Self-Care Month II: 30 Gifts To Give Yourself To Try And Stay Sane

Last May, I launched Self-Care Month, four weekly posts to help writers and creators feel better about themselves! And right now, I think we seriously need it.

One of my life philosophies – and one I try my very best to stick to – is that every day you should give yourself a gift. It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant, it doesn’t even have to cost money! But doing something small for yourself every day can go a long way.

Here are 30 ideas to get you through this month’s insanity:

  1. Treat yourself to half an hour with a mug of hot something (chocolate, tea, coffee, take your pick).
  2. Watch a nostalgic movie you haven’t seen in a while. I’m a huge advocate for early/mid 00s Disney Channel Movies.
  3. Eat a pastry! If it’s home-baked, you get the advantage of it being warm and fresh, if it’s store-bought well, hey. You got someone else to make it for you.
  4. Bake! See above.
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  5. Listen to your favorite album of music all the way through from start to finish. Put on headphones or crank it over the speakers, close your eyes, and just listen.
  6. Listen to a guided meditation. Try not to fall asleep.
  7. Watch some trashy TV and with zero shame.
  8. Toast! It may seem silly, but science has proven that toasting your bread creates a chemical reaction that makes you happier. So toast your sandwich and enjoy the warm n’ crispy feelings.
  9. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has been proven to improve moods too.
  10. Hot cheese, too.
    (My man Babish made a recipe with all three!)
  11. Find a video game with low chances of dying and something pretty to look at. My favorites are Journey (where players anonymously help each other through puzzles – the soundtrack is sublime!), Everything (which is weird and existential but very chill), and any open-world game you like to explore.
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  12. Try the Kind Words game/app on Steam! Send anonymous letters to other people around the world giving advice and encouragement when people need it the most.
    Note: this is not sponsored content, I just really like this game… thing
  13. Check out the Mom For a Minute subreddit, write a letter to a team of internet moms whenever you need a helping hand.
  14. Create a Pinterest board or ‘like’ a bunch of things on your online store (my Poshmark likes are just… a lot). You get the thrill of shopping without spending anything.
  15. Turn off your phone for just a little bit. Everything can wait.
    After work hours, of course.
  16. Treat yourself to a new (e)Book or read something on your shelf you’ve been meaning to.
  17. Try a tutorial from YouTube (or somewhere else online). There are some excellent art tutorials, baking tutorials, bookbinding tutorials… everything you could want really!
    NOTE: Please PLEASE be careful of your sourcing, many “tutorial” and “lifehack” videos are completely fabricated for views and may be harmful if tried at home. Although the videos of these fails are also excellent entertainment as well.
  18. Give yourself time to reflect and reminisce. Flip through old photos or read some of your old writing.
  19. Eat something you’re not supposed to. Just once! You know, as long as it won’t kill you or something.
  20. Watch a bad movie, something you can seriously laugh to.
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  21. Clean up your space a little. It may seem like a chore more than a gift, but having a neater area is honestly one of the better things you can give to yourself.
  22. Order food out. Have someone else make your dinner. Just stay safe!
  23. Treat yourself to a mini spa night with whatever you have. Pull out those old lotions and such (as long as they haven’t expired of course!) and pamper yourself.
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  24. Play a mindless, classic video game to let your brain unwind. Tetris is never the wrong choice.
  25. Take an extra-long shower or bath. Use some of those special-occasion soaps and shampoos, too!
  26. Light your favorite scented candle or incense for wile you work. Even something as little as a nice scent can really improve your mood.
  27. Reach out to an old friend you haven’t heard from in a while.
  28. Consequently, allow yourself to ignore the people you don’t want to talk to for a while. That’s okay too.
  29. Try a yoga video and stretch your quarantined booty – many studios are streaming now!
  30. Most of all let yourself be unabashedly, unashemedly, unconsciously, and totally happy. And apologize to no one!

Stay tuned for more self-care ideas this month, including the return of Schedenfruedoptimism!

COUNTDOWN: 10 Reasons to Read “In the House of Souls: a Faehunter Novella”

Only FIVE DAYS until IN THE HOUSE OF SOULS!

My upcoming novella, In the House of Souls is really cool and I mean really cool. But it’s more than just that. Here are some reasons why you should be reading:

10. It’s a good weekend read

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It’s the perfect short book to read in between maxing and relaxing and chilling all cool or fill a lazy Sunday.

9. The characters break all the rules

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Hopper may not like wearing dresses, but Emer, the tiny male doll certainly does! The best part is that no one seems to comment on it, they just let them do their thing.

8. “And I was like – it was only 99 cents!”

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That’s right. It’s a dollar. For the same amount as getting a double-pump of vanilla in your venti skinny soy latte, a pack of gum, or four rounds of a classic video game everyone is bad at, you can get an epic book to read!

9. It’s magical

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I don’t just mean “it’s so cool it’s like magic”, I mean that In the House of Souls is a fully-fledged fantasy world with a unique magic system unlike anything you’ve ever seen!

6. Supporting indie authors is awesome

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The best part about buying from an independent, no-name, self-published author? You know all your money goes directly to them. Store-bought books from traditional publishers give their authors as little as 15% of the sale, but getting In the House of Souls means you are certainly funding my chai tea habit.

5. What a wonderful world

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If you’re looking for a well-realized, one-of-a-kind world where faeries live in harmony with mortals or a  new universe stuffed with political intrigue and magic, then plant it right here. You’ve found it.

4. It’s great for all ages

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While Hopper might be young, this book isn’t strictly “Young Adult”. In movie terms, I’d place it at PG-13, a great middle-of-the-road, great-for-almost-everyone (over the age of 12 or so) read.

3. It’s perfect for commutes

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If you have a long train ride, a bus commute that goes on forever, or a carpool with people you’d rather not make small-talk with, this book is perfect for making time go by faster.

2. There’s more where that came from

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In the House of Souls is set in the magical same world as Faehunter where dangerous faeries roam. So if you liked this book, there is much, much more on the way!

1. Because you’ll have my eternal gratitude!

 

Get all this and more when you read!

Pre-Order In the House of Souls
available November 1st!

6 Video Games With Actually Decent Writing

When I’m not writing a novel, novella, and multiple short stories for anthologies, making friends on Twitter and falling deep into the infinite vortex that is TV Tropes, I am a massive video game nerd.

Video games have long been criticized for poor writing and use of the medium, which is understandable considering how young interactive media is compared to film, TV, and music. Sometimes we just don’t know how to best use what we’ve got.

That being said, there have been more than a few standouts, games that rise above the rest and give us writers something to really aspire to.

And if you’re a bookish nerd and haven’t really delved into gaming, these are a few I highly recommend:

The Elder Scrolls

The Elder Scrolls series began with a shaky start in 1994 with Arena and didn’t exactly hit its stride until its third installment, Morrowind, in 2002. Even then, it had already established a rich world with huge and new places to explore, intriguing and multi-faceted races and cultures, and action-packed stories and things to do. For close to 25 years, Bethesda has put on a show of this breathtaking universe that always has something new.

The most interesting part of The Elder Scrolls series is also how it treats canon and information through its storytelling. Players are invited to see the world how they would like to whether it’s as a Viking Who Beats Up Dragons or whether they’d like to investigate the nuances of this strange environment where the gods may sleep, characters may or may not realize they are in a video game, and the stars are mere holes in the sky.

Saint’s Row

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Vulgar, crude, and obscene, Saints Row is a series that chronicles the life and times of a street gang, The Third Row Saints. While it may have begun as nothing more than a simple Grand Theft Auto imitator, by the second game the writers really amped up the utter ridiculousness with such shameless abandon that it’s hard not to have a good time.

Even though later installments have completely jumped the proverbial shark into true madness, there’s still a charm to a well-written series that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Mass Effect

BioWare’s oft controversial science-fiction series may come with more than a few tumultuous concepts and choices, but no one can doubt that it comes packaged with a complex and interesting world to explore.

Making friends with alien races like the warlike Romanesque Turians and floating neon jellyfish people, exploring the galaxy’s uncharted waters, and creating your own unique character through social decisions has never been so much fun.

It says a lot that even ten years after its initial release, the ending of the final installment is still hotly debated to this day.

Portal

Full of snarky banter and cutting wit, Valve’s Portal duology of first-person puzzlers was revolutionary in more ways than one.

Although the first game only featured the voice talents of the remorselessly murderous AI GLaDOS, the second game expanded on their cast and storytelling featuring Ricky Gervais alum Stephen Merchant as well as an enjoyable but ultimately heartbreaking co-op mode that presented a flavorful story without much by way of a script.

We still eagerly await for the day Valve can count to 3.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

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Another BioWare make, Knights of the Old Republic is considered one of the best-written and most compelling Star Wars game ever created. Set almost 4,000 years before the first chronological movies, the studio was given free reign to create their own story and devise their own cast of captivating characters that aren’t named ‘Skywalker’.

It took home multiple prestigious awards for its creative storytelling and its twist still has fans pining for a certain Sith Lord to remain canon even after Kathleen Kennedy’s purge of the Expanded Universe, landing this game in the ‘Legends’ universe.

Bastion

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Bastion, the debut game of indie developers Supergiant Games, is a unique oddity on this list because the story is presented in a completely different way than anything else: the game is fully narrated. Everything from spending too much time destroying crates to the numerous deaths of the player character (whose only given name is “The Kid”) has its own line of dialogue in the smooth caramel tones of the game’s voice-over.

It also features unique universe of diverse races and an out-of-the-ordinary dual-wielding mechanic.

Which games did I miss? Any of your favorites not make the list?
Let me know in the comments!