Tag Archives: advice

Honestly, Just Write and Stop Worrying

I am no stranger to anxiety. Anxiety may even be something of a close friend, but it’s one of those friends who talks on and on about themselves during your coffee date together and maybe you don’t even realize it until you’ve hugged and you’re walking home and then finally you think, “I didn’t even say that my dog died/I’m breaking up with my partner/I got a new job/something momentous and totally wortpart of an interview I did with PQMonthly as a winner of their Brilliant List awards programh mentioning.” I’ll put it this way: I hate my way through my relationship with anxiety, one miserable unwanted thought at a time.

That said, I am a product of no fewer than half a dozen terrific therapists and my neuroses are down to a dull, annoying grumble in the back of my head. I recognize frenemy Anxiety as soon as it pops itself into my consciousness, and sometimes I can stamp it out even when it’s bumbling about in my semi-conscious, because things like my body will send up an alert, and then that decade of therapy kicks in, and well, if I have to Goldberg Machine my way to functionality, so be it. It’s working for me. I’m even past the point where I tell myself to fake it till I make it. Read More…

Zombie Defense by the Seasons

from Jillian McDonald blogThrow a stick at any bookstore over 2,500 square feet and you’ll hit at least three books on surviving the zombie apocalypse. Weapons guides and DIY, symptoms to look out for, protective clothing, how to shop for your garden variety gas mask, it’s in print and readily available. But there are other factors that can affect human survival, and seasonal shift is often overlooked as one of these. So let’s take the seasons in turn, starting with spring, and help uncover methods of defense that we can use no matter when we’re fighting for the future of our species.


Fortunately the days are getting longer, so there is less opportunity for zombie hordes to accumulate in the dark of night and make mob attacks. There are also no tall crops at this point in the year, unless a region has been growing winter wheat, so it will be harder for zombies to make their way quietly through crop fields (of course this matters not at all in urban areas). Spring also comes with a new generation of wildlife, which can be observed to help identify where bands of zombies may be hiding out. But be warned; depending on the kind of zombification that’s happening, mammals in general may also be zombies, so you may need to pay special attention when litters of new small animals are underfoot, because they may not be very clever defenders against the undead and will become a new source of infection for humans. BONUS FOR MOUNTAIN AREAS: Spring also often means strong river runoff from melting snow, which can be used to wipe out zombies, carrying them away in streams and creeks, where they can be rounded up downstream. Also keep an eye on frozen lakes, because as the season progresses these can be used to take out whole groups of zombies by luring them to thinner areas where they can fall into the icy water and get trapped. Read More…

Transition Hindsight

I wrote this for an FTM group over on LiveJournal, and thought I should repost it here.

I transitioned nearly eight years ago. Well, more accurately, I started my transition a little less than eight years ago. I’m pretty sure I’ll never stop transitioning, because I keep coming on things that I’d been socialized female for, most recently, body changes as one ages.

In the beginning it was really rough. I had so much self doubt, I was in an emotionally volatile relationship, a ton of stress at work, and the overwhelming fear that I was about to ruin my life. So here are the things that I wish I knew at the time. That said, everybody’s transition is different, so this is by no means a set of instructions. But for me I wish I knew:

1. Nobody gets to tell you you’re doing it wrong. I mean, they may tell you you’re not a “real” transsexual but that’s their issue. Fine to ask for opinions and advice from people — the more conversations you have, the more you will see the range of gender expression, decisionmaking around medical, legal & social transition, and the more lessons from others you’ll get exposed to. But please, don’t let the voice of inauthenticity stay in your head, because it has this way of never admitting it’s wrong. If you want to take it slow, go low- or no-hormones, or go as fast as you safely can, that is your decision. Read More…

The Inner Workings of a Positive Outlook

Mitzi singing "Cockeyed Optimist" in South PacificAt 41 and a half years, I am still an optimist. After a bout with a major depressive episode, I am still an optimist. Sex change? Optimist. I’ve grieved for people lost, had some horrendous relationships, been mugged, chased out of an apartment by a closeted roommate, had to fling myself away from a falling ceiling in some flophouse I called an apartment and still, optimist.

Perhaps it’s time to admit that I’m hard-wired for a positive lens on life. Or I’ve got some darn stubborn tendencies.

Most of my most important lessons I’ve learned the hard way; popularity is never as important as doing the right thing. Half of Brooklyn’s queers won’t speak to me because I refused to let someone start a brawl in a Philadelphia bar during a transgender conference, for example. They called it “silencing,” the most disingenuous argument I’d come across in LGBT circles at the time.

I never made it to the A-list crowd in high school because I was also friends with geeks and outcasts. (I’m pretty sure I was a geek myself, but I don’t think I saw it that way at the time.) Read More…

Why Breaks Work For Me

This is the first in a series of guest posts while I spend time with our newest member of the family. Please welcome Rachel McCarthy James!

This is the first piece of writing I’ve published in over three months. During those three months, I’ve let languish the very thing I’ve wanted my entire adult life – an audience who likes my writing and want more of it. I’ve probably lost a few existing readers, and I’ve definitely missed out on many opportunities to build my audience.

But this isn’t a mistake or laziness or procrastination – it’s purposeful. And it’s part of my plan to eventually make a living as a writer.

Read More…

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Revisions

royal typewriter, greenI’m in over my head on revisions to my young adult, time-traveling novel, and truth be told, that’s exactly where I want to be. Of course, I always want to be done already, because there are at least two more projects that I’d love to get started on and they’re beginning to act impatient, stuck as they are at the back of my mind and in the pages of my notebook. But I’m revising right now, and if I’m going to be revising, then I need to be immersed—all of the plot details, characters’ foibles, themes, and accidental lessons up close and personal for me so that I don’t lose sight of them. And I’m sure they appreciate such deft attention.

This is something like the twelfth revision, see. I lost track somewhere around 7 or 8. Read More…

Introducing Characters to Readers

portrait of man against a city wallIn many of the books I read as a child, character description came off a bit too formulaic—what she was wearing, the color of her hair and eyes, how pretty or athletic she was, and so on. Next character exposition, same treatment. Sure, I got clear pictures on what the actors in the story looked like, but there was a problem: by using the same process for description each time, nobody in the books stood out.

I haven’t done my job as a writer if I don’t make each character distinctive and necessary to the narrative.  Read More…

Rumsfelding Your Writing Career

book pressLet it be known that there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns in war, and also in publishing. I know I’m borrowing from a hawkish, 8-year-old concept, and I’m no friend of Rummy, but in all of his convolutions, he did make a wee bit of sense regarding the limitations of planning.

We write the best books we can muster, and the rest of the process is unknown. Read More…

Five Ways to Prevent Getting Published

In all of the blogs, articles, books, and groups on writing, most of the emphasis is on the affirmative path toward publishing, no matter the definition of publishing itself (indie, traditional, journal, etc.). I, however, am a fan of the avoidance method for success, otherwise known as the “Learn from My Mistakes” school of winningness. Type “avoid” into the search on this blog, and readers will be confronted with many posts on what not to do as writers and when trying to get noticed.

It should go without saying that one should not masquerade as another person, deny that such masqueradization is occurring, and then blame readers for noticing the hoax, but well, apparently it needs to be said to at least two people.  They know who they are (they just don’t care). So in the interests of making a few rather blunt, you’d-hope-this-is-obvious information, I have the following bad ideas to list: Read More…

Risky Viewing & Skittish TV Producers

breakout kings promo photoClearly, not everybody liked Fastforward, ABC’s sci fi series adapted from a Canadian novel that aired right after V, which had its own successful franchise history. But geez, I liked Fastforward. It was part mystery, part detective show—complete with fancy FBI offices and Courtney B. Vance—and it was heavy on the temporal destabilization, which I always enjoy. It had a huge cast of characters in the V spirit, even, and I liked the performances from Joseph Feinnes, John Cho, Jack Davenport (though he’ll always be Steve to me), and Gabrielle Union. But before anything too big could be revealed about what was going on, what Jericho really was up to, or what the next flashforward meant, ABC pulled the plug on the series.

Now we would never find out. To say it was a bummer would be a gross underestimation. Read More…

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