Welcome to Kiki Writes About

As the name implies, this is where I write about…whatever. Myself, life, writing, sexuality, weight, my random issues and obsessions, if it comes into my head, I may just put it into words here.

If you’re looking for my fiction, you’ll find everything on Read Me. Everything I’ve published (either traditionally or self) is there. If you’d like to be convinced that I’m worth your time and money, check out the Writing for Tips section. It’s all of my free short stories. However, if you read a few and decide you like them, feel free to buy me a coffee over on Ko-Fi.

Murderville is my Patreon project. It wrapped up in 2021, but watch this space. There could be a new project coming soon.

If you’re looking for my podcast ventures, like Book ’em, Danno, or my ramblings on reruns, you’ll want to check out aka KikiWrites.

So, kick back and enjoy some words.

They could be about anything.

2021 NaNo Winner!

Yes, I officially reached 50,000 words on November 29th, so that’s another win in the books.

This year was quite interesting given that I decided to approach NaNo in a different fashion while also dealing with a different library schedule that added a challenge to the already challenging situation of me struggling to write in general.

What resulted was quite a bit of productivity actually. Writing only 1,700 words a day every day helped keep the pressure off. Normally, I write between 2,000 and 4,000 words a day during NaNo. In comparison, 1,700 words is a piece of cake. For the most part, I was able to get my word count in before I went to work, another factor that kept the stress low. I was able to work on other things after my library shift knowing that I had NaNo done.

I finished the first draft of the audio story The Found Diary of Christina Essex in 15 days at 25,000 words, half of my needed word count and more than I anticipated doing on that story. Which was good. I wasn’t exactly sure if the story was going to work out until I hit a certain point and things suddenly came together. After that, it was pretty easy writing.

As for the rest of the month, I ended up using my word count to write four blog posts, five flash fiction stories, and four short stories, including one that topped out at 10,000 words. Not bad for someone who’s been struggling to write anything longer than flash fiction for months. I was also able to clear several story ideas out of my notebook. I don’t know yet what I’ll do with all of them now that they’re in first draft form, but they are ready and waiting to be revised.

As NaNos go, this one was quite different, but it also gave me a boost that I desperately needed when it came to getting my writing done. So much of why it’s fallen to the wayside is this feeling that I don’t have time to do it because I have all of these other impending projects to work on.

But the truth is, I do have time. It’s just a matter of finding it again.

Finding the energy…that’s another story.

But at least I know that I can still win when I want to.

Gratitude and Blessings

I wrote about doing this back in 2014, but the idea has evolved in the ensuing years.

So back at the end of 2012, I came across an idea on Facebook called The Good Things Jar. Everyday you write down something good that happened during the day on a slip of paper and you put it in a jar. At the end of the year, you dump out the jar and review all of the good things.

I started in 2013 and for the first few years, I did it just that way, with a twist. Not only did I go through the jar and review, but I also wrote them all down at the end of whatever journal I kept that year. It was fun and enlightening and I learned that I often struggle knowing what day it is.

I also learned that I could save myself some paper if I refined the process.

I got rid of the jar and started writing my blessings directly in my journal. The switch made sense as I write in my journal daily anyway. At the end of the year, I can flip through my journal and review my blessings.

In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed a few things.

I have a lot of gratitude for food. -Food makes me happy. I know what you’re thinking. Not surprising given my fat ass. But when you think about it, food is a simple pleasure. The right flavor at the right time can brighten your day. (And when you take into account the food insecurity that plagues this country, having adequate nutrition IS something to be grateful for.)

Many of my blessings are simple things. -A pretty sunset. Reading outside. Opening the windows after having them shut all winter. Those tiny moments that we take for granted or overlook, I often find myself savoring them.

I’m very grateful for the people in my life. -I’m not the best person, and yet there are people in my tiny universe who think of me randomly and are willing to help me when I need it (even if I don’t ask for it) and who just in general brighten my existence with their presence. I don’t express that enough and I need to work on that.

Sometimes I’m just grateful to make it through the day. -Some days are shit. Some days it’s hard for me to find that blessing. So, I’m just grateful to have made it through somewhat intact. Surviving the garbage is the blessing.

I feel like the active cultivation of gratitude has helped improve my mental health over the years. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not touting this as the cure to depression and anxiety. But I think it’s one of the healthier coping mechanisms I have in life, especially when my brain chemicals are particularly off balance. The habit of identifying one good thing every day helps when it feels like I can’t see anything but the bad.

I like harvesting the little good bits.

They don’t spoil.

I’m Not Paid to Be Nice

As someone who’s spent most of their working life employed in minimum wage customer service jobs, I feel there’s some insights that I can offer about the industry, particularly retail.

Here’s a very important one.

I’m not paid to be nice.

This is a very common misconception that most likely took hold due to the popularization of the inaccurate and unofficial policy that the customer is always right.

For the record, they’re not. There will never be a wronger group of humans to ever shamble through a set of automatic doors. Embrace that truth and the rest is easy.

But for those customers who continue to insist that they’re always right, allow me to explain what I mean when I say that I’m not paid to be nice.

The objective in customer service is to obviously serve the customer. In that we are trained to be professional and to be courteous. Not nice. Being professional is following protocols and policies and solving customer issues as efficiently as possible. Courteous is using your manners. Nice is being pleasing and agreeable. I’m paid to do the first two. The third is a bonus. It’s not owed to you. And it will definitely not be bestowed upon you if you choose to be an abusive yahoo.

See, I can totally do my job without being nice. I can be professional and courteous without being nice. I can also be professional and courteous while you’re being a raging whirlwind of entitlement about whatever has displeased you and make “I’m sorry” sound like “fuck you” without being overtly rude. I don’t have to call you the result of an illicit love affair between a drunken used dildo sniffer and a scabie-infested two-dollar drama queen, but I can certainly get that point across when I say “Have a nice day” as you storm out.

Do you see what I’m saying here?

Because the people who believe that the customer is always right also seem to believe that the customer is also right to abuse the employees. Now, here’s the thing…and I really want you to consider this…when you get on your entitled customer is always right horse and go charging across that battlefield to get your whims whimmed, you’re typically engaging with the lowest level employees in the establishment. We control absolutely nothing. Your attitude is wasted. We don’t care. Fuck off.

There’s also the little thing of being a raging troglodyte that guarantees that we will not be nearly as helpful as we can be. We will give you the bare minimum of what it takes to get you out of the building. And you swearing that you’ll never return is our wish that you never really grant us. Because you always come back.

This sort of tomfuckery has been amplified with the advent of anti-maskers. Nobody throws a fit like a grown ass toddler told that it’s an establishment’s policy to wear a mask while inside of said establishment. To save anyone further embarrassment, allow me to clarify: if an establishment says that you need to wear a Santa hat to enter, you’d better be be saying “Ho ho ho” when you walk through the door. It’s the same reason you’re wearing shoes and your naughty bits are covered upon entry (though I will admit some folks even argue that).

The pandemic has definitely made tempers shorter and that’s not just the customers. It’s the employees, too. We’ve been dealing with high volumes of abusive bullshit lately. We’re to the point that not only are we not paid to be nice, but we’re willing to take a pay cut not to be courteous, even though we should get a raise for dealing with such a constant flow of exasperating humans.

So just remember that if you wouldn’t tolerate three minutes of someone screaming in your face for $7.25, don’t expect that employee you’re screaming at to do it for $7.25 an hour.

‘Cause we’re not paid to be nice.

And nowadays, you might just get your shit rocked.

New Patreon Project Announcement

Murderville ran for five years and at the end of it all, I wasn’t sure that I was going to do another Patreon project. I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to come up with something else I wanted to do, especially given the fact that writing has been difficult for me lately.

And then of course I got the inkling of an idea, so let’s see if I can pull it off.

The new project will actually feature two separate projects and three tiers.

The $1 tier will be a general support tier. This tier will feature a post on the first of every month that will be a sort of round up of what happened in the previous month and a preview of what’s coming up. 

There are people who’d like to support what I do, but aren’t necessarily into whatever I write. There’s also the very real possibility that the projects I’m doing now won’t be something my current patrons are interested in, so I feel this is a good option.

The $2 tier will be the writing tier and starting in January it will feature the novel (Vampires) Made in America with a chapter going live on the 2nd Monday of every month. The first draft of this book was written during NaNoWriMo 2011 and I’ve been working on it off and on ever since.

In (Vampires) Made in America, elder vampire Andrei Carp dispatches three members of his inner circle -suave Nathan Vacek, beautiful Neda Kovar, and Stanley Ivanov, a former society outcast now in the inner circle just because he saved the world once- to Arizona to investigate the possible existence of vampires that were born in America, something once thought impossible.

The $3 tier will be the audio tier and starting in January it will feature the audio story The Found Diary of Christina Essex, which will go live on the 3rd Friday of every month. I’m actually writing this during NaNoWriMo this year and I look forward to the challenge of doing an audio story, something I’ve only dabbled in before.

The Found Diary of Christina Essex is the story of a woman compelled to read a diary she found in the attic of her new house which details the discreetly disturbing events of a woman named Christina Essex.

The more expensive tiers will have access to the content of the less expensive tiers and all three of the tiers have the potential to have more added to them later.

The biggest change with these new projects is that I’m moving from a per episode/chapter payment to a monthly payment. I’ll be making the switch at the end of December, so current patrons have plenty of time to change their tiers (or opt out, which I hope they don’t) and new patrons will be able to sign up before the January start dates. All patrons will be charged at the first of every month.

There will be more details as we get closer to January and I will have a new Patreon page encompassing all of my projects here on the blog, but unlike Murderville, there will be no teasers here. Everything Patreon will be on Patreon.

So don’t miss out! Become a patron!

NaNo 2021

Here we are once again. It’s NaNoWriMo time.

I wasn’t sure I was going to do NaNo this year. It seems that podcasting takes up most of my time these days, not that writing was coming easily anyway. I’ve written plenty about that, most recently in this post.

More than that -I didn’t really have anything I wanted to work on to the tune of 50,000 words in 30 days. Yes, I have ideas I could turn into first drafts, but nothing that compelled me.

And then I got an idea for a new Patreon project: The Found Diary of Christina Essex. Aside from the title and the basic premise -an unknown narrator reads a diary they found in the attic of their new house- I didn’t have much to start with, but I knew it would be good for a Patreon tier (more about this in a later post).

In order for me to have this new project ready for a January start date, it needs to be done soon -like now. Hello, NaNo project!

The one hitch in the giddyup is that this Patreon project is going to be an audio story. I can tell you right now, it probably won’t make 50,000 words. Not exactly ideal since that’s the goal of NaNo.

So, once again I’m going to cheat.

Much like the few years that I did two novellas instead of doing one whole novel, in this case I’m going to a novella and then other writing. Meaning, I’m not only going to count what I write on The Found Diary of Christina Essex, but I’m also going to count any other writing I do. Blog posts, short stories, flash fiction, whatever. I’m going to count it. The goal for this very special NaNo is for me to hit the NaNo goal of at least 1,667 words every day.

I am still struggling to find my writing joy. Will writing a significant amount of words for thirty days in a row help me reclaim it? I don’t know. But I felt a spark of magic when I wrote the last Patreon flash fiction bonus and I feel like it’s all right there, just teasingly out of reach. I know writing is work, but I want it to feel less like work. Because it didn’t always feel like the bane of my day. I used to look forward to exploring new ideas, even if it was just a blog post.

It’s sort of like being in love. I want to feel that way again. I want to feel that way always.

And who knows, maybe this will do it. And maybe I will hit 50,000 words on just the story.

Wouldn’t that be sweet?

They Tore Down the Zombie Car Wash

That old chestnut “write what you know” is one that I adhere to in a very broad way. I know the story. I know the characters. Anything I don’t know, I can learn later. Then I’ll know it for next time.

However, sometimes I take that advice more literally and write what I actually know. Like working in customer service. And I frequently set stories in my hometown. Now, the people who live here would probably argue that there’s nothing about this small town in the middle of a cornfield that’s worth writing about, but to the people who don’t live here, it’s an exotic locale.

Only a handful of people that I know who also know this town actually read my stories. In most cases, my friends who don’t read my work don’t read it because I don’t write what they like to read (a far from exclusive club since strangers feel the same way). So, there are only a few people who can actually pick out the real locations I’ve used in stories.

One of those locations is the Zombie Car Wash.

It wasn’t always called that, though.

It was an actual car wash (that I always used despite the other two in town) that happened to be down the street from the grocery store. There were only three stalls, two vacuums, and the back lot was lined with trees. Despite being able to see the rear lot of the grocery store right across the street and the house next door, it felt weirdly secluded. It was a great spot. I loved it.

I loved it so much that I made it the opening scene in my short story “Another Deadly Weapon”, which I published in the short story collection Yearly. I didn’t think much about it at the time until one of my friends, Natalie, read the story and it ended up scarring her for life.

You see, if you parked on the east side of the grocery store parking lot, you could see the car wash that I used in the beginning of the story. So, whenever Natalie went to the grocery store and would see the car wash, she’d half-expect to see a zombie stumble out of one of the stalls over there. She couldn’t not think of the story when she was there.

A compliment, indeed.

And it also led to us calling it the Zombie Car Wash.

So imagine my heartbreak when I turned down the road to go to the grocery store one day and saw the stalls down, the vacuums gone, and the lot empty. A landmark gone. It wasn’t just my preferred place to rinse the rural off of my vehicle; it was also a standing reminder that once upon a time I actually wrote something that someone couldn’t get out of their head.

At least the Zombie Car Wash will live forever in “Another Deadly Weapon”. So, if you haven’t read it yet, do so. And if you have read it, read it again.

In loving memory.

“What Do You Like to Read?”

One neat thing about libraries is that you can put books on hold. That way, when the book you want to read is either processed or returned by another patron, it will automatically go to you if you’re next in line. The same thing happens when you request a book from another library. It comes in, gets checked in, and goes on hold for you. And you can do it for multiple items at a time. This is something I do a lot.

And sometimes it backfires.

Working at the library, I usually have a pretty good idea of what items we might acquire. It’s a small library, so we don’t get everything. We just don’t have the space or budget. If there’s something I want to read and I don’t think we’ll get it, I try to put myself on hold for it as soon as possible. Different libraries have different rules about lending new items to other libraries. For example, my library doesn’t ship new items to other libraries for six weeks. But the sooner I get my name on the hold list, the higher I am in the queue, and the sooner I’ll get the book.

Not too long ago, I put three books on hold. They were all recent releases and I didn’t think my library was getting any of them. Given the hold queues, I thought the risk of getting more than one at once to be low.

Oh, how the library gods laughed.

The first book finally shipped. It was late in the week and I accurately guessed that it would probably be the middle of the next week when it arrived. That Monday I went into work to find a pile of books ready for processing. Among the two stacks were the other two books I’d put on hold because I thought my library wasn’t getting them. One was for immediate release. The other one didn’t officially come out until Tuesday. So, I took one book home Monday night, one book home Tuesday night, and the book that had been sent from another library arrived on Wednesday.

Now, the reason why I tell you this story is because I think the books I received all at once accurately cover my taste in books. Or at least the range of it.

The books?

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, a horror novel that is a love letter to the slasher movie

Personal Effects: What Recovering the Dead Teaches Me About Caring for the Living by Robert A. Jensen, a kind of memoir recounting the work the author does in recovering the bodies and personal items from victims of mass casualty events like plane crashes, bombings, and natural disasters.

Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur, a queer romance that’s a sort of sequel to the book Written in the Stars, another queer romance.

I recommend them all, by the way.

But as you can see, I read random shit. Typically, it’s whatever catches my attention in that moment. Sometimes I get fixated on a subject or an author. Sometimes I decide to push myself outside of my comfort zone. If it’s about dead bodies and/or decomposition, it’s probably a must-read for me.

If you look at my Goodreads challenge, you’ll see this sort of behavior on a grander scale. So far this year, I’ve read five romances (something unheard of before I discovered that I DO like romance so long as it’s queer and/or fat), 5 books of poetry, 6 memoirs (including Danny Trejo’s because of course and one that I won in a Goodreads giveaway that I just thought looked interesting), two re-reads (one of which is a book from my teen years that I’ve never stopped thinking about and just by luck found it again), two plain ol’ fiction books, and 7 non-fiction books (topics include burlesque, socialism, toilets, and binding books in human skin).

At the library, we are often called upon to recommend items and some of my coworkers are known for their expertise in certain genres or subjects. For example, one of my coworkers is the go-to for fantasy. Another knows all of the mysteries. And we’ve been encouraged to create Goodreads accounts specifically related to the library based on our expertise so we can refer patrons.

I have not done this because I don’t have a specialty. I have random ass shit. Do you like to read whatever? I can help you with that. And the more random, the better.

Now, there are obviously some genres I like better than others and I’m more drawn to some non-fiction topics than others. I can be picky within some genres and game for anything in others. There’s not much I won’t read, or at least try.

Except Amish romance.

No Amish porn for me, thanks.

A Coming Out Story

Since it’s National Coming Out Day, I thought you’d might like to hear the one coming out story I have that’s worth telling. Because really, as a bisexual, I feel like I’m repeatedly coming out and reminding and correcting.

When I did first vocalize my sexuality to my parents at 17, there was no drama. They were…not exactly accepting, but more like apathetic? We didn’t really talk about it much (and I kind of think that they didn’t really take me seriously/pay much attention). At the time my dad was the more conservative of the two of them. Not really a bigot -he didn’t outwardly hate non-straight people- but he was completely against same sex marriage for quite a while. It took many conversations and me pointing out that he didn’t care who I loved, but I could only marry a guy and how the hell was that fair before it finally sunk in and he changed his mind. My mother meanwhile had been raised with a gay aunt, so not being straight wasn’t exactly the biggest deal to her. But that didn’t mean she completely grasped the concept of bisexuality at first, and I think both of my parents felt that it was a phase, a common phenomenon among unicorns.

Anyway.

Once upon a time in the long long ago of my youth, back when it could be argued that I was a person worth dating, I dated a woman for a little while. We split up amicably and about a year later I started dating a guy.

Naturally, I informed my mother in the change in my relationship status.

When I told her, she got this odd, perplexed look on her face, and she said, “I thought you dated girls.”

I said, “I do. I’m bisexual. I date women and I date men.”

Her look went from perplexed to annoyed and she huffed a sigh.

“Well, I told your grandmother you were a lesbian. Now I’ll have to tell her you’re not.”

And that’s the only coming out story I have worth telling and even it is more of a correcting my sexuality story because my mother went by who I was dating as the determiner of my sexuality instead of, you know, what I’d told her. How bisexual! It was funny then and it’s funny now.

I realize that I’m fortunate that it is funny. I recognize the privilege that comes with being able to come out in a somewhat safe environment, to know that my sexuality wasn’t going to have a big impact on how my immediate family viewed and treated me. I’m very mindful, particularly today, of how not everyone has that luxury.

So, this is why it’s very important to remember the rules:

-We do not out people. Ever. For any reason. Coming out is a personal decision. Not everyone is safe to do so and not everyone wants to do so. We honor and respect those choices.

-Everyone has a different coming out. Some experiences are traumatic, some are supportive, and some are like mine…somewhere in between. But they are all valid. Respect that. One kind of coming out experience does not make you any more queer than another.

That being said…

-Straight people don’t get to come out. Perhaps if your sexuality weren’t enforced as the norm, you’d get to come out, too. Or no one would need to come out because everyone’s sexuality would be seen as normal. Coming out is rooted in oppression, in making a bold statement against that bullshit, structurally enforced norm. So, straight people, you don’t get to come out. Not when you’re considered the default.

October is also LGBTQ+ history month. Now would be a great time to look into the events that they don’t teach you about in school, mostly because no curriculum makes it past World War II. There’s more to the Gay Rights Movement than just Stonewall.

A little extra credit never hurt anybody.

Angles and Lighting

There’s a meme I saw once that said something to the effect of “Are you better looking in person or in pictures? Look, I’m funny.” That’s me.

Don’t let this picture, or any picture I post on the internet fool you. I do not look like this in person. Or in a lot of my unposted pictures, actually. This is the result of lots and lots of selfie practice. I’ve learned how to utilize lighting and angles to make the most of my corporeal form.

Take this picture as an example. I was feeling very ’80s that day and decided to capture it.

I rarely use filters. Instead I prefer natural lighting. Sunlight at the right angle is so kind to me. It gives my ghastly paleness a glow that’s almost healthy. This is why most of the selfies I post on Instagram are in that one spot. The lighting tends to be perfect there.

Notice the angle. That saying, “Get my best side,” has truth to it. My left side is my best side. My face isn’t nearly as symmetrical as society requires it to be. Mostly my nose is a little crooked and it veers towards the right side of my face, leaving the left side a little more open. Also, my cheekbones are pretty fab in general, but my left one is a little more pronounced. And that head tilt? Hides any sign of double chin I sometimes seem to have. Also, for whatever reason, my smirk is left-handed. And that is my go-to facial expression. So, that’s why a majority of my selfies are of my left side with a touch of smirk.

Also, notice the slight twist in my body. Gives the illusion that I’m a bit thinner than I really am. It hides my fat arms and smooths some visible rolls. I like this better than the ultra-above angles that a lot of people do in order to make themselves look thinner.

I don’t have a full-length mirror, so I rarely post full body pictures. Not because I’m ashamed, but because I simply don’t have the tools. When I do post those, they’re usually taken at work (where the lighting is soft and mostly kind), and I still do that twist to help make my fat look the best it can.

I made this picture my Facebook profile pic and got loads of lovely comments about how pretty I am. One even said “Beautiful inside and out”, which we all know is a damn lie. But it goes to show how deceptive the smoke and mirror tricks can be.

Get me out in the real world, when I’m moving around and existing and outside a perfectly captured moment. I am not so pretty. God, get me under the fluorescents. Talk about unkind lighting. After sitting in front of the mirror for an hour while my stylist does my hair I wonder how I’m not chased by the villagers with torches and pitchforks. Laziness on their parts, I suppose.

But see, that goes to show that sometimes even I buy into my own illusion.

I’m actually pretty confident in my appearance for the most part. Most of the time I like what I see when I look in the mirror. Of course, I also know what I see in the mirror isn’t what most people see. I am rather enamored with myself.

Even when I’m not pretty like my picture.

“How’s the Writing Going?”

Let’s be clear: asking me this question even in the best of times is assault. Because we all know that you don’t really care how the writing is going. You’re just being polite. It’s up there with “What are you working on?” You don’t care. It’s just a polite question you ask before launching into a long story about your much more interesting life.

However, in the current bad times, asking me this question is now felony assault. Because it ain’t going great. And I don’t want to talk about that with someone who doesn’t actually care.

I was struggling with my writing before this endless panini, before the routine exasperation of telling people to put their masks on, before the constant stress of being forever understaffed at the library. I’ve been struggling for a while and baby, it ain’t necessarily getting better.

Blogging consistently is a challenge. That I’ve managed to put out two blog posts a week for two different sites for the last couple of months is nothing short of a miracle. Writing 1,000 word flash fiction stories for Patreon has been the extent of my fiction writing outside of NaNo in the past few years. And this year’s NaNo is looming and I’m looking at it with dread because I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve tried everything to get my fiction flow back and the dam is still in place, only letting through a trickle.

I’m still getting ideas, though not at the same pace that I used to. Just the other day I got a random idea for something that would be a fun film script. I jotted it down and I hope that one day I find enough mojo to at least outline it.

I miss fiction writing. I miss that buzz, that sensation of getting lost in my work, surfacing an hour later like I’d been swimming with mermaids and that first gasp of air reminds me that I’m human and I’ve just done something incredible. I’ve had fleeting bits of that, but nothing like it used to be. It makes me sad.

It’s not like I’m not writing at all or that I don’t like the writing that I am doing. I like doing the blog posts. I’m rediscovering my joy in that. I like doing the Rerun Junkie posts over at aka Kiki Writes, even if they can be a bit involved. I’d love to do a pop culture book one day. I really would. And I like running off at the mouth here about whatever. I like doing the scripts for the library’s podcast. Podcasting in general has become a big way I spend my time now. There’s not as much writing involved in Book ’em, Danno, but there is some.

It’s not like I’m not living up to my name. Kiki is still writing. I’m just not writing what I thought I’d be writing. I’m not being KikiWrites the way I thought I’d be. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe this is all part of the evolution of my writing existence and one day I’ll get to come back to fiction writing as my main thing. But for now, it’s not.

So, how’s the writing going?

Not the way I’d planned.

But it’s going okay.