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

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

Little victories! (Shoutout Saturday)

Hey guys! So, for this week’s Shoutout Saturday, I thought we’d do something a bit different. I’ve been having a pretty rocky time with my mental health of late, but recently I’ve been starting to (sort of) get back on my feet again. Sometimes, when you struggle with anxiety or depression, you have to celebrate the little victories–and so here are mine for this week. I’d love to hear any of yours; so feel free to let me know what you’re proud of, this year or month or week or whatever, in the comments or on social media.

Making meals ahead of time

So, this is a new development, but I’m very proud of myself for it! So, my family has always been huge on making things from scratch, because my parents are cheap and so am I, which means that I don’t really have many premade breakfast foods that’ll keep me going while I’m at school, which means I’m always late, because I always try to make something nice, and then get really hungry and tired and can’t start my day until 10am by the time I’m done with dishes. It’s just it’s not the best note to start the day off on.

So lately, I’ve been trying to make meals ahead. Last night, I made some muffins, and the night before that I did breakfast burritos, and so far it’s been really nice.

When I come home from school, I’m also always super hungry, because I have this weird anxiety about eating food at school and also can’t be bothered to pack a lunch. So, instead, I’ve been putting aside dinner leftovers, so I don’t have to come home from school and frantically scroll through food blogs, and cry over a package of dry pasta. (Something I genuinely did a few weeks ago.)

I don’t know, I feel very responsible and adult, and I’m proud of myself for finally coming up with a very obvious solution to this problem.

Skincare

Okay, so this is the most cliche thing to write about–and honestly it drives me crazy when people talk about bath bombs and skincare products like they’re going to fix all your problems instantaneously, or act like everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on these fancy products. But anyway–a few days ago, I ordered this eight dollar facial cleanser thing, and a ten dollar moisturizer off Amazon, and I’ve been doing a very basic skincare routine every morning and evening. It hasn’t cured my depression yet, but it is very nice.

Oh! On a somewhat related note, I’ve also been forcing myself to remember to take my vitamins and medication by writing it down on my to-do lists, which is so obvious, but also took me three months of having this problem to think of.

Reading books

So, because I just love to make myself miserable, I have a habit of just fusing myself to a screen for, like, ten hours straight in some form or other. (Wake up, check my phone, do schoolwork on my computer, watch TV on my computer, call my friends on my phone, etc.) And although that’s not always a bad thing, it’s just not good for my mental health to be on a screen 24/7, and honestly it can become pretty self-destructive. So I’ve been trying to take some time to just, like, read on the couch for a few hours, like I used to when I was younger, before I had so much going on. I miss reading being a bigger part of my life, and it’s been really nice to get back into it.

Getting back into audio editing

So, I have this fun habit where whenever something challenges me in any way, I shut it down and avoid it all costs, because I’m deathly afraid of failure. So to be totally honest, I tend to shy away from doing things like making podcast episodes, or mixing spoken word tracks, just because it’s something I’m still learning how to do, and am far more likely to mess up than I am writing a blog post, or a story chapter. I’ve been writing or reading in some form for so long, it’s honestly just like a second instinct to me, but I’ve only been working with audio for a year now, so it’s a lot more intimidating for me. Anyway, recently I’ve been working on a spoken word track, and I’m really proud of it.

Putting myself out there (a little bit)

So, not to shamelessly self-promote, but I’ve been working on an audio drama called We Are Here–which I may or may not have been working on since March, but I didn’t want to talk about it too much in case I decided to back out of the project, and also because nothing that exciting was happening back then. Anyway! I recently put out a casting call for it, and I’m about halfway through editing season one, and I’m hoping to start producing episodes at the end of March, and yeah, it’s absolutely terrifying but also, so cool, and I’m so excited to see where I’ll go with it. If you’re interested (nudge nudge, wink wink) you can check it out here.

Okay! I think that’s about it. I have no idea what I’m gonna write about next week, at this point of the year I’m just so tired I can’t plan more than a day ahead.

I hope you all are taking care of yourselves, and doing all right. I’m sending all the hugs your way.

Lots of love,

Lorna

Some cool things you should check out (Shoutout Saturday!)

Hey guys! So, I know I did one of these “miscellaneous things that are cool” type posts not too long ago, and under normal circumstances I’d save this post for a few more weeks afterwards, because I don’t want to be repetitive, but I’ve been having a really weird week, so I’m letting it slide. Anyway, here are some things I’ve been loving of late.

Welcome to Night Vale

This was the podcast that introduced me to fiction podcasts, about a year ago–which is absolutely insane actually, because this was the show that taught me that a) fiction podcasts are a thing and b) they’re totally awesome. And now I’m writing one? Which is crazy!

How I stumbled across it was really weird–through this really good book called Radio Silence I read for English, which centred around a fiction podcast one of the main characters made, which was based on Night Vale. After a lot of scrolling through Goodreads because I didn’t know what to write for my book report, and hearing people freaking out about this Night Vale thing, I decided to check it out, fell in love, forced all my friends to listen to it, and the rest is history, I guess.

Night Vale centres around this small, wonderfully strange desert town, through the eyes of our very endearing radio host, Cecil, as he reports on the daily happenings. From the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, to the eldritch entity that is City Council, or the flesh eating librarians, or just updaters on his relationship with Carlos–it’s always hilarious and heartwarming and generally a good time. Night Vale is objectively terrifying, but it feels like home to me, and I’m just so grateful for this show and all it’s done for me.

My Pride

So, my friend introduced me to this series a while ago. It’s an animated TV show, up for free on YouTube. I recently I decided to rewatch it–and holy crap, it’s so good. The art is so beautiful, the voice acting is absolutely incredible, the art is just *chef’s kiss*, and it has some of the most interesting fantasy lore/general worldbuilding I’ve seen in ages.

It’s hard to do justice to this show without rambling for hours–but basically, think The Lion King but a lot darker, with a major wlw relationship, commentary on social issues, and also the whole thing is about changing a deeply flawed and prejudiced society with the odds stacked against you, healing from trauma and figuring out who you are outside of a toxic system you’ve spent your whole life serving.

Like I said before, I’m working on a fiction podcast right now–I’m currently in the process of casting, and like 35% through script editing–and anyway, I always love to see other small, independent projects succeed. It’s just really comforting to remember I’m not the only person who’s done this before.

Superstore

So, I grew up with workplace sitcoms, and they’ll always have a soft spot in my heart. They were the thing that taught me about how most people hate their jobs, and that’s very valid and okay, and also the government doesn’t care about me… but like, in a funny, lighthearted way.

Anyway, I started watching Superstore a while ago, and it’s been, like, my favourite thing in the world ever since. As the title suggests, it follows a bunch of employees working at a big box store–but it’s so much more than that. It has a really diverse cast, and a really good slowburn romance, and it made me tear up on multiple occasions, and it talks about a lot of serious social issues in a really cool, interesting way, all while still being absolutely hilarious, and painfully realistic. It’s really addictive though, so be warned; I binged an entire 22-episode season in a day once, and it was not good for my mental health.

But that aside, its just so well done, and refreshing, and I really love it.

The Junkyard 2

I really love Penelope Scott’s music, and I know I already wrote about her other album, but I will just never miss an opportunity to hype her up, apparently. The Junkyard 2 just reflects complete and utter Gen-Z rage, which is always right up my alley, and overall I just feel like it’s such a beautiful portrait of what it feels like to grow up in the 21st century–and that it would resonate with pretty much anyone in that age range. (Which is something I love so much about her music.) Anyway, you should listen to it.

And while I’m hyping up Penelope Scott, may I just say: she just released a new single, which I occasionally just put on a two hour loop while I study, it’s called “Born2Run” and it’s one of my favourite songs of hers, please go check it out.


Okay! That’s just about everything, I think. I’ll see you next week; I’m pretty sure I’ll talk about musicals. Anyway: take care of yourselves, and stay safe.

Lots of love,

Lorna