The Fear of Long Books

This is something I’ve noticed lately in my time spent in various author places online. There is an almost pathological fear of long books.

I see post after post from people worrying about their word count, that their book is “too long.” I see post after post of people saying “Keep your book short because all long books are unedited pieces of crap and you don’t want to bore your reader!” (Paraphrased.) Many of these posts I see are referring to books in my genre — SFF.

The word counts I’m seeing this about? 150K. 130K. 100K.

*looks at 250K first novel that was extensively edited and also pretty well-received*

It’s really weird to claim that all long books are “unedited”. It’s like there’s this assumption that you can’t POSSIBLY need that many words to tell a story; that if it’s that long, it means you couldn’t cut what was unnecessary.

Sure, there ARE longer works that haven’t been cut down as much as they should have (though to be honest, this usually happens a bit into a trad-pubbed series, when no one dares tell a popular author “No” anymore — see: George Lucas & the prequels). I’m not saying that it never happens; I just think it’s weird to assume it’s ALL that ever happens.

Continue reading The Fear of Long Books

My Friend from High School Died and it’s Fucking Me Up

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 21, 2017.


Last month my friend from high school died, and we don’t know why, he just did, he was in his late 20s and he died of natural causes, which is just fucking me up because what the fuck does that even mean?

Like my brain kind of thinks that if you make it through infancy then random natural causes should be off your list of possible deaths until you are in your late 80s. Unless you’re sick or you get hit by a car or whatever, you should be safe.

But his body just quit. It just quit and there’s no reason to it. He was healthy and in his 20s and it just quit. Natural causes means we don’t know what the fuck happened, he just died.

And I’m not healthy and I’m 30 and I don’t want to die. I say I do all the time and I’m suicidal but I don’t actually want to die, I just want the pain to end and so far the most efficient way for that to happen seems to be death. I learned the lesson of my desire to live when I accidentally poisoned myself with belladonna. (Yes, accidentally.) I don’t want to stop living. I’m terrified of dying too early.

And I’m terrified of my husband dying too early. He’s 35 and since Jesse died my anxiety about my husband randomly dying in his sleep has skyrocketed. (It was already there, because I’m an anxious, fucked-up mess of a human being.) He was sleeping in for a long time the other day and I suddenly had a panic attack over it, I had to rush in the bedroom and make sure he was still breathing.

Continue reading My Friend from High School Died and it’s Fucking Me Up

What I’m Reading

End of March, 2017 edition.

Whoa, this post has proper capitalization! Wonders are not ceasing!

Anyway, it’s Friday, so I’m going to talk about books I’m reading/have read/plan to read. Actually it being Friday has nothing to do with; I just wanted to post this and today seemed good. If I post this sort of thing again it’s doubtful it will fall on a schedule. Still putting it in the Friday Reads category though!

Note: I’m linking to the Amazon pages for these books and using my affiliate link. If you buy via one of these links, I make a little money, and you don’t get charged extra. So I really appreciate it if you choose to do that. <3

What I just finished

Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff. I read this at the suggestion of my husband and I finished in 2 days, which is the fastest I’ve finished a book in a long, long time.

It’s military sci-fi, it’s hilarious (I was constantly laughing and reading out little bits to my husband), it’s heart-wrenching, and it’s just darn good. I’m probably late to the game on it seeing as it’s been out for 17 years but hey, better late than never. If you enjoy military sci-fi I highly recommend this book.

I was actually going to read the rest of the series that we have right away after, buuuut I had to actually get work done and couldn’t spend the next week reading non-stop. Soon I’ll be able to take a reading vacation (hopefully) and when I do I am devouring the next few books.

What I’m currently reading

The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols by Genevieve von Petzinger. SO GOOD.

This is non-fiction; it’s about a series of symbols found in cave art in many different places and times. It’s fascinating; I’m only a little bit into the book, but I was lucky enough to see von Petzinger speak in October at the Writers’ Fest. It was then that I was like OK I NEED THIS BOOK, so I managed to convince my mom to pick it up for me.

One of the really cool points von Petzinger makes in the book is that throughout human history, we’re always building on what our ancestors did, standing on the shoulders of giants — but these people that she talks about, these early humans, they were “the original giants.” They’re the basis for all we have now. All the art and meaning and culture they had, that was the beginning. And by learning about it, we can better know ourselves.

Also, the thing that made me fall in love with von Petzinger a little bit when I heard her speak was her talking about making all her research, when she’s done with it, open-source — so that anyone wanting to continue it, build on it, do their own thing inspired by her work, doesn’t have to re-trace all her steps. All her work will be open to scientific community. Which is a great and necessary attitude to take, in my view.

Seriously, highly recommended book, especially if you find anthropology and archaeology as fascinating as I do.

What I plan to read next

Showdown by Diane Morrison.

Diane Morrison is an indie author friend of mine, and she hosted the Pagan Fiction Authors Takeover event I did a couple of weeks ago. I ended up winning a copy of her new book, Showdown, in a giveaway she hosted recently, so it’s next on my list of books to read.

I’m pretty excited to dive into it because it’s pagan fiction and a western and I find that blend pretty intriguing.


Ok, that’s it for this edition of Friday Reads. It will be a while before I do another one because I am a very slow reader. Also no idea if it will even be on a Friday.

Loonily yours,
~Katje

Celebrate Love. All kinds of love.

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 14, 2017.


I used to hate Valentine’s Day with an all-consuming passion. Before that, I adored it.

In my childhood, Valentine’s Day was great. It was my half-birthday (approximately 6 months from my actual birthday) so my parents (well, mom mostly) made a big deal of it and how I was their Valentine. It was about celebrating family love.

I got a little older, and my best friend’s little brother would ask me if I was his Valentine every year — and I would say “Yes, of course I am!” because he was a sweet kid.

I got a little older, and the teacher had to order the other students to give me valentines so my envelope wouldn’t be empty.

I got a little older, and I realized that not only did no one else give a shit it was my half-birthday, no one even knew what a half-birthday was. Apparently it had been made up by my crazy family.

Continue reading Celebrate Love. All kinds of love.

notes on gabapentin, day 6

ok, so 6 days of taking my new meds. here are some notes on it.

  • it works. i mean, it definitely stops my twitching when i’m awake. however i’ve noticed, now my twitching has stopped, that i also have nerve pain in my extremities. i just never noticed it before because i was always either jiggling my limbs or twitching.
  • i’m not worried about the nerve pain, as it can take 2 weeks for gabapentin to get rid of it. so if i still have it after 3 weeks, i’ll worry.
  • i sleep really well on it. first 2 nights i used it were on the recliner, because my neck was so stiff and sore. i never sleep well on the recliner, but those 2 nights were the best recliner sleeps i have ever had. and the third night, in bed, it put me into a mini-coma.
  • i’m still tired during the day, but i also haven’t been taking my iron daily and i have a massive sleep debt of like, 20 years. so i’m expecting to still be tired throughout the day for a while.
  • even though i’m still tired throughout the day i’m way more awake than usual.
  • side effects i’m experiencing: drowsiness (useful), slight dizziness and nausea, when i wake up in the morning it takes me longer to shake the sleep fog, and longer for my vision to come back to normal, and some extra bleeding and bruising (which i’m not actually 100% sure is from the gabapentin, as it could have other causes right now). all in all, nothing too severe and nothing i’m not willing to deal with in order to get a better night’s sleep. (regardless i’ll bring up the side effects with the doc when i see him next, which should be a week tomorrow.)

conclusion: it’s working, and so far i’m happy with it. will continue to monitor it for any severe or scary side effects, and am waiting to see how close to “normal” i’ll get with regards to feeling awake in the day, but for right now allowing myself to feel cautiously hopeful that this might be the answer to my sleep woes.

and now, i am a sleepykat so i am off to bed. yes, at 6am. don’t judge me.

~katje

ps: i think it also made my breasts bigger, which i consider a win. at least i do today; on a day when i don’t id as femme as i do today, it’ll probably cause some severe dysphoria. c’est la vie du genderqueer.

This is not for you: Productivity and Chronic Illness

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 7th, 2017.


I read a lot of articles on productivity and improving one’s creativity and making life better. How to do better, be better, accomplish more, feel satisfied with my life, not feel like such a fucking failure all the time. I read these articles because productivity and discipline are things I struggle with and I want to see if there’s anything out there that can give me a leg up in reaching my goals.

About 90% of them are explicitly not for me.

I struggle with discipline, but I’m also chronically ill. I have trouble being productive because I’m a procrastinator, but I’m also disabled. I struggle with gratitude because I haven’t developed a habit of it, but I also suffer from severe mental illness.

There are very few articles out there about productivity that write with any of these things in mind. Almost all of them talk about “willpower” and “making time” and “a morning routine is essential” and “you need to practice gratefulness” and “breakfast WILL give you energy!”

Willpower? Willpower means nothing when I sleep through the 10 alarms I set; it’s not about using my strength of will to not hit the snooze button, it’s about salvaging my wreckage of a day because my body refused to wake up, refused to even hear the alarms until it got 12 hours. Articles that write about “having the willpower to get up earlier” are telling me nothing new; they’re just telling me something useless, something I’ve heard time and time again that does nothing to help me with my issues.

Continue reading This is not for you: Productivity and Chronic Illness

Not everything is for you: kids and Deadpool

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 17th, 2016.


I suppose it was inevitable. People have taken their kids to see Deadpool…and then complained it wasn’t appropriate for kids.

Look. I am the first person to say that the MPAA ratings are bullshit and usually far too puritanical. I believe parents know better than a bunch of film-rating execs what’s appropriate for their kids. What’s more, the MPAA ratings are hopelessly vague. An “R” rating doesn’t tell me if a movie is going to have an animal dying, which will have me more upset than a kid pranked with a fake trip to Disneyland. It doesn’t tell me if there’s going to be a rape or attempted rape scene, which will trigger the fuck out of me. I’ve learned that the best way for me to enjoy movies or TV shows is — if I think there’s a possibility there’s a chance for these things that will really upset me and basically ruin my entire fucking week — ask someone who’s already seen it, or have my husband pre-view it for me so he can warn me, and be on hand for cuddles afterwards if I do, indeed, decide to go through with viewing it.

I grew up watching things that were well “beyond my age”. When I was 10, mom took me to see the Kama Sutra movie in theatres — “Just act like you’re 18!” — because she knew that I could handle a positive portrayal of adult sexuality. And, in fact, probably needed to see a positive portrayal of adult sexuality, seeing as by the age of 10 I had already been assaulted. She was right. The Kama Sutra movie did not scar me (though the “sequel” which was “American tourists rekindle their marriage by exploiting Indian traditions” kind of did).

But that was one of very few positive experiences I had watching things beyond my age when I was very young. I was a really sensitive kid, you see. I’m still sensitive now, but I’ve had to grow an unnaturally thick skin just so I can survive daily life (which is full of people saying I’m too sensitive, a sissy, a coward, a pussy, etc). I was easily scared (still am, and horror is one of my fave film genres) and very empathetic towards suffering seen on screen — especially for animals.

When I was a little kid, my dad showed me Alien and Aliens. I still adore these films, but the truth is they scared the shit out of me when I first saw them. (I mean, duh, they’re scary films.) I was probably way too young to see them whenever I did the first time. I don’t remember how old I was; I just know that the Aliens franchise was part of growing up for me.

Continue reading Not everything is for you: kids and Deadpool

My Failed Relationship with Toe Socks

This post was originally published on my Medium profile on January 21st, 2016.


Since I was 12 I’ve been in love with toe socks. They’d become the symbol for the quirky, cute, intelligent girl who didn’t quite fit in but was still gorgeous according to conventional standards of beauty. They appeared in the glossy spreads of my teen magazines, desperately read in a grasping attempt to be relevant, to gain friends. Maybe if I did these things, people would like me….

It took me years to realize there was no magic formula between the covers of Seventeen or J-14 to make me into one of the cool girls; to make me attractive to boys or other girls or anyone, even myself. So much time sneaking around with my best friend, hiding her copy of Seventeen from her mom lest she get in trouble for reading something “too old” for her; reading aloud to each other in giggling whispers; blushing at the questions about sex submitted by readers just like us, we thought.

I don’t remember where I first saw pictures of toe socks on quirky, fascinating, manic pixie dream girls; I don’t recall what magazine it was, but I remember what the picture looked like — a top-down shot of a few girls sitting in a circle, knees up, feet on the ground, toes pointing to each other, all focus on the socks. Rainbow-striped knee-high toe socks.

Continue reading My Failed Relationship with Toe Socks

new meds

content warning: emetophobia

got my gabapentin today. trying it tonight.

also sleeping on the recliner tonight, because my neck won’t stop hurting. i don’t know what’s up with it. it hasn’t hurt this much since the last time i got whiplash. which was…on a bumper car i think. (yeah, bumper cars give whiplash. just in case you were out of things to worry about your kids doing.)

we had to go out when i was just waking up and before i had a chance to let my muscles adjust to actually being upright. that was less than fun. i’m doing better now, though, and we did pick up the package from the post office and our scrips — can i just publicly thank Asclepius for insurance? i don’t even know what it would have been without, but with our extended insurance from mr. katje’s workplace it was 17 bucks for three scrips. gone are the days of me taking my anti-depressant every other day to make it last! Io Asclepius! — and also got a little grocery shopping done as we were out of milk.

we’ve recently switched to 3.25% milk from 2% and i’m drinking a lot more of it. IT’S SO GOOD. however, we kind of regret going to IGA instead of Save-On today. milk was over 6 dollars for a 4L; at Save-On it’s around 4.5 bucks. that was a huge ouch. but i was too unwell to handle too grocery trips, so we just got it and sighed heavily.

i also asked at the pharmacy about switching from zoloft capsules to tabs because the capsules are incredibly hard for me to swallow and can cause me to throw up if i don’t do it exactly right. apparently the tabs are not available in Canada. because Canada has super draconian laws about medicine and food. (if you think the FDA is tough, haha have i got news for you.)

sometimes, i appreciate those laws. not today.

so continuing to use zoloft in capsule form until i can figure out a new med. maybe one that doesn’t make me sick and actually works better for my mental illnesses. hoping i get that appointment with a psychiatrist soon because i am running low on my meds.

but i’m excited about the gabapentin! i had a feeling i have Willis Ekbom Disease (aka ‘restless legs syndrome’ but the restless legs are a reaction to the uncontrollable spasms it causes) which i brought up with my doctor (short aside: i love my current doctor. he actually practices medicine instead of just telling me to lose weight. sent from the heavens. Io Asclepius again!) because i’m worried that it’s causing me to have a bad sleep. even after using the cpap for 6 months i am still exhausted all the time. much better with the cpap than without, but still. i shouldn’t be this tired.

so i asked if there was a test for willis ekbom and he said no, it’s one of those things where we give you treatment and see if it works and then that’s the test, basically. so i’m only supposed to take it before bed to see if it helps interrupt the processes that are causing me to spasm so i can actually get a full night’s rest instead of my body shaking itself ever so slightly awake all the time.

(i still spasm during the day and it’s uncomfortable, but if i can just get it to stop at night i can handle the daytime spasms. i’ve been dealing with them for a long time, after all.)

i’m really crossing my fingers the gabapentin works for me, because if i can fix my sleep i have a feeling i will feel 100x better, even with continued disability and chronic pain.

-katje

edited to add: between finishing writing this post but before publishing it i actually took a look at my pills. they’re capsules, because of course they are. i now have three prescription pills that are capsules. huzzah me. XD

body betrayal

living with chronic illness and disability is living with a body that is constantly betraying you.

i only speak from my own experience, which is that of someone who went from relatively healthy with a few weird but livable issues, to disabled, in constant pain, always fighting the truth of my own flesh.

because of it i’m stranded in between believing fully in the social model of disability and knowing that no matter how much we improve society, i’m still going to hate being this way. it will always suck for me.

there are people for whom the social model of disability fits completely, and that’s fine. but for those of us for whom it’s only a factor — well, it gets frustrating talking about it. because it seems like you’re saying nothing matters, we shouldn’t fix anything, things will always suck. or that you’re saying disability means being inherently broken or having something wrong with you.

when the reality is, you’re only speaking for yourself. and while no, being disabled doesn’t mean there’s anything morally wrong with me (something i still struggle to believe because of that great protestant work ethic hammering away at my psyche), the fact remains: i am broken.

Continue reading body betrayal