The Twelve Things of Christmas (continued)

I’m back with another four! These are not in any order of preference; they are simply written down as I can remember them. As someone with exceptionally poor memory, remembering twelve things is quite impressive, and if you would like to shower me with accolades, my office hours are 9-5, Monday to Blurnsday.

NADDpod is an actual play D&D podcast which just started on their second campaign in October. If listening to a group of people play dungeons and dragons does not sound exciting to you, please know that the antics of this group has improved so many days throughout 2020. The DM Murph has a wonderful sense of story, and he is so willing to go weird when his chaotic comedian players have a wild idea. Because I can’t condense an entire podcast down to something for you to sample quickly, I’ll put up an animatic that an amazing fan made of the darkest and silliest Star Wars inspired moment in the game. https://youtu.be/_U8Jme5e6Ps

Sometimes it’s very cathartic to watch someone else vocally lose their mind the way I’ve felt on the inside for some time! Brennan Lee Mulligan has a series of sketches which highlight his skills as an unhinged man, so tired and disappointed in the world around him that his unraveling has become poetry. My favorite, and the one I’ve watched many times this year, is “Tide CEO pleas with the American public to not drink bleach.” You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/Z36OznHFIt4

John Allison has been making my favorite webcomics forever, and 2020 brought a new series called Steeple about a former Church of England Curate named Billie and a former satanic priestess named Maggie who are best friends in a small English village. It’s great. His dialogue writing is effortlessly hilarious, supernatural hijinks lurk around every corner, and the issue I’m linking here is the Christmas special! Maggie and Billie attempt to bring some holiday cheer to the village’s most hostile woman, and must exorcise a ‘sesh gremlin’ while extremely hungover before they become forever slightly inebriated. CHRISTMAS WITH CLOVIS

The eighth good thing is miniatures. I love miniature anythings. Model ships, train layouts, sets and props made for stop motion movies. When I was very young, I lived on a cul-da-sac near a man who had a massive dollhouse in his garage. He’d been building it for some time, and he made a new piece of furniture for it every year. The dressers all had tiny drawers that could pull in and out, the dining chairs were upholstered, bookshelves had trinkets and books. I don’t remember the overall look of the house he’d built, but I do remember how intricate everything was that he built. I probably would have fallen in love with tiny things even without this early memory, but it does stand out to me. And I am married to a man who also loves building things on very small scales.

Christmas ornaments are a reliable source of very small, and Erik has been making a new one for our tree almost every year. This year he built tiny doorframes for our tree and for a few of his friends from work, complete with door catches drilled with the smallest bit I’ve ever seen. I painted on the glitter.

So here’s our 2020 ornament.

It’s not a dumpster fire. While I do understand the catharsis of wrapping up this year in a commemorative dumpster fire, Erik and I agreed that we are perfectly capable of summoning our depressions and frustrations over 2020 without giving them physical form. I like our little door. When Erik started work at Frontier Cabinets and Doors, he also started bringing home lots of wood that he salvaged from the chipper.

2020 has been a year of building. We put in garden beds and a deck between them, we made an end table for the library and a bar for the window upstairs. Almost all of it built from salvage, because lumber is scarce and expensive right now. But also, salvage feels good. Building something from what has been discarded is an act of hope.

The Twelve Things of Christmas (belated)

Hello friends. It has been a rough year, hasn’t it? My first response to minor and imagined threats is a total retreat into the shadows, so in this year of very real terror, it’s been difficult to even post the bit of art I’ve made. However, we just passed Christmas, which is a time I like to use to reflect on the simple pleasures I’ve found throughout the year, and pass on some recommendations to you. I’m a little late on my 12 days, so I’m going to give you them in groups of four.

Hovergirls is a great comic about two girls who gain superpowers, and neither of them are the best candidates for superpowers. The art is beautiful, and the story spends a lot of time making the characters very real people, plus it starts with giant jellyfish attacking a city and who doesn’t love that? The artist and writer is also very worth following on Instagram @GDBee because her portraits are so soothing. I want to have a GDBee painted pocket dimension to chill out in, but I can’t have that because I haven’t mastered dimension hopping, and her Insta is the next best thing.

There’s always some fiasco in the writing world involving some person trying to copywrite a thing that doesn’t belong to them, but none are funnier and better dramatized than Lindsey Ellis’s video on the author who tried to copywrite Omegaverse. Watch it here! https://youtu.be/zhWWcWtAUoY BIG CONTENT WARNING: it starts with two and a half minutes of explicit content taken from the books in question, including rape and sexual violence. You can skip past that and there’s still an hour of video explaining the background of fanfiction tropes, and the difficulty of proving that a trope could be owned.

True Facts combines jokes and animals (two of my favorite things) into a surprisingly informative educational program (a third favorite thing!) Most focus on a single animal, usually weird ones like cuttlefish or mantis shrimp, and deliver about 8 minutes of things you’ve never heard about these animals. With jokes. However, the video I’m linking here is 12 minutes about cat’s senses. Because I do love cats very much, and there’s a really cool reason your house cat has snakey little slit eyes but their larger and deadlier cousins have big round people-y eyes. https://youtu.be/zfBJmytIegs

Lastly, I just want to tell you something about my life. Erik and I adopted a cat almost two years ago, and I took him to the vet for the very first time last month. We knew of one vet trip previous to this: before he was taken to the humane society, a previous family found him stealing food from their cats’ dishes, and tried to take him to a vet where he was so scared and fighty that the vet couldn’t even determine his gender. At the humane society he was assumed feral and they marked his ear as such, but someone there was able to calm him down enough that they realized he does like people, he’s just really nervous.

With this background, I was really worried about taking him to a vet and betraying the trust we’ve built over the past two years. But, when I got him there, our vet was able to go through the full exam with him, and she stopped to talk to me when they were about to go into the blood draw and vaccines. She could tell he was getting really scared, and asked to hold him for a few hours while a sedative worked through his system, so he’d be asleep for the really scary parts of his visit. I was grateful for the consideration, and gladly picked him up a few hours later and brought him back home where he slept off the sedative. He didn’t hold the vet trip against me, and he still follows me around the block when we take walks together.

So this fourth good thing is actually a person: Dr. Linda at Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital and a cat: Crater Lake Hosenpeals

hosenpeals is a mashup of erik and my last names, misspelled on both accounts

I hope the new year finds you well. And if not, perhaps some of these finds will improve it.

Threadwork Things

I started up a twitter account again. I had a very hard time with the app when I was last on it. Too much noise. But I started one because there are cool writing biz things that happen there, and I don’t want to miss it. Anymore.

To remind myself to post there, and to actually make it fun for me, I’m going to put up little bits of the project I’m currently working on. So, if you’re interested, you can follow me over there @meganleebees and catch some snippets of my novel. Out of context bits, sentences I like… and of course it’s going to have story announcements and hopefully some later pitch wars? Gotta work on my elevator pitch.

Also, I have a new story out! Moon Errata just went live on Toasted Cake, so go give it a listen if you want to know what happens when a girl’s mom goes missing and that mom is also the moon!

http://toastedcake.com/2020/10/toasted-cake-251-moon-errata-by-megan-lee-beals.html

novel work

For all that I write about the writing process on this blog, I don’t quite understand my own. I’m writing a novel! And I’ve decided to talk about it, to keep myself from giving up entirely once I’ve surpassed 10k words.

My writing group is helping immensely. They are wonderful. They’ve agreed to read this thing as I’m writing it, which is another failsafe upon which I’m hinging the completion of this thing, god bless their souls. Because I have very slowly come to realize that I don’t actually like to write alone. Odd, right? On its surface, writing is such a solitary act. And, on my surface, I am a very quiet and solitary person. (That façade breaks quickly when I have found a comfortable space, btw.)

But like, publishing is a difficult thing to wait for when you’re hoping for feedback on a story, and I am filled with impatience. And coffee. My jittery veins have no time for editors to decide if I am worthy. Certainly not when I’m trying to decide if Protagonist A’s motives are clear enough to justify her eventual betrayal of Protagonist B.

In any case, this sharing has helped ease my ever-present worry over the five thousand things wrong with living in America in 2020. Yes, Covid sneaks its way into everything. Even this blog post, sorry. This year is isolating and terrible, but I’ve been able to sneak away to a distant reality in drafting a novel, and having a community to help me sit down and write words on a near daily basis has kept me from doom-scrolling my phone and wondering if I should remake my animal crossing island for the third time. (I shouldn’t. Someone stop this.)

Here are three fun things from my current project. My notebook app was deleted when Zoom needed its five hundredth update for some god damned reason, and I am trying to get used to making my notes by hand, but occasionally some will go in a text to my husband. The latest was “You stole a knife in chapter six, remember to use it.”

Here’s some text regarding the small college town it’s set in:

Oddfellow College was a series of disappointingly squat buildings crouched against the rocky shore of the Columbine River. Most budding wizards were eager for tall spires and Euclidian halls, but after years rebuilding all those spires that had been blasted into the river, the committees in charge of college funding found that a sturdy building with thick walls was more likely to withstand the inevitable errant spells. The library, a granite monolith of gray stone and sturdy angles, with windows that had been bricked increasingly smaller through the years, was by far the college’s most impressive building, but only by virtue of being it’s oldest.

 

And I’ve been working on character portraits because I really like to know what people look like, even if it’s in my unpracticed and cartoony style.

tuulikki devil crop

Things are happening! What joy!

 

Small Joys

I have been keeping all my big feels in this space, but I rarely record the small moments of absurdity and fun that I seek every day. I want to share some small moments. Very small moments.

 

While watching a pitchfork being used as a fire poker, this exchanged happened between me and my husband.

Me: Why don’t we have a pitchfork? I feel like we should own a pitchfork.

Erik: We don’t need a pitchfork.

Me: You don’t plan on joining any angry mobs?

Erik: I plan on running from them.

Erik: I know a protagonist when I am one.

 

On a walk through our neighborhood, I found a nerf dart stuck into a rhodedendron and plucked it like a flower.

Me: Nerf tree.

Erik: (laughing, but his eye is caught by another tree) Oh look at these leaves!

Me: That is not Nerf. That is Nothing.

 

Erik and I spent an afternoon at a park on Fox Island, on a long rocky spit buffeted by constant wind. We took a slushy there with us, and promptly upon finishing, Erik scooped up a cup full of rocks, jammed the straw back in it, and proclaimed it a free refill.

 

We have been in a fifteen year competition to make the other person laugh the most. I know I’m losing. He is much funnier than I am. But also, I win.