In time of silver rain

The poem by Langston Hughes came to mind when I saw rain drops clinging to the branches this morning.

I read his poem and realized it was about spring. To me there are parallels from the beginning of greenery to the end of it. Some of the flowering trees of Spring are so colorful they bring Fall to mind. The berries on some Autumn trees make me recall Spring blossoms.

Poetry is not my forte, but I hope you will enjoy this poem I cobbled together as an autumnal follow up to “In time of silver rain“.

In time of silver rain,

The sky

Lets fall the autumn tears:

Tinny dying –

As leaves, their emerald shed.

Browns and scarlets descend.

Cyclical life

Spirals on,

Gales up,

Drifts down.

In time of silver rain-

Final repast

Before the chill-

Hoarding cozy comfort

Red squirrels, frenetic,

On ground yet soft

Scratch troves to shield treasures:

Acorns, crab apples, odd berries.

Anything to fuel them

Through Winter’s Bleak.

In time of silver rain,

When leaves

Fall off,

Spiral down.

Redshirts : The Tabletop Letters

Dear Readers,

For those of you who voted on Twitter regarding whether I should write about tabletop games or couch cooperative video games, u thank you very much.

Since tabletop games won out, I’ll start writing about them regularly. Previously (and I mean 2016!) I wrote a couple of game reviews. That had been my intention originally but I was very derailed.

I’ve been watching “Star Trek: Discovery” in anticipation of the upcoming season, and this put me in the mind frame for this game. Looking through the game collection this seemed like a good reboot for this part of the blog.

So here goes nothing for the card game Redshirts.

Redshirts’ tagline is, “To discover hazardous new planets. To contact psychotic civilizations. To eliminate your crew like no Captain has done before”.

This is a riff on the oft quoted mission statement of the Star Trek ship, the U.S.S. Enterprise. The Original Series and The Next Generation both began with swelling orchestration and stunning space images* as backdrops to the words:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!

In the spirit of inclusivity, by Patrick Stewart’s tenure as captain, the ending words were changed: “to boldly go where no one has gone before”.

*The Original Series has been remastered and the effects have been much improved since when I first watched it as it aired on the ScyFy channel.

The premise of the game revolves around the trope that redshirts (extras wearing a redshirt) die easily on Star Trek. In that iteration blue shirts were science and medicine, yellow was command and helm, and red was engineering and security. It does seem like wearing a redshirt makes one at risk, but this has been disproven as statistically wrong.

Each player “captains” a different ship and crew. To win the game, they must eliminate all of their crew cards by sending them on missions where they cannot succeed. Your opponents, however, may assist you once a mission is declared by providing equipment, location, or event cards from their hand or even utilizing some of their crew to help.

Below I’ve showcased various types of cards, but they would not be played in this layout.

There are some iconic Star Trek moments mentioned, and some general science fiction inspirations.

The art style of the cards reminds me of Sev Trek, an Australian parody I stopped reading a *long* time ago.

Much of the humor is tongue in cheek.

I find this game to be a lot of fun and will rate it on several categories: accessibility, mechanics, and engagement.

Accessibility. ⭐️⭐️🌑🌑🌑

I love this game BUT if you’ve not seen at least the movie reboot, then this game probably won’t appeal to you.

If you’ve watched The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager then you will be able to appreciate all the nuances of this game. Despite the release date of 2013, the 2001-2005 series Enterprise doesn’t seem to be referenced.

You can definitely still have a good time playing the game, but you won’t appreciate the humor.

Also, this game is probably not suitable for children. The humor features over the top cleavage, mini skirts (after all, The Original Series was fond of flashing female flesh), and some alcohol use.

Mechanics. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s a simple enough game with some of the backstabbing elements of Munchkin. The game does need some strategy but it’s not entirely luck of the draw: as an acceptable action within each turn you may tap a redshirt character card to “go to the ready room” to discard and swap out cards.

This game works as well with two players as it does with seven. Although, with seven, even the deluxe game feels like it could benefit from additional cards. Maybe I need the expansion?

Engagement. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌑

Even with seven players, it’s still not (usually) a drag to wait until your turn. Once each player declares a mission attempt and why the crew member attempting it is I’ll prepared, you have the opportunity to play cards. However, you have a five card hand so you do have to be strategic.

I will admit that we have played with a few people who were *sure* they were going to win. When they didn’t, they were spoil sports, so my goal of winning changed to ending the game. This has not typically been the case.

Sore losers, beware: this game can be unpredictable for all your conniving and careful planning.

Writer’s Log: Supplemental

This game is a lot of fun for the right group. I do think it has definite replay value since it is unpredictable. To win, you do need to be ruthless and tenacious, however.

Pick it up on Amazon. You know you want it! #notsponsored

Happy gaming! Play on!

Writers Tag

Okay, so I wasn’t tagged but I couldn’t resist. Sometimes we have to create our own opportunities. I read this on K. M. Allan’s blog and felt compelled to fill it out myself.

Thank you, Lorraine Ambers and Ari Meghlen for creating this.

The rules are simple:
• Post the Tag and Image on your blog.
• Thank whoever nominated you and link back to their blog.
• Mention the creators of the award and link back to their blogs.
• Nominate 6 bloggers and notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
Let the questions begin…

Name one novel that inspired you to write.

The Sea Sword by Adrienne Martine-Barnes. It was such an interesting fantasy take on the Hindu goddess Kali and I enjoyed it very much.

Since I do what I want (apparently), I’ll add two more books: Ursus of Ultima Thule by Avram Davidson and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

What’s your favorite genre to write and read?

Speculative fiction. I used to say I liked progressive fiction but the authors I enjoyed at the time became mostly erotica and less supernatural crime, which is what I really enjoyed. I believe that horror has the capacity to guide us away from ills in society and as individuals; science fiction helps us imagine a future worth achieving; and fantasy helps us answer “what if”.

Though it’s taken wildly out of context, these words by Dickens sum it up well:

Welcome, everything! Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter round the holly… where what is sits open-hearted! … On this day we shut out Nothing!

Do you prefer to write stand-alone or series?

I don’t know. Stories come to me and sometimes they are succinct and others? They are fractals. In the words of Whitman, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Use 3 words to describe yourself.

Mercurial. Diligent. Ambitious.

Reveal your WIP image that represents your MC or setting.

Okay, it’s more than one picture. I made this a while back but didn’t have a chance to use it.

How long did your first MS take to draft?

About three months.

Who is your author idol?

Neil Gaiman. He’s so creative, inspiring, and evocative. Some of his books have given me nightmares, which I know it doesn’t sound like that’s a good thing but it means it made such an impression that my subconscious had to process it. That’s powerful.

My screenwriting idol is Bryan Fuller. When I found out he was showrunning “American Gods”, I did a happy dance.

Share a writing memory that made you determined to carry on.

My first full length novel I wrote when I was seventeen. It was in response to a tragedy I experienced the year before: my sweet sixteen boyfriend died in front of me in an accident. As a teen this was devastating and the people around me were not supportive. The book was titled, Like a Sponge in Winter. I’ve been told it’s a terrible title. It comes from a line in the book where a supporting character tells the main character that during winter these freshwater sponges develop a hard exterior to stay alive but when spring returns the sponge softens again.

I then decided I wanted to write genre fiction instead. Yes, I enjoy literary fiction upon occasion but speculative fiction is my first love.

Tell us something surprising or unique about yourself.

I have a warped sense of humor. Not unique but I don’t think people expect it. In fact, my very first rejection was due to my humor. It was when I was a teen. I wrote a parody of Wuthering Heights, which definitely has some comically sketchy elements to it. I was told it was trashy and didn’t uphold their literary standard. I was so downtrodden that I deleted it. Yeah, I won’t do that again! Lesson learned.

My husband said I should say that I’ve been scuba diving in four different countries, which is true.

I took this picture of Caribbean Reef Sharks at about 100 feet down next to a wreck in the Bahamas last year – the “Ray of Hope” was the ship’s name. I love the way the sunlight dissipates through the water. Sharks are such misunderstood creatures and are so majestic.

Share the hardest part about being a writer and how you overcame it.

Rejection is the hardest part of being a writer for me. I suppose each rejection must be overcome by itself. Some are easier than others. A few days ago I received a particularly scathing letter wherein the agent wrote they didn’t like the concept, the beginning, or the writing. Well, then. There’s a quote from Dita Von Teese that comes to mind:

What’s your favorite social media and why? Share your link.

Twitter. I’ve enjoyed the writer’s culture since it’s so supportive.

Share some uplifting wisdom in six words or less.

Nothing’s perfect. Just do your best.

Here are my nominations:

1. Marquessa

2. K. Callard

3. Ariana Allen

4. Eric Klingenberg

5. Michael Kuester

6. Cathy Lynn Brooks


#IamMany I am a:
– sister
– daughter
– wife
– mother
– friend
– reader
– writer
– hiker
– home cook
– teetotaler
– #exclusivepumper
– vegetarian
– dreamer
– travel enthusiast
– scuba diver
– #trekkie
– #infj
– shy person!
– UU
– sweet tooth
– tea drinker
– coffee drinker
– hot cocoa drinker (basically I’m cold and like non-alcoholic warm drinks)
– balletomane

#IamMany things – too many to list. This hashtag is for “women to encourage women”. We all need encouragement, though. If this hashtag inspires you, please share your many facets with us – regardless of your gender identity or expression: those are multifaceted elements of humanity better enriched by removing cis limiters.

The Godly Chic Diaries

I AM MANY: A daughter. A sister. A friend. A Believer. A writer. A storyteller. A voracious reader. A rainbow lover. A sparkle fanatic, A joy spreader. A smile enthusiast. I am a student, forever. I am a secret introvert, A TV -binge watcher. A poet in my dreams. A creator of more than one thing. I am a founder and chairperson, I am unabashedly honest, I am sensitive. A dog-snuggler. I am a professional foodie and an amateur chef. I am a flower whisperer. A chocolate lover. A serious soul. I am JUST me…..#IamMany

#IamMany stands for women supporting women. Women encouraging women. Women sharing their skills , their wisdom with one another. Let us be proud of all the titles that we are, because NO woman is just one thing. We are multi – faceted. We are ALWAYS many!

How do you define you? What is your manifesto!…

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A Teflon Mind & a Haunting

Yesterday I read an article that made me rethink past traumas. This is an #ownvoices #metoo story, but it doesn’t get graphic.

One memory in particular has been haunting me, replaying through my mind of late. My first job contained my first experience of sexual harassment and slut shaming. I have had more than one instance of harassment in the work place BUT thanks to my first, have not reported any others due to fear of retaliation.

During a staff event, a coworker, we’ll call him Aaron (not his real name), touched me inappropriately. With both hands he grabbed my chest and squeezed almost as if he was honking a clown nose. I was so shocked he would do this that I didn’t know what to do. I immediately left and found a male friend of mine and stood next to him because I figured that Aaron would leave me alone if I was standing next to another guy. He did leave me alone for the day.

I did not lead this guy on. I had a boyfriend and he knew it. I didn’t flirt with him. I barely spoke to him. He was barely on my radar. I wore loose fitting clothes that were not revealing. He was just a creep.

I reported it to the manager as soon as he made time for me. The manager flat out said he didn’t believe me and that it was uncharacteristic of Aaron. He said he’d make a general announcement about flirting and physical contact, which he did do.

BUT he then scheduled me to work with Aaron. Right next to him. Aaron kept having issues and crises and I was expected to help him out by myself for long periods of time. He took every opportunity he could to touch me. He never grabbed my chest again but he leaned up against me and otherwise touched me as much as he could. I was terrified. He could have easily overpowered me. I was afraid to confront him, because I wasn’t sure what he’d do. So I ignored it the best I could. I wasn’t sure if arguing with him would be more exciting so I tried to shut him down the best I could.

AND the manager gave me the worst tasks. He singled me out and made my life miserable. While everyone else was at a company party, he pressured me into cleaning toilets because it needed to be done. Yes, it needed to be done, but if a few people had worked late then I would have been able to go. Instead I cleaned toilets for hours by myself. This was not in my normal duties, but I did it without complaining.

He made an excuse why I had to do volunteer and nobody could help me. It was basically along the lines that they needed to relax and blow off steam and I wasn’t as important as them. That was just one task. He found others. The manager did this to punish me, to slut shame me.

With Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford, I’ve been thinking about how I wasn’t believed and was put in an unsafe situation. It’s been really upsetting.

There’s a concept in Buddhism that attachments lead to suffering. I’m familiar with it. Not being a practicing Buddhist, though, I haven’t really thought about how it could apply to my life.

A Ladders article titled “The Teflon Mind: How to let go of the past” said:

However, blaming is a two-way street — when we can’t forgive others is because we can’t forgive ourselves too. Others did something wrong but, deep inside, we believe we did something wrong to cause it. When we feel guilty, it becomes harder to move on.

The guilt that the manager made me feel has stuck to me like a nasty residue on a sauté pan. Not just for that instance either. As a teen there was an older creepy man who kept playing with my hair and said multiple times that “if I were to be raped and get pregnant then he’d adopt the baby”. When I spoke with an authority figure in my life about this, it was I who was questioned: what had I been wearing? Nothing immodest or my parents wouldn’t have let me leave the house.

I have felt culpable in some way for Aaron. And for the creepy older guy. And for a worse assault that I keep private because of the pain it caused me.

I have let Aaron’s lasciviousness linger in the recesses of my mind like a film of grease that just wouldn’t come off.

Now I know: I must forgive myself. It wasn’t my fault. I have no control over the actions of others.

And … because of the treatment of the manager when I had worse situations, like that really painful one, occur I was too afraid to come forward. In fact, when I did open up about it, I was shut down and told I should be ashamed of being a victim and not ever speak of it.

I close with:

Books Last Longer Than PSLs

Aromatic cinnamon meets earthy nutmeg meets the subtle tang of clove finishing in warm, creamy goodness. Pumpkin spice lattes are returning shortly to a Starbucks near you. But are they worth it?

I love the flavor but 420 calories for a drink?! Also… I’d have to order mine decaf with almond milk and triple check the ingredients for no allergens. I love pumpkin more than might be reasonable and even once did a “pumpkin pie diet”*.

What I really want to suggest is that you buy a book instead. Books have less calories, and offer more utility, more enjoyment. A latte offers maybe ten minutes of enjoyment versus hours of savoring a novel.

It’s that time of year where we start to feel nostalgic and want to indulge ourselves. Buy that book (or borrow it from a friend or the library). Books transport us to another place, another time.

So often I have read or heard authors complain that they pour hours of their life into this piece of paper and cardboard and ink. Consumers will readily hand over money for pumpkin spice lattes that take about two minutes for a barista to whip up but have a hard time spending that same amount of money on a book.

My advice is buy a book: it’ll last longer.

If you really need a pumpkin fix, I totally understand. Here are two of my favorite non-PSL recipes:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Vegan Pumpkin Cream Pasta Sauce

It’s early, but…

*Woman’s Day had an article in 2009 (I remember because an article convinced me to watch The Vampire Diaries) about the “Pumpkin Spice Diet”. It touted the immune boosting properties of clove. The “pies” were ramekins of pumpkin with pumpkin spice, eggs, and splenda. The diet had you eat these in combination with reducing sugar, etc. It was a low carb way to get the sweet on without the extra holiday pounds adding up. I don’t remember if I lost any weight, but I did eventually feel food fatigue.

The Fleeting Beauty of Rocks

One of the interesting conversations I had on a past Thanksgiving (way back when) with a practicing Buddhist was about the fleeting beauty of rock sculptures.  He builds rock sculptures that fall away with the wind and gravity.

I saw a similar concept — Buddha Boards. Boards that one “paints” on with water.  The water evaporates and the painting fades.

Nothing lasts in this life. We need little to remind us of the brevity of our mortality. Life is like sand in an hour glass that just slips by.  The more we hold onto it the faster it seems to slip by us.

I never thought of myself as an optimist, but after taking my economics class a while back , I suppose I am.

In “Fight Club” – the book, not the movie- Marla talks about how she loves the objects loved fleeting by others only to be discarded like prom dresses and Christmas trees. If we wait long enough most things are discarded. Even with recycling there are only so many times before plastic degrades beyond reuse.

Some things get better with age or have new life breathed into them. Other things have a fleeting beauty that can only be appreciated in a brief moment, like a photographer catching a picture of a sunrise.

Impenetrable Fog

The past couple of months have been a haze. It feels like everything has run together. I spent weeks in the hospital as a patient and now I’ve spent weeks at the hospital watching over my daughter. It’s been exhausting and emotionally trying. 

What’s surprised me the most is my reaction to rejection. 

I used to check my email obsessively after querying or around contest winner announcements. 

I’ve been so worried about my daughter that I didn’t even think about writing. During the last part of my pregnancy, I was too sick to think of much at all. 

Today I received an email about a contest I’d entered. I honestly had to sit and think about the piece since I couldn’t remember what it was. 

A little over a week ago I received another email from an agent letting me know they were passing on what I had sent them. I sent the query so long ago I’ve written multiple revisions since then and I also had to think about who it was.  It was around a year ago.  I’d figured her rejection was silent. 

There have been times where receiving a rejection letter could really make me have a hard day. I suspected that during times like these it might make me sad. Instead I suppose I’m too exhausted to feel anything about them – I’m in an impenetrable fog. I look forward to normalcy and writing again (or at least a new normal). I hope that’s sooner than later. When that happens, I’ll probably take the rejections harder again.

The Dark World 

Set in the 1700s-1800s this tale is an intriguing take on vampire myths. 

It follows Xavier Delacroix, the heir to the King of All Creatures: Dracula. Dracula’ grandaughter, a human woman, is being hunted by Lycans– Xavier’s brother Christian almost died trying to save her. Eleanor Black, a past flame, dies mysteriously in front of Xavier and he is reeling from grief. Will he be able to protect the human? What role does she have to play? Secrets abound. 

The setting was unclear at first. There are no mentions of time and no identifying technology.  It could be the 1600s for all I know. London is a sprawling town. The only identifying detail for time is I believe someone mentions a newspaper but I might be remembering that incorrectly. They could have just asked if the other was familiar with the stories about the murders. 

Time aside, it was well written and visual. 

There were few female characters and few people of color, which surprised me since the author is an African-American woman. 

This book does not pass the Bechdel Test. There are two women who are POV characters- Lillith and Mara. Lillith, Princess of the Vampires, was a disappointing character. She is important to the plot, and yet a weak Mary Sue. We are not in Mara’s head very much. Xavier’s brother, Christian, could have been a Christina and this would have made the character more interesting and might have made a few things make more sense. 

I do look forward to reading the future books.  

Recommendation Overload: So Many Books and Not Enough Time 

Amazon has 1.8 million books. According to there is one new book on Amazon every 5 minutes. 

On one level of thinking, many of those books are self-published and didn’t go through the rigorous editing and revision that a book coming from the Big 5. At the same time I have read indie books that were excellent. 

It’s impossible to read *all* the books. An article I read a while back opined that suggesting books and TV shows to others is rude, intrusive, and not helpful. At the same time, when people find out I write then they inevitably tell me who their favorite author is and recommend a book. Sometimes the suggestions seem worthwhile and I note them. Other times they sound awful and I mentally block the book. 

At times I’ve felt like I don’t know my genre as well as I should because I haven’t read all these books. Other times I’ve realized that the suggestions I receive have little to do with the books I enjoy most. No wonder I haven’t read them: I don’t like supernatural romance. I’m not into YA urban dystopianism. In fact, as sacrilegious as it may sound, I don’t enjoy YA fantasy that much. Three of my favorite authors write YA fantasy, but recent YA hasn’t hooked me. I want to read about adults- not children. I want to read about the distant future or a far off world; I want an element of escapism and not a book club type contemporary fantasy with low fantasy. 

How does one find the next book to read? At The Seymour Agency’s Writer’s Winter Escape, it intrigued me that the agents said these sub-genres like the cozy mystery were pretty much invented by bookstores. At the same time it’s easy to see why that’s a practical move. There are three sources that have pushed me to read books beyond just random suggestions. 

The first is finding an agent I like and reading the books that agent represents in my genre that have been recently published. This shows me what sold in the recent past. 

The second source that’s influenced me is looking at the catalogs online of the Big 5 and seeing what they’re putting out and what of that catches my eye. 

Lastly with Amazon there are several ways to explore new books – relevance, average customer reviews, and new releases. In Joanna Penn’s How to Make a Living with Your Writing, she talks about how much of a funnel Amazon is with books. 

People want a book for entertainment, inspiration or information. If you’re not a brand-name author already, your non-fiction book is more likely to be discovered if it answers someone’s question or helps them solve a problem.
So how do people find these books? They search by category on the bookstores and they also use the search bar to try and find something relevant. They type in keywords or keyword phrases into Amazon or Google and see what comes up. Amazon is basically a search engine for people who are actively ready to buy…

With books, like TV show recommendations, if a name keeps popping up then it grabs my attention. Otherwise I take recommendations with a grain of salt. My tastes are probably not the same as yours. My goals for reading may not be the same as yours either. Find what works for you, and don’t let yourself be bogged down in recommendation overload.