June 06, 2023: Thieves

I finally got to watch Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (HAT), and without burying the lede, I loved the movie. It was truly a D&D movie from start to finish.

First of all, it was a well-made film, with excellent production, good acting, a cleverly written script, and great special effects, combining visual and practical effects. The kicker here is, that added to it being a good film, it was not just a fantasy movie, but a D&D-brand-of-fantasy movie. After forty-plus years, D&D has created its own tropes in the fantasy genre that distinguish it from, say, Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones (to name two other huge fantasy brands), and the writing/directing team behind HAT seems to have understood that well, leaning into it rather than trying to dilute it.

You want examples? Sure thing. The movie starts with a character telling their backstory, which I’m sure made any Dungeon Master viewer laugh and groan at the same time. It’s set in the Forgotten Realms, and not just kinda set there but not really, but you’re in Faerun and, from the overhead map to the location references, you damn well know it. You have people with lots of different heritages walking around—orcs, half-elves, tieflings, tabaxi, aarakocra, dragonborn, halflings, humans—all interacting in mundane ways in mixed communities in a way the befits the Realms. Iconic spells! Not just a generic fireball, but meteor swarm! Plus chain lightning, Evard’s black tentacles, Bigby’s [adjective] hand, arcane gate, time stop, holy weapon, and of course, wild magic galore thanks to Simon the sorcerer. Let’s not forget the very D&D monsters straight from the Monster Manual, like the owlbear, displacer beast, gelatinous cube, and mimic, plus of course the black dragon seen in a flashback, and the big boi red dragon Thunderchaud (my favorite)! And that scene with the party speaking with the dead, specifically the five questions to that first skeleton? That is about as iconic a D&D table as it gets.

I could spend all day enumerating all the ways in which the D&D movie got it oh-so-right, but suffice it to say that it was more than a pleasant surprise, and I can’t wait to watch it again.

It made me happy.


June 05, 2023: TBR

Here’s my To Be Read list for June 2023:

  • Story Genius by Lisa Cron — As I already mentioned, I’m adding some non-fiction to my summer TBR lists, starting with this writing craft book.
  • The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton â€” Bumping this one into June because May was hectic and I didn’t get to all the books I wanted to.
  • All The Feels by Olivia Dade — The “sequel” to Spoiler Alert, this is my audiobook pick for the month. Featuring a plus-sized fat heroine, and yay for representation.
  • La Llamarada by Enrique Laguerre — Although I didn’t read Moby Dick last month, I’m going with this Puerto Rican classic for June. I kinda-sorta read this in middle school, and I’m curious how my impression will change reading it as an adult.
  • La Belleza Bruta by Francisco Font Acevedo — A collection of stories that together reads like a novel, this book was unanimously recommended by the staff at Libreria Laberinto, the bookstore where I bought it in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

These are the books I read in April (see my May TBR for reference):

Follow me on Goodreads to see my reviews.

Please note there are Amazon.com affiliate links in this post.

June 04, 2023: Non-fiction

I’ve been focused solely on fiction books since September of last year, when I finally got out of my reading slump. Reading fiction has done wonders for my well-being, and has kept me inspired to keep working on my own manuscript. That said, I want to work some non-fiction into my reading this summer to scratch a different itch.

I’ve already started reading Story Genius by Lisa Cron, a writing craft book I’ve seen recommended by various writers I follow in social media. I want to work on improving my writing, so there’ll be more of these types of books to follow. I also have a few hiking/travel narratives on my bookshelf that I’ve been meaning to read for a while and are perfect for summer reading and living vicariously.

Keep an eye out for my TBR lists for June, July, and August.

What are you reading this summer?

June 03, 2023: Low

If I were a battery, I’d be at around 10% charge. The holiday-weekend-travel-leading-into-five-days-of-work-packed-into-only-three-days rollercoaster has officially caught up with me. I am, as they say (or at least we used to say back when I lived in Miami), too pooped to pop, and intend to rest as much as I can this weekend.

Of course, we all know the Yiddish adage, “man plans, and God laughs.” There are lots of things to do around the house, not to mention preparations for yet another whole bunch of projects coming at us at an alarming speed. Nevertheless, within the circumstances, rest will be had. I hope.

Ask me on Monday how that plan went.

June 02, 2023: Crickets

An open laptop with a blank screen rests atop a padded stool in front of a blue velvet curtain. Photo by karina zhukovskaya on Pexels.com.

This post is me sharing, not fishing for sympathy, OK?

One of the hardest parts of doing any kind of art—writing, in my case—is the lack of response or engagement with your work.

Most artists I know create for the sake of creating, because it is an integral part of them, because they have to create as much as they have to breathe to stay alive. This is certainly my case; I write because that’s part of who I am. But we also share our art with the world to connect, and it stings when that connection doesn’t happen.

Recently I shared Ufaratza, a short story in serialized form. Although I saw increased views when I checked the stats, and at least one person I’d never seen hit Like on any of my posts did so on all five parts, there were absolutely no comments on the story. It was the same when I shared another piece of short fiction, Deirdre, last year. It was proverbial crickets.

I know we’re all busy, and I admit I’m the first one to not always comment on every single piece of art I interact with, but I try my best because I know that increased stats are nice, but a word from an actual person means the world.

Again, this is me sharing, not guilt-tripping anyone. I will continue to write and share my work, regardless.

June 01, 2023: Unofficial

The beach: gentle blue waves roll to the shoreline, the sand wet and dark brown, the water impossibly blue, the sky light blue turning into shades of pink as it nears the horizon. Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com.

I don’t know about you, but for me, June 1st is the unofficial start of summer. I know that in the US, people use Memorial Day as the unofficial start of the season, and that it doesn’t really start until the equinox later this month, but it’s hard not to think of June as summer. (This is all completely northern hemisphere-centered over here, folks.)

Listen, time is meaningless anyway, so it’s okay to declare that summer starts today. If you’re not cool with it, it’s all good; we’re both gonna be sweating under the same sun as temperatures begin to climb. It helps me to start switching into a summer mentality, to start looking forward to days at the beach and evenings at the boardwalk, to start keeping an eye out for fireflies, to pay closer attention to watering my plants.

Seasons change, and now it’s time to bust out the sandals, wide-brimmed hats, and sunblock, and enjoy outdoor time. And remember to hydrate, ok?

May 31, 2023: Libreria

A man and a woman look over a table piled up with used books inside a bookstore. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com.

I had the chance to visit the wonderful Libreria Laberinto while I was in Puerto Rico. As much as I love being able to get books online, whether Kindle or physical, for books in Spanish I always prefer to go into a bookstore so I can talk to one of the booksellers, even if that happens only once every couple of years. I am woefully out of touch with the Puerto Rican literary scene, and their knowledge and recommendations are invaluable.

I may have gone a little crazy buying books when I visited, but between finding some classics I’ve been wanting to revisit, browsing the stacks and finding some interesting picks, and the recommendations from the friendly staff, how could I not? I’m gonna be sprinkling these into my To Be Read selections for the coming months, but here’s the list of what I got.

There are some classics, three Puerto Rican science fiction books (something I never thought I’d see), some contemporary lit, with a dash of thriller-ish fiction.

I’m excited to dig into these.

May 30, 2023: Bittersweet

Leaving you is always bittersweet.

I love you with all of my being, and I hurt from all the damage you’ve suffered. I also still suffer from all the damage you caused me.

But I’ve learned to forgive, and to focus on your beauty, on your charm, on your history, on your future. I may not live with you, in you, anymore, but you will always live in me.

And although I feel that it’s best for us to live apart from one another, my love is only fiercer for it.

Goodbye, mi verdeluz.

Adios, mi Puerto Rico.

May 29, 2023: Chicken

How do I know I’m in Puerto Rico? Because I see chickens everywhere.

It’s hard to explain to outsiders, but the line between city and country is extremely porous. I grew up in the San Juan metro area, about as urban as it gets, but my grandparents had a bona-fide orchard in their backyard, along with some farm animals, and what we call a fogĂłn, an outdoor firepit cooking area.

I say all this to explain why I see chickens everywhere. Even in the middle of the business center of San Juan, even in the touristic heart of Old San Juan, not to mention every residential area I’ve ever known, you will see random chickens walking around. At the hospital parking lot? Chickens. Outside the fancy, hoity toity mall? Chickens. Near the airport and the glitzy beach hotels? Chickens. And definitely down the street from me? Chickens.

I used to feel ashamed, I won’t lie, but I’ve grown to not only accept it, but actually embrace it as an idiosyncrasy of my homeland, our rural roots still showing through the colonial urban surface.