I'm Quitting Nanowrimo and Here's Why

This post will be a bit of a departure for me. I try to focus on books and being positive. That's why I've started my "What I like About..." series. I also work to be honest about the books I review without being cruel. But, the recent events with Nanowrimo have upset me and as a long time participant/supporter, I want to talk about why I will not be continuing to participate.   My Personal Nano-History My profile on tells me I started in 2010 and have written over 441,000 words with them over the years, but my history with Nanowrimo extends even further backwards than that. I also suspect that word count is lower than reality, too. The fall of 2010 would have been my first fall after graduate school. I had wanted to participate before that, but November is a bad time for a university student to embark on a writing challenge. My earliest Nano memories were meeting in a local cafe with only a notebook and a pen, because I did not have a lap top, and strug

WILA: Icy Horror

What I like about... I recently finished watching True Detective: Night Country, which I enjoyed for many reasons, such as the strong characters, great acting, and terrifying scenes, but one aspect that heightened my enjoyment was the setting. Set in a fictional Alaskan town, everything was encased in ice and darkness. The long night begins at the start of the series, and freezing/hypothermia is a constant threat. Setting the story in such an extreme environment enhances the horror that the characters face.  While I have never been to the true, deep north, I have experienced some strong winter weather in my life. I have been stranded in a blizzard, snowed in, had the early stages of hypothermia and frostbite, and camped in the winter-time. When I read a story that utilizes cold, icy weather and winter to enhance the story, I can feel the literal chill. There is nothing like a howling wind rattling your windows while you curl up warm and safe in a blanket to read a frozen horror story.

Short Story Reflections: Omelas

Before you read today's short story reflection post, you should read Ursula K. Leguin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and Isabel J. Kim's "Why Don't we Just Kill the Kid in the Omelas Hole?" as this post has heavy spoilers for both. Plus both are brilliant.    Short Story Reflections: Omelas Sometimes a short story is a lovely little distraction, and other times it hits you so hard you have to sit back and recuperate. That is how I felt when I read Ursula K. Leguin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas". The message was simple and brilliantly crafted to leave the reader uncomfortable and reflecting on their own circumstances. Omelas is a seemingly perfect place where everyone is fed, content, and happy. Children have idyllic childhoods and adults never have to worry. When new people come, or children come of age, they are taught the truth: all of this happiness depends on the suffering of one child. This poor child is kept in a

Project - Short Story Exploration 2024

Project: Short Story Exploration   Last year, I read 70 books, most of which were novels, so for 2024, I’m going to focus on short fiction. I’ll still be reading and reviewing novels, but I want to take a deep dive into short stories. I’ve been accumulating quite the backlog of anthologies, magazines, and bookmarked stories to read. I will be working my way through them and journaling about each short piece as I go, recording date, story, author, thoughts, what I learned, etc. I’m not setting a specific goal, but I am estimating reading somewhere around 250 stories of varying lengths this year. Then towards the end of each month, I’ll be posting my thoughts so far, recommendations, etc. Why am I doing this? I want to get to know the short form better and, in turn, grow my own short fiction writing. I also want to develop a journaling habit, but have no interest in writing about my day-to-day life*. Years ago, I turned up my nose slightly at short stories. I didn’t hate them, but I pref

End of Year, Updates, Announcements, and a Look Ahead

Hello and welcome to the end of 2023. I, for one, am happy to see it go. It's been a complicated year in both my personal and professional lives. The biggest change for me is that I have left my second job (by choice), and while I'll still be working full time, I won't be quite as overwhelmed as I was. It's a bit of a financial hit, but one I can (thankfully) afford. It'll be a big step for my mental health and will let me focus more on my writing. Speaking of which, I am making my resolutions and plans for 2024 and it's looking like it's going to be a bigger year, writing-wise for me. Ready for a sneak peek? Indie Ink Awards Judging: Trying something new First up: I have been accepted as a Judge for the Indie Ink Awards ! I have never judged a writing contest before and the Indie Ink Awards seem like a good one. They are supportive of diversity and a better future. Also, as a growing indie writer myself, I am happy to support these awards and get to read so

My Top Books of 2023

This is the third year in a row where I’m writing a top ten list for 2023. This year I read/listened to 70 books (full list available on my Goodreads challenge page ). This year, I couldn't limit myself to only 10. Each of these books kept demanding to be included, so I relented. Looking over the list, it strikes me what a variety they are, spanning philosophy, memoir, horror, mystery, sci-fi. A few themes carried through for me this year, grief, loss, strife, and hope. It's been a long, complex year for me in my personal and professional life, and I think that is reflected in this list. As usual, I have not listed them in a countdown format, but have chosen to list them in chronological order based on when I read them this year. Melody's Top Thirteen Books of 2023: Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee As a martial artist, I’m almost forced to admire Bruce Lee to some extent. However, despite being only a few steps removed from training with him, I haven’t really

Review: Come Hither, No Malice by J. D. Buffington

Title: Come Hither, No Malice Author: J. D. Buffington Website Synopsis: Perseus seeks to destroy the monstrous Gorgons. But not all monsters are beasts. Once a beautiful young woman—transformed after being attacked, cursed, and persecuted—Medusa presides over a haven for the abused. Their lives in each other’s hands, only patience, compassion, and their free will as mortals can break the cycle of cruelty. Review: Over the past few years, feminist retellings of ancient Greek Mythology have risen to the forefront with best sellers such as The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, Circe by Madeleine Miller, and most recently, Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes, just to name a small handful. These stories examine familiar myths that typically centered on the male heroes and relegated the female characters to supporting roles and position those supporting females into the starring roles. Come Hither, No Malice by J.D. Buffington fits into this category with what the author calls a love letter