Redshirts unite!


Tragedy Strikes the Pumpkin Spice Away Team

International Observe the Moon Night

This is late, but it still applies even if it is past the actual date now.🙂

moonInternational Observe the Moon Night is October 8. This is a day I had never heard of until I saw it scroll past on a friend’s Facebook the other day. But of course I was immediately intrigued. NASA! Space! The setting of some of my very favorite novels and movies and TV shows! Honestly, how could I not have been stoked to learn more about it?

Scientists who study the moon specifically are called selenographers, from the Greek moon goddess Selene. Right away, that’s almost enough to make me want to go back to college. Just imagine the interesting cocktail party conversations! “What do you do for work?” “Oh, I’m a selenographer.” It’s too bad I can’t count past ten and could never hope to pass the math it would require. I have literature degrees for a reason. The word is beautiful, though. Like the moon.

The moon has been our constant companion, and it is clear that our fascination with it is nothing new. Anthropologists believe that the cave paintings at the Lascaux caves in France depict the earliest lunar calendar. It is 15,000 years old. Our distant ancestors spent a good deal of time looking upward and wondering, as many of us still do, what was out there, charting and learning and expanding their knowledge of the place they call home. I don’t know any word for that except humbling.

Some interesting moon facts: According to, the moon was originally part of earth but at some point in our past, we got clobbered by something big and it knocked a bit off. That bit eventually turned into the moon. The moon weighs 81 quintillion tons. I literally have no idea how many zeroes that is. It would take 135 days to drive to the moon at 70 mph. I like road trips and all, but Jesus. Maybe these are all things everyone else already knows, but like I said. I have literature degrees. I love science and space stuff, but there is a ton I don’t know. Including what the fuck a quintillion is.

moon-and-hands-300x252The best thing, at least to me, about International Observe the Moon Night is that it invites people all over the world, wherever they are, to be united for a moment in a peaceful endeavor. How amazing is that? I hope that everyone on Earth does, for even just a few minutes, look up at the moon all together. Maybe there will be even just one breath, one heartbeat, when no one dies or fights. Just a space of time when we all just stop and look up at the moon in the night sky and breathe together.

So, the International Observe the Moon Night has reminded me to look up at the moon, our nearest neighbor, and hope.

In honor of our moon, my list of books for the night is below:

The Value of the Moon by Paul Spudis

The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicistby Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of my favorite astrophysicists. His Star Talk Radio is a podcast I listen to religiously.

Sun Moon Earth by Tyler Nordgren.

Almost Heaven: The Story of Women in Space by Betty Ann Holtzmann Kevles. OK, so it’s not the moon, per se, but finding adult science books about the moon is hard. Apparently it’s not that sexy anymore. Women in space are rad, though.

And since the moon is the setting of some super fun books, here:

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

And because it’s the moon, and it’s night, and it’s fun, the requisite werewolf book:

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones.

Originally posted on Book Riot.

Everyday Inspiration


The other day, I was driving home and thinking about my writing. Specifically, the lack of it. I hadn’t written much lately and was in a bit of a writing slump. I needed to get some fresh material, some inspiration to get me writing more again. But we all know writing is hard work, and most successful writers will agree that inspiration is a rare and glorious thing. Most books we read are the end result not of ideas flowing freely from the author’s mind to the page, but rather the daily battle to force words into a semblance of coherence. Stephen King says, “Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up” (King, 2000, 25).

That bit of advice has always stood me in good stead. Once I realized I didn’t necessarily have to generate my own entirely original ideas, I started seeing how the mundane, everyday things around me are nothing but writing fodder. After a while, it becomes reflexive and as natural as breathing. Writing a full story is still a lot of work, but the bare bones for a scene or character are already all around me.

For example, whenever it rains, which is surely a sign of the apocalypse in Phoenix, a ring of toadstools pops up in my backyard. Every time. That one’s easy – it’s a fairy circle! But in the desert? What are fairies doing in the desert? How did they get here? Why? Right there are questions you can answer in the form of a short story.

What about your boring drive to the grocery? What do you see around you? Cars? Other people going on errands? Certainly. Are some of the errands they’re running illegal? Are they being carried out by the scary, tattooed man who looks like a stereotypical criminal mastermind, or by the sweet little old lady in the ancient but pristine Caddy next to you? I’ll give you a hint: it’s the little old lady every time.

What about lost things? The gold locket with an old picture inside that you found on the sidewalk? That’s a story just begging to be written. A cracked mirror in an ornate frame that gives you the creeps at an antique store. The inscription inside a crumbling old book in your grandmother’s bookcase – who is the mystery woman it’s addressed to, and who penned the elegant script and dated it back in 1879? That, by the way, is a true story.

Do you see how King’s advice is accurate? We don’t have to beat our heads against a wall for story ideas. They are already there in the things that surround us everyday, waiting to be recognized. Don’t be afraid to point them out to others.


King, S. (2000). On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Scribner.

For Tolkien Week

tolkien-300x300As literally a card-carrying member of The Tolkien Society, I felt it was my duty to write some kind of  post for Tolkien Week/ Hobbit Day. Usually I celebrateTolkien on Tolkien Reading Day (AKA the Gondorian New Year, AKA March 25). But in the US, Tolkien Week is observed on the calendar week containing Hobbit Day, which is September 22, because that is Bilbo and Frodo’s mutual birthday. If you didn’t know that already, mark it down, because you DO know those hobbits know how to party! You wouldn’t want to miss out on that. But what exactly should I do for this post? I’ve been agonizing about this for weeks now. I mean, honestly. It’s Tolkien! How do I condense a life-long love into a single post? This is way stressful, little hobbitses!

j-r-r-tolkien-biography-humphrey-carpenter-192x300Do I tell people things they already know about Tolkien? You probably already know that he was born in South Africa, where he has a vivid memory about a terrifying encounter with a large, hairy spider. I’m sure he worked that issue out through his writing somehow. We know that his dad died when he was only four and his mom moved him and his siblings back to England. Then his mom died of diabetes when he was 12. He demonstrated his linguistic genius and started inventing languages. Eventually, he went to Exeter College at Oxford University, fell in love, went to war, survived, got his foot in the door back at Oxford working as a lexicographer on a new little project called the Oxford English Dictionary. It worked out well for him, since that allowed him to apply for, and land, the position of Reader in English Language (like an associate professor) at the University of Leeds. Later, he applied for and snagged the Professorship of Anglo-Saxon back at Oxford, because he rocked it hard. In his spare time, he liked to write stuff, which I started reading when I was eight and which still occupies a significant amount of my thought processes. I learned all about him fromJ.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, both of which are wonderful and are must-haves for any fan’s library.

Do I talk about the film adaptations of his writing? I mean, there are a few people, maybe, who haven’t seen The Lord of the Ringsmovies. I actually know one of them. We aren’t friends. But in general, The Lord of the Rings films are basically the only films that I think are about as good as the books, and if you know me at all, you know how incredibly rare that is. But OMG, friends! These films make me cry every fucking time I watch them, and I do NOT cry at movies. They show the best parts of the books that I so love, and have loved since childhood. I fell in love with Middle Earth from line one. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” What a wonderful first line! I wish this line had been worked into the films. Alas. BUT! There are So. Many. Other parts that just hit me right in the feels. I get choked up when Boromir dies. At the Battle of Helm’s Deep when Gimli is blowing the horn and Eomer and Gandalf come and save the day. FORTH EORLINGAS! And I’m a blubbering mess in The Return of the King when Aragorn says, “My friends! You bow to no one” and he kneels to the hobbits. *wibble* These wonderful scenes are all in the films (though often in a revised form). If you haven’t seen the films, go watch them, and then get busy reading. The films are beautiful; the books are more so.

yorkshire-pudding-300x300Do I dare tell you about the time my best friend and I decided to make hobbit food for our first Gondorian New Year celebration and fucked it up but good? At the time, we were only 14, had never been out of the country, had never really ventured out much in any kind of food other than boring American food, and didn’t really know how to cook anything other than basics like pasta or baked chicken. We somehow missed the fact that Yorkshire pudding was a savory thing, so when we made that, we were confused as hell the whole time because where was the sugar in the recipe? Surely pudding needed sugar? Also, we missed that it was a bread thing. Derp. I really don’t know how we completely missed the entire point of Yorkshire pudding, but we did. Which is a shame, because in retrospect, the one we made that day was a beautiful, perfect example of Yorkshire pudding, but because we were stupid, we were like, “What the fuck is this?” and ended up not eating it because we thought we messed it up. Samwise would have been horrified. I have since made many other Yorkshire puddings and they were a success. I used the “Shire Pudding” recipe from A Tolkien Treasury.

tolkien-tattooDo I tell you why I think everyone should have a Tolkien tattoo? Because I do. At least one. Get your name in Elvish, or the map of Middle Earth, or the Doors of Durin, or the Argonath, or your favorite line, or your favorite character, or your favorite drawing from the book. Or all of them. Something. Anything. You are all creative people, I’m sure you can come up with something awesome. If you do have a Tolkien-inspired tattoo, a) that’s rad and b) I hope you’ll share it in the comments!

I could go off on a big, long, academic analysis of Tolkien’s use of language or poetry or world-building. But why should I when I can just send you to Tolkien’s own work on the subject? If you love his work as much as I do, you have read it all already anyway. If you want MOAR!, then go read Beowulf (or this edition), The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Dream of the Rood (most of these are in The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology). Read everything Bede wrote, especially Caedmon’s Hymn and the Parable of the Sparrow. Both of these are in his The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. If you can, get yourself into a class and learn to read them in Anglo-Saxon, because that would be even cooler and Tolkien would be proud of you. I had to read every single thing I just listed in Anglo-Saxon. If I did it, you have to do it, too. It didn’t hurt too bad, I promise. Getting your tattoo will hurt worse.

Are there any specials things you do for Tolkien Week? I’d love to hear about them!

(Originally posted on Book Riot)

The Best Trek Books…

(Originally posted on Book Riot)

I have a confession to make. I am a hard core, died in the wool, unapologetic Trekkie. I can’t remember a time when Star Trek wasn’t a part of my life. This year is the 50th anniversary of the series, which aired for the first time on September 8, 1966, so there are a LOT of people who can probably say they also grew up with it. I grew up watching episodes of The Original Series in syndication. I was nine when The Next Generation began, and I never missed a single episode. To this day, I can tell you what season an episode is from based just on the style of the uniform Captain Picard is wearing. I even have a sizable amount of memory devoted to being able to tell which episode is playing, complete with episode title and full plot synopsis, based on a five second clip. I can do the same with Voyager. Try not to be jealous. I have seen every episode of Deep Space Nine as well, although I came to its fandom later, so I didn’t devote as much time to my rabid fanaticism and, alas, can’t tell you quite as much about it. I’ve since decided that further study is required! The Dominion War was crazy, y’all!Read More »

Month of Star Trek

star-trek-gameHappy Star Trek Month, people! This month marks the 50th anniversary of my favorite thing in geekdom. Without Star Trek, I really would be a very different person. Maybe that sounds hyperbolic, but it’s true. I owe a lot to Star Trek in the way I think of the world, my political views, and my personal relationships. Read More »

This is a guest post from my dear friend Becky. She makes awesome wax tarts and candles at her online shop, Two Timing Tart. I cannot recommend her stuff highly enough. You should definitely go buy some things from her!


I am a mildly creative person. I write, though whether or not my ramblings make any sense is up for debate. I make candles, wax melts, and such, dabbling in the cerebral creativity that scents evoke. I used to make graphics and websites, and I painted and…Read More »

A Pocket Full of Lies

25814288Huh. OK, I have some Thoughts about this one. *There are spoilers,* so consider yourself warned.

First, there were a lot of things that I really liked about this book. Honestly. It had rather a lot of action and adventure and meeting new aliens and all the things we love about Star Trek. I continue to really like seeing the development of people like Seven and Icheb, and I think Liam O’Donnell is just quirky and cool and a very believable character.

I also am enjoying the continuation of the exploration of the Delta Quadrant. It is like coming home in many ways, but bittersweet, too, since you can’t go home again.

This novel was…not my favorite, though, because for starters, it was just too busy. Some of the various plots felt rushed. I kind of want more time with O’Donnell and the Nihydron, for example, perhaps fleshed out better in a separate novel, rather than trying to cram it all into one.

Also, I’m kind of tired of multiverse problems. Like, cool? I know it’s a thing? But maybe let’s not have another Kathryn Janeway who was horrifically tortured and now has essentially Stockholm syndrome because she loves her captor. Ok, to be fair, she didn’t know he was her captor but still. It seems contrived.

And of COURSE they had a child together. What IS it with Trek characters having babies now? First Picard and Beverly in the TNG relaunch books and now Janeway? I know she’s the Janeway from the “Shattered” episode, but still. DEAR STAR TREK AUTHORS: WOMEN DO NOT NEED TO HAVE BABIES TO BE COMPLETE. Please read Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum. Honestly, what the fuck? At this point, it’s just getting out of character. People can like, or even love, babies without getting all achy in the ovaries and needing to reproduce one of their own.

Which leads me to my other major peeve with this novel. Nancy Conlon, Harry Kim’s girlfriend, gets pregnant accidentally. Really? REALLY? Are you really saying that these people can travel in spaceships that go faster than light, but they can’t manage to figure out how a rubber works? Or, like, turn their ovaries off until they actually want to make a baby? Come ON. I can’t even. I have a kid. I love her more than anything. But enough with the babies in Star Trek. People don’t have to have babies if they don’t want to, there is nothing wrong with just wanting to have a career you love and friends you love without children, nor are they missing out on anything as Tom and B’Elanna suggested at one point in this book. Frankly, that is offensive. There are many other ways to live a fulfilling life than by getting married and having kids. I really hope the authors – all of them – get over the baby thing soon.

September Blogathon

pink typewriter

Some friends from Book Riot and I have banded together to try to resurrect our sadly neglected respective blogs during the month of September. I discovered that regularly contributing to an outside source is awesome, while simultaneously killing my own personal blogging. Apparently I’m not the only one that happened to! Yay.

So my goal during September is to try to write two original posts a week for my own blog, unrelated to anything else I do for Book Riot or HNS. Since I have several other writing projects I need to get cracking on, I think this is a good way to get the creative juices going again.

My fellow bloggers the mutual blogathon of doom are:

The Lesbrary:

YA Interrobang:

Rah Carter:

Knee Sock Chronicles:




Let’s do this, friends!