books, other than the ARCs, I will do wrapups of my favorites with short blurbs for reviews. You can also follow my reading progress and reviews I don’t post here on my Goodreads.

Personal goals

I’m proud of myself for staying consistent with my exercise this year. Since December I have worked out at least three times a week. I go on walks on my lunch break, and after work I use my stationary bike and lift weights for about 40 minutes. I use an app on my phone called Strong to record my reps. I also do yoga about one or two times a week, in the early morning before writing or after dinner. I’ve been doing that for about a year and I can definitely see a difference in my flexibility and balance, even just doing it once a week. It’s good cross-training with weight lifting.

When the weather gets warmer I hope to put more energy into running again, but for now I’m sticking with the stationary bike and hiking for my cardio. I want to add in four times a week for weight lifting because I have a tendency to skip leg day.

Other than that I hope to keep up with practicing music and my crafts. Both have languished lately but I need to renew my focus for them on weekends. I decided instead of fixating on what I don’t have and how hard it is to quarantine and how angry I feel about the behavior of others, I would instead focus on non-social activities I can do at home. Knit more, write more, be more creative. It’s not to “be more productive,” it’s to have something positive to focus on, for stress relief and self care. 2020 was all about rage. 2021 is about creative relief and building better habits.

That’s about all. Can’t believe it is February already. January seemed to last a million years…