Life since April and other things, which sounds like a YA title but isn’t

gif of Mushu from Milan arising from smoke, saying "I liiiiiiiiiiiive!!!"
obligatory I liiiiiiiiiiiive!!! gif

What up, peeps! It’s been a long year, and I haven’t been around since April, even though I started a post about line edits in a fit of good intentions some time in August.

SO. Let us have a general update of things I’ve been up to this year. And then, hopefully, since (godwilling) I’ll have graduated from my master’s programs by then, I should return to posting at least once a month starting in December or January.

Grad School

Always, always, always grad school. :cries: I mean, it’s entirely my own fault for taking on two programs at once, although until my dying day (and probably after), I will blame my favorite professor for tricking me into joining the MA Theology program when I just came here for the MOL.

Okay, it’s not entirely my fault, because how was I supposed to know in August 2019 that every semester of grad school after that one would have a pandemic hanging over it?

Anyway, the good news is that I am A L M O S T D O N E. I will turn in the complete draft of my MOL capstone this week please shame me if I do not and then buckle down on the MA so I can have that capstone turned in by Thanksgiving also shame me if I don’t work on that one please


*sighs loudly* I have so very, very much to say about querying that I simply will not let myself say until I have an agent. The short version is, we’re a year and a half into the trenches, querying sucks, I’ve been a constant ball of seething jealousy and insecurity I never even knew I could feel, and I’m constantly worried that every story I ever write will either be entirely unmarketable or timed just wrong so that it’s either too early or too late for publishing to want it.

On the plus side, The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher was a finalist in the Page Turner Awards, so that’s something.



Okay, this part has been going considerably better except for the “probably unmarketable ideas” thing, which we will simply not worry about until this book is in the querying trenches~

Anyway, if you follow me on Twitter then you’re very familiar with The Many Buried Things of Peter Shaughnessy, aka #GroundskeeperWIP, and if you only follow me here then what are you even doing with your life you probably only vaguely remember it from this single post in which I mentioned it without explaining anything about its plot or vibes or tropes.

It’s another contemporary fantasy, this time set in the considerably-more-real world than the world of Edna’s story, i.e. a world that looks basically like the real world except that ghosts exist (but the groundskeeper is almost the only one who is aware of them) and so does lowkey plant magic (but the groundskeeper is almost the only one who has it). It’s set in a fictional town in Northwest Ohio and is basically a love letter to cemeteries, trees, and Soft Old Men™.

TJ KLUNE x SUPERNATURAL Peter travels around banishing evil spirits. Cursed with immortality, he’s safer alone than making friends who will die one day. When a small Ohio town endangered by a ghost adopts him as their own, he has to choose: his heart, or their lives?

Pitch for The Many Buried Things of Peter Shaughnessy

After a false start in May 2020, I did HELLA PLANNING between December 2020 and February 2021 who am I and completed my first draft in 79 days, between the end of February and mid-May. I revised in 34 days, most of them in July because Camp NaNo (obviously). It’s the fastest I’ve ever drafted or revised a full-length novel. We’re sitting pretty at 96,000 words, and based on my beta feedback, it’s almost yeetable.

Unfortunately, it won’t be ready by December like I was hoping, because…grad school. As ever.

I mean, I could revise it again right now, seeing as how I drafted and revised it the first time during grad school.

But considering that I dragged my feet on my master’s theses between February and August largely because I didn’t have the energy or inclination to work on anything but fiction, I have put myself on a Fiction Hiatus until at least my first completed draft of each thesis is turned in.

Over the summer, for whatever weird reason, I also started drafting several short stories.

  • FriendsBreakupShort (~3500 words), a contemporary about dealing with the aftermath of platonic breakups, which was tragically rejected by the magazine I wrote it for (although it was a very kind and complimentary rejection) and is out on sub with other magazines now
  • MerfolkShort (~8500 words), a contemporary fantasy about a girl who learns a secret about her own identity while investigating her father’s disappearance, which was also tragically rejected by the anthology I wrote it for and went out on sub with some other places, but more on that in a minute
  • ForestWitchShort (~12,500 words, oops), a contemporary fantasy about a girl in an abusive household who’s adopted by a grumpy old probably-witch, her sunshiney postal-worker girlfriend, and an allegedly carnivorous forest, which was solicited for a friend’s anthology, but more on that when I can say more on that

ForestWitchShort was the only one I didn’t UTTERLY AGONIZE OVER, mostly because it was solicited, so I wasn’t sitting there gritting my teeth like, “This is pointless it’s gonna be rejected this is pointless it’s gonna be rejected this is pointless it’s gonna–“

FriendsBreakupShort was the worst in a way, because platonic breakups are something I have experience with and the story forced me to dig into things I’d rather not dig into. I’m not sure any magazines will want it, because it’s too forward. It’s not literary and it’s not subtle. But oh well. We yeet nonetheless.

As bad as FriendsBreakup was to write – as in, it literally hurt to work on, and I only kept at it out of stubbornness – MerfolkShort was almost worse. FriendsBreakup at least had a point, a thing that could make me go “this story is important and I need to write it.”

MerfolkShort was just kind of…ah yes, there is a vaguely scary-looking merperson and a queer girl and a missing dad and an ambiguous possibly horrific ending and no underlying themes whatsoever.

(Jk, there are themes about identity. You can hardly help writing a story without some sort of theme emerging, whether you intended it to or not.)

It reached a point where I was ready to give up on it. The story felt pointless, I was convinced I’d never keep it under the anthology’s 10k maximum word count, and o b v i o u s l y it was going to get rejected anyway because that’s just how my submissions go.

But I can be surprisingly stubborn in a few very specific ways, and writing is one of them. So I finished it anyway, yeeted it at the anthology, got rejected, and yeeted it a few other places.

AND. One of them??? actually??? accepted it????????????

More on that later, too, but for now let us rejoice that something appeared in my querying inbox that was not only not a rejection but was in fact an acceptance.


Saw my parents for the first time in a year and a half in mid-May, once we’d all been fully vaccinated! Stayed with them for two weeks! Had a great time!

Went to my first movie in theaters in ??? probably even longer than a year and a half! Wore a mask and went to the matinee to avoid other people! Had a great time!

Got my gall bladder removed!

Wait, what?

*singing* One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong…

Anyway, yeah, I lost most of October 2021 to gall stones. Luckily, I went to the ER despite being convinced my stomach pain was due to stress it’s a good thing Matt’s a hypochondriac They diagnosed me right away, did an endoscopy right away, and then just had to keep me until they I was ready for surgery and they were able to get me on the schedule.

On one hand, it sucked. Like, ouch, wow, the pain was intense and I couldn’t eat. And also, hospital bills, although since the first thing I said when I got to the ER was “I don’t have insurance,” they signed me up for Medicaid, so now I do have insurance.

On the other hand, I got the mental and physical break I’ve needed all semesteryear pandemic. Because a) I slept, a lot, which was excellent because I’d been sleeping terribly basically since August, b) I wasn’t productive at all, and c) (and this is important) I didn’t feel guilty at all about my lack of productivity, because! I was in the hospital! I was physically incapable of productivity! what’s to feel guilty about???

On the other, other hand…it super sucks that it took a hospital stay for me to get a break I’d needed for so long.

On the other, other, other (final) hand, turns out putting a loop of heart monitor sounds on my phone helps me fall asleep a lot faster.

Like I said: a long, long year.

But! I’m feeling so much better physically, for obvious reasons, and the guilt-free break from productivity courtesy of inheriting a shitty gall bladder from my grandma did so much for my mental health it’s not even funny. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – at least as far as grad school goes, if nothing else. I’m actually working on my theses and might even get them done and approved.

And come December, Imma start revising Groundskeeper so I can get ready to yeet again in 2022.

4 thoughts on “Life since April and other things, which sounds like a YA title but isn’t

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