Today – April 27 – I turn 27 years old.
(That’s right, isn’t it, Mom? Right? [math]…okay, yeah.)
My day-job is still on quarantine shut-down – along with most things in my state – but I figured I could still have fun by coming up with 27 things that I like.
Read on to: 1) find some things you might like to try; 2) rejoice that something you like is enjoyed by someone else; and 3) find out more about me! (Because who wouldn’t want to!)
He’s the most wonderful Person in the history of ever. Not only does He put up with me when I’m being a selfish, petulant baby, but He rescued me from my own selfishness and is going to marry me one day.
(In a spiritual sense, of course. It’s not weird…talk to Him about it!)
2. My family
Well, a whole lot of things have to tie for second place. But I think the cake has to go to my parents and my kid brother.
(Just kidding! I eat the whole cake myself!)
While they’re far from perfect, I think my parents’ success can be boiled down to two basic parenting choices:
A—They boldly lived their Christian walks in front of us kids
…the times they doubted, the times they came up short, the times they didn’t have the answers. They communicated their love of Jesus – not only in their words – but in the actions and decisions they made every single day.
B—They took us along for the ride.
We were never excluded in a little box of “innocence,” and they never made us feel like the adult world was some boring place we didn’t belong. Whether visiting the OB floor where my mom worked…or sitting around with our church-friends talking heavy theology stuff…or going over math sheets together…or taking two weeks for an “American Government” field trip on the East Coast because homeschooling lets you do that!…we were always included, valued, “one of the guys,” and shown the “adult world” as a place we absolutely belonged.
And my brother…well, I could talk all day about this complicated and precious dynamic we have.
3. Dorothy Sayers
She had to come sooner or later.
If I were to list only one author whose work I would want with me on a desert island, it would be the lucid, intellectual, witty, and soul-searching novels of Dorothy L. Sayers.
She doesn’t just write mysteries…although they are such clever, twisty, and satisfying mysteries.
Each of her works is infused with a philosophical bite, a keen insight into human nature, glorious British banter, colorful flesh-and-blood characters…
I could go on, but I’ll just recommend my personal favorite: Unnatural Death.
4. One Punch Man
Another tie for 2nd place, this anime blew my mind and skyrocketed to the top of All Things Amazing in my life.
Yeah, probably don’t show it to the kids (there’s sprinkled coarse language and borderline male nudity), but there’s so much else awesome here!
Genos! Saitama – a noble (though bored) hero with the Daddy-like power to crush any bad-guy! Crazy monsters, and truck-loads of professional heros. Genos! A snotty telepath chick who kicks Captain Marvel in power, attitude, and characterization. Simple plots with deep themes – oh, such themes! Heroism! Self-sacrifice! The harsh reality of mob mentality, attacking the very heroes who saved their lives! Genos!
Enough already. Just go read why Genos is totally adorable, then maybe find it on YouTube or your favorite streaming service (or even buy the DVD and a t-shirt to match!).
When I was a kid, I always found baking frustrating because it took so much time and energy to produce something that…would be consumed and gone before you could turn around.
Now, it still takes time and energy…but I just need those chocolate cookies, man. Whatever method delivers my hit.
Oh! I’ve also figured out yeast-bread. For the longest time, breads with yeast were always frustrating because they took longer, you had to get your arms all flour-y with kneading them, and 90% of the time they wouldn’t even rise!
Now, though, I have a few secrets:
a) Use yeast that’s not old and kaput. b) Knead on the kitchen table (which is just the right hight to be comfortable for my arms). You still have to get flour all over your hands, but if you knead it long enough the dough goes all soft and squishy and elastic and it’s lovely. c) Arrange the dough beside and above a ROARING WOOD-STOVE to rise!
Now…well, my baked goods still seem to disappear shockingly quickly. But I’m having enough fun experimenting with the process that it’s not so terrible when I only get one or two rolls.
(ALTHOUGH I STILL WANT MORE THAN ONE ROLL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.)
6. My coworkers
I like my day job. I really do. Yes, it’s work, and yes, it’s makes me tired and frustrated…but that’s what adulting is about.
And part of what makes it all worth it is the great people I get to work with! They really are like family 🙂
7. YouTubers: Lindsey Ellis, Filmento, Overly Sarcastic Productions, Literature Devil, The Closer Look
I watch way too much YouTube. One of the reasons I’m always baking (or washing dishes) is it gives me an excuse to watch.
My pattern over the past year or so is: I find a video I like (usually on story theory, movies, or human nature) and then I go obsessively watch the creator’s entire back-list.
I forced myself to narrow it down to just my absolute favorites. Go check them out…maybe you’ll discover some new content you love!
(And one of these days I absolutely need to put something in their Patreon tip jar, ’cause – come on! – I want them to keep eating and keep making content!)
—Overly Sarcastic Productions—My favorite of their videos is their series “Trope Talk” on various commonly repeated story elements/tools/building blocks, like this video on Paragon Characters (language caution for this one)—official site
—Literature Devil—His series of videos on “Is #ComicsGate Wrong?” asks the question: “Should comics focus primarily on Telling Stories, or on Politics and Social Issues?” Entertaining and thought-provoking!—official site
—Lindsey Ellis—I first found her channel through her ruthless critique of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast remake. She may be a woke lib chick from California, but even when we don’t agree I still find her arguments interesting and thought-provoking (LANGUAGE cautions, though!)—her channel homepage
—Filmento—This guy has an adorable little accent – I mean, also he analyzes movies from a story-telling and craft perspective…like this video where he explains why Captain America: Winter Soldier is amazing (language caution)! He’s also good because, when he critiques a movie, he gives suggestions for how it could be done better – like in this video for how the Men in Black reboot could have been stronger!—his Patreon
—The Closer Look—I first found this guy because of his video on how pushing a political viewpoint in a story alienates your audience…though I also like his video that discusses the unique immersion opportunities video games have versus other forms of media—his channel homepage
8. Wadjet Eye Games
Maybe should have gone higher on the list but I refuse to overthink this.
This outfit consistently puts out amazing, high-quality point-and-click games.
The puzzles are intuitive (most of the time) and make you feel clever.
The stories and powerful, emotional, and feature jaw-dropping twists.
The voice work is top-notch, the music is addictive, and the graphics range from retro low-res to beautifully evocative.
How much do I love them? I finally bought one of their games NOT ON SALE! (Okay, it was a Christmas present from my brother, same difference.)
9. Visiting nursing homes
It’s…strangely fulfilling and addictive. Of course, I haven’t gone to see my little friends for at least a month…but I’m still praying for them, and can’t wait to get back at it!
You, too, can visit nursing homes and brighten someone’s day!
10. Pretty yarn
My work-place has started carrying these super cute skeins that have multi-color swirls of different colors, and they look so adorable all wrapped up (and feel so soft and fun when you touch them) that I’d have a hard time actually using any of them.
But they’re still super adorable.
11. Columbo and Mission: Impossible
Tied for 5th place (don’t try to make the math come out…I’m not) are two amazing TV shows.
Columbo is a knuckle-biting (and sometimes humorous) murder mystery starring the smartest, frumpiest police lieutenant to ever be perpetually underestimated.
Mission: Impossible is packed with suspense, intrigue, slow-burn plots, keep-you-guessing double-agents – all held together with amazing teamwork!
If all you know of M:I is the movies…you’re missing out and you need to see the TV show!
12. My Hero Academia
My brother and I only recently cracked into this show over quarantine…and, well, I guess it lives up to the hype.
I know I put it after Columbo and M:I, but it might actually be my #2 favorite show. (It’s way better than Avatar: The Last Airbender YES I SAID IT.)
I really need to write a full review. Suffice to say that it handles a large cast expertly, builds slow-burn friendships and character arcs deliciously, offers pay-offs on things you didn’t even know they were setting up…all while exploring the explosive concept of a super-human society with creativity, humor, and plenty of action.
Perfect? No. But 100% worth $5 for a month of streaming from whatever service you can find it on. (And maybe when they finally come out with full-season or multi-season DVDs we can get those, too.)
For those not in the Midwest, these are basically half-and-half frosting and peanut butter – rolled into balls and coated in chocolate. (Although they also work just plastered on a cookie sheet and chopped into slices.)
Chocolate and peanut butter. The only downside is the calorie price-tag.
14. Our dog and cats
My family never owned a dog until we moved to the country when I was…well, over 20 – and now I don’t know what we did without him!
Wag wag SO FLUFFY wag snuffle *stroke ears*
I’ve been trying to rotate lately, to cut down on hand pain (really hoping this isn’t early-onset carpel tunnel), but I love knitting.
Probably especially since I can do it while doing something else (reading, watching a movie, talking with people) and feel like I’m being productive (or “extra productive”).
I’ve been knitting since age 12, and have made countless hats, scarfs, afghans, sweaters, shawls, doll clothes –
My bad. The doll clothes I’m thinking of were crocheted.
I also do cross-stitch, am getting into sewing, and have done embroidery in the past.
I probably like knitting the best, but it depends on the situation. (And I’m constantly having to talk myself out of picking up a new project.)
Part of the fun of being an author is researching stories!
Back when I was writing Sons of the King, I lived to hunt through all the obscure websites about castles, swords, poison, and other info about pre-Conquest Great Britain.
Hayes and Hayes, of course, required me to learn A LOT about the Drug Enforcement Administration, gangs, and meth. (Reminds me of a funny story from Sociology class…also I wrote a Statistics paper about meth-rehab clinical studies!)
And of course, White Mesa Chronicles let me dive head-first into societal collapse…what urban environments might look like after 50 years of neglect…home-steading…prepper culture…how you could rebuild Western civilization with a 3D-printer in your basement (ahem – you really can’t, but having 50 other families with 3D-printers in your neighborhood is a good start)…parasite epidemiology…I lose track.
Ooh! And if you grab my latest release (Transmutation of Shadow, publishing TODAY!), you’ll find out why I researched jails; the CIA headquarters at Langley, PN; the strength tolerances of bullet-proof glass; when Dunkin’ Donuts opens; and other cool stuff like that!
(It’s so much fun sometimes you don’t write the actual book…*cough cough*!)
17. Fire escapes and sewer grates
That reminds me. I have an unnatural attraction to fire escapes.
Not like I want to do parkour or anything… Maybe it’s just the draw of the forbidden.
Like those “Staff only” and “No entry” doors, and the little packets at stores that say “Silica gel Do not eat Throw away.”
What would happen if you ate one?
As for the sewer grates, I’m pretty sure that’s 85% to 90% of me worried a head-crab is going to appear at any moment.
18. Halo and Half-life 2
How could I call this a “list of things I like” and totally forget two of the greatest games to ever grace the digital world?!
While I have written about how, in some ways, Halo is superior to Half-life 2…they both played huge, HUGE roles in my development – mental, emotional, and creative – and I will always owe them a great debt.
(Honestly, though, the Master-chief beats Gordon Freeman. Totally.)
19. Steve Taylor
My favorite singer/songwriter ever.
My family teases me that you can’t understand a word he says…but if you take the time to dive into the lyric sheets, you’ll find words that cut deep to the soul of humanity – and then stake that soul out to roast on the solid rock of Biblical Theology.
He’s also sarcastic, which is delightful.
20. Kristen Lamb
This Texan lady is a blogger on story structure, author business, marketing, the publishing industry, inter-personal social dynamics…
She’s so very different from me. She’s aggressive. She’s a go-getter. She calls it like she sees it, and doesn’t care what extra characters (@#%&) she uses in her posts.
She’s also remarkably right about a lot of things…and I find her call-to-arms inspiring.
My favorite post is probably this one, talking about how content providers (authors, singers, artists, performers) actually do deserve compensation for the services they offer.
Check her out! Maybe even buy her books (or check out her tip jar if you really like her stuff).
21. Magnolia flowers
Every spring, the tree in the front yard blooms, and my heart sings.
22. also Tulips and Daffodils
Everybody talks about how wonderful roses are, but tulips are gorgeous and amazing and come in so many different colors and have such a pleasing shape! (Also our property is coated with rose bushes that are all thorns and will grab you at the most unexpected times but I digress.)
23. Marvel movies
My favorites are Thor: Ragnarok and Captain America: The Winter Soldier!
My mom’s favorite is Avengers: Age of Ultron because of the scene on Hawkeye’s farm. She could probably just watch that scene over and over and be happy 🙂
24. RWBY soundtrack
I think I might like the music more than the show itself, even! As I said in my review, it’s like cinematic orchestral smashed with rock with a smattering of ballad…and also jam packed with clever words and emotion.
(Note to self: buy the CDs one day in case YouTube is down…)
25. Cleaning things
Sounds weird, I know. I think the fun comes from the visual progress of seeing dirt and grime peeling away and being magically replaced with clean surfaces.
(I also have a perfectionist streak, so whenever I start cleaning something, I get wrapped up in doing it all.)
26. Our D&D campaign
My dad and brother have gotten more “into it” than I have (which is strange, since re-launching our campaign was kinda my idea), but it grows on you. (Maybe dying has a way of increasing emotional investment?)
It has taken over my blog in some ways. Or rather, it’s kept the blog alive during some dry creative patches!
Tied for #10, I love my blog.
Though I started it to promote my author career, I have fun jabbering about whatever I care about, formatting it prettily, then PUBLISHING it for all the world to see!
It gives me a place to process things I want to think about, and encourages me to articulate it in a way that makes sense to other people.
So…look around, make yourself at home – and maybe find something that entertains you and makes you think!
She was born in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and currently lives with her family somewhere in the American Midwest. She’s bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.
If you like lovable characters, gripping action, siblings who would die for each other, mysteries, questions, emotional adventures, and asking “what if?”…then you will enjoy any of her books!
Her latest novel just PUBLISHED TODAY, and features a lovable “Jason Bourne Jedi” – who works as a government assassin – finding out some of his targets weren’t on the approved list! Give me a birthday present and grab yourself a copy 😉 😀