Well, this is the day I’ve been waiting for my whole life, I guess.

I’m not trying to oversell it, I promise.

I will have many thoughts about the self-publishing process later. For now, I am incredibly proud of this thing and the work it has taken me to get to this point. I’m also so grateful for the support from my friends (Alex, I’m looking at you) who have assured me that I’m not delusional for wanting this book to be in the world and not collecting dust on my hard drive.

Thank you for picking this book. Thank you for giving me a chance.

And don’t forget to come hang out with me tonight (Feb. 20) at 7 p.m. EST!

Here is the brief summary:

Katrya Millor’s dream of running her own steam-powered airship – and following her father’s memory over the mountains – is within reach. The only thing standing in her way is a man with a grudge… and a justice system that seems to want to lock up her Navigator no matter what they do.

In this world of airships and magic, the ships are kept afloat by the powers of tattooed criminals looked down upon by the true citizens of the realm—men that have been forced into servitude in order to pay for their crimes. When Ree’s Navigator, Ien, the tattooed man whose powers of wind fly her ship, is arrested in Briia, she doesn’t hesitate to bust him out. However, a strange encounter with a disturbing man leaves both of them unsettled. They flee across the range to the capital, Praan.

When the unthinkable happens in Praan and Ree is forced to look inside her own memories for answers to both her father’s past failures and her present concerns, how far will she go to see that dream fulfilled? What is waiting beyond the mountains? Is it worth her best friend’s life?

In the great city of Praan, a breeze kicks up. It is spurred by magic, by people with color-shifting tattoos that can tell the wind to dance. The breeze whips around the tall standards lining the edge of the city perched on the mountainside. It swirls out into the Void, the great chasm between mountains. The valley floor is so, so, so far below. Ree has to make a choice: her own dream, or her Navigator’s freedom. The wind howls down the mountainside. Hopefully she makes the right decision.

Other formats can be found here.


Liz Writes… For her own sake

I have started, stopped, started again, paused, neglected, and started this post again on loop for a few years now. Never really knew how to finish it. Almost five years later… I’m putting in the work to finish it, because now I have an ending.

This story starts the summer after I turned thirteen.

Really, it starts before that. I have always struggled with skin issues. I’m prone to breakouts, acne and otherwise. A doctor once told me that I have what looks like “dyshidrotic eczema” on my hands, which one internet source (of questionable reliability) told me is commonly referred to as “housewife eczema” because it only shows up on the hands. (Massive sigh.)

Sometimes, external stimuli cause problems. Seasonal allergies are a serious enemy. If I could murder every piece of dust in the universe, I would. I also had a lot of food allergies/sensitivities as a kid. Once, when I was four or five, my gramma made a ham for Thanksgiving and cooked it with huge pineapple rings toothpicked into the surface – I broke out in hives. This is one of my first memories of the bewildering fear that I’ve since grown accustomed to — the thought that my body is unclean, it’s killing me from the inside, something I did made it this way. 

Sometimes, the stimuli are more internal. Stress is the big one. If I have already been compromised by any of the above issues — food, dust — stress only compounds the problems. My hands will crack and bleed, the insides of my elbows will break out in hives. Once, I found tiny hives in the crease under my right eye. (Ugh.) It got especially bad the year I moved home to Ohio from Chicago, as I was in the midst of an anxiety-inducing move that took me months to recover from.

But this post isn’t about now. It’s about the summer before I turned thirteen.

That was the year the eczema on my hands started. My mom, brother, and I were visiting family. We stayed with my gramma for around two weeks. It was around that time that my hands got really bad — itchy red welts, tiny little blisters, scabbing, peeling. It was gross. It probably had something to do with environment, and stress, and the weather. Any number of things. And of course my gramma, being my gramma, was so concerned. We tried everything topical we could think of. Soaking it in baking soda. Gobs of lotion. Steroid cream. Nothing worked.

This was also the summer I started writing my first novel. It was a project. Echoes of this novel are still alive in my work today — in fact, I’m trying to resurrect it. I would spend hours bent over my huge trapper-keeper, producing reams and reams and reams of character data, information about the fantasy world, scenes of dialogue. (I still have this trapper-keeper. I lug it into every new home and every new life. Maybe someday I’ll take some photos.)

So there I was, hunched over these mountains of college-ruled paper, right hand wrapped around my favorite pencil (there will never be another like it), lost in listening to Hybrid Theory, the Linkin Park album I had just purchased, on my silver discman.

And then it happened: My gramma casually said, “Eliz-beth, maybe all that writing is making your hands worse.” She meant: The sweat between my fingers from always holding a writing instrument was having an adverse effect. It was a salient point, really.

As soon as she said it, my body rebelled. Involuntary sobs ripped themselves from my throat – I had no idea it was coming, no idea where it had even come from. All I knew was that as soon as my gramma suggested that the thing I loved most in the world was hurting me in some way, I rejected it from the core of my being. I know she was surprised, too, that a seemingly innocuous comment could have such a profoundly negative impact.

I remember fleeing to the bathroom, sitting down on the closed toilet, and just crying, looking down at my hands, thinking the thing I love is hurting me.

She apologized, of course, but that moment has stuck like a prybar between my ribs for decades.

In the twenty years since that day, I have had a lot of time to think about it. The writing itself wasn’t the thing hurting me. I was young, and hormonal, and stressed out. The words my gramma said to me that day were almost more painful than the actual problem. And it certainly wasn’t her fault! She was simply trying to find a solution, and I reacted without thinking.

The issues I had are just part of my story. The act of writing is also part of my story. This could be fiction, blog posts, poetry, novels. I notice that when I go for long periods of time without writing, my mental health deteriorates. I can usually trace “bad” weeks and months back to that. Even if it’s short-form pieces on this blog, putting words together in a row is meditative for me.

The physical effects of the eczema and stress have diminished as I’ve gotten older. I’ve learned to keep my living space clean to cut down on pet dander and dust, two of the biggest triggers. My stress is manageable — not great, but manageable. Getting out of those hormonal teenage years had probably the biggest impact, really. I eat pineapple regularly, too.

The writing, however, has been a near-constant in my life, and even though this blog is one artifact of that journey, it’s an incomplete history. Times are up and down. The recent pandemic situation has not been good for writing productivity — even though I feel like I should be writing even more nowadays… with everything that’s happened, it’s hard to plunk myself in front of the computer to do hardly anything.

I’m getting back into the habit, though, slowly but surely. I know that it helps. I know it’s not hurting me. In fact, not writing is what hurts the most. Putting notes together for the podcast helps, especially with the books we’ve been reading recently. And doing promotion for Bloodmade also helps, too, because I’m remembering what it feels like to be excited about a story. Last weekend, I sat down at a coffee shop and wrote a few hundred words of my WIP for the first time in months. It felt nice.

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer. It’s a mindset, yes, but it’s also a determination. I’ve been feeling odd about my identity lately. But making that definitive statement (“I am a writer”) is me making clear (to myself, mostly) that this is how I see myself, and this is how people should see me, too. Maybe if I say it enough, it’ll be true.

Maybe if I say it enough, I’ll believe it.

All those years ago, my gramma’s innocent words were simply the launchpad for me thinking more critically about how I move through the world. If thirteen-year-old Liz knew anything, it was that I needed to be doing this with my time here. Even if she wasn’t aware that she knew it. And if she knew it even then, who am I now to disagree?

Last week, my gramma called to tell me she had read my book, that she couldn’t put it down. She told me to write a sequel.

Coming Up: March Charity Stream!

This is a short update to let you know about some exciting upcoming events!

CGRH and One Earth present:

March for the Planet!
The Stardew Valley beautification project.

March 20 to April 1

featuring Charity Bingo (with prizes!) on Saturday, March 25 2pm est


Pelican Town Tour
Saturday, April 1 2pm est

(I promise I have a couple posts in the works about self-publishing and will have a bigger update for you in the next week… the post I’m working on is now 1,000 words and doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.)

Over the next couple of weeks, the Cool Gamers Retirement Home is going to be raising money for One Earth in a series of charity streams. We’re calling it our March for Charity event! We’ll be playing Stardew Valley and engaging in a town beautification project!

Spring has sprung, and it’s time for another environmental charity campaign. This March, we are supporting One Earth, an organization that focuses on uplifting and accelerating collective action aimed at solving the climate crisis. And what better way to celebrate cleaning up our communities than by doing *exactly* that in Stardew Valley? It’s the March for the Planet! This will be a two-week streaming event, with members of the CGRH community drumming up excitement and support for this cause.

–CGRH Blog

We will also be doing another charity bingo, which has traditionally been a successful event for us. We have several streamers in our community ready to help with the push for One Earth, and we’re going to have fun with it!

I will be kicking off the event on Monday, March 20, at 7 p.m. EST. Catch me on twitch and come hang out while I decorate part of Pelican Town for a couple hours!

For a full list of streamers and events, please visit the CGRH blog!

Liz Cultivates: Spring 2023

New year, new garden, new veggies ready to be grown and eaten! I received all my seeds last week from Ohio Heirloom Seeds, and I’m so excited about this year’s crop.

Before I show you my seed haul, let’s talk about seedling setup. The year before last, the first year of my full garden bed, I was fortunate with growing my little seedlings. I had broccoli, loads of green beans, jalapeños, banana peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce. They all survived from seeds and it was so fulfilling seeing everything come up — I did that! I made that happen!

A grocery cart full of adolescent plants

Then, when I tried to do the same in 2022, I planted a few new things and waited patiently for them to sprout… and then they all died. Every single one of my sprouts didn’t make it. So I got some adolescent plants at the big box store and planted those in my garden.

This year, I want to make sure my seed babies survive. Not only because I want to prove that I can do it — but because I’m excited about the produce itself! I have big plans to learn how to can tomatoes this year. I want to never have to buy tomato paste again! Plus I want to make pickles. There is a lot of potential in this garden, and I’m excited to try it again.

And so, in service of actually getting it right this year, I made a few changes to my seed-starting setup.

I made this light-hanging fixture out of PVC, got some LED lights to tie to the pole, and invested in a boot mat that will hold all my seed starts and keep any water from leaking out and making a mess. My work friend also gave me a seed heating pad to put under these little guys to keep them warm. So they’re going to have light, and they’re going to be warm! Hopefully with these changes, they’ll have an easier time of germinating and growing strong roots.

I also invested in better seeds this year (thanks to Ohio Heirloom Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company) and am thinking about trying my hand at composting (we shall see about that one). I have big plans to dig out another garden spot in the back for pumpkins and other such squashes.

And this year, I also got some herbs to try my hand at growing and drying (in hopes of never having to buy Italian seasoning again!). Suffice to say: I actually needed better seed storage this year (rather than a plastic grocery bag). And so I went to my trusty local hardware and tools supplier and bought something that normal people probably use for nuts and bolts. This is what I came up with!

Happy gardening in 2023!

Stream Announcement: Book Release Party!

The day is finally here!

Come hang out with me as I try not to hyperventilate about the fact that my book is now available for purchase. I’ll be playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and drinking a Very Good bottle of sake that I bought like six months ago in preparation for this event.

Let’s get weird. :)

Buy the book here.

Join me on Twitch here on Monday (Feb. 20) (and follow if you haven’t already!).

Some Rambling Thoughts About BLOODMADE

Today marks one week (well, I guess technically six days) until my debut fantasy novel comes out!

But what is Bloodmade all about, you’re wondering. (Just go with me, here.) Here are some rambling thoughts about the book and some basic info to get you started.

The process of writing this book was a roundabout one. I started it as a sophomore in college, just kind of putzing around with words and characters. I knew I wanted to write something about airships, friendship, and magic — and hopefully all three. It eventually grew into my thesis project for graduate school. After turning in 75,000 words at the end of that long two years, I took some time to do a lot of rewriting and rethinking and just general revisions. I cut out a good part of the front of the book and added some middle bits and massaged other parts. All told, the book is now 81,000 words long (right around 275 pages).

Back to those three tenets…


I think this is self-explanatory. Airships are cool as hell.

In all seriousness, I wanted to write something fantasy-steampunk. I spent a lot of time in the library looking at pictures of boats and learning boat-related vocab words (boatswain! kebek! starboard!). It was fun to begin to visualize the world — a gargantuan, mountainous region where people had built cities on the cliff-sides of these almost comically large mountains. The range is so big, people invented air travel simply to get from one side to the other, across what they call the Void, in a few days’ time. The people living within this mountain range have only known this land of crags and wind and storms. Some small cities and towns have cropped up on the valley floor, but they depend on the airships to maintain economic viability, being so far down.

Thus, ship captains and merchants are the lifeblood of this society. They carry goods across the range and, in the case of the governing body, the Courts, maintain peace.

At least they say they do.

What’s outside the mountain range? What are the Courts protecting their people from?


The main character, Katrya, was originally based on my best friend: a badass, shit-talking, amazing woman who has dreams and isn’t afraid of the men who try to stand in her way. After some time, though, I came to separate the inspiration from my friend in my head… mostly because Katrya isn’t as likable as my best friend, and is not really as good of a person as she might wish to be. (My real-life best friend is, in fact, a great person.) Katrya’s biggest goal in life is to become the captain of one of the steamships used by the Courts to travel outside the range. She wants to see what the sunrise looks like on the other side of the mountains. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

Katrya’s best friend is her Navigator (more about them below), Ien. He’s kind of a surly lunk but he wants to support Katrya in achieving her dreams. His ability to do this is soured a little by his social position… and by the fact that he keeps getting arrested.


The idea of the magic system took a little longer to percolate. In this world, magic is used by tattooed people who tap into the ink in said colorful tattoos to manipulate wind currents and weather patterns. These people, called Navigators, use their powers to fly airships — from huge steel carriers to small wooden barques — through the skies of the open, mountainous world of Daen.

I wanted to write a magic system that felt tangible. When the tattoos — which come in all colors, with vibrant depictions of animals, symbols, anything that folks are intrigued by — are “used,” their color drains to gray in a visible show of the depletion of power. This means the power is finite. Only use as much as you have. Except… for some people, their marks regain color slowly over time.

Something else I wanted to explore is the concept of “othering” when it comes to people and communities. The thing about Navigators is that they are, essentially, former criminals who have been conscripted by the Courts to fly the great carrier ships. They are given the tattoos and the training to use them — then must obey the whims of a nebulous government body.

Why give such people such great power, if you’re going to oppress them further? There must be mechanisms in place to prevent an uprising, no? Must be.

One more week!

Anyway, thanks for reading. I will have more thoughts later about the self-publishing process and indie writer community (of which I am newly a member!)

Please be sure to snag your pre-order copy on Kindle! If you’re holding out for the paperback, that will be available on Monday, Feb. 20. :)

Bloodmade Preorders are LIVE!

I’m so happy to announce that the Kindle preorder for my fantasy novel is now live!

The book will be published on February 20, 2023 (my birthday), so if you preorder it now, it will automatically be delivered to your device on that day! It will be like a reverse birthday present. Here, I got this for you.

Bloodmade, by L.M. Fern

I will have sappier thoughts as the date nears, but for now, we’re all business here. Run — don’t walk — to Amazon to preorder your copy of the Kindle version of Bloodmade!

Liz Cultivates: End-of-Year Retrospective 2022

My little garden did pretty well this year. Here’s a look:

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I am looking forward to next year. I’m planning on more squashes (multiple kinds!) and strawberries and maybe some pumpkins. And peppers, of course! I also would like to start an herb annex part of the yard.

Learning how to grow things and keep plants alive — which in turn provide sustenance to me — has been a journey. The first year, I grew one lonely banana pepper plant, with some small peppers. Now, I’m up to spaghetti squash! And even though I only got a few squashes out of the plant before a vine borer got it, I feel so good about what I have been able to accomplish in only a few short years. (Short years that have felt like long years.)

Next year will bring even more fun and learning opportunities. I’m looking forward to it!

New episode: Mark Fisher’s ‘Capitalist Realism’

As always, here is my (late) notice that we’ve put up an episode of the podcast!

Literally 2 Cents looked at “Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?” by writer and theorist Mark Fisher. From Alex’s description of the episode:

Topics explored include how society individualizes mental illness, why there’s this widespread conception of “gritty” content as somehow “realer” than non-gritty equivalents, and how our ironic distance from capitalism allows us to participate in it—even when we know it’s bad.

I really enjoyed reading this book for the show. It’s a depressing treatise on capitalist ideology, yes, but I have been missing the act of studying theory and more academic works. If you want to hear us talk more about these kinds of texts, let us know!

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