Cold and Cozy

Yesterday, the temperature dropped forty degrees, leaving us at forty degrees. It’s gray and windy and the perfect day to cozy up with a hot cup of tea—my first of the season! I’m still trying to use up all of the tea I currently have, but my willpower is weakening as the supply dwindles. If Harney & Sons does a Black Friday sale, I’ll be in trouble.

Today’s pot is a chai blend heavy on the cardamom and cinnamon. Its warm spiciness is a perfect foil for the weather.

Of course, by the weekend it’s going to be back in the eighties, so this is a very brief glimpse of winter. :)

Mr. M and I started playing Diablo IV again. The second season is here, and it brought a lot of small quality of life changes that make the game fun again instead of tedious. Of course, we’re still leveling and just made it to world tier three, so we’ll see if it holds through the end game grind.

We also have Baldur’s Gate 3 to finish and Starfield to start, so we’re not exactly hurting for things to do. I’ve been so braindead lately that even playing games was too much. I started watching King the Land, a kdrama where a rich, entitled (incredibly gorgeous) boss grows a heart for one of his (also gorgeous) employees. So problematic IRL, but so delicious in fiction.

I think I’m on like episode thirteen or so, but then things got tense, and I could see the bleak moment coming, so I’ve avoided watching the last few episodes for like two weeks. That’s where my brain is right now. 🙈

I really need to get some writing done this week, because it’s very nearly November. I briefly considered trying to do NaNoWriMo before coming to my senses and backing away slowly. But if you’re participating, let me know and I’ll cheer you on!

Sand, Sun, and HGTV

A selfie of me and Mr M in wide-brimmed hats with the beach and sunset in the background.

Last week was our eighteenth wedding anniversary, and we celebrated with a trip to the beach for a long overdue vacation. The entire plan for the week was to sit on the beach, float in the ocean, and do absolutely nothing.

It was glorious.

The beach in Destin, FL is all white sand and warm, crystal clear water. It was our first trip to the area, and we didn’t really know what to expect, but Southwest had a direct flight and the price was okay-ish, so we went for it.

A photo of an empty beach with white sand and small waves and fluffy white clouds in the sky.

Our twelfth floor condo had a balcony with a great view of the Gulf, and the resort had a pool and hot tub for when walking the extra hundred feet to the beach was too much effort. Thanks to Idalia, the first couple of days were red-flag days, which means the surf is potentially dangerous, and I could definitely see that when compared to the later part of our trip when the waves were more ripples than real waves.

The view from our condo of a pool and hot tub with red-roofed buildings in the foreground, and a white sandy beach and blue-green ocean in the background.

We spent the mornings in the water, then came inside for lunch and an afternoon nap, then headed back out for more ocean time in the late afternoon/early evening. I took a Kindle with a stack of library books on it, but I didn’t read a single book, other than the audiobook I listened to on the plane. I did, however, watch a ridiculous amount of HGTV, my go-to vacation channel.

HGTV always cracks me up, especially shows like House Hunters, because it’s usually a couple who are like butterfly catchers or basket weavers with inexplicable two million dollar budgets and wildly different requirements. I know the whole thing is staged for max drama, but I love it anyway.

This time, I found a new show, and I’ve now binged most of it. It’s called Farmhouse Fixer, and the host, Jon Knight, is that Jon Knight, which I didn’t realize until after we’d watched more than one episode and we finally caught the intro. He renovates old New England farmhouses, and seems to really, really love his job, then he jets off to perform with New Kids on the Block when it’s showtime. The whole show is adorable and very low-drama, which makes it perfect vacation fare.

Now I’m back in the real world, because I don’t have an extra few million dollars to buy my very own beach front house, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have any eccentric distant relatives who are going to die and leave me a mysterious fortune and/or beach house.

However, if you’re an old, eccentric billionaire who needs someone to leave your fortune to, you know where to find me!

This week, I’m continuing to edit the romantic fantasy. I made it a little over a third of the way through before vacation, so my plan is to re-read that portion to get back up to speed, then knock out the rest hopefully by the end of the month.

But I’m still missing my afternoon nap. :)

On Imposter Syndrome

A typewriter on a wooden table with a black background and the word IMPOSTER stamped in red across the image.

I had a nice weekend at ArmadilloCon! I got to meet some authors I knew from social media, which is always lovely. I’m in decompress mode today, but one panel has been lingering with me, and that’s the one about imposter syndrome. It was a forty-five minute panel with six speakers, so I didn’t get to talk at any length about what imposter syndrome looks like for me and how I get around it, but I have a blog.


If you’ve managed to go your whole life with a raft of confidence and no doubts, let me explain imposter syndrome: it’s the unfounded feeling that you’re not good enough, or knowledgeable enough, or smart enough to do something, and if you go ahead and do it anyway, then someone will immediately notice how terrible you are and expose you to the rest of the group as a fraud.

From this point onward, I’m going to be talking about my experience. Yours may be different! It probably is, but hopefully hearing about my experience and how I deal with it will be helpful or at least let you know you’re not alone. :)

For me, imposter syndrome is tied up with rejection sensitivity, gatekeeping, and having an excellent imagination.

I was put on the panel because I was complaining about feeling like an imposter while filling out the panel interest list. Speakers were supposed to go through and indicate which panels they’d like to do and were qualified to discuss.

That second part is what triggered my imposter syndrome, because am I qualified to talk about writing erotic scenes in SF/F? I mean, yeah, I do write those scenes, and readers seem to enjoy them, and I’ve written nine books, but there is probably someone better who could talk about it.

And that’s the problem. I compare myself to this imaginary “someone better” and always come up short, because the person in my imagination is perfect in every way, knowledgeable on every subject, and never, ever has doubts.

It’s the same reason my doctor had to change the pain scale, because when she asked it where ten was the worst pain I’d ever imagined, my pain always was like a four. Yeah, it hurt a lot, but not like being burned alive, eaten by a grizzly, and falling into a chipper shredder, combined. That would be a ten-worthy pain.

Having an active imagination can be both a blessing and a curse. :)

Another aspect is gatekeeping. Fandom has long had a gatekeeping issue—as does tech, let’s be clear—and I generally avoid situations where I’m going to have to “prove” myself: “Oh, you like Star Wars? I bet you can’t even name everyone on the Jedi High Council.”

You’re right, I can’t! I have to write down my own character names so I don’t forget them in the middle of a talk, and I spend hundreds of hours writing them. My goldfish brain flatly refuses to hold onto some types of information, which just feeds directly into my worry that maybe I am a fraud.

So how do I get past it? How do I put that book out there, or speak on that panel, or offer advice on the very thing that’s whispering maybe you’re not good enough?

Practice and perseverance.

I know you were probably hoping for a magical cure, but alas, if I had one, this post would be a whole lot shorter. :)

Unfortunately, overcoming imposter syndrome means doing things that are scary. It means putting yourself out there, for good or ill. Your brain doesn’t want to be scared or anxious, so it’ll tell you that it’s better to stay quiet, to take the easy path, to not take the risk.

Your brain is a damn liar.

So when it starts whispering its lies, try to look at things objectively, as difficult as that can be. If you truly can’t be objective, ask a trusted friend for advice. I know if I asked my BFF if I was qualified to be on a panel about writing better sex scenes in SFF, she would be like, of course, why is this even a question for you?

Writers tend to fall into imposter syndrome pretty easily, very possibly because we’re so good with empathy and imagination and worst-case scenarios. Are you writing a book and worried that it’s awful and you suck and everyone who said they liked it is lying to you? Welcome to being a writer! I’d say most of us struggle with those feelings, even people who are highly successful. Keep going, you’ve got this.

Did your book come out but it wasn’t an instant bestseller and now you’re worried that you’re a fraud? The vast majority of books aren’t bestsellers. It’ll be okay. Keep going and maybe your next book will be. Or your tenth, or twentieth. Or maybe you’ll have a very solid midlist career that will make tons of readers happy without ever writing a bestseller—but only if you keep going.

And imposter syndrome doesn’t go away with “success.” If anything, it can get worse, because the measure of success moves. At first, it’s just finishing the book. Then it’s getting an agent. Then a publishing deal. Then hitting a list, then hitting higher on the list. When the goal posts keep moving, it’s easy to fall into the thinking that you aren’t good enough.

You are good enough.

And don’t worry if you still feel like an imposter. You aren’t alone, and a little bit of imposter syndrome isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At least you won’t have to worry about being a pompous asshole. :)

I had several people come up after my panels this weekend and tell me how much they enjoyed my contributions. If I’d let imposter syndrome keep me at home, then those attendees would’ve missed out on my perspective, and that would’ve been a shame.

So keep going, keep doing those scary things, and it will get easier. Not easy, at least not for me, but easier. I’ll never measure up to that imaginary perfect person in my head, but I don’t have to. Even messy and imperfect and unable to remember the answer to a single gatekeeping question, I still have value to contribute.

Maybe the thing I say or do or write will be the thing that someone desperately needs right at that moment.

And that’s worth taking the risk.

Rest Week

Release week is over, so I’m resting this week, which mostly means I’m not writing prose. Instead, I’m writing code, lol. But it’s a different sort of creativity, and it works well to give my brain a break while still being a little bit productive. If everything works correctly (ha!) then this post will auto-post to Twitter and Bluesky, since that was my project this week.

If it doesn’t, then I’ll try to figure out what happened. :)

Lest you think it’s all work around here, I’ve also been binging various C-dramas on Netflix. I watched all of Love O2O and really enjoyed it, then I bounced around through a few that didn’t quite capture my attention before landing on The King’s Avatar, where I’m five-ish episodes in. But I’m still looking for more things to watch, so if you have any favorite shows, drop me some recs in the comments!

Other than that, I’ve been playing Diablo and hiding from the brutal Texas heat. We’re supposed to finally be getting some relief as the heat dome moves on over the next few days, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’ll probably be a little quiet for a week or two as I take some time to recharge, but thanks again for making release week fabulous, and I hope you all are enjoying the book! 💕

All Diablo, All the Time

The past three days were an all Diablo weekend around here, and since I sent my romantic fantasy WIP off to my agent on Thursday (🎉🎉🎉), I didn’t have anything super pressing on my to-do list to distract from gaming fun.

Mr. M and I are playing together, and we generally play breadth-first rather than diving straight through the main story, so we’ve been picking up all the side quests and exploring the whole map before moving on, which means were like level 51 and only in Act III.

Unfortunately, it seems that World Tier 2 gear seems to be capped below level 50, and we can’t move to World Tier 3 without completing the main story, so that’s sad, since I mainly play Diablo for the shiny new loot. When all of that loot is consistently worse than what I currently have equipped, it’s not as fun.

Blizzard, surely you knew that your players liked to actually play the game, right? Not all of us are on a mission to get to end-game as fast as possible, but I guess we’ll be doing a dash through the rest of the main quest, then we’ll go back and pick up all the side quests in Tier 3. Boo!

Overall, we’re having a lot of fun, and I’m happy we bought the version with early access, since this week we have a lot of actual responsibilities that require us to leave the house, lol. I’ll be interested to see how they wrap up the story (no spoilers, please!), because right now I’m kind of on team You All Suck.

But at least it’s very pretty. :)

I hope you had a lovely weekend to kick off June! And in just fifteen days, Capture the Sun will be out in the world! 🎉