Monday Earworm: from Hamilton

So I bought my daughter the soundtrack from Hamilton for Christmas because it’s her (and my) favorite musical ever and probably always will be. So naturally we’ve been listening to it pretty much ever since. Just about every other day I have a different favorite song, and at the moment, “Yorktown” is it. I swear that song makes me feel like maybe even I could fight a revolution. And even though this video from the Tony Awards will give you the idea, it doesn’t have the energy of seeing the actual play or even listening to the soundtrack all the way through. But it will definitely work for a Monday Earworm.

Enjoy.

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To Help With Your New Year’s Resolution To Read More Books…

Just chilling on the couch, you know, like ya do.

Remember when I mentioned yesterday that I’m trying to read more books for fun? Are you in the same situation? I can help with that…

You might have heard that Odeon Press picked up Finis. and released a 3rd edition of it. It’s looks slightly different and has more back matter — but the content of the story and the illustrations are identical. I still have some copies of the 2nd edition on hand, however, and I’m doing a giveaway right now in exchange for honest reviews. These reviews could be on Amazon or Goodreads or your book blog or anywhere else that publishes reviews!

Did you know it takes fifty reviews before Amazon will put your book into their searches? It does. Finis. has about sixteen reviews last I checked, and I’d love to bump that number right up!

So if you’re interested, please let me know, and I’ll happily mail you a copy. You can leave a comment here on this post, or email me at forest [dot] of [dot] diamonds [at] gmail [dot]  com (putting “FINIS. giveaway” in the subject line), or ping me on social media.

Thank you!

Happy New Year! (Also, Have Some Turn-of-the-Year Ritual)

Happy New Year! Now that all the time zones are in, I think we can safely say ciao to 2018 and look eagerly forward to 2019.

As a creature of habit, I appreciate the measure of structure and stability that routine and ritual provide, and at this time of year, I enjoy indulging in a little bit of year-in-review. I also tend to make public my writing resolutions for the new year, as if publishing them will help hold me accountable. (I mean, sometimes that works.)

So here we go!

On Sappho’s Torque this past year, the most popular posts, hands-down, were the ones in which I shared either my or other people’s poetry. In April, to celebrate National Poetry Month here in the US, I curate a poem-a-day series. It has been going strong for several years now and remains one of the most popular features on my blog. Here are a few of the other top posts — ones which had nothing to do with poetry — this year:

My Little Free Library
What We Say, Or Don’t
The Pep Rally I Cannot Forget

Interestingly, that last one is from 2015, but it always makes a big splash again during high school football season.

A couple of years ago, I made a commitment to read more books just for fun, and doing so has improved my quality of life exponentially. I became a writer in part because reading has been one of my absolute favorite things to do since I was very young; I loved reading stories and felt compelled to create new ones. Teaching and parenting tend to drain away one’s free time, and so reading just for fun (like other things I did for self-care) fell by the wayside.

Disregarding one’s self-care generally doesn’t end well.

So I started carving out the time to read, even if only for ten minutes before bedtime each night. It reduced my stress and improved the quality of my sleep. I incorporated free choice reading into some of my classes; that helped, too, because I did it alongside my students. And then I began keeping a list of the books I was reading for fun each year. I try to read a wide variety of things, but I will also concede that I most enjoy reading books in the genres I write or want to write, and at least half a dozen of the books on this list were for research for my writing or teaching. So here is my list for 2018; you’ll find a preponderance of fantasy and magic realism and poetry, as well as some science fiction, realistic fiction, romance, and comics. These titles are not ranked in any way but listed alphabetically by author. I strongly recommend maybe a dozen of them (starred). (A few of these books were re-reads from many years ago; I’ve also not listed books which I began reading but did not finish, for one reason or another.)

Dawn (Octavia Butler) *
Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
Close to the Edge (Zara Cox) *
Unleashed (Caitlin Crews) *
When a Scot Ties the Knot (Tessa Dare)
The Mistress of Spices (Chitra Divakaruni) *
Like Water for Chocolate (Laura Esquivel) *
Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
Shadow of Night (Deborah Harkness) *
The Book of Life (Deborah Harkness) *
The Midnight Queen (Sylvia Izzo Hunter)
Justice League: Volume 1, Origin (Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Scott Williams)
At the Bottom of the River (Jamaica Kincaid)
Hallow Point (Ari Marmell) *
His Majesty’s Dragon (Naomi Novik) *
Binti (Nnedi Okorafor) *
Wicked Like a Wildfire (Lana Popović) *
the magic my body becomes (Jess Rizkallah)
The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan) *
Mala of the Heart (various authors) *

This brings me to my writing resolutions for the new year. Most of my Writing Career Time has been consumed the last few months with finishing up my forthcoming book of poetry, The Sharp Edges of Water. We’re on track still for a January release date, which is awesome, but this process has really taken a long time (as it does). My goals for this year include finding some way to write at least 200 words a day (or a complete poem or blog post). What would be amazing is if I could finish the first draft of the new novel I’m working on, which has really taken a backseat to the book of poetry (as it had to).

But this week, I’ll be getting back to the WIP, and I’m super excited about that! I’m happiest when I’m writing a story I love.

I have a few other resolutions, too, such as hitting 100 rejections this year (which I came close to in 2018, I think, though I wasn’t honestly counting). The idea behind this is that if you’re submitting your work out often enough to hit 100 rejections in a year, you’re bound to get some acceptances. I’ve found this logic to be quite sound: the more I submit my work, the more publications I garner. The main obstacle for me is just making time to do it. (Don’t get me started on the millions of ways the publishing industry makes it a financial, emotional, and logistical challenge for writers to get individual pieces published. We’ll be here all day. I’m in the game and aware of it; that has to be enough for now.)

I’m also looking forward to participating again in the August Postcard Poetry Fest; last year was my first time to do it and it was awesome! And as if that weren’t enough, I have yet another collection of poems which will go into editing later this year. Watch for news on that when it manifests.

I won’t say it’s easy being both a fiction writer and a poet. I will say it’s fulfilling to do both, though, and for me, each type of writing informs the other.

So that’s all for now. I’ll write more later with some fun opportunities you might be interested in. Until then, enjoy the book you’re reading, and if you’re not reading one, find one. It will likely do you good.

Early Earworm: John Roderick and Jonathan Coulton

It’s Winter Break and no one knows what day it is anymore.

Just kidding. I know today is Friday. I looked it up.

This is a song I would make into an earworm, but it’s really more appropriate for right now than for Monday, which will be New Year’s Eve, so I’m posting it today. It made it onto my 12 Days of Christmas Music list back in 2014, too, but it’s just such a good song, let’s have it again. Nice and mellow, for one of those days when you’re between social engagements and doing something ordinary, like cleaning your office, and it’s relaxing because it’s productive and not stressful, because it’s Winter Break.

I might be projecting.

Either way, this song is keeping me company right now, while I handle the filing and organize my journals.

12 Days Of Christmas Music To Knock Your Socks Off (Day 12)

Let us not forget, in this time of recalling the story of the Nativity, the one very human person who made it all relatable to a human audience. Here: a soothing, musical meditation, dedicated to all the mothers who actually make Christmas happen in so many homes where emotional labors are left to women, either by necessity or by choice or by neglect. Merry Christmas to all of you, and to all of you.

12 Days of Christmas Music To Knock Your Socks Off (Day 11)

I love this arrangement of “Winter Wonderland” and also love the way Harry Connick, Jr, plays it. I love the piano and love playing the piano. I loved the movie When Harry Met Sally, from whose soundtrack this song comes. And I love Christmas. I am filled with love.