Status Update — Mar 2020

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d hoped. A week-long trip to Japan in the middle of February waylaid a lot of plans. In the days before flying out, I had my first major bout of pre-travel anxiety. Seriously my first since… say, childhood? Not even last year’s longer, less familiar UK trip did that.

It’s all this mania over COVID-19. I wasn’t scared of catching it, though. The WHO Situation Reports—just facts, nothing more—did a great job of curbing that stress. My fear was that I’d get caught up in some sort of racist panic on the way home and get sent to off-shore quarantine.

I mentioned this to a few of my friends, but I don’t know if many of them understood what that feeling is like. Heck, I never understood what that’s like until now. If I’ve ever had real actual racism levelled at me before, I sure wasn’t savvy enough to pick it. Live and learn, hey?

Getting home, having the customs officers be friendly and nice as I rolled straight through, and then seeing N waiting for me in Arrivals was such a relief. And this is me, a white-collar Australian person, having a smooth and comfy ride all the way back to my white-collar life in a multicultural city. I think about people who have it way worse; realise that no matter how anxious I get, I will never even begin to fathom how much more anxious they must be.

Well, I’ve been home a few weeks now. And despite the low word count, I’ve managed to get a lot done. Here’s what…

This blog looks different…

IT SURE DOES. In preparation for the new website, this blog now has its own home and a new theme that does what I tell it to. In case you fancied it for your blog, it’s called Uncode and was worth every penny.

The new website…

…is coming. The whole process reminded me why I love web and why I changed careers. But it’s coming, friends. jlperidot.com will look different soon.

The Dragon’s Den

After chipping away at this manuscript, I’ve finally hit that scene. Every manuscript has one—the one that’s been over-thought to oblivion and now I just can’t even. Focusing on web stuff has been a good break, but I’ve done my soul searching and am almost ready to come back to it.

Camp NaNoWriMo

April’s camp is only three weeks away. I was tempted to skip this one, because of how much still to do ahead of the big event in July. But I have some things I’d like to write. Short stories, manuscripts, other things… so hey, let’s go camping.

Short Stories

About Her, the follow-up to About Henry, is coming back from my editor this week, with plans to go live on 6 April 2020. Watch this space.

I’m also working on a new short story: “MOAB”. It’s not romantic and not erotic, though the protagonist does get to have a fling. It’s been a long time since I’ve written something that’s not a love story. I have doubts about this draft, but will give it my best shot and see what happens.

Projects (still) on hold

  • Sunset on a Distant World
  • Project H

Self-care

As of last week, I started working from home as a precaution, just in time for a minor COVID-19 scare upon finding out that a friend went to get tested.

We were only in our self-imposed lockdown for a day before she forwarded the all-clear, but it did bring to light a few significant concerns to be mindful of if lockdown becomes a thing in Perth. Getting enough sunlight, for one. And exercise. Checking in with friends. And playing games with friends, because it’s important to have fun.

I’ve started writing for no reason again. As in, writing without intent to publish. I may publish them if they turn out all right, but that’s not the goal at this point. Sometimes it’s fun just to see how things go.

Reading

Night Life by B.K. Bass. Heart Stuck by Laina Ruff. True Refuge by Annabelle McInnes. And The Way Home by Stefanie Simpson… hnnnng, I promised myself I wouldn’t buy her amazing-sounding new release until I finish all the Simpson books I already have (but there’s a very good chance I’ll cave and buy it anyway).

Recently finished: The Devil’s Work by Demelza Carlton. Dead Town by Anthony D. Redden 💀

Watching

Parks & Recs. You. Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City (again). Family Guy. Broad City.

Recently watched: The Naked Director (so good). Devilman Crybaby (awesome soundtrack).

Playing

Merchant RPG (pixel-art crack). Dead Cells (wonderful art style; try a turret build).

Recently on the socials…

Status Update — Jan 2020

I didn’t want to do an “in review” at the end of 2019. The glut of family and social engagements over the holidays gave me too many existential questions to ponder—many of which I’m still pondering now at the end of January. Shortly after Christmas too, I copped a shoulder injury at the gym, which has put pretty much all of my fitness goals on hold.

But that’s fine. Though it’s all left me feeling confused and disheartened, I’m also obliged to be grateful for the opportunity to slow down as 2020 rolls in. It’s given me time—sweet, blessed time—to assess and process, as well as a chance to reconnect with, well, everything around me.

The Dragon’s Den

…is creeping along very slowly. Every time I think I’m close, I find another depth to plumb. This has been a bingo square in my BuJo for the last 3 months already, with still another 12,000 words at least before it can be coloured in.

And this is just the first draft—actually the third/fourth rehash of it 😬 Eeh!

The size of the project is certainly a challenge. Writing a novel-length manuscript is such a different beast to writing short stories and flash fiction. I’m in awe of people who can build such substantial tales. Also completely blown away by people who can do it with the intensity you find in short fiction. That’s #craftgoals for me. I don’t know if I’ll get there with this book, but I will damn well give it my best shot.

Short Story — About Her

I’ve been working on a little piece called About Her, the follow-up to About Henry. Back when CapriLuxe was still taking submissions, I never found the time to put this one to paper and it’s been tugging on my sleeve for almost two years.

Soon, my lovelies, we shall see how things ended for Julie Ho.

My new website

…is about 70% done.

Projects still on hold

  • “Project H”
  • Sunset on a Distant World

Self-caring

I promised myself at the end of last year that rewards and motivation would come in the form of nice-smelling things, like candles, lotions and lovely tea. So far, I’ve been very slack about keeping this promise. Stress tends to stack on, and it doesn’t bode well when one can’t even make time for tiny decompression moments. I must make the effort this week.

Reading

Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald. The Irredeemable Prince by Alyssa J. Montgomery.

Recently finished: Ghosts of Grace Cottage by Carolyn Wren. Loved Mars, Hated the Food by Willie Handler. Whistler Wonderland by Georgia Tingley. Aspergirls by Rudy Simone.

Watching

Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures — so cute and it leaves me feeling so inferior for being so bad at Mandarin. Parks and Recreation — the more I see Amy Poehler, the more I like her. I Am the Night — because interesting and also Chris Pine #pinenut

Recently watched: The Witcher — loved the time-jump storytelling. The Office — you can never really finish this show. The Red Sea Diving Resort — liked it. The Gentlemen — came for Charlie, stayed for Hugh, took Colin home with me 🔥

Playing

RimWorld by Ludeon Studios and Tynan Sylvester. I love this game 🥰

Status Update — Nov 2019

Since my last update, N and I had our UK trip, which was bloody good fun. We got to see family, indulge in pub food, take short walks in the countryside. England is a beautiful place. It’s also a freaking chilly place this time of year. I burned a ton of calories just shivering in my grundies.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4ZkJkKArJq

We got home last Monday and it’s been an uphill slog to get my gears turning again. Partly from jet lag, partly from still just wanting to be on holiday, despite the fact I was severely missing writing and home and my mechanical keyboard.

Funny how context can make you switch gears like that. But I’m back in the swing of things now, hacking away at The Dragon’s Den. Turns out I need to redo all of Act 2, which then means changes to Acts 1 and 3 to accommodate the changes. I’m sure builders had an easier time constructing the house I live in. Next mailing list update has a preview snippet from this WIP. Subscribe here if you wanna see and you’re not already in the club.

Project H is technically not on hold, but if this week’s anything to go by, that’s gonna be a slow burn project. Luckily, the story is straightforward and I don’t see it needing many revisions, just a lot of tweaking throughout the creative process. It’s still too primordial to discuss at length, but I can tell you it’ll be more supernatural than scifi. More to come.

Reading: Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald. Boston Patriot Mermaid by Paulo Da Silva (short story version).

(Re)watching: The Office, again. We just got to Phyllis’s wedding—oh, the cringe!

Playing: Blueprint Tycoon 🤓

Status Update — Sep 2019

I’ve been terrible with falling into rabbit holes this year. When my mind fixates on things—projects, drafts, games, etc.—I tend to shut myself off and not post as much as I’d like to. Left unchecked, the habit can fall away entirely, and then I’m just an unshowered recluse in a suburban study.

Well, I promised myself I’d try to be a real actual professional writer this year, so here I am, attempting a somewhat structured blogging schedule 👍

It Starts With A Kiss launched this month — yay!

A small stack of paperbacks of "It Starts With A Kiss" by JL Peridot

Book 2 of The Basilica Conspiracy, The Dragon’s Den, is in the second-draft planning stages, following a thorough review of the first draft (read: crying and eating chocolate). I don’t fancy the chances of completing this manuscript before new year, but the story, the characters and the underlying conspiracy are coming together quite nicely. Would you like a sneaky peek? It’s rough, it’s first drafty and may change, but here it is:

Text in image: De Vries rose to his feet again. Adria suppressed a flinch, bracing for another ‘accident’. But he stepped around and sat on the table, beside her, casual and close.
“Maybe we can help each other.” He spoke gently. “We’ve got some cases to close, some families who want peace. Detective Carver’s report said you saved his life, Ms. Yuan, but with a file like yours, there’s not a lot we can offer you. But you work with us and maybe we can do something for your brother. A nurse tells us he thinks you’re a writer. Learning the truth about his big sister will be plenty to deal with, let alone how he’ll manage without you in his condition.”
Detective Wong’s smirk was as loud as a horn over by the door. Adria shrugged it off. Next to her little brother’s welfare, playing posture games with smug cops barely registered. No doubt they’d be bragging to the team later about how they cracked another bounty hunter. Everyone had a weak spot—not even Basilica City’s most wanted was an exception. All they had to do was lean on it. Some bullshit like that. Well, they could have it.
All of this text may change over the course of writing 

I’ve also been working on a story I can’t talk much about yet, as it’s still in the primordial stage. I’m about 70% through an early outline, and I promise I’ll tell you more about “Project H” as soon as I can.

This website has a redesign on the way. Yes, another one. A good friend asked me why I don’t use some of my old skills to try and do more than what WordPress can give me. I haven’t been able to get the thought out of my head since she said it. She’s one of the most highly respected web developers in my city and an internationally recognised industry face. If she believes in me, I feel like I can believe in me too. So, yeah, some webby things may be on the horizon.

Reading: (as opposed to what I’m not reading but plan to be reading soonNasu by Jet Lupin, Fairy Tale Lies by DK Marie, and Tequila by Sarah Smith.

Watching: The Loudest Voice — it’s a gut punch with every episode. It’s not hard to see how cleverly Roger Ailes plays the game in this show. It’s hard to swallow, yes, but very, very apparent.

Playing: Untitled Goose Game  honk honk 😂

What I’m not reading — Sep 2019

Welcome to this year’s edition of “my unendingly patient and ever-growing TBR”.

I adopted the BuJo system earlier this year and am excited to see all my admin, paperwork and other shenanigans slowly coming good. My weeks are on track now. I’m not daunted by the tiniest things. And, best of all, making time to read has been so easy.

In theory, anyway. The reality is I’ve been spending my newfound time on mechanical keyboards and cryptic crosswords. I’ve started a new project involving storytelling in a medium other than books. No, it’s not a graphic novel or a screenplay, though I’d like to do those one day. I’ll tell you more about it another time. For now, here’s what my hobbies are stopping me from reading:

Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi

Book cover for "Summerland" by Hannu Rajaniemi

I’ve had my eye on Summerland since it came out last year. Alas, Hannu is one of those authors whose work does such things to me that I need to clear out a heap of space in my life just to start reading. To be honest, I haven’t even read the blurb (or if I have, I’ve forgotten what it says). I just know if it’s by this author, I want to read it.

Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald

This book has sat on my Kindle since preorders were announced. What I like about the Luna series is how down-to-earth it is for a story set on the moon. It’s not a crazy planet-shattering epic or full of weird wonders I have to work to relate to. It’s a story about people being fucking people. We’re sexy, we’re angry, we just want to survive and be comfortable. Most of all, we’re assholes, and here’s how we do with resources and futuristic technology at our fingertips. This will be retrofuture scifi one day. But I really hope some day sooner, someone turns it into a telenovela.

Ps. If I ever start learning Portuguese, it will be because of this series.

Faker by Sarah Smith

Actually, I’ve read this one—sort of. I had the honour of beta reading Sarah Smith’s manuscript when it had just come out of its draft stage. It’s such a great story, so relatable, full of sexy lovey-dovey feels, much like the author’s short stories and serials. The chemistry between her characters, Emmie and Tate, is just fantastic and I love how fresh the author’s voice is. This was another one I locked in as soon as the preorder dropped, in paperback this time, because I’m really digging romance in paperback lately.

Aspergirls by Rudy Simone

Speaking of paperbacks, I recently finished The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. It was a great book, but it sent me down this rabbithole of wondering… things. The author recommended this book for other people who may be wondering things, so here it is on my list.

Star Brides: Dept. of Corrections by Pia Manning

There’s something soothing about reading a Pia Manning story while in transit. I enjoyed Star Brides: The Meat Market, especially because it gave me real-world things to reflect on. And you know, the ménage parts were pretty great too. And now here we are with a poly story 💞 I’m saving this one for an upcoming plane ride, so the aircon better be good in economy, please!

Dune by Frank Herbert

I’m so excited about the upcoming Dune film that I’ve hardly looked up anything about it. Truth be told, I don’t care about the news, the speculations, what the early reviews will be like, what Roger Ebert, David and Margaret, or Rotten Tomatoes thinks about it. I don’t care if I end up hating the film. I just love the universe and this story and am so goddamned excited.

OK, I lie, I care a bit about the news. Hearing about the cast has been great and I’m itching to know who plays Feyd Rautha in the film. Someone tried to tell me they’ve combined his role with Rabban’s, but come on. Would the maker of a movie as incredible as Blade Runner 2049 do something like that? I have my doubts.

And I will continue having my doubts as I devour the audiobook of this novel, right up until the new film comes out.

Beauregard and the Beast by Evie Drae

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this author and this book. Also, I’m so ready to read another sports romance and OMG, this is an MMA story. Yes, please. This is another book I’ve earmarked for holiday reading. My kindle’s gonna get one hell of a workout.

Click clank — shh

I’ve been obsessed with mechanical keyboards lately—like, quite obsessed. I don’t know what’s brought this on, as it’s only been a passing interest for the last few years.

Actually, I do know. My mate sent me to /r/MechanicalKeyboards and I saw one too many pretty things. Is this how American college boys feel on spring break? Oh, my wallet. I couldn’t keep it in my pants. I had a little splurge this weekend.

This is not my keyboard, but I bought one just like it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByRe4EulifY

My Tada68 arrives next week (or the week after), adorned with default keycaps and Gateron blacks. Phew, is it getting hot in here? 

Again, I really don’t understand this mania, but I feel strangely driven to just talk about keyboards, read about keyboards and look at pictures of bloody keyboards all day. The other night, it helped me get to sleep. WHY?!?!?!

Can you relate? Leave a comment or ping me on Twitter. Tell me about your keeb.

We’ll collect the moon and the stars

I’m a little annoyed with this year. Happy that I’m making progress with my work, but miffed that everything is so locked in. If I stacked my projects end to end, I’d be fully booked until I turn forty. And what a slog life is when there’s no room for new, exciting things.

We’ve still a way to go before 2019, but I’m already thinking about what I’d like to achieve next year. I don’t know exactly how this looks, but the wheels are turning. Here’s what’s been happening lately, though. Busy busy busy…

In the rearview

  • The Only Question That Matters came out in August 
     
  • I’ve released the Danica story, The Beating of Our Hearts, on Wattpad. The first chapter, “Smoke and Aural Pleasures”, is live and ready to read. Second chapter starts in a couple of weeks. This is the third celestial dream story out in the wild, but certainly not the last  Read it now.
     
  • I’ve signed a contract with Kyanite Publishing. New book, It Starts With A Kiss, comes out later this year. Stay tuned.
     

What I’m working on

  • Publishing prep for It Starts With A Kiss. Cover art, blurb, all of those things.
     
  • “The World Laid Out For Him”, aka. chapter two of The Beating of Our Hearts.
     
  • The Dragon’s Den, aka. the sequel to Chasing Sisyphus.
     
  • Sunset on a Distant World, another story in the AMS Celestial Dream collection.
     

Coming up

  • NaNoWriMo… Yeah, I’m thinking of joining as a rebel this year. The energy and camaraderie is just so good for getting shit done.

Arriving at the question

It was meant to be a short and shallow steamy read. That’s what perplexes me about The Only Question That Matters: how it ballooned into a novella. The intention was a 1,200-word wham-bam-thankyou-sir flashfic, but while writing Sofia’s initial exchange with Alexei, little hints at her backstory kept popping up. I had to explore what got her on the AMS Celestial Dream in the first place. Why was her dinner date so important?

I’m not totally old-fashioned. I’m content with the idea of a one-night stand being what it is. But everything means something to someone. Everything we do is part of a bigger story. And we do things because they matter to us for one reason or another. It may be a small reason, like you’re antsy and need a fix. You can have your one-nighter and let it go, no problem.

But then how you go about it is unique to you; the way you flirt, make your intentions known, how you eventually pop the question. Those little decisions are a culmination of who you are, how people have treated you in the past, what you think about the person you’re with, and how you choose to express yourself.

It means something.

I guess, then, there’s so much you could say about a one-night stand if you wanted to. At the time, I didn’t think I wanted to. But the more I wrote, the more words kept pouring out of me. Sofia isn’t me, but she shares elements of my stories, and of the stories I’d collected from people who at some point in their lives loved too much, loved for the wrong reasons, loved the wrong person, not loved themselves enough, or not let themselves be loved.

cover-the-only-question-that-matters-180

Writing the first draft took three months. I was so immersed and consumed by this project, I think it brought on a mild bout of depression in the later weeks. Some of the songs on my writing playlist still hit me quite hard in the feels.

I think The Only Question That Matters may be the heaviest story I’ve ever written. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Is it really a first-world problem?

One time, I was playing a creativity game with a group of of friends. I remarked that I was battling the the competitive stress of the moment, to which one guy quipped, “First-world problem!”

Oh, how we laughed!

But also, this came at a time where I was questioning privilege in our modern, tech-infused society, and whether we have a right to quantify our struggles when people in other parts of the world can’t even afford to eat.

I’ll be the first to admit I make comments like that myself. Touching on someone’s first-world guilt is a great way to win a quip war. But I also wonder if it might be unhealthy, how quick we are to call out first-world problems.

I see friends experience genuine distress as a result of certain events in their lives, but just because we “live in the first world”, it doesn’t make their distress any less genuine. It doesn’t make the things they’re dealing with less real.

And yet, I also see them experience genuine shame about feeling the way they do because they’re going through those stresses instead of, say, starving.

Example 1: A friend realised he was gay early in his life, but he grew up at a time where it wasn’t okay to come out. He tried living as a straight guy, and ended up hurting people (which he carries a lot of guilt for). What’s more, he endured family members whose own mental health issues made them toxic influences in his life. As a result, he’s lived most of his adulthood struggling with debilitating depression and anxiety. After we discussed this at the pub, he glanced at my tab-funded pint, mused about being a privileged white male, then ended our conversation in resignation—”Oh well, first-world problems.”

Example 2: A friend found herself in a job that cut her off at every turn. She would get an instruction one day, a contradictory instruction another day, and report to a (indirect) boss who never showed remorse for unleashing verbal abuse upon her and her colleagues. On the surface, it looked like your garden variety “job is crap, boss is a jerk” scenario, but after months of this, I watched her mood and self-confidence erode. She had few opportunities to demonstrate her capability at work, while her environment would reinforce that it was her own fault. But she kept her chin up. It would’ve been easy to miss the toll this had on her, had we not been friends for so long. And yet, she’d often punctuate our conversations with, “But other people have bigger problems than this. At least I’m not starving.”

No.

Just stahp it, guys.

Your brain doesn’t care whether you make fifty bucks an hour, or five cents. All it knows is that it’s under attack by something, and if you dismiss the problem out of first-world guilt, instead of appreciating it and solving it, you’re going to be dealing with it for a long time. Which is so bad for you.

There are limits, of course. You’d be taking the piss if you got in a snit because the brunch café didn’t spread your organic mashed avo all the way to the edge of your artisan sourdough toast. But even with a passing consideration for others, you can make a decent guess at where along the spectrum your problem sits between starving and extreme mashed avo.

However—and this is where that relativity comes in—if the society you live in is such that you’ll face severe consequences if you’re caught eating unspread avo, then stressing the fuck out is probably an appropriate response.

The size of your problem is relative to your experience, relative to context, relative to the consequences, relative to everything else you’re dealing with at the same time.

I’m not arguing against recognising when you’ve got it better than someone else. It’s good to appreciate your privilege. But this quote sticks out at me:

Empathy for others is a very good thing, except when it becomes so heavy a burden that we end up feeling no empathy at all. (source)

I wonder if those of us who are quick to call out “first-world problems” are maybe projecting some first-world problems of our own.

I wonder, in our eagerness to deride others for how they acknowledge and express their stress over a ‘small’ problem, are we ignoring our own small problem of controlling the urge to make a smartarse comment?

In our enthusiasm for taking the moral high ground, are we making the real problem—the implied and underlying lack of empathy—worse?

This post is a note to self to be a little more compassionate about the first-world problems of others.

And if you could use the reminder, think of it as a note to you too. Let’s be kinder together. 👭

The year is almost half over 😭

So, after ten months, I’ve finally finished that space romance. Two frustrating attempts in previous years left me skeptical of NaNoWrimo, but I may have to eat my words now—it was April’s CampNaNo that got me over the line. ☺️

The manuscript is with my beloved beta readers now. This afternoon, I’m pausing for a breath and a cup of tea before getting on with the next project 

In the rearview

  • The CapriLuxe Chronicles. We’re almost up to 1000 reads and I’m humbled by the response. My Perth-side mates have asked exactly where in King’s Park About Henry‘s steamy action took place. Maybe we’ll take stroll one evening, friends 
     
  • My first Wicked Wednesday hot flash, The Rhythm and The Drum. I really enjoyed putting that together.
     

What I’m working on

  • It Starts With A Kiss, a lighthearted office romance now with beta readers. More sweet than sultry, but still with sex, swears and Brit-Aussie language style. Excerpt coming soon.
     
  • Smoke and Aural Pleasures, aka. the Danica story.
     
  • The Dragon’s Den, aka. the sequel to Chasing Sisyphus.
     
  • The sequel to About Henry.
     

Coming up

  • More little hot flash stories