Tag Archives: Books

Reading Outlook for 2018

I have a lot of books I want to read. Not surprising, right? But sometimes, that fact becomes ridiculously overwhelming, especially when I’m trying to decide what to read next. With the goal of reading at least 40 books this year (but hoping for more), I wanted to make a list of the books that, ideally, I’d love to enjoy throughout the year, including rereading some series to prepare for a new book, finally reading authors I’ve been meaning to for months (and sometimes years) and continuing to read series that I enjoy. Below is a list of the books I hope to read. I’m curious what the total number is going to be…

Series To Complete

The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett

  • The Daylight War 
  • The Skull Throne 
  • The Core 

The Shattered Kingdom by Evie Manieri

  • Blood’s Price (reread)
  • Fortune’s Blight
  • Strife’s Bane 

Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch

  • The Republic of Thieves
  • The Thorn of Emberlain


The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica by James A. Owen

  • Here, There Be Dragons
  • The Search for the Red Dragon
  • The Indigo King 
  • The Shadow Dragons
  • The Dragon’s Apprentice
  • The Dragon’s of Winter (never read)
  • The First Dragon (never read)

The Kingkiller Chroncile by Patrick Rothfuss

  • The Name of the Wind (10th anniversary edition)
  • The Wise Man’s Fear 

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

  • The Way of Kings
  • Words of Radiance
  • Oathbringer (never read)

Twelve Houses by Sharon Shinn

  • Mystic and Rider
  • The Thirteenth House
  • Dark Moon Defender 
  • Reader and Raelynx
  • Fortune and Fate

New Series

The Fitz and The Fool trilogy by Robin Hobb

  • Fool’s Assassin
  • Fool’s Quest
  • Assassin’s Fate

Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

  • Assassin’s Apprentice 
  • Royal Assassin
  • Assassin’s Quest 

Solider Son by Robin Hobb

  • Shaman’s Crossing
  • Forest Mage 
  • Renegade’s Magic 

On the Bones of Gods by K. Eason

  • Enemy
  • Outlaw

Birch Hall Romance by Kathleen Kimmel

  • A Lady’s Guide to Ruin
  • A Gentleman’s Guide to Scandal

More Books

  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
  • Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
  • The Kraken King by Meljean Brooks
  • The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
  • Storm and Steel by Jon Sprunk
  • Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk
  • A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
  • Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare
  • The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
  • Nevermore by Rob Thurman
  • Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
  • Blood of Assassins by RJ Barker
  • The Deviant Heir by Melissa Caruso
  • A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
  • Outriders by Jay Posey
  • Blood Requiem by Christopher Husberg

Image result for reading photography

As you can see, my heart will now and always belong to fantasy, yet I threw in some romance, sci-fi and steampunk for good measure. And that list doesn’t even include rereading series like The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher or The Camulod Chronciles by Jack Whyte. Or rereading every book that Tamora Pierce has ever written, because that’s way overdue. Or the slew of books that I’m waiting to get published this year, by authors like Brent Weeks, Joe Zieja, Curtis C. Chen and company (which I know I’ll read, even if they aren’t on this list at the moment). And the plethora of novels and authors I know I’m forgetting, but deserve to be on this list.

Yet, just listing out some of the books I already own and picking out some of the most recently added from Goodreads, with the list of books I hope to read this year (and a goal of 40 books), if I read them all, I’d be reading a total of…

54 books.


Time to get reading, shall we?



Defeating the Brain

So, writing and your brain. Your brain is, arguably, the biggest asset to assist telling and crafting your stories. It also, not surprisingly, is your biggest enemy. One that I’ve been battling–and losing to–for the past six, seven months. There are three main areas, I think, where my brain has created mindsets and thoughts detrimental to my writing game, to the point where I easily went weeks without writing at all.

I’m writing this post to remind myself how to fight back.

Mindset One: Writing is Work

I mean, yes. I know there is a stigma that writing is easy or maybe even a waste of time, but both of those are absolute lies. Writing takes a lot of work. Sure, it could be defined as simple: put words together until they form coherent sentences that tell a story. But there is a lot of finessing involved. There are a lot of drafts, returning to and reworking what was previously written. And, personally, I think the fact that you have to constantly battle your own head–and that battle usually doesn’t stop even after you’re published and doing well–makes it one of the hardest jobs of all. So, yeah, writing is work. Writing takes work. But what I’ve been struggling with is treating writing like work.

Image result for writing is hard

Hold a moment, lemme explain.

I recently started editing ARTEMIS again. Last week, I opened up my latest draft, scrolled down to the chapter I last left off on with every intention of working on it again. But then I realized that chapter needed a lot of work. It was filled with repetition of ideas and information that needed to be resorted, cut and most likely reworded. There wasn’t enough detail to truly put the reader in-scene and I needed to figure out what the point of that chapter was, really. Knowing all of that needed to happen after reading just the opening line of the scene, I actually closed the draft and decided to work on it the next day. I just wasn’t in the mood to try and figure that shit out. In that moment, I was viewing writing as work.

Let’s look at that scenario from a different angle, for a moment.

Those issues still exist in that chapter. But instead of looking at it as, “Shit, I need to ground readers in-scene and add in all of this description,” how about: “Alright, let’s see how interesting I can describe this room layout. What do I see? What do readers need to see? How is it important? What does it tell? Let’s put all that into words as beautifully as I know how.” Okay, let’s try again. “Wow, this chapter just told me X three different ways in three different paragraphs over five pages. This chapter is everywhere, without any focus. I’m going to have to rewrite the entire thing.” Instead: “How about I make an outline of what this chapter needs to convey and then figure out how Artemis would logically tell it. Let’s make some beats and rework the info that way. Oh, and don’t forget to incorporate his humor. It’s one of your favorite aspects of his character.”

The work hasn’t vanished. The work still definitely needs to be done. But when I think of it as work, I’m definitely not as eager to complete it, sometimes to the point that I choose not to do it at all (a luxury I have considering my writing doesn’t pay the bills yet). Yet when I think of it as an opportunity, as a challenge, to improve my writing to another degree, to push myself that much further, to give this story everything it deserves and more; I’m not only more eager to work on it (most of the time), but I also enjoy it.

Last night, I finally returned to that chapter. At first, I reread that opening line and I just wanted to pull up another tab and start browsing through social media. I didn’t want to put in that work. But I just forced myself to keep reading, thinking in the back of my head, How can you make this better? And how can you have fun while doing it? I ended up not only “finishing” editing that entire chapter, but I also wrote for almost two hours–a lot longer than the planned 30 minutes I wanted to edit.

It’s a simple change in mindset, a simple change in how I view the work I’m doing. But it’s a trick that actually helps overcome this pesky brain of mine.

Mindset Two: Editing Doesn’t Count

This is stupid.

So I’ve had a writing drought recently. And though the past two weeks, I’ve slowly been getting back into the swing of things by editing ARTEMIS, my brain will sometimes whisper that I’m still fully stuck in my rut, because I’m not writing anything new. Editing something I’ve already written doesn’t count.

Again: stupid.

Of course editing counts. Hell, I often find myself working harder when I’m on draft two or three of something than when I was just spitting out nonsense the first time. I don’t have any tricks to crush this idea (it’s been rather persistent, of late), except to remind myself that it’s ridiculous. I’m putting words to paper. I’m strengthening the foundation I laid months ago. I’m rewriting, adding new scenes, cutting, re-envisioning…yeah, it bloody counts as writing.

Mindset Three: Fear and Doubt

This one is as infuriating as it is constant and confusing. I’ve always had fears when it comes to my writing: wondering if it’s good enough, if my stories are worthy to tell, if they are unique, if they’d ever sell. I fear getting publishing and reading reviews claiming my writing is shit, my characters are boring or my plot is trash. I fear offending/misrepresenting people/ideas unintentionally with what I write or what my characters do/believe. I fear never getting published.

And then there are the doubts.

I doubt the quality of my work. I doubt my ability to tell stories. I doubt that any of my ideas are original. I doubt my ability, my craft, my execution, my effort, my drive, my heart, my characters, my plots, my worlds, my voice…myself.

Image result for suffer so much fear and doubt GIF

Pair fear and doubt together and that equates to a lot of time doing anything but writing. Ironically, it’s easy for me to bury my biggest fear underneath all aforementioned: giving up and never writing again.

Honestly, I think I need to focus on that fear a bit more. Because it is real and it is fierce, even if I hide it underneath all of these other fears and doubts that plague me more often they should. Yet how can I ignore that fear and risk it coming true just because I doubt myself sometimes? Just because I am afraid I won’t live up to my own standards of storytelling, my own expectations of myself; afraid of a negative review (which will always happen, no matter how fantastic a story I write), afraid of rejection or hell, afraid I won’t ever be published at all?

Here’s the thing about writing and being a writer. I’ll always have stories to tell. If I run out, I’ll always find things to draw inspiration from. If I mess up one book, I will always have another chance to do better. If I perfect a book, I’ll still have a chance–and an expectation–to improve. Failure and hiccups are inevitable. Yet how many characters have I read, let alone written, who have been faced with impossible odds and make a dozen mistakes–sometimes even failed drastically–only to come out victorious in the end? No matter how many times their brains told them it was impossible, they pushed forward.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Push forward and write stories, no matter how many times or how many ways my brain tries to convince me to do to otherwise.


Harsh Personal Truths

Months have passed since I began questioning my identity–and my claim–as a writer. Since November, I’ve struggled to write anything, which has hit me harder than it ever has before. Back when I really started writing more consistently (and tentatively say seriously), I’d still always go months without writing anything, before picking a project back up or starting something new.  And it never really bothered me. I never questioned whether I was a writer or not. I got busy. Life got in the way. I was in school, which got harder and busier with every passing year. Not writing for months just made sense.

Then, last year, I wrote four books.

I’ve never been so productive writing in my life. And it felt amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more whole, when writing was my norm, something that I structured everything else around; the main aspect in my life that took precedence. I think that’s why these past few months struggling to write, hating what I’ve written when I do, or–the worse of it–choosing not to write at all out of fear, have been so difficult to me; so difficult, in fact, that I’ve begun to feel false when I claim to be a writer.

How can I be a writer if I’m not writing?

Sure, I’ve written books. Half a dozen of them. Sure, I have ideas for more and plans to write them. Sure, I’m part of a short story blog and have been writing those, but short stories have never been my medium. Novels are. So can I still call myself a writer if I allow months to go by and not work on what I’m most passionate about? If I give into fear? If I choose to do other things instead of write?

I’m not sure.

I know everyone will have their own opinion on this. And if you’ve been in a writing rut like me, I don’t want you to think my judgments I’m placing on myself should also be placed onto you. Each of us has our own definition and parameters as to what qualifies us to be labeled writers. And I’m discovering, lately, that for me personally, when I’m not writing, I feel like a fraud based on my own definition. A writer writes. Period. Maybe not every day–I will never deny the power that life has and its uncanny ability to get in the way. But they try. Oh, do they try. Certainly much more than I have these past few months.

I’ve also discovered I hate feeling like a fraud–especially when it’s associated with the aspect of my identity that I feel is most truly me.

Luckily, I also know how to fix that: by writing.

Currently, I’m about to undergo the first round of edits over ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE VIRTUOUS MARRIAGE QUEST. And I certainly count editing as writing. I’m excited about these edits. But ever since I started planning out these edits–almost a month ago–that fear, that sense of falsehood, that disconnect between my identity and my actions, has still lingered. Even now, as I finish this post, with every intention to go and work on revamping my first chapter after I finish this, m heart is filled with fear. Fear of what? I’m not truly sure. But I do know that I loathe that feeling. And I miss the elation of writing. I miss the dedication I had. I miss creating worlds that I fall in love with and characters that become true friends. I miss stumbling upon narratives that I never planned in my outline, yet excite me more than anything I could have ever plotted. I miss storytelling. I miss the details, the environments. I miss challenging myself. I miss how dark my stories become, threaded with gore and littered with tombstones–just as much as I miss how they are always glistening with stubborn hope and positivity, despite the darkness.

So, please excuse me as I go search for that elation once more. Because I’m a writer, dammit. And writers write, despite.


I’m Not Serious About This, Am I?

Last year, I wrote a post in February where I talked about my writing goals for the upcoming year. If you fancy a trip down memory lane, hit up here. Before I write any more of this post, I’m going to go read that one and see how I stacked up.

*reads the post with a mixture of head nods and wincing*

Basically, I had three major goals and a couple of minor goals that I wanted to complete. Oddly enough, I accomplished (and surpassed) all of the major goals while not even attempting any of the minor ones. While I did edit the third book in Darryn’s trilogy, it didn’t make it to the querying stage, but instead, has a date with Major Revision and Madam Editing that I keep postponing because, quite frankly, the workload scares me a bit. I wanted to finish a draft of THE RESISTANCE, my science fiction novel adapted from a screenplay, which I did and it’s now in the hands of beta readers. The first book in Artemis’s saga was slotted to be halfway written by Christmas. I finished the first draft of that sucker three months ago. Not only that, but it’s also already in the hands of betas and I am itching for their feedback, so I can start editing away and getting this story query ready (because out of everything, Artemis’s story is the one I’m most excited about). Considering I met all my major goals three months earlier than my deadline, I then started working on a new story, which I’m about 60 pages into (and have hit roadblock after roadblock trying to continue).

Looking back at my goals and seeing how many of them I actually achieved, even amidst the ones I didn’t even touch (but still want to…eventually), is such a needed realization right now. Because I’m attempting to balance life again as I take on more commitments and writing has been shoved aside. Not to mention that I’ve felt horrible that sometimes, I don’t want to work on the story I have been writing, even though I am so excited about its premise. Or I get so stuck that I’m unsure whether or not I should be writing this story to begin with. You know, the typical doubting-my-stories-or-that-I’m-even-a-writer train.

Yet look what I accomplished. Despite being in a drought right now, look at what I’m able to do. Just because the words aren’t flowing and time isn’t agreeing with me now doesn’t mean that it is always going to be this way–exactly the lie my anxiety feeds me every day I don’t write. But that simply isn’t the case. This time of year, with the holidays, is always hectic and crazy. Adding on another job and being forced to work exhausting hours for the next month is obviously going to impact my writing output.

But that doesn’t mean that the future is going to hold the same truth.

So, next year, here is a list of writing goals I’d like to accomplish, on top of all of the other goals that I also plan to tackle.

(And yes, I am dead serious about these goals.)

Edit Like it’s my Mantra: 

  • I have a trilogy than needs revamping and potentially revisioning. I have two other books (one standalone with series potential and another the start to a massive nine book series) out with betas, whose feedback has been and will continue to trickle in with the new year. If I can ever finish a draft of BLOOD PRICE, that’ll also need some intense editing (I already have an entire Word doc with notes of what I  want to edit). That’s six books, friends, that need some special attention, love and care. Out of those, Artemis’s story will be the first one I’m working on. Then Grayson’s. Then Darryn’s. And then Natanni’s. I have a new method of editing, I think, too, that I’m going to try (look out for a blog post detailing that in the coming weeks).

I could spend the entire year next year and dedicate it to editing and have plenty to fill up the time I dedicate to my stories. And while I enjoy editing sometimes, there is still the blessed fact that even when I’m in horrible writing slumps, my brain refuses to stop creating stories it wants me to struggle to tell. So while editing past books, I hope a couple hopes to write new ones.

Listening to the Voices Inside my Head:

  • One is a standalone that is very, very rough at the moment, but it deals with ideas surrounding appearance, status, wealth, rank and forced routine in a steampunk, futuristic society. I have the vaguest inklings of what this story is about, but they are inklings that have stayed with me for a long time and I can’t wait to take an afternoon and map out exactly where this story goes. Because I can see flashes of that world inside my head. And I want to know more about it.
  • Obviously, I’m itching to continue Artemis’s journey with book two. I have no idea which genre we’ll be slipping into or where the story will go from there, but I’m really freaking excited about wherever we end up.
  • This other idea, which is actually the first of a trilogy, is coming from very left field, being a New Adult contemporary piece called THIS IS WHERE I LOSE YOU. I have this one pretty well mapped out in my head and while it is completely different from what I usually write (contemporary instead of fantasy, first person instead of third, NA instead of A, romance instead of adventure), this is the one that is speaking to me most at the moment. So I have to write it. I have to tell Savannah’s story.
  • I also have a series of standalones that I want to write under a pen name. While I’m not sure if I will start on it this year or not, it is something that is sitting in the back of my mind. And that’s all I say about that. *evil laughter*

Here’s a very rough, very vague timeline of when I’d ideally like to accomplish all of these things.


  • By March: Have ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE VIRTUOUS MARRIAGE QUEST edited and prepped to query.
  • By April: First draft of THIS IS WHERE I LOSE YOU written.
  • By June: Have THE RESISTANCE edited and prepped to query.
  • By July: QUERY!
  • By August: Have BLOOD PRICE edited and sent to betas.
  • By September: Have first draft of book two (Artemis) written.
  • By November: Have first draft of really rough idea (futuristic steampunk) written.
  • By December: Form a game plan surrounding Darryn’s edits and make it through at least one round with all three books. Find betas after new direction edits.
  • By December: Have first book by pen name written.

As you can see, there is no time to dedicate to simply editing. Look at all the stories vying for my attention (honestly, these voices are downright exhausting, at times)! And comparing these goals to the goals I had last year, I’m definitely upping the ante and setting high expectations for myself. But it is also giving me hope, even though I should be responding with complete and utter disbelief that any of this is possible; or perhaps groaning at how much work is ahead of me. Yet instead, I feel hope. A person who isn’t serious about their craft wouldn’t have goals like this. A person who couldn’t be a storyteller wouldn’t be bombarded with so many ideas and stories. A person who wasn’t a writer at heart wouldn’t get excited looking at all the worlds she’ll get to visit in the year ahead.

Yeah, I’m experiencing a drought right now. Yeah, I’m experiencing doubt. But that’s just temporary. There are stories to be told. And I’m the person to tell them. I see you, 2017. And I’m coming for you, pen wielded, fingers stained and fresh Word Docs begging to be filled.



Whoa, I think that’s the first all-caps title I’ve ever had. It’s a bit overwhelming, but it captures my emotions pretty well, so I’m keeping it.

A few minutes ago, I finally finished a full rough draft of my current work-in-progress, which as been tentatively titled THE RESISTANCE. It’s the work-in-progress I’ve been referring throughout the past few blog posts. Yep, the same work that I’ve been a chapter or two away from finishing for the past two weeks and thus, putting off finishing for the past two weeks. But it is done! And by done, I’m using the writer’s definition, which basically means it will never actually be done. Instead, I’ll continue to edit and edit until it finally becomes “good enough” and editing further would only hurt it. I already have a list of notes regarding aspects I want to change and worldbulding/scenes I need to add. The hardest part now will be waiting a solid month or so, starting around Independence Day, before I go back and touch this beauty. I want to start editing now. But, the story needs to breathe. The characters, which I know so well, need a chance to become less familiar, so that when  I go back to edit and improve come July, it will be with a fresher pair of eyes, which will enable me to catch more of my mistakes. And trust me, there are *plenty*.

It’s weird, being able to say I’ve written four books. (I just noticed it is the same number of tattoos I have…interesting). For some reason, four is just so much more substantial to me than three. Three is a hearty number, a very solid number. But four…perhaps it is because this is the first book that isn’t part of the trilogy that makes up the previous three, proving to myself that I’m capable of writing multiple stories and thus, have the promise of building a career. Perhaps four rings with slightly more accomplishment because it is a step closer to being a “real” author. It is a sign of my commitment to my work and my art. This book isn’t any more important than the three previous books–in fact, I think Darryn’s trilogy will always hold a very important place in my heart and I can never give up on him–but Grayson’s story has taught me a lot. And I think Grayson’s story has the potential, if I put in the work and do my research, to help me get that much closer to achieving my dream.

Grayson’s story started out a screenplay I wrote my senior year of college. The assignment was to write a full-length (60 page) screenplay. Mine ended up being 108 pages–the longest screenplay my professor had ever received and he was retiring after that year. Ironically, it is the shortest book I’ve written, falling just under 73,000 words. To be a contender, I need to add about 7-10K, whereas my previous trilogy, I need to cut roughly 10-25K from the first two books. *le sigh* But I’m not worried about the word count, though I stressed about it a lot as I was writing it. Instead, at this moment, I am so proud how the story has evolved and the future it has.

It is an adult science fiction about the extinction of humanity. Originally, it was planned as a stand-alone. The final scene–made more for the screen than the page, but works in both instances–is perfect to leave audiences questioning and not the least bit pissed off. I never had any plans for it to go anywhere else. But as I wrote and learned more about the characters, complications arose that made it necessary to set up a sequel, though expanding it into a trilogy…I’m not so sure. Yet the best part is that it still reads as a stand-alone with series potential and considering that is what agents want, that’s bloody exciting.

It’s a world that lacks color and is quickly running out of humans. In the fight not just for survival, but to continue as a species, it becomes difficult for the remaining survivors to determine who their real enemy is: the aliens that proved the catalyst to the Collapse, the droids that are the weapons of mass destruction, the single human that is the mastermind, or themselves. Throw in some betrayal, death (plenty of it), whispers of romance, grotesque scenes that made my toes literally curl as I wrote them and technology I don’t even fully understand, and there you have it: THE RESISTANCE.

I know this is a braggy blog post. I apologize if I am coming off as haughty or snobbish or self-centered. That is not my intention. It’s just I am so excited about this book. I am so excited that I am taking myself seriously as a writer and giving these stories the attention they deserve. Even if the moment directly after finishing the book was lackluster compared to the shaking, the sweating and the tears that followed finishing my first book, the joy and the excitement are still there; particularly when I realized that I can start plotting my next series, featuring a old man named Artemis Smith, broken dreams, a magic mansion and all the tropes and clichés you can think of. I’m SO excited to meet him and discover his story, as it has been knocking around inside my head for quite some time now. Plus, while plotting that, I’m going to return to Darryn’s story and work hard on figuring out how to make professional readers love him as much as I do. And I’m excited, despite the work involved there and this being the nth time I’ve edited this story, to return to that familiar world that I love so much.

Friends, I’ve written four books. It’s been roughly five years since I finished the first draft of book one. I have improved so much, but still have so much left to learn. But better yet, I still have so many stories to discover and write. I seriously can’t wait for you to read them one day. Thank you for the support and for being friends with a person who lives mostly inside her own head, stuck with the thoughts of other characters, and being willing to read my ramblings about them and the experiences that result through this blog. If my dream ever comes true (and I’m stubborn enough to believe that it will), at the end of the day, it will all be because of you.


Lessons Learned Living Solo: Embrace the Nerd

At the ripe young age of 22, I finally got my first solo apartment. I lived on campus all four years of my undergrad, so upon getting accepted to an out-of-state MA program, I knew I wanted to try out living off-campus, on my own. A lot of my friends were like, “Really? You’re going to live by yourself, in the middle of nowhere?” Yep, that’s exactly what I was going to do. After living with at least 40 other women in the same hallway and over 700 residents in the same building for four years, I think I could handle living in a tiny studio by myself. One of the main reasons, though?

I could finally be completely and truly me.

Though that decision took a bit of thinking and reflection to reach. I have changed and learned a lot while in college, particularly about myself. One thing I have learned is that I’m a pretty nerdy kid. Okay, even that is an understatement: I am a huge nerd. But only in particular things. Just because I claim to be nerd doesn’t mean I can tell you how excited I am for the latest Star Wars installment (because I don’t like Star Wars ((I know, gasp gasp))) or can give you Harley Quinn’s back story from memory (sorry, not into comics…yet), like nerds “should” be able to do. What are some of the nerdy things I enjoy? I am so glad you asked (as you groan inwardly…or outwardly, no judgement).

Some of the things that I am nerdy about include: books. I love books, I love reading, I love fantasy, I love owning books, I love walking into a bookstore and smelling books. My Christmas list usually is made up of a list of author’s names and the books I either haven’t read by them yet or the books I have read, but don’t own yet. Last Christmas was one of my favorite Christmas’s ever, because basically it consisted of: my traditional dragon figurine and LOTR collectable (I always get one of each for Christmas and it is amazing), PS3 games and books (included ALL of Rob Thurman’s works; BOOM). I was so enthusiastically happy (even though, unfortunately for my parents, I don’t show it very well).

Which brings me to another nerdy obsession: dragons. I love them. They are my favorite animal, besides wolves. I think they are so majestic and powerful. I love reading about them and learning about them, plus collecting figurines. I have a good half a dozen and they are ah-maze-zing. Then, LOTR. Tolkien, in general, tbh. He is my greatest obsession. I love him so much, I read (and buy) books written about him. My undergraduate thesis was about him and his works. My MA thesis? Guess what, same topic. My collection is borderline scary. I can also quote the LOTR films verbatim, have read LOTR more than once (of course) and most of my apartment is decked out in LOTR-related awesomeness. Plus, I plan to learn Tenqwar (woot!).

That’s not it, either. I love movies, of course, but I am also a big gamer. RPG games FTW. My favorites include: Kingdom HeartsDragon Age, Skyrim, any LOTR-related game, Baldur’s Gate, etc. And because I’m a creative writer and hardcore reader, when I play these types of games (particularly Skyrim and the Dragon Age franchise), I get so into them that I based my decisions upon what I would do in real life (for example, in Skyrim, I refuse to pickpocket or join the Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood because I think it is amorale; don’t worry, my brother gives me plenty of crap about it). Or, another example, again from Skyrim, I consider my first housecarl Lydia such a good “friend,” that any time she dies, I go back and load the last save, no matter how much progress I lose. Because that’s what good friends do. But I don’t only play games, I also write about them, mainly fanfiction. And, I recently applied to write for an online gaming magazine to write opinion pieces (and watch out if they actually hire me, because I have some opinions, gaming studios!)

So, what’s the point of this nerdy post (besides getting the chance to brag about some of my favorite things, which just makes me happy). When I moved into my apartment, it had a small amount of space for me to utilize, but it was the first space since I was in high school that I could completely make as my own. When I was contemplating how I wanted to decorate it, I was slightly torn: should I make it look really nice and classy, since I’d be bringing the new friends I’d hopefully make, or maybe even colleagues or students, back there, and it should look nice? Or, should I go all out and completely nerd out, showing off all the obsessions that, on the surface, some might not realize I am so passionate about?

I went with the latter, much to my pleasure.

Moving out onto my own, to a place where I can completely reinvent myself, if I wanted to (considering I literally know no one), I am happy to report that I decided to completely embrace the person that I already am: the mega nerd that I didn’t always let fully express herself. When people meet me here, I want them to know my passions and how nerdy I truly am. Because I am proud of that fact. And I started that expression with decorating the apartment, which is complete with: two massive, five-shelf bookshelves that home almost all my books; a PS3 and all my favorite games; my entire LOTR collection, which is the main display and is great; all of my dragons and fairies serve as my decor; and in my kitchen, I didn’t care that all of my plates and bowls are decorated with skeletons or Halloween-themed awesomeness. And as I slowly start shopping (once I get money) I’m not going to look for “normal” things. Or things “adults” would normally buy. I’ll look for things that I would truly love, even if other people would think it was weird. For example, I have ordered a LOTR minimalist posters. Discovered I needed coasters? What about Skyrim shields? Need a new tank top? They have an awesome Dragon Age Quanri tank to wear to the gym. New perfume? I found a website that sells perfume based on your RPG class (I literally nerded out hardcore). Need a second job? Library, Hastings and a gaming magazine were all on the list to apply for.

Basically, I am so happy I had this chance to move out on my own, because it opened my eyes to a choice: the choice to change myself to fit societal standards/expectations or to truly embrace the woman I have grown into (even if it fits the profile of a teenage boy more than a MA-bound college female) and actually love. If I want to spend my day off in Thedas via the PS3, I should do it. If I want to decorate my home with things that most people won’t get unless they are part of the fandom, BOOM, done. If I want to listen to Tobuscus Literal Trailers on repeat for an hour (or longer) while I wrote a blog post (like this one, for example) and not be ashamed that I know most of them verbatim, then I will embrace that. To my close friends, being a mega nerd is no surprise. But to outside friend groups or most of the world, that may not be that obvious. But it is a huge part of my identity, just as important in defining me as, say, my straight-edge lifestyle, my screamo music taste or my love for Christ. But sometimes, I’m not very good at showing any of these things, including my nerdiness.

Well world, I’m not afraid or ashamed to show off this very real part of me. So get ready to be bombarded. As my apartment is nicknamed proudly, Welcome to my Nerdtopia. I hope it doesn’t scare you (too much). 😉