Welcome to HerdingTheDragon.com!

I'm a writer, a freelancer, a crafter, a nail polish mixatrix, a tea drinker, an unconventional life-liver, a journaling junkie, an introvert, a chronic-pain-sufferer, an idealist, a geek, a TV-lover. Welcome to my corner of the web!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Things that have been on my mind

I haven't been blogging much because my new job makes me very tired*, but that doesn't mean that my brain hasn't been full of stuff to talk about! Here's a list of some of the things I would have been blogging about:
  • Storystorming, where I literally just sit down and write ten first lines of stories I haven't written yet.
  • Consistency and what counts as consistency--if I write once a week, is that consistent? If I don't write anything for a month, does that count as not-consistent in the long run? How can I help myself be in a mind-space-time where I can write more?
  • Generally just the whole process of how to make space for creativity in a busy and tiring day job sort of life. And how it's okay to like your job and still be totally wiped out by it.
  • Tales of the Drae Book I: The Sound of Distant Thunder**
  • SPACE. Like, seriously, watching DarkMatter and Killjoys on the weekends and thinking about the eclipse in a few weeks, I'm very much in a spacey sort of headspace.*** 
  • Also space because next week I'm starting a class on the science and skills needed for living on Mars, so that's pretty cool.
  • FutureLearn in general--I've signed up for short-run classes every month through January and I'm really looking forward to them!
  • Tea. I discovered that the Food Lion right by our apartment has like three times as much tea as Target and twice as much as Walmart in the area, and I've been eyeballing the crap out of all of it. Finally picked up some yesterday because I wasn't feeling great. Gonna go back for more later.
  • Tsum Tsums. It's ridiculous how much I love these adorable little choking hazards. I want all of them. Also I want them to start making Star Wars ones in the blind bags and awesome sets, the way they've done with Disney and Marvel.
  • Romanian. I'm learning it and it's eating my brain.
What's been on your minds?

* But I like it. It's exhausting being on my feet for most of 5 days every week, and dealing with strangers is always tiring even when they're all basically nice, but the people I work with are good and the job is nice. Also I get to eat Chinese food a lot, which I love.
** I do love a long title these days, don't I?
*** I'm always in a spacey sort of headspace. I'm pretty sure that I mostly look like stars inside.

- Today's Change: Find a new thing to learn and really just sink into it. See where it takes you!

You can find me around the web here:
And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I'm gonna get to see the eclipse next month! Will you?


It's here: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/7/25/16019892/solar-eclipse-2017-interactive-map

You put in your zipcode and it tell you how much of the eclipse on August 21 you can see from where your house is. This is so exciting. There hasn't been an eclipse this close to where I live since I was in maybe second grade, when they showed us how to look at it safely so we don't go blind.

If you love strange space stuff and want something that's a Bigger Deal than a meteor shower, go put your zip in! 

Will you get to see it?

- I love space you guys.

- Today's Change: See when the next cool space thing is going on in your area--and then go look at it!

You can find me around the web here:
And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book Riff - Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo

I liked this book! It was quiet and different--the drama was all under the surface, and the narrative was told from the points of view of five sisters who don't talk to each other enough. Also, since it's based on the fall of the Czarist Empire, it's both inherently tragic and a setting I haven't seen a lot of books in. Then on top of that, there's a neat magic system that is creepy and cool, politics that are full of pathos without being overwhelming to the story, and it's visually very very gorgeous. It's just overall a neat book.

The official synopsis:
Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fueled by evil magic.The Crescent Empire teeters on the edge of a revolution, and the Five Daughters of the Moon are the ones to determine its future.
Alina, six, fears Gagargi Prataslav and his Great Thinking Machine. The gagargi claims that the machine can predict the future, but at a cost that no one seems to want to know.
Merile, eleven, cares only for her dogs, but she smells that something is afoul with the gagargi. By chance, she learns that the machine devours human souls for fuel, and yet no one believes her claim.
Sibilia, fifteen, has fallen in love for the first time in her life. She couldn't care less about the unrests spreading through the countryside. Or the rumors about the gagargi and his machine.
Elise, sixteen, follows the captain of her heart to orphanages and workhouses. But soon she realizes that the unhappiness amongst her people runs much deeper that anyone could have ever predicted.
And Celestia, twenty-two, who will be the empress one day. Lately, she's been drawn to the gagargi. But which one of them was the first to mention the idea of a coup?
And true fact: the kindle version, linked in the sample below, is being sold without DRM, so that's cool. 

There's two books in this series, with the second, The Sisters of the Crescent Empress, coming out in November, and I'm a little scared to read the next one. I know how sad the actual Romonov sisters' story is, and I don't want these five girls to end badly...but also I do want to read it because this book was like a creepy dream--pretty and strange and tragic and a little romantic. Romantic in the literary sense, since any romance in the genre sense is basically as tragic as the rest of the story.

I do wish there could have been more exploration of the world, though; it's a bit constrained by being from the points of view of the sisters, who are all sheltered and vaguely naive to various degrees, and once things get moving there's not a lot of time to look around. Still, there's plenty of beautiful, quiet moments they get to themselves, and it's like reading a movie with gorgeous cinematography, if that makes any sense. It's a very visual story.

- The sample is a super fancy affiliate link, so if you click and buy, I might get a few pennies for using my link!
- I read the physical book, as you can see in the picture at the top, but they don't embed the physical copies for whatever reason.

- Today's Change: Where would you set a book, if you were going to make a historical fantasy story about a timeframe not much used for fantasies?

You can find me around the web here:
And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tea Tasting - OT(ea)P from @AdagioTeas !

How flipping cute is this little tin??

OT(ea)P Tea by Aun-Juli Riddle is so nice. It's so so nice. 

The official descriptions:
This is it, your one true tea fit for your OTP. Smooth, decadent, a little spicy, and deliciously sweet, you can savor this while reading your favorite fan fiction or writing your own! 
Blended With Black Tea, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger Root, Rose Petals, Cocoa Nibs, Natural Creme Flavor, Natural Chocolate Flavor, Natural Strawberry Flavor, Natural Cinnamon Flavor, Dark Chocolate Chips (Contains Soy Lecithin), Strawberries
Teas: ValentinesChocolate ChaiCream
 I got this tea ages ago, before I bought a tin of Harney & Sons Chocolate Tea with my birthday money, and was severely disappointed. When I looked at this one and it said it was a chocolate tea I immediately went back to that moment of drinking a cup of birthday tea and being sad--and I totally didn't need to. This one is SO GOOD.

When you open the tin...

It's so pretty. It smells like truffles--like real rich chocolate, not like tootsie rolls or carob or some other not-real approximation of chocolatelyness. It does smell a little fruity, though not specifically like chocolate covered strawberries; if I didn't know that's what it was meant to smell like I might not have guessed strawberries, but it's definitely some sort of fruit-filling-in-a-truffle sort of smell. The rose gives it a sort of floral over-note back in the back of your nose.

It brews up strong! I put my usual couple of teaspoons into the teapot and it came out super strong; I could have cut the amount of tea and still gotten a good brew on it, I think. By itself, the tea isn't quite bitter, but it's definitely a very strong black tea. You can taste and smell the ginger and the cinnamon, but they blend really well with the tea--there's no, like, medicinal quality to the spices here at all. It smells like a spiced cocoa, but without sugar the chocolate is mostly a smell. Very smooth, very good union to the flavors!

With sugar, it's transformed! A teaspoon in the cup and suddenly the spices blended back and the chocolate came forward So Well. This tea, I actually like it better sugared but not milked--it's got a nice depth and complexity, and it tastes like dessert. The chocolate and spices work so well together. The fruit and rose fade back some, but they sort of bridge between the dominant flavors and make it taste rich and fancy.

I think I added too much milk, and maybe that was the problem, but with the milk in the tea, it sort of overwhelmed the complexity and make it less interesting. It was still good, but it wasn't as eye-popping as it was with just the sugar. 

Overall, I really love this tea! If you want a decadent cup (or full pot in my case) of something very desserty and warm and lovely, this is the tea for you!

In full disclosure, most of these teas were provided to me for my honest review, and I don't get anything for supporting them, but the way Adagio works, the people who made them will get points if you buy them!

Other tea reviews in this series:

As you can see, there's many more to come! And also probably some non-Adagio teas to review, since I've gotten others semi recently, too!

- I'm always open for tea to review, if you make or sell tea and would like to have an honest opinion...

- Today's change: New tea! Seriously, a new flavor of something you consume frequently can make everything seem fresh!

You can find me around the web here:
And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Writing report! - Monday 7-24-17

I actually got a chance to sit down and do some writing yesterday! And by some, I mean A Lot because I had almost an hour before work, a few minutes after clocking in because it was Le Dead, and then like half an hour while waiting on the bus to take me home.


Project: Tales of the Drae, Book 1: The Sound of Distant Thunder*

Pages / Words written: Twelve pages, hand-written. In my handwriting that's usually around 200-250 words a page, so something like 2400 to 3000 words.**

First line written this session
Fallon doesn't give the man so much as half a glance, so you don't either, and to be honest you're glad of not having to find a way to be polite.
Last line written this session
The sea--and something built of what doesn't look like stone.
  • Alys, the main character, is actually somehow from the past??? I have no idea yet how that's going to work out, it's not in the Plan.
  • The Eggkeeper is over three hundred years old and of a gender that doesn't exist in humans, and is maybe shifty; it hasn't shaken out yet.

Other stuff:
  • Writing second person is so fun, but I KNOW there's going to be super-shaky parts when I go back and get it in the computer. 
  • Also, I have no idea if anyone wants a whole series of second person-narration scifi-fantasy books, but that's how the story is coming and that's how I'm writing it.

*Probably. I have like five titled lined up somewhere but damned if I know where I left it with all the moving around I've been doing the last five years. But I think that's the one I've been using lately.
**Less impressive when it's been more than a week since I worked on it at all, and almost a month since I added anything significant like this, but words are words!

- Today's change: Go somewhere where you don't usually work, and stay there for a few hours until you have a lot more writing than usual done!

You can find me around the web here:
And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dark Moon Reading for the World - July 2017

This month we've got some cool cards!


PIRATE means someone who takes what they want, but also someone who does what they think is right regardless of the dominant social set up: someone outside the rules and the possibly unfair social constructs of their time. Since it's upright, I'd say it's a positive thing, more like advice that we should break from unfair rules and do what we want, than a warning against bloodthirsty villains.

STAR is the light that guides you, the distant fixed point you can get your bearings by and follow through the night. What guides you? What is your goal? This card also carries connotations of far off places that are actual and real, not just a dot of light: there are places people haven't been to yet, and they can be goals, too.

WOMAN is the card for everyone who feels like a woman--however you identify femininity. It's the traditional things about nurturing and emotions, but also that strength and fierceness women can have, too. 

All three cards are upright, which makes the overall whole reading very positive: It's advice to go after our goals, to ignore the dumb current things that might try to hold us back, and to do it like women--in this case, I'd think Wonder Woman and Furiosa, since it's about long-term things and strength. Did you ever see that thing on Tumblr about "no more dying like men, today we survive like women" (or something like that)? That's what this brings to mind: not necessarily that it'll be easy, but that there's a way to get things done that disregards things that want to tell us we can't do them, and that happens because of that particular feminine strength. 

I think this is one of the most ME readings I've done in a long time--I hope it applies to you guys, too!

- If you've like a personal reading, I do them for 3$ a card, as many cards as you want. You can pick the number or the layout and I'll do the reading, or we can see what comes up in one of my standard layouts. Contact me for info!

- What have you not done because society says you can't? Is it really true that you cant?

You can find me around the web here:
And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A free slice of SF history - Galaxy Magazine and IF Magazine are now available online!

Thanks to Cory Doctorow and BoingBoing, I discovered this treasure trove of old school scifi! Almost full sets of every issue of Galaxy Magazine and it's sister IF Magazine, where a bunch of he classics of science fiction were published between the 50s and the 80s, all scanned and digitized and waiting for us to devour!

I'm so excited: I haven't read a bunch of classic scifi since I was first discovering adult lit and working my way through the piles of skinny anthologies my dad had on his shelf from when HE was young. And it was mostly these same authors, Bradbury, Heinlein, Ellison. 

And on top of that, I'm working on rebuilding my writing schedule* and getting back to writing short stories as well as the novels I keep pecking away at**, and the best way I know how to get short stories out is to put short stories in. These magazines should be easy to squeeze into my schedule than the big fat anthologies that I love but that take a lot longer to read.

Click through and see how you like them!

*I have a new job outside the house, and my whole schedule has been rebooted and not quite worked out again yet.
**Novels take so long to write. Like. I know they take a long time, but damn do they take a long time. Short stories are both practice and much closer to instant gratification! Plus, like, I have this blog and my Patreon that I want to put stories in.

- Today's change: Go back to your roots and see what new stuff you see since the last time you looked at them.

You can find me around the web here:
And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl


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