It’s finally happening

Do you all remember when I went to graduate school and wrote a book and got an expensive piece of paper and rewrote the book and then stashed that book on a hard drive and never looked at it again?

Yeah, me neither.

I am officially self-publishing BLOODMADE, my completed fantasy novel, in 2023. It will be available on Amazon in eBook and paperback format and on my website in eBook and PDF format.

It’s the story of a young woman who dreams of running her own airship and taking it across the mountains — the same mountains her father had set his sights on years and years ago…

Here’s a sneak preview of the back cover text:

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.

Get hype, people! The pre-order will be live soon, and I will keep you posted about that.

Read BLOODMADE on February 20, 2023.


Liz Writes… In Little Rock

I’m back on the road, baby!

Last month I spent some time in Little Rock, Arkansas, a small enough city that I felt like I saw most or all of it during a six-day work trip. It had the feel of a big city, the grime of one — but the charm of a smaller town, seeing as how I kept seeing the same faces over and over throughout the week.

I had a really great week learning in a professional capacity and having fun in a personal capacity. It is a nice city, full of all the things that make cities familiar. Walking the half mile from my hotel to the conference center was reminiscent of my time in Chicago, in Cincinnati, in London. It felt like home, like I had just returned from a long time away.

While I didn’t do a lot of writing in Little Rock, I did do a lot of thinking. It felt nice to be in a new place, with my little family in tow. It helped me solidify some thoughts about some things I want out of my life: more travel, less stress, more time with my family. I worked on a couple crochet projects and learned more about my field and spent time with folks who know exactly what kinds of challenges I face every day at my job.

Now that I’m home…

One thing that came through clearly at the conference: We need to take more time for ourselves. Make time to be offline. Do other things that aren’t work. I haven’t been doing that a lot lately. It feels like I’ve been going, going, going, and that’s not good for my mental health.

I’m going to take some real time off in January, I think, and settle back into myself.

These blogs are always a testament to the amount of time I spend thinking about how, exactly, to do that. How do I settle back into myself? How do I force myself out of bed to go exercise in the morning? How do I help myself feel more secure in where I am, in the choices I’ve made? How do I let myself be okay with the things I’m doing, and the goals I’m achieving (or not achieving)? I think about all these things for exactly as long as it takes to write this post, and then throw myself back into the humdrum of everyday work.

Seems like I need to carve out some real time to figure things out. Time to make some lists and get back to where I need to be. That’ll be the next post. Stay tuned.

Liz, a glasses-wearing, brown-haired, white, female-presenting person, gives the "peace" sign in a mirror selfie in a hotel room in Arkansas.
I’m a professional.

Literally 2 Cents!: Managerial “Coping” Strategies

This week, we took a deeper look at the kinds of strategies the managers of the content mill used to cope with the fact that they were the middle man between overworked, underpaid employees and clients who, in all seriousness, were probably sold a bill of goods about the content they would be getting from the company.

A quick disclaimer: I promise we will not spend the entirety of this podcast dunking on the content mill. We have just been doing it a lot lately; we’re working on a chunkier episode that will be coming soon!

Another quick disclaimer: I mention this at some point in the episode, but it’s worth reiterating. The managers we worked with absolutely were doing their best. They cannot be fully faulted for the lemons they were handed.

Doing Something About Jenny Odell's "How to do Nothing," Part 1! This Too Too Solid Flesh

Listen now (45 min) | What does it mean to focus your attention and opt out of the "attention economy"?
  1. Doing Something About Jenny Odell's "How to do Nothing," Part 1!
  2. The Complete Beginner’s Guide to "Capitalist Realism"
  3. SEO Cope And Change—And StarCraft!
  4. The Top 10 Things We Wish We Didn't Know About Content Mills

Liz Writes… At Lake Hope

I started this post four years ago, the last time I went to Lake Hope. In the Before Times, you know. Before all the big life changes came tumbling across my proverbial windshield (pandemic notwithstanding).

I have been to Lake Hope State Park (in southeast Ohio) several times over the years, the first time with friends from college in what seemed like the spring of my life. It seems like whenever I go, it’s time to reset. To recharge. The first time, it was at the end of my first year of graduate school, and I was limping on to the next semester having learned exactly what I DIDN’T know, and how much I needed to learn. The second time, it was at the end of my second year of graduate school — and I was prepping to defend a thesis I wasn’t quite sure I believed in anymore.

This time was no different. I hadn’t had a vacation — a true vacation with just me, filled with things I wanted to do — since 2019. Since before everything. So this was a much-needed diversion, a moment of relaxation in the midst of busy times and bad brain vibes all around.

I brought my new Chromebook along so that I could work on my novel, which is coming along nicely. I’m really happy with this purchase. It was $100 and it’s easily worth more. I had a small laptop in college that I bought specifically to take to England when I studied abroad, and this is reminiscent of that (it was probably the most useful of laptops I’ve ever purchased). Plus I get to learn something new and use Linux for the first time.

As corny as it sounds, Lake Hope represents a renewal for me. A kind of hope. It’s always a great time — but more than that, it’s a place that I can retreat when things become too much. I am happy I got to do some good work — and crochet, of course — in a familiar place. I am also grateful I was able to take my little family with me (because of course Cora had to come too!).

Cora the Explora (a brown striped tabby cat) sits in a bunk bed
Cora had her very own bunk bed.

How to Train Your (Dungeons and) Dragons — The Journal of Dungeoneering for Hip and Attractive Professionals

The most important element of any tabletop role-playing game is the people.

How to Train Your (Dungeons and) Dragons — The Journal of Dungeoneering for Hip and Attractive Professionals

Literally 2 Cents!: Top 10 Things

This week on 2 Cents: The Top 10 Things We Wish We Didn’t Know About Content Mills.

We came at this one like we would any piece of content for our previous employer. The “Top X” things post was probably the most popular schema of post that we would write — because, for whatever reason, the Google algorithm prioritizes content like this.

In this episode, we talk about how much we actually used to write every day (too much), how everything on the internet is actually ghost-written (sorry), proprietary content management software (it’s trash!), and on-prem vs. cloud-based solutions (barf).


Happy National Crochet Day!

Today (September 12) is apparently National Crochet Day. (There is a day for everything, it seems.)

This is a perfect opportunity to gloat about all the stuff I’m making and how much progress I’ve made with this craft over the last couple of years.

My mom taught me how to crochet using a hairpin lace loom when I was eight. For years, we made blanket after blanket after blanket — we are never not making a hairpin lace blanket. For reference, a hairpin lace loom looks like this:

A golden crochet hook attached to red yarn and a hairpin lace crochet apparatus
And that blue and gray blanket I’m using was also hairpin lace.

So for the longest time, I only knew how to crochet using this specific method. Several years ago, however, my best friend started learning how to crochet from her mom, who is basically a professional. I wanted to learn how to make things from just yarn and a hook, too — and so my best friend showed me how to hold the yarn and how to do a single crochet stitch.

Then there was a pandemic.

The rest is history!

Here are some recent projects I’ve been working on:

Celebrate the day wisely, friends! Grab your hooks and get makin’!

Literally Two Cents! Episode 3: The Golden Rule of Content

This episode was extremely fun to record (in case you didn’t notice: I was laughing the entire time) and even more fun to chat with Alex about before and after. Turns out that the golden rule of writing for a content mill doesn’t have anything to do with “treating others the way you’d want to be treated…”

Doing Something About Jenny Odell's "How to do Nothing," Part 1! This Too Too Solid Flesh

Listen now (45 min) | What does it mean to focus your attention and opt out of the "attention economy"?
  1. Doing Something About Jenny Odell's "How to do Nothing," Part 1!
  2. The Complete Beginner’s Guide to "Capitalist Realism"
  3. SEO Cope And Change—And StarCraft!
  4. The Top 10 Things We Wish We Didn't Know About Content Mills

Liz Makes Stuff: Mittens! (& other announcements)

I have been working on this set of gloves for a while. Island Grandpa of CGRH fame turned me on to this pattern, and I wanted to try something new!

It works up really nicely and quickly, and I’ve made two pairs now. I’m working on a third for a friend. It’s such a nice little project to do while watching a show — most of the second pair was completed while watching a K-drama called Her Private Life (which, by the way, is a super cute show and highly recommended).

The pattern I used is by Sheep & Stitch, and they have a video walkthrough that was really helpful — especially because this was my first time using double-pointed needles and knitting in the round. It was a little uncomfortable at first, because it took a minute to figure out how to hold the needles. But the mittens worked up so nicely once I got the hang of it.

I’m enjoying the art of crochet and knitting… and as a true millennial bitten by the gig economy bug, I am thinking about selling small crochet / knitted items here on my website!

I am still in the process of figuring out exactly what that’s going to look like, but I’m excited to dip my toes in the small-business world and see if anyone actually wants the things I’ve been making. I mean… I want them. I love this stuff. So maybe someone else will too!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the things I might sell. (Hint: Bookmark this page and let me know what you think!)