“Aside from the obviousness of the impropriety, there was the highly inappropriate fact that I remained in my nightclothes, the unfortunate matter of my staff caught unprepared for visitors, and the unavoidable circumstance that left two unconscious men of uncertain origin tied up in my parlor.”—Cherry St. Croix ruminates on the situation, Transmuted (January 2015)
The Best Blessed Fish Tacos You Never Knew You Could Make
All right, taco templarites, enough with the preaching! It’s time to roll up our sleeves and wade into the taco crusades! We’re gonna rock out with our, um, taco out, and we’re starting first with fish tacos so good, I can evenfeed them to people who don’t usually like fish.
This recipe is gluten-free in theory, but as always, make sure your ingredients are actually gluten-free if you’re allergic. However, if you don’t care about gluten, that makes things easy, too. It’s also friendly for those folks who don’t eat meat but don’t mind fish. (Vegetarians, I’ll offer an alteration below.)
The beauty of this recipe is that a) it’s virtually impossible to get wrong (unless you assume you’re actually better in the kitchen than you are and get carried away), and b) it’s cheap. For those of us who eat on a budget, it’s pretty ideal. I never get tired of this, and there’s a handful of ways to tweak the recipe to your tastes when you need a change.
Over at good friend and author Tera Lynn Childs’ blog, she tagged me in a writing process blog hop wherein we share how we work and what we’re working on. It’s been a while since I updated y’all with a what’s what at Casa Karina, so Tera’s tag is well-timed!
1. What am I working on now?
Right now, I am embroiled in two major projects in the same series. The first is somewhat easier than the second, but both are due rather more sooner than I’d like. (Me? Blogging instead of writing? Nooo… I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.)
I’m currently working on the copyedits and final pass-through for Engraved, and soon this beast will be done! Good thing, too, ‘cause it’ll be out next month. No pressure!
I’m also working on the fifth and final St. Croix Chronicle, Transmuted. This book is… well, what can I say? It’s the end. It’s the final story. It’s the last misadventure for Cherry St. Croix and her merry band of wayward delinquents. Here’s a hint as to what it entails: lions! the Underground! alchemy! Society shenanigans! Fanny (yes, finally again)! Hawke! Piers! and the final secrets of the Karakash Veil!
I admit that I just really, really wanted to say “lions!” in there. But there might actually be lions. You don’t know.
2. How does my work differ from others’ in the genre?
This is one of those questions I’m never quite sure how to answer. I always want to lean over and be all, “My work. It’s… it’s a goer, eh, eh? Know what I mean? Say no more!” But as this leaves quite a bit to the bemused imagination, I can only flail a little and say things like… Voice.
I tend to think that I have a very distinctive voice. This voice—this paranormal-ish, dark voice of mine—seems to be flexibile enough that I can, at any given time, write three projects in three different POVs and have each feel very much different. Or so I am told.
I also like to mix it up some. I believe strongly in romance, love and lust as part of the human condition—that no matter what, one of these things matter to us. Not just romantic love, either, but love in general. To that end, I rarely write a story that doesn’t include some kind of aspect of either. What can I say? I believe that one can have adventure, mayhem, mystery and magic and have to deal with interpersonal conflicts and relationships. After all, aren’t we all just human in the end?
3. Why do I write what I do?
You know, the longer I do this, the less clear I am about this answer. Once upon a time, I would have said simply, “because these are the things I enjoy”, but I enjoy rom-coms, too, and I don’t write those. I also enjoy horror, but I don’t write that, either.
I really don’t know—I lack that self-awareness. I could flail for you, if you like?
It’s one part exorcism. One part dwelling in the places where my stories live. What I write is sometimes like candy, spun out of pure comfort zone brain sugar, and sometimes it’s like blood drawn from self-harm—only without the actual bleeding.
I write what I write because I am a wizard, a lion-tamer, a bounty hunter and an awkward soul looking for a home. I write because I can’t sleep. Because I’m every villain desperately struggling to achieve my ends and every hero who doesn’t want to be there and doesn’t know what to do.
I don’t know. I write because I must. What I write is maybe not as streamlined as it could be, but all I can do is write.
How’s that for a non-answer?
4. How does my writing process work?
Every book goes like this:
Drink coffee while reading daily web comics.
Make more coffee.
Drink coffee while taking care of emails or chatting with pals on IM.
Pull out yellow legal pad.
Make more coffee.
Drink while writing down some GMCs and plot points for current project.
Make more coffee.
Realize it’s night, now, and dinner needs to be made lest the mancandy starve.
Go to bed.
Pour out the old coffee from yesterday.
Make fresh coffee.
Drink coffee while making daily web comics.
Make more coffee.
Drink coffee while taking care of emails or chatting with pals on IM.
Begin post-it plotting.
Repeat for 5-7 days.
Drink and make more coffee while banging out 20 pages a day.
Repeat for 28-45 days.
Pause in order to revise/copyedit/proof previous project.
Get back to it.
Take meticulous notes about other ideas that crackle to life while doing all of these, and then put them away for later.
Send to editor.
Take 2 days off to binge-watch anime.
Begin new project.
Easy as pie, right? (Sidenote: the only thing easy about pie is eating it.)
And that’s my process! With a lot of angsting and weeping and tantruming in between. Totally professional and legit.
Is that weird? It feels weird. Tell me, what’s your process like? Because maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I need more coffee.
That’s totally it, isn’t it?
I choose you, authorchu!
My friends and fellow writers here are totally going to pick this up and tell you all about their works and processes! (Processi? I like processi way better. I feel fancy.) Check back in with them this coming Monday to see what they have to say!
“Perhaps it was having a real sword of one’s own. Perhaps it was being eighteen—or that eighteen years’ practice of being stubborn was finally paying off. If she still stumbled over the corners of rugs or bumped into doorways while she was thinking about other things, she no longer bothered looking around anxiously to find out of anyone had seen her: either they had or they hadn’t, and she had other things on her mind; she reveled in those other things.”—Robin McKinley, The Hero and the Crown
“So he sat on the front steps of his borrowed apartment, half a block away from the ice cream cart he’d bought a frozen popsicle from, and filled his mouth with blue raspberry nostalgia.”— one of the few and far between moments of peace, courtesy of my latest secret project
At the End of Silence: Stuff I Learned About Stuff
Last week, I stepped away from Twitter. All sorts of various reasons there. For 7 days, I stayed off Twitter’s main timeline. I checked a messages once every few days to make sure I wasn’t leaving anyone hanging who needed a reply, and checked Facebook’s messaging to make sure family and friends weren’t trying to get ahold of me (because, I don’t know, they still like Facebook).
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. I don’t know that I was expecting anything, but I do know that I needed a break. So, half-convinced that I would fall behind (as if Twitter were a race or a group study program) and then be forgotten forever, I turned off Twitter, removed the icon from my phone, and prepared for 7 days of withdrawals.
Things I Did Last Week
I worked out Monday and Wednesday. Missed Friday due to errands and lunch with a friend who was in town to visit.
Had lunch with a friend who was in town to visit!
I ran Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Hardcore. Inside, though. It was lovely for half the week, so I briefly contemplated running outside, but Meth Alley still scares me.
I blogged! At least once.
I got a new phone! Gadget girl strikes again! It’s so pretteh.
Played some dungeons in TESO with pals. Fun pals, with the blasty blasty swingy swingy thwacky thwacky. I’m the healer, so it’s a lot of glowy glowy.
Things I Did Not Do Last Week
Lose my shit.
Have an anxiety attack.
Get involved in drama.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Quiet
I feel good. I feel like I got to disassociate myself for a little while, regen my health and mana pools, and come back with fresh eyes and ambition.
What I came to understand is that I’m only aesthetically an extrovert. I like to put on the face, the clothes, the shoes, and pretend like I’m as free-wheeling as a bird, but the fact is, I’m really an introvert. I’ve been trained to be an extrovert, but I need my downtime. Introverts can be heavily influenced by their surroundings, and then we get sucked in—like a quicksand of swampy feels.
So I’m making a few changes to how I engage with the masses. Limits, such as where I engage and when I walk away and when I let myself check Twitter, will be placed to keep me healthy and happy, though I haven’t worked them all out yet.
Let me tell you this: it was super nice to remember how to think thoughts comprised of more than 140 characters again. A++. Will try again.
Things I Need to Address From Here On Out
Is Facebook worth tending? What with all the latest changes—reaching out to fewer fans, giving textual updates less push, etc.—I’m not sure how I feel about it. It seems like a lot of loss for a lot of effort, but then what about those who prefer it to Twitter?
Is G+ the new Facebook? Unclear. I would like it better if things auto-posted to it the same way they do to Twitter and Facebook.
When should I leave Twitter be? I’m thinking evenings and throughout most of the weekend. I heart you all dearly, but I don’t want to live with you—no, no, I’m doing you a favor. Trust me. I’m hard to live with.
Engagement limits? Must think on this. Not the type that dictates who I will talk to, but the type that says what subjects I should engage in and who I should follow if those subjects are their primary meat and potatoes.
“It had taken me years to finally note how often Hawke had risked his well-being for me—risks that the Veil did not allow. Because of choices made to protect me from forces I did not understand, he had become a tiger cornered in too small a cage.”—Engraved, The St. Croix Chronicles #5
“We need more bisexual girls in fiction. Happy out and proud. Sad and closeted and scared. Bi girls of color. Trans and genderqueer and two-spirit bi characters. Bi characters who don’t know they’re bi until someone tells them bisexuality is real. Bi girls pretending to be straight. Bi girls pretending to be lesbians. Immigrant bi girls who have got bigger issues to worry about than being bi. With more diversity in our bi girls in fiction, one bi girl character with internalized biphobia won’t stick out so terribly.”—(via raggedyanndy)
I first noticed it last year, when I stumbled upon a particular anime called Koroku’s Basketball (or, more appropriately, Kuroko no Basuke. The direct translation is The Basketball Which Koroku Plays, but English audiences, am I right?)
Anyway, there I was, clicking on a whim, and I found myself watching. Watching all of it. All of it.
And I thought, “Am I finding basketball interesting?”
Yes. Yes, I was. Now, to be fair, Koroku’s Basketball includes talents that are so far-fetched as to be nearly fantastical. Even so, I watched each episode with bated breath as the reigning royalty of the basketball courts went head to head with the underdogs, our protagonists, and blood, sweat and tears were shed in the name of victory and teamwork and friendship. Whee!
Fast forward a year later. I’m still watching Koroku’s Basketball, but I tend to do it in binges—it lets me watch entire matches when they cliffhanger it at the end of the episode. But I have also recently stumbled upon another show, one that—again!—I would never have imagined that I would love quite so much.
Yowapeda is the anime’s name, shortened from Yowamushi Pedal. It’s an anime about roadracing, bicycles, and the sweet anime geek who is untrained but not without raw talent—from biking 90 kilometers every week to Akihaba every week so he could buy all his anime paraphernalia, naturally. (We will go to great lengths to furnish our obsessions, right, geeks?)
I was expecting a fun little sporty anime, and I found a gripping story about a ragtag bunch of first-year cyclists competing with each other, themselves, their third-year sempais, and somehow forming amazingly strong friendships through victory and loss.
That’s not the unexpected part.
The unexpected part is how much I care for the characters. Not just our geeky protagonist—hello, reflection of self!—but the other cyclists, too. The other teams. (The only one I don’t care for is the weird antagonist, but that seems to be a staple of animes.) Watching them push, strive, sweat and cry as they push their bodies to the breaking point does something to me that seems strange, given the catalyst is a cartoon.
That Thing Where You Wish You Were an Animation
Something about Yowapeda has transcended that barrier between cartoon and flesh—something in it has found an answering echo inside my subconscious. Is it the will to succeed? The drive to sweat, persevere, and triumph? Is it the victories?
Or is it, as I have slowly been coming to understand, about the bonds?
I have never been what you would call a “team player”. I prefer, as a rule, to work alone—or as alone as my work will allow me to be. When I was a child, I moved around a lot, and I spent a lot of time in the pages of a book. The few attempts I made to bond never really worked out. I was a weird kid.
The closest I ever came to forming bonds of shared pain and perseverance was when I did ballet. I was, oh, what, seven? eight? We moved, and I never was able to go back.
I guess it goes to show that I’ve been a glutton for pain ever since I was a kid.
So imagine my laughter, and the pangs of empathy, when this scene happened:
Granted, my immediate thought here was, “It’s not your bicycle, kid, it’s the fact you’re willing to bleed for a sport those guys love more than they love breathing.” But he’s young and surprisingly pure-minded, so I just nod at the TV and clap and—okay, fine, yes—giggle in glee.
Your bicycle will help you make friends. Will my pain-related interests (eh heh) help me?
Sweat is Srs Biznass
It’s odd. I’m not sure exactly when I developed an interest in pushing myself, but I’m sure it’s been around for a while. I’m inherently lazy, which is a huge obstacle, but the rush I get from pushing my body to the max pretty much makes everything worth it.
The ideal, as explained by our geeky protagonist’s team captain, goes like this:
I think that’s true of every sport, isn’t it? To reach that peak of performance, push past that invisible wall of one’s mental endurance, and achieve what you never thought possible.
Is it wrong to use a cartoon as inspiration? Because if so, I’m not sure I want to be right.
The problem is, I’m not very good at it by myself. Without someone to push me, to challenge me, I find it easier to give in to that wall than it is to try and climb it. Sweating by one’s self can be a very lonely effort.
This anime, surprisingly, has been challenging me. Maybe it’s because I care for the characters, the way you care for characters in a good book or for a local team or whatnot. Those normal things other people do. I just channel it to a different place.
Upping the Game
I started running again a couple months back, but then I got nailed by a flu and that was the end of that. Last week, I finally gave up on lazy and started using a core body workout session—one put out by Jackie Warner of Sky Labs.
Actually, I lie. I started working out the week before with Jillian Michaels’ kettlebells weight program, and I wrecked my body so bad, I couldn’t even move the next couple of days. Figured I needed to ease into that one.
So I switched to Jackie, and even without the weights, this thing is brutal.
Monday, Tuesday and Friday, I worked out. I felt it every day after, and especially the second day after—this is a thing, right? the day after the day after a workout?—but I stayed with it. I thought that if I up my core strength (of which I have precious little), it would help support me when I start running again.
Yesterday, I was taking a break, watching Yowapeda. It was a race, an unofficial one between the first-years and raw, unskilled Onoda, and I found myself bouncing on my couch, cheering like I was watching a real race. And at the end of it, I got my ass off the couch and worked out harder than I had the whole prior week.
Inspiration seems to come in all forms. I may not necessarily have the crew I’d like to have while running and working out, but for now, it seems like a sports anime is covering the gap.
Is that weird? It feels weird.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be varying my workouts. Right now, I’m focused on the core. I’m not that worried about my legs, because running handles a lot of that, so it’s a lot of focus on core and upper body.
Today, I’m throwing running back into the mix.
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will be my running days, and I intend to continue to use the Zombies, Run! 5k app to do it.
I’m still using a treadmill, primarily because the closest and only real running routes to me takes me through either long, isolated stretches peppered with cars or through what I affectionately term “Meth Alley”. This is hyperbole. I don’t know if there’s meth. I do know there are more lounging men of questionable character than I am comfortable, as a lone female, running through.
I intend to push myself as hard as I can, for as long as I can, within reasonable levels. If I do it right, I should end up like this only for a little while.
Eventually, my body will adapt, and I’ll be able to build on the endurance I’m grooming.
I will say that I’ve been extremely tired. All last week, I felt like I wanted to nap by 3, and I was barely awake by 10pm.
I did one of those things where I drew a hot bath to relax my sore muscles and almost fell asleep in it. Given I lack a fiery redhead to save me from my own folly, I figured I’d better stick with showers for a while. Personally, while I can think of a handful of ways to go, death by drowning is not one.
I’ve also been hungrier than normal. It seemed like every time I paid attention to myself, I was reaching for something to graze on.
I feel like I’m eating way more than I’m used to.
I’ve definitely had to figure out what I could eat that doesn’t feel like it’d undo all my hard work. Carbs? Fish? Mixed nuts? (Haha, she said ‘nuts’.)
A friend passed over some info regarding recovery time, something involving creatine and such, and as soon as I can, I’ll be acquiring some from Amazon in order to mix into my smoothies. In the meantime, if you know any good things to eat whilst… what would you call this? training?… well, whatever it is, if you know of any good meals that are healthy and supportive of working out on a regular basis, I’d love to see them in the comments!
I feel like I’m already well on my way to being as awesome as this anime. Granted, without bikes. Behold! Seems like #runnerface and #roadracerface are similar, amirite?
And yes, I know exactly how ridiculous that is and no, I don’t think I’ll ever be as awesome as a cartoon. But the way I figure, anything at all that encourages me to keep trying is exactly what I need to achieve what I want.
My whole world right now is in need of perseverance. I’ll take the inspiration where I can get it.
If you look at my first tweet—something about bees, which seems about right—I first started with Twitter in 2009. This is misleading. My first Twitter account was launched in 2008, when I started a job with a local web design firm. A small distinction, that year, but it adds to my lead (neatly buried):
It has been six years since I have allowed myself to be alone.
I have views about Twitter. They cover such things as why one may or not be followed, and how that’s okay, and why you can or don’t have to follow someone else. I believe in following who you want to follow, or not, and in being free to speak whatever it is you want to speak. I believe that it is your platform, and you may use it however you wish, and that is the internet—and, specifically, Twitter.
I believe most strongly in consequences; that whatever it is we want to do, however it is we want to behave or speak, we should do that, and then we must hike up our big-kid pants and deal with the consequences of our actions.
These things are more or less inviolate, and though I still believe in them, I find myself looking at the world—and social media—differently.
Twitter Created Friends
First and foremost, let me be clear: I made a lot of connections through Twitter. I made friends, found people like me and people not like me, and altogether, we ended up with this amazing community.
Twitter brings people together. This is verifiable fact—just look at almost any event in recent history, at least within the past four years, and Twitter played an important, if not integral, role.
The people I know on Twitter are amazing people, to be taken as the whole of the parts, not the individual parts alone.
I love my Twitter people. I heart those who follow me, and those I follow, and I am forever grateful for what they have done for me—through good days and bad.
This is why this is scary to write.
The Good, the Bad, and the Rest
Of late, I’ve been looking at my Twitter feed (I pretty much ignore Facebook, since they made it so most of what I do on it doesn’t matter) and feeling what I could only describe as “lonely”. How is that even a thing? Hundreds of people on my feed, thousands of people who follow me, and I’m freaking lonely. I equated a lot of it to winter depression, and when the sun crept out again and the winter blues fled, I equated it with lingering depression that has its roots in too many things I can’t change but need to. That’s a blog post for another day (aren’t you lucky?).
When it still didn’t settle, I started talking more. Sharing bits and things, more pictures, making the effort to reach out. Sometimes it succeeded. Sometimes it didn’t. As is the nature of things, it’s those latter that really stand out—because even though everybody on Twitter has a life and has followers and can’t possibly keep up with everything, it still stings to be one left unanswered.
I know those feels, bro.
Yet that didn’t help either.
Sometimes over the past couple of months, I’ve started feeling…unwilling. Is that the right word? Maybe not. Maybe I mean “cautious”. Or…”afraid”. I was feeling something that wasn’t comfort, or warmth, or companionship. I was feeling wariness.
It seemed to me as though I couldn’t go a single day on Twitter (or, let’s face it, Facebook, but we’ve come to accept this—see above, re: I no longer visit) without something awful, something negative, something telling us that we’re all doing it wrong even when we’re trying our best, crossing my screen. Sometimes, it’s all well-meaning. A signal boost for a cause, a call for help or prayer for a friend or loved one. A way to be heard.
Sometimes, it’s not so well-meaning.
The world is messed up. The country is messed up. The industry is messed up. The community is messed up. The things we do are messed up. The things we don’t do are messed up. The money we have is messed up and the money we don’t have is messed up, and the friends we make and the people we hate, and the things we think and the actions we take, and the advice we give and the words we put together and the haters and the angry people and the sweet ones and the nice ones and lets not forget you… And me. Everything is all messed up.
But we know this. Of course we know this. We can’t turn on the TV or look at the news sites without seeing it.
Problem is, I’ve started to feel like I’m hunting the Wumpus of good news, good tweets, good thoughts. It’s wily and furry and you’d think, like Bigfoot, that it’d be easy to find with all the available signal, but I feel like it isn’t. It’s a rare animal among the thousands of tweets that are tweeted each day, and that shouldn’t be. I barely have enough time and energy to keep up with the things that really, really deserve my attention.
I’ll be honest: this could be in part my own state of mind. This could be my inability, my introverted nature, rising up and blinding me to the good stuff out there. I am overwhelmed by the noise, and I can’t think of how to pare it down again without hurting the feelings of people I care too much about to hurt the feelings of. Because it’s not them. It’s me.
A Week of Silence
It has been six years since I’ve allowed myself to be alone. I don’t think about how to communicate with people around me, I think about how to share whatever it is I’m doing or thinking with Twitter. I catch myself thinking in 140 characters or less. I literally sculpt my thoughts to fit into a tweetbox. I’d rather check my phone than find something to talk about with my tablemates.
I don’t blog as much anymore, I just talk on Twitter. I flash-share pictures on Instagram, don’t think about Flickr like I used to. Everything is a fleeting thought, a flash and a tweet and it’s gone.
Seems like I’d rather make fun of something or someone on Twitter than engage in any sort of empathetic thought at all.
Seems like it’s easier to slap up a funny gif than it is to reach out to someone who needs it. Easier to foam off at the mouth than let it go.
I don’t know if I have it in me to do it. I reach for a device the moment I realize that I’m starting to think, that I’m alone, that it has become silent. I don’t look at people anymore, unless I do so with the intent to make fun of them where they can’t see me. And that’s awful.
I don’t like what I’ve become, and while I can’t blame it on Twitter, I can see the habits where they have formed, the grooves in my brain that have become routine. It’s easier to look at Twitter—and to get sucked into whatever drama is unfurling that day—than it is to be alone, to look out of the nearest window and smile at the sun, to allow myself to think and feel without the constraints of, “What would Twitter think about X, Y, Z?”
It’s easier to make you laugh than it is for me to deal with my shit.
So I’m taking a week off. Starting today, I will not tweet. I will not use Twitter as a thing to save myself from the quiet. I will not rely on you, delicious ones, to stand between me and my thoughts.
I’ll be online. I’ll reblog fun art and things that make me laugh on tumblr. I’ll post to my Pinterest boards. I’ll be on all my usual IM screens for folks who know them. I’ll, yes, write words. Lots and lots of words. I might even re-launch my newsletter.
But I won’t tweet. I won’t look at the feeds. If I do open it, I will look at @mentions just in case something comes through that I have to, as a professional (or at least as a friend), respond to, but I won’t be looking at the main timeline. I may forget to even do this. I’m not sure.
For one week, I will engage in this little psychological experiment of mine, and see where it leaves me.
I have no intentions as to the outcome. Maybe I’ll find that I’m happier without the constant connectivity that social media promotes. Maybe I will find a way to strike a balance between making myself accessible—both as a promoter of books and as a person—and still disengaging when it’s time.
Maybe I’ll miss you all terribly and come running back, resolved to bury my feelings in wine for the rest of my life.
I don’t know. But I do know that something has got to change, because I’m burning out, and I don’t want to sacrifice everything for the sake of something that is, in the end, draining the well.
What I do know is that I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of negativity there is in the world right now, and I’m not finding the solution in my social media feeds.
So it’s time I take a moment and evaluate what I’m doing there.
I hope you all understand. One week.
No promises, now. I’m even willing to take best on how long I last before tweeting. (No whammies, no whammies!)
But, look. Tiffany Reisz gave Twitter up for Lent. I think that in the face of such dedication, I can do it for a week. Right?