My favourite things this week! (Shoutout Saturday)

Hello! Greetings! Welcome to my blog. So, after consuming media at an alarming rate for the past two weeks, I am back, and armed with some spicy, fresh content. Please enjoy.

Wings of Fire: Dragonslayer

So, in case this is for some reason the first post of mine you ever read (if it is, welcome by the way, I’m so glad you stopped by my little corner of the internet, I hope you like it!) I’m total trash for the Wings of Fire series. (Cool worldbuilding! Found family! Character-driven fantasy! Dragons! Childhood nostalgia value!)

Anyway, this is a book in that series, and I think it’s better if you’ve read all the other books, but you could totally read it as a stand-alone if you wanted to. It came out back in February, while I was really sick with the flu. I remember my mom woke me up from a nap when it arrived, and I read the whole thing cover-to-cover with a really bad fever, and went back to sleep, very tired and done with being a person. I reread it a few days later in a clearer headspace, but I was still a little sick, and then lockdown happened and I got really depressed, and I never had the chance to get really into this book like I usually do with this series. But now that I am not sick, and in a sorta-better headspace, I decided to reread it, and totally fell into the Wings of Fire hole.

Normally, the WOF books are told from the perspectives of the dragons who rule over the continent of Pyrrhia, and it’s epic, but this book is from the perspective of the humans who live there too, and normally just exist in the background. It’s got three different alternating perspectives—Ivy, Leaf, and Wren. They start out as having three completely different stories, but as the books go on they all tie together, which is super cool, I love that trope and wish I had the self-control to pull it off in my stories.

Ivy is the daughter of the Dragonslayer, this sleazy dude who killed a dragon when he was sixteen and now rules over a town for some reason. He’s a pretty awful leader, and gets downright dystopian towards the end. Ivy recognizes her father’s faults from a very young age, and the story goes on, we follow her as she unravels her family’s secrets with her best friends, Daffodil and Violet, it’s awesome.

Wren was sacrificed by her village to the dragons when she was seven years old. But rather than getting eaten, she found an abandoned baby dragon named Sky, and befriended him. Ever since, the two have travelled around the world together, they have a really cute big sister/little brother dynamic, I like them a lot. Her story is has vague themes of learning to trust and let people in again, but also mostly just her and Sky going on adventures and being wonderful.

Leaf, her big brother, has spent his whole life training to avenge Wren–who as far as he knows was randomly eaten by dragons. I don’t know how much more I can explain about him without spoiling his story, but let’s just say it’s about learning to let go of anger, and also realizing that the government doesn’t care about him, and everyone he’s known and trusted his whole life has lied to him about what happened to Wren. It’s a fun time.

Anyway, I don’t know how to explain it more than that—but this book is cool and you should check it out. (And if you do please let me know because I want to scream about it with you.)

Stranger in the Alps

For some reason, about two weeks ago, I started seeing everyone talk about Phoebe Bridgers. I heard her name casually referenced in fandoms I’m in, I saw her music in playlists, and oftentimes the stuff I was seeing was really old, so it was like everyone knew about this person but me and only now my attention was being onto it. And if there is an inside joke going around the internet I can’t apply to my life, I will literally seek out that experience just to be able to make stupid jokes!! About!!! Zoom meetings!!! (Another rant for another time.)

…. Anyway, I listened to this album, it was really cool and inspired me to write a concerning amount of poetry. I really love analyzing song lyrics, I think songwriting is so cool, I’d love to be able to write my own songs someday in the very distant future, and this album has some really cool lyrics. It’s not really comparable to anything I’ve listened to before. All of the songs are pretty melancholy, but also super soothing to listen to. Every time I listen to this album, it’s like I can forget about the world around me for a while, which is nice. It makes me think of walking through a dead autumn meadow, thick fog, empty city streets at night, a beach during a storm… I don’t know, it’s really pretty, you should check it out.

The Glass Hotel

This is one of those books that take a while to get into, but after the first fifty pages, you’re totally hooked. The Glass Hotel follows billionaire Jonathan Alkaitis, after being arrested for running and getting very wealthy off of a decade-long Ponzi scheme, and all the interconnected people affected by that event. As a kid, I was pretty much raised on financial dramas (amongst other things) so this book was right up my alley. It beautifully weaves this web of all these peoples’ lives, and shows how they affect each other. The characters are fascinating, flawed, and real, and it has some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read in a while. For a novel centering around a crime, it feels very calm–as though examining its own events from an outside perspective, with an almost fatalistic attitude, which I thought was really cool.

This is definitely capital-L Literature, if you know what I mean–it uses lots of long words, and it takes some dedication to get into, so if that’s not your cup of tea, this probably isn’t for you. But as a resident useless intellectual, I thought it was really neat.

Also, bonus points, it’s set in my home province, British Columbia, and it captures it really well, which is pleasantly surprising–I don’t think I’ve actually ever read a book set in BC before, at least not that I can remember.

On a Sunbeam

I just got this book out of the library a day ago, and I finished it this morning, and normally I would wait a little while to process before writing about it here, but I just love this book so much, I couldn’t not talk about it.

On a Sunbeam is a graphic novel that follows two timelines in the protagonist, Mia’s life, five years apart. We switch between her life at boarding school as she falls in love with a girl named Grace, only to have her girlfriend suddenly ripped away from her–and post-graduation, as she travels the stars with Alma, Char, Jules, and Elliot, repairing, ancient ruins. It has a really cute wlw romance, found family, and it’s a space opera, so it really ticks all the boxes for me.

It’s sci-fi, but very casual, character-driven sci-fi. There are no ominous aliens or government conspiracies, and the specifics of the world are never fleshed out beyond how they directly affect the characters, giving it a very nebulous, floating feel, which I personally really liked. The futuristic setting is more of a background, a stage for the rest of the story to unfold on.

As well, from a purely aesthetic sense, this book is gorgeous, I had to take a bunch of photos on my phone of my favourite panels for future reference. It’s one of my favourite books I’ve read of date, and it made me really happy, so yeah, you should check it out.


Anyway, that’s about it for this week. I’ll be back next week, hopefully with more recommendations and things to gush about, or maybe some other topic, I don’t know.

Lots of love,

Lorna

My 2021 resolutions, I guess?

Hey guys! So, normally I am not one to make resolutions–or a big deal out of holidays at all, to be honest. But I’ve been kind of wanting to make some just for fun this year!

New Year’s is probably my favourite holiday. I mean, for starters, it’s the only one where you don’t have to make a super fancy meal, or spend lots of money, or in general put in tons of effort if you don’t want to. (But there’s also plenty of room to do those things, if that’s more up your alley.) Everyone is always really hopeful and excited around this time of year, it means I don’t have to worry about Christmas until next year, and also, January is really dark and depressing, so it gives you something positive to focus on. Anyway, here are my resolutions!

Get my sleep schedule back in control

So, during quarantine my sleep schedule just flew completely out of control. I was going to bed at 2 or 3am, and it made me feel awful, but I’d structured my whole day around staying up that late, so it was a mess. Anyway, in the end I managed to get my shit together, and I maintained a strict “bed at midnight” rule throughout the summer. But over the first semester of school, everything fell apart a bit, and it’s not a good feeling. So I’ve been trying to put myself to bed earlier, and force myself to adjust to a more reasonable sleep schedule.

Be more punctual

I never thought I would become that person who’s always late, but I guess here I am. In my defense, I have a lot up in the air, and it’s hard to keep track of it all. So inevitably, even if I do a really good job at one or two things–I get my blog posts done early, I finish a podcast episode on time–I end up missing an appointment, being late for school, or forgetting about something I promised to do. Even if it’s not a big deal, I always feel super guilty, and beat myself up over ir. So this year, after I get my sleep schedule fixed, I really want to work on that.

Reach out to people

So, I have social anxiety–which is a really fun add-on to my regular anxiety, I love it. Anyway, because of that, I always get really shy about reaching out to people, online and in real life–even to just say I really like their work. I always feel like I’m being irritating, or wasting people’s time, or something? I don’t know. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about writing over the years, it’s that having real, meaningful connections with people in the community go a long way, and can be super mutually beneficial. And if I’m gonna make this work, I need to let other people know I exist.

Something that ties into this for me is also getting better at marketing. I understand some of the theory of how to sell your work to an online audience, but to be honest, I’m too shy to actually do the work involved with that, and I always feel like I’m being annoying and get really freaked out? And that’s not doing me any favours, so this year I want to learn about marketing. Even if I’m too awkward to apply it, I feel like it’s a good skill to have up my sleeve.

Find a good medication

So, this isn’t really something I can guarantee will happen, or control, and in part writing this is just a way of holding myself accountable. But! For years, I’ve been trying different medications, and for whatever reason none of them have worked. The medication I’m taking now is totally useless, the only reason I take it is because if I don’t, I’ll go into withdrawal. But I’ve been putting off calling the doctor about it for months, because I hate phone appointments. (And last time, my doctor had really bad reception, so while he was telling me how to go off my meds safely, I only could make out every fourth word.)

It’s really frustrating, and tedious, but it’s also something I need to do.

And that’s about it! Like I said, I don’t know if I’ll go through with any of this, but hopefully saying it in a somewhat public setting will force me to, a bit. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Let me know 🙂

Lots of love,

Lorna

December: Month in Photography

DECEMBER 6TH

It’s only been a week since the start of this month, but it feels like it can’t have been been maybe a day.

I’m in a really weird place right now, honestly. But that’s probably just because I forgot to take my meds–which I’m probably gonna change, because they have zero effect on me other than making me feel worse when I don’t take them, because of withdrawal. I’ll call the doctor on Monday.

DECEMBER 12TH

So, I have a tripod now! And I will take as many obnoxiously dramatic ocean pictures with it as I want to. (This wasn’t shot in a remote area or something, by the way, people were watching and probably thought I was super weird, but I did it anyway so ha! Take that, social anxiety!)

Anyway. It’s been getting dark so early here of late, there aren’t that many hours of light anymore. My school goes on winter break soon, too. I’m trying not to freak out; winter and spring break are always really bad for my mental health. I thrive on routine, and just being cooped up in the house with nothing to do for two weeks is kind of my personal nightmare.

I’m trying to get back on my feet, and into some kind of routine. My sleep schedule is a mess, and I’ve been just all over the place of late. But hopefully, that’ll change soon.

DECEMBER 19TH

This morning, I went to the post office, and mailed off my Christmas gift to my friend.

It was disgustingly wet–pelting rain, and the kind of wind that whistles in your ears when you try to walk through it. But I don’t mind. I love going to the beach, when it’s like this; I always have. When no one else is there, and the whole sea feels like yours for the taking. I like to run right to shoreline, and race up to safety when a wave crashes, and sing at the top of my lungs, or just scream at the sky.

I always come home freezing cold, and soaking wet. But it’s totally worth it.

DECEMBER 21ST

So, it snowed yesterday! I’ve been waiting, like, two months to post a casual snow picture in one of these posts, as though this is a casual occurrence for me. (Even through in reality, where I live we get maybe two or three days of snow a year.)

I woke up to four new auditions for my audio drama–and snow falling outside my bedroom window. Honestly, it was the first time in ages that… I don’t know, the world pleasantly surprised me. Which was nice.

I got some pretty cool early Christmas presents, too! Even if it started raining after maybe two hours of snow, and everything got all gross and slushy, it was a good day.

DECEMBER 25TH

So, today was Christmas. I’ve never been a huge Christmas person–honestly, it’s usually pretty lonely and depressing, and shopping for gifts is always stressful, and there’s so much social pressure surrounding it, to have this perfect day or whatever, and the fact that the year is ending soon really isn’t helping things. I’m trying to write a poem, but it just keeps coming out wrong.

I’m super tired, and stressed out, and I feel like something is gonna go wrong–because nothing bad has happened in my life for a few days now, and that’s weird, and terrifying, because something bad is gonna happen soon–I can feel it.

I’m gonna try and put myself to bed early. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.

DECEMBER 27TH

Ugh, I’m so tired. Technically I did get eight hours of sleep, but for some reason I feel like collapsing on the floor and never getting back up again.

I have a lot of stuff to do though–and I can’t afford to spend another day binging Parks and Rec all afternoon. The new year is only a few days away, and I guess it’s just depressing–looking back at last year, remembering the excitement and hope in the air, and realizing… it’s just not there anymore?

I have really bad writer’s block, too. And I’m trying to edit a podcast episode, which is a headache, and yeah, altogether, this is just not a good day.

I’m getting so fed up of winter break. I can’t wait to have to go places again, and catch the bus, and use the automatic hand sanitizer dispenser thingies we have at school, like, a million times. Even though I’ll still be sad, but at least I’ll have some semblance of routine to distract me.

DECEMBER 31ST

Okay, so technically I’m writing this on January 1st–because last night I was really tired, and not in the best mood, which didn’t seem like a good note to end this post on. (I try to be reasonably uplifting.) Anyway, let’s ignore that, shall we? Wonderful.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this year–and trying to work out what the hell I want it to look like for me, even though in reality I don’t feel like I have much of a choice in that matter.

Last year, I remember for New Years, because we were all making a super big deal out of the new year back then, my friends and I had a sleepover. We stayed up until midnight, and played Monopoly, and ate these really good nachos, and went outside to look at the stars. We made up our own constellations, but I can’t remember what they were now. It felt like something out of a movie.

I’d just spoken at WE Day a month earlier, and I felt like finally, I could see a future for myself I actually wanted. I had this whole vision plotted out in my head. All these amazing people I was gonna meet, things I was gonna do…

And then COVID happened, and life slammed into me like a soccer ball to the gut, and none of that stuff happened. And instead… I ended up making a podcast, Sonnets of a Teenage Wannabe, getting a job over the summer, planning out my finances, writing an audio drama and starting to work with actual voice actors, and getting ready to graduate next year. I hope this doesn’t come across like I’m bragging, or anything like that–it just helps to remind myself this wasn’t a year wasted.

I tend to plan things really far ahead–I have the next decade of my life worked out already. Where I want to live, how I’m gonna decorate my apartment, how much I can afford to pay for rent, how much I need to put aside to save for retirement a year… you get the idea.

I like certainty and routine, and when things don’t go according to plan, I beat myself up over it, even if the change is good. I’m constantly evaluating myself based on some outdated rubric, and sometimes I forget to look up, and see things for what they are.

This year wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was awful, and traumatizing for pretty much everyone, I think, and overall a giant letdown.

I don’t think I believe in destiny or fate or anything like that. But I do believe that something good has to come from this, even if it’s hard to imagine that right now. And that I’m on the right path, no matter how dark and lonely it feel in this moment.

Partially just for the sake of my own sanity–but you know.

Lots of love,

Lorna

Shoutout Saturday (book and podcast recommendations)

Hey guys! So I’ve been spending a lot of time by myself of late, just because I’m on winter break right now–and sometimes when I feel lonely, listening to podcasts helps. (This is gonna sound really sad–but it’s sorta like a one-sided phone call.) Anyway, here are some of my favourites I’ve recently discovered!

Zero Hours

This is one of those podcasts I’ve been meaning to get to for ages, and I’m so glad I finally did. It’s a short series of pieces exploring the end of the world, from 1722 to the present, to far, far into the future. It’s definitely not easy listening, or the best thing to put on if you’re already feeling anxious about the state of the world. But if you’re up to it, this show has some of the most brilliant, unique writing and sound design I’ve seen in a long time.

Some episodes explore dystopian societies, and horrifying wastelands, your typical “end of the world” fare. But other episodes explore a much more personal kind of apocalypse–a couple weighing the pros and cons of taking a miracle drug that might ruin their relationship, a bartender considering his options the night before Prohibition goes into effect. It’s definitely not rainbows and sunshine, but despite the grim stories this podcast tells, in the end, I think it’s a show about hope, and shared humanity.

Oh! And, it’s by the same people who made Wolf 359, so some of the voice actors from that star in it, which is super cool, just to get to see the same voices in a totally different context? I don’t know, it’s neat!

A Neon Darkness

So, The Bright Sessions has to be one of my favourite podcasts of all time. I binge-listened to it in, like, a week, because the writing is just so addictive–maybe I’ll write about it more at some point, or relisten. But the basic premise is that the show follows Dr. Bright, a therapist for people with superpowers, and her clients, whose stories all gradually come together. It discusses mental health and trauma in a really refreshing, poignant way, it has found family, and it’s just such a good show. Anyway, it’s over now, but the person who wrote it, Lauren Shippen, is still writing stuff in the universe–there are two spinoff shows out right now, and she’s writing three books about some of the supporting characters who didn’t get a chance to tell their full stories in the podcast.

A Neon Darkness explores the life of Damien, a nineteen-year-old with the power to make other people want (and therefore do) what he wants.

This book kept me up super late into the night, I just couldn’t put it down. In the podcast, I always hated Damien’s guts, and I still do–he does some really awful, inexcusable things. But after reading this book, I can empathize a little bit more with some of his experiences. The way he becomes the villain of his own story, and sabotages himself without even realizing it–I’ve definitely been there.

This book also has phenomenal representation, just like the podcast, which made me so happy–and yeah, you should check it out, and also listen to The Bright Sessions!

Station Arcadia

My friend introduced me to this show. I started listening to it a few days ago, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

Station Arcadia is set in a barren, war-torn dystopian empire from the not-so-distant future. Each episode is a broadcast from our narrator, Kass, as she tells stories of those at the living very edges of society. (I’m only on episode five, but I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be a revolution, and I’m very hyped.) It’s got really good representation, and it’s got that super cool radio show format, which I’m always trash for in podcasts–and I love the mix of a new story every episode, but there’s still an overarching storyline, and of course, as the episodes go on you get to know the narrator. The sound design and music is also really well done, like wow.

I’m almost done casting for my podcast, and halfway through editing the first season, which is super exciting–and I guess it’s just comforting to see another small podcast, doing its thing really well, and putting out super high-quality content? It makes me really happy.

The Lower Light

Right now, this podcast is only on its first few episodes, but it deserves so much more attention!

The Lower Light follows Laurie Caston, a curator for the Lighthouse Museum, as he explores the artefacts and tells you the stories behind him. Each episode has a new stand-alone tale of selkies, or vampires, or other funky creatures, and it’s super cool. Laurie’s voice is so soothing to listen to, he’s pretty much the ideal narrator for a fiction podcast (in my humble opinion). Oh, and it’s got really awesome representation too, which is super cool to see!

The sound design is beautiful, and the writing is just so effortlessly elegant–somehow every time I listen to it, I feel like I’m right there with the characters, and I can just imagine the setting so vividly. Listening to this show is just an absolutely magical experience, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.


Anyway, that’s all I have for you this week! I hope you all are taking care of yourselves, I know the holidays can be a really rough time, especially this year. I’m sending lots of hugs your way. I hope you’re all safe and healthy, and I’ll see you again in the New Year. 🙂

Lots of love,

Lorna