Obviously I am using my time well

I just spent four hours trying to manhandle a custom theme into compliance, only to find that one of the WordPress default themes was basically EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR.

Then I spent almost an hour looking for cover photos on Unsplash, only to remember that I had taken a couple that looked almost identical to several that I liked. So then I had to go through 5 years of my photo gallery because I couldn’t remember when I’d taken them. BUT I FOUND THEM. (They both involve coffee. One involves waffles. I am hungry now.)

Now, now, I am going to start writing.

Oh except that I have to make dinner.

Sadly, it won’t involve waffles.

NaNoWriMo 2021

Yes, I’m doing it again.

Names and Other Made-Up Things by Tessa Novak: a mock-up I made on my phone.

I’m working on an idea I had a couple of years ago. It began with this sentence: He’d been intending to eat the kitten.

But why, Tessa? Why would you write such a thing? You love cats!

I do love cats. And – spoiler alert – he doesn’t eat the kitten. (OR DOES HE.) (He doesn’t.)

This is my first time writing from a boy’s perspective, and so far it’s been fine – probably because he’s prepubescent. Teenaged boys confuse me. My son is almost 16 and I am baffled by him on a daily basis.

It’s also the first time I’ve worked with a dual perspective: the kitten-eating boy and the girl who hears voices.

There are a bunch of ways I could go with this, but since I’m a pantser, I have no idea which one I’ll choose.

WIP: Now With Cover

NaNoWriMo says I’m more likely to finish if I have a cover, so now I have a cover. Thank you to Canva for being a thing that exists and is useful, because otherwise I’d spend the day messing around on Pixelmator instead of writing.


Guess who’s doing NaNoWriMo again this year? 

Yeah, I’m going for it again. Life has been a little extra lately, and honestly I could use the distraction. (Yes, scrambling to write 1500 words a day is, at this point, a welcome distraction!)

I’m going to try and hold myself accountable, so expect word counts, playlists, excerpts, etc.

Be my buddy: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/tessa-novak

See you in the trenches!

Little Boy Lost

This is long.

My brother died of cancer in 2002, when he was 20 years old. (If any of that is triggering for you, please don’t keep reading.)

I’ve spent the last 14 years basically existing in the same state of suspended grief that I settled into about 6 months after his death. It hurt to think about him, so I didn’t think about him.

Then my cat died. And maybe that seems like a weird trigger, but all of a sudden I couldn’t keep all my grief packed away anymore.

Anyway, here’s a thing I wrote just after he died. It was published in a modified form in my hometown weekly newspaper, but this is the original version.

Continue reading “Little Boy Lost”

Failure is good, though, right?

SO, I frogged* the Write-A-Thon. That was less than awesome, especially since the 500 words a day thing is so, so doable. In my defense: life.

But, you know what, I’m not going to feel too bad about it, because I’m still writing. (Not right now. Right now I’m up with a cantankerous toddler who decided 5am was an ideal time to start yelling for a snack. No, not that snack. A different snack.)

I’ll post an excerpt this week, too, just for funsies. Stay tuned.

*Frogged = finding an error in knitting or crochet and having to unravel the whole damned thing.

Quick Excerpt

I promised to post excerpts every week, didn’t I? Well, here’s the first one. (No, you don’t get context.)

The odds of successfully breaking in to Didactics were not skewed in my favor. The building itself was designed to withstand a nuclear war. That wasn’t hyperbole: Didactics housed some of the most cutting-edge research facilities in the world, and as a privately owned company, it wasn’t constrained by federal spending limits.

There was no way I could get to the research areas. But I was pretty sure I could get to the library.


Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Week 1

So it’s my first week of writing 500 words a day, every day, and MAN, was this way overdue.

The first several days were like pulling teeth. Every word I wrote felt slow and wrong, like I was impersonating a writer (and not doing a particularly good job of it). Nothing seemed to fit in with the rest of the story or go in directions I wanted it to go.

But. After about five days, it got a little easier. When I’d shut my computer, I’d think of what I wanted to write next. I started to see more of the story in my head.

Now, one week in, I feel like I’m starting to hit my stride.

Wanna sponsor me? It’s for a good cause.

Short Story Ahoy

I’ve put up a short story on Burn The Box Down!

Selective Mutism for the Modern Girl

On Suki’s thirteenth birthday, she opened her mouth to thank her father for the cat-ear headband and instead heard herself saying “The doctor will tell you it’s a tumor.”

The tumor turned out to be benign. Suki’s pronouncement turned into an anecdote, a funny story her parents told over drinks or dinner. Suki would even waggle her fingers and pretend to see the future, but each time she did there was a catch in her throat, a moment she wondered if it would happen again.

“Shizuka,” her mother said, “you are not the Oracle at Delphi, so stop charging your friends to tell their fortunes.”

Suki shrugged and tuned out her father mansplaining that the Delphi Oracles received offerings, which were different from payments, which of course was going to result in her mother quoting Shakespeare, because everything resulted in her mother quoting Shakespeare. Suki’s mother was Japanese by way of England, and people were always surprised to hear the crisp Oxford lilt coming from her mouth. People were always surprised by Suki’s voice, too, but they were surprised because she sounded like exactly what she was: an American.

If Suki was going to surprise people, she decided, she might as well do it on purpose.

“Whoa,” said James at school the next day. “What’s up with the whole anime Lolita thing?”

Suki twisted a fake pink hair extension and grinned. “I am a perfect little Japanese doll, can’t you tell?”

She’d traded her unassuming skirts and blouses for frills and crinolines, her clean-scrubbed face for big eyes and pink cheeks. She painted a star under one eye every morning. She started carrying a parasol. It was great.

The principal wasn’t nearly as amused. “Her teachers and I have noticed some significant intersocial changes,” Mrs. Kutcher said. “Shizuka used to be such a lovely girl -”

“I’m sorry,” Suki’s mom said, sounding anything but sorry, “but are you suggesting that my daughter – my intellectually gifted, extremely capable daughter – needs to worry about how lovely she is?”

“Of course not,” said Mrs. Kutcher. “What I’m trying to say -”

“Are you referring to her outfits?” Suki’s dad tilted his head to the side, speaking with a subtly exaggerated version of his faint Japanese accent. (Unlike her mother, Suki’s father was Japanese by way of Japan.) “Certainly you wouldn’t deny a student the ability to express her culture in whatever way she chooses, assuming it doesn’t violate any school rules.”

Suki coughed to keep from laughing. She had been very careful not to violate any school rules. Her skirts were precisely measured, her makeup angling toward doll rather than blow-up toy.

“No,” Mrs. Kutcher said, too quickly. “No, that’s not what I mean at all,” and that was the end of it.

Except that on her way out Suki heard herself murmur, “She won’t make it to the end of the week,” and even though it hadn’t been loud enough for anyone else to hear, she still couldn’t breathe when the announcement was made three days later that Mrs. Kutcher was taking an indefinite leave of absence following the death of her wife.

Read the rest! →