POEM: Atheology




Atheist creation

the eternity of a starry night

gazing into millennia past, remembering we are all

composed of stardust


Atheist god

the voice that whispers inspiration in the darkness

in the soft quiet of an afternoon, before the rainstorm

when electricity is in the air and all dreams seem possible

in the zone of contemplation, in the act of creation

of life and art and the crafting of something that before

only lived in the heart and mind


Atheist afterlife

the soft whisper of friends remembering the past and

dreaming of the future, returned to dust and earth, our matter

neither created nor destroyed, merely transformed

to continue the cycle of life, we never cease, we exist in each eternal moment


Atheist heaven

the rapture of creation and transformation, of smiles and laughter,

birthdays spent with friends, the whispered confidences of a lover,

the soft breath of a newborn, and the quiet realization


following our bliss, we create paradise.






*Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the poem.

*image courtesy of http://publicdomainpictures.net/


Current Events: New Year’s Resolutions for 2018!

I know you must be weary of reading other people’s resolutions for the new year. They are inherently selfish posts aimed not at you–the reader, but rather written for the benefit of the author: a public affirmation of their intentions for the new year. There’s something special that happens in a person’s brain when they write their goals down. The act of writing makes the idea concrete and mandatory. Combine that with the possibility of public accountability, and you have a recipe for (at least some measure of) success.


So, in the tradition of utterly selfish writing, I am announcing my goals for the coming year. In the spirit of honesty and accountability, I did not accomplish all my goals this past year–mainly getting a literary agent. I did accomplish others though–such as reading more non fiction and poetry. I had a table and read at a local author convention, and by preparing and printing my own materials to sell I discovered I loved publishing my own work. It was empowering. Can you guess what my New Year’s Resolutions are for this coming year?


1. Publish a book.
I want to publish my work. Although I have blogged and written for the past ten years, I have yet to publish a complete book. I still have my unpublished science-fiction manuscript, which I honestly love and think is pretty damn good. However, I am more heavily into poetry at the moment, and I still write quite a bit of flash fiction. I have a backlog of stories and poems, so I’m not sure if I want my first published book to be the novel or a collection of my shorter works. I may do both.


I’ve considered ordering a small amount of print books (to sell in person), as well as making the work available by POD or as an ebook. My local library also has options to publish for free (Self-e), although I doubt that would give me print options. I’m also still open to the traditional publishing route, but, in the meantime, I am working toward self-publishing. Either way, I’m getting at least one book out this year.


2. Market my book.
I’ve already worked on my “brand” this past year by setting up a more professional author site, as well as matching social media accounts and even business cards. I generally try to attend as many writing conferences and workshops as possible, although this year I was sadly unable to make some of them due to a family emergency. My writing blog is informal, but my author site functions as a resume with sample writing for prospective publishers.


So when I say “Market my work” I’m talking about marketing the book I plan to publish this year–which will involve public appearances. I’m extremely nervous when speaking in public, so this is something I’ve been working to overcome for awhile. Hopefully, I will improve with practice.


3. Learn to make one origami form with a dollar bill.
I know this one has nothing to do with writing, but I’m terrible at origami. It’s something I’ve wanted to learn for awhile. I don’t need to learn a bunch of complicated forms, just a simple one that I can do well. I want to do it with dollar bills because I can use it for a craftivism project involving play money. Also, if I leave a tip with paper money, it might be cute.


I’d love to hear what your resolutions are, if any, for the year 2018! If you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments below. And Happy New Year!
**due to the holidays, my posts will be scheduled slightly off from the normal two weeks. My apologies. Happy holidays!


On Writing: Habitica–Gamify your Life!


Who knew that creating a productivity tool that is essentially a video game would be so effective? Habitica (formerly HabitRPG) helps you establish good habits and eradicate bad ones by giving you in-game rewards for completing real life tasks.

My first experience with a game-based productivity tool was Life RPG, suggested by my teenage son since he’s really into video games. I tried it, and initially found it somewhat helpful–although I was frustrated by the lack of customer support. When I had issues, I tried contacting the developers through the app store and twitter to no avail. Their twitter account hasn’t been updated since 2014, and while their reviews in the Android app store were overwhelmingly favorable, I could never get them to respond when I had a question.  Customer service and response times are important to me, since I am not tech savvy.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have only used Habitica during the current week. However, in that time I’ve already had more positive feedback and interaction through the site than I ever did using Life RPG. I think part of the reason is Habitica’s strong open-source community. There is a Tavern that can be visited via the app or site, where Habiticians can hang out casually or ask general questions. People who use Habitica are encouraged to be helpful to others, positivity is promoted, and everyone (as far as I have seen) is incredibly polite and considerate.

Habitica has a webpage online that you can log into each day to check off or add tasks, as well as an app for your cell phone or tablet device. I mainly use the app, but I try to check into the website at least once a day since I find typing on the laptop easier.

The first thing you do as a new user is create an avatar, with certain free options such as hair color or body type. As you complete your tasks, you gain health, experience, gold, and other rewards that let you buy things for your avatar. As you progress in the game, you gain levels and start to acquire pets that may become mounts in the proper circumstances, as well as other things–such as food for your stable animals, potions to regain health, armor, etc. There are also Guilds and Challenges for social opportunities as well as chances to gain extra rewards such as gems.

After you create your avatar you set up your real world tasks: Habits, Dailies, and To-Dos.  Habits should be things you would like to do every day (or every week, month, etc). Dailies are things that you should do every day (month, etc), and To-Dos are things that may (or may not) have a set-time limit. You gain rewards for everything you accomplish, but you lose points only if you miss your Dailies. In addition to the virtual game rewards offered, you may also assign yourself real life rewards, such as “Watching a movie” or “Eating a cookie” that may cost x-amount of gold. There are also other features that allow you to join parties and partner with other people, but you share the rewards or punishments when you do so.

An example of a Habit would be Stretching. I don’t remember to do my stretches every day, so this gives me extra points when I remember. A Daily would be Eat Lunch, since I often forget to eat, even after preparing lunch for my son. A To-Do would be Fix the Banister; I used the option to set a due time (end of this month) since I’ve put off this simple chore for several months. I have also set myself additional real life rewards, such as watching a movie for 25 gold coins.

The Guilds offer users a way to interact with other Habiticians that share similar interests. Guilds often offer Challenges to members, which promote Guild interests. For example, there are multiple writing Guilds that offer Challenges with set editing and publishing goals.

While it may not seem to tie-in to writing as a craft, using a productivity tool like Habitica can obviously help you establish a writing routine that increases your output. My life has become progressively more hectic over the past several weeks, but in the past week I’ve accomplished more of my writing goals than I have all month. I’ve reestablished a more productive daily routine, and I actually look forward to greater rewards for tasks I would otherwise put off.

If you tend to procrastinate or get overwhelmed with daily tasks, try Habitica. Signing up costs nothing but a little of your time, and the investment more than pays for itself.

Current Events: April and May 2017


First of all, thank you for visiting! Normally, I post either poetry or short fiction, but every so often I like to share events going on in my area of Ohio. I try to update this blog once every two weeks.

I’m not sure how you made your way here, but I’ve recently attempted to consolidate my brand by updating my blog addresses and emails. This blog can be found via both https://catrussellwriter.wordpress.com/ and http://ganymeder.com/ . My other blog, which is more formal and serves as a resume, can be found at https://authorcatrussell.wordpress.com/ . My updated email, should you wish to contact me about my writing, is authorcatrussell@outlook.com .

Second, on to the fun stuff! There are several literary and creative holidays coming up, both internationally and locally, that I would love to share with you. Behold!

Saturday, April 29th

TABLETOP DAY: A wonderful geeky holiday for those who love tabletop gaming–from Dungeons & Dragons to card games like FLUXX! This may not seem very literary at first, but just think of all the storytelling and creativity involved in role-playing games. Plus, it’s just FUN. If you like, you can watch some TableTop via YouTube to help get into the mood; think Celebrity Poker meets Nerds.

Sunday, April 30th

CUYAHOGA LIBRARY POETRY OPEN MIC: The South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga Library is finishing off National Poetry Month by providing a platform for anyone who writes poetry to share with an audience.

Come between 1:30 and 3:30, especially if you have written to one of the prompts they’ve provided during the month of April!

Thursday, May 4th

STAR WARS DAY: Watch out for deals and events at your local bookstores and comic book shops, because *ahem*

May the Fourth be with you…Always.

Saturday, May 6th

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: This day is exactly what the name implies; it’s a day when comic book shops give away specially-printed FCBD editions of comics for free. You can visit the FCBD site to see what comics will become available, though each comic shop (that chooses to participate) decides which comics they will be giving away. Participating shops may also have special events such as cosplay costume contests, comic artist signings, and other giveaways. To find out which stores are participating in your area, simply visit the site and do a location search.

Wednesday, May 10th

HOOKS AND BOOKS: The Barberton Library hosts its monthly meetup up for crafters and bibliophiles at the local Kave Coffee Bar (584 W. Tuscarawas Ave.). Knitters, crocheters, and other needlepoint crafters are welcome to bring their latest project to work on and share whatever book they are reading. They also have a Pinterest group to share projects and book recommendations!

Thursday, May 25th

TOWEL DAY: This fan-created holiday honors and promotes the work of the late great Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, the Dirk Gently books, and Last Chance to See. There are tons of events around the globe, but the main way to bring attention to this holiday is by conspicuously wearing or carrying a towel with you wherever you go. For as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy points out:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.

And, of course, if you haven’t already read his books, the best way to honor an author is to read his work. If you can not afford to buy a book, simply visit your friendly neighborhood library either in person or via its online digital library. Trust me. His books are amazing.

I hope you are able to participate in at least some of these activities, and I wish you all the best! Have a lovely week!


CURRENT EVENTS: Upcoming Literary Events for Northeast Ohio!


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I wish you all a fun and educational weekend full of literary loveliness and green pancakes.

March is a great month for writers here in Ohio, land of cultural consciousness and indeterminate weather. On Saturday the eighteenth, Literary Cleveland is offering a free workshop, Transition and Transformation: Writing for Self-Discovery, that will focus on using writing to work through emotional life transitions such as divorce, an empty nest, or the beginning or end of a career. The workshop will take place from 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of Cuyahoga Library, 1876 South Green Road, South Euclid, OH 44121. Registration is requested.

Later, you may also attend another Literary Cleveland free event, Crossing Borders: An Immigrant Narrative, featuring local authors reading their own work. This is actually a 90-minute performance directed by Marc Moritz, including poems, essays, and stories written by immigrants; during the show, pieces will be performed by professional actors. It should be a powerful and educational (as well as entertaining) experience.

Crossing Borders takes place on both Saturday the eighteenth and Sunday the nineteenth, at Cleveland State University, in the Student Center Ballroom (third floor),2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. Both performances take place from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Registration is requested.

Also, don’t forget to register for Cuyahoga Library’s Thirty Days of Poetry. The library will send you daily poetry prompts and poems throughout the month of April–so if you register now, you can get their daily email each morning to start your days off right!

POEM: Akron Art Museum (on a snowy day)


“Akron Art Museum (on a snowy day)”


Braving winter weather,

I venture inside, am greeted by,

am heated by

the red warmth of an amazing maze

–the reason that day’s,

adventuring took place.

Patrons’ laughter wiggles,

giggles, and jiggles

Awakens my sleeping senses

dulled by the ice-cold latticework

of Jack Frost’s handiwork.


Permanent residents

enclosed in glass

call to me with cool colorfields,

tapestries of reclaimed materials,

and the youthful bloom of a long dead girl

–she is a poem in paint,

an oil-based sonnet

written to the memory of a sister

much missed.


Art not only beautiful,

but unique, original


expose themselves to my sometimes

unwilling eyes: sad sculptures

of pieced together little girls,

grotesques of acts better hid from the world,

and the ridiculous image

of a child pooping cupcakes–

Who knew defecation could be that sweet

and funny? I laugh for five full minutes

before wiping tears from my eyes.


Turning the page I find

the common translated–

a cement truck’s dull exterior

becomes solidly superior

intricately cut

stainless steel,

the metal pieces sliced

into solid stitches

of lovely, silver-toned lace.

Tea party participants mutate

into alluringly ludicrous,

fantastic freaks

with abnormal proportions,

others are created with the beastly heads

of cats and sharks

or machine parts. My own head

swims with sensory overload.


Mind and heart filled to

overflowing, I fill

my other emptiness in the cafe.

Eating my fill, I watch

the falling snow

beyond the transparent walls;

each flake freezes to the glass

and frames the dusting sugar

like a thousand fairies

dying in the cold.




**This poem is a departure from my normal style, since I usually don’t concentrate on the rhymes quite so much. I wanted something that would sound fun read aloud, stressing the ends of each line. Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks!

On Writing: Pre-NaNoWriMo Prep


November is like early Christmas for many writers, because those thirty days are set aside as National Novel Writing Month–or NaNoWriMo, for short. Participants challenge themselves to write a complete, rough draft novel of 50,000 words between the first and thirtieth of November. NaNoWriMo beckons many writers and would-be novelists with thoughts of winning like sirens on exotic far-away beaches. They start using words like novelling, pantsing, plotting, and even plantsing. Why? Not for fame or riches–though I doubt anyone would turn those down–but the pure, joyful, adrenaline-fuelled experience of writing to meet a massively intimidating deadline. Oh, and of course, those all-important bragging rights.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share some of the strategies I’ve used to win in the past. And while I will be rebelling with a poetry collection this year, hopefully some of these tips will help you reach your November goals.

  1. Planning Your Time

If you write steadily, you need to write a minimum of 1,667 words each day in November to win. But let’s face it; things happen. Life happens. You will have days that you just can’t find the time or the energy, you might have to put writing on hold for a few days during Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and other obligations will happen. That’s why it’s important to plan for days you won’t be able to meet your daily writing quota.

The answer is simple. Plan to write a little more on your on-days so you have permission to slack a little on your off- days. For example, I know that it’s much harder for me to write on weekends than weekdays. So I plan a five day writing week, for four weeks, with a daily goal of 2,500. So I write 12,500 in week one; 25,000 words by the end of week two; 37,500 by the end of week three; and 50,000 by the end of week four. By giving myself daily and weekly goals, if I miss a day or get behind in my daily goals, odds are I will still be on schedule for the weekly goals. Plus, the first week is when people are filled with adrenaline and enthusiasm, so it’s easy to create a buffer for later on.

Another thing to consider is when you are going to write; saying you don’t have time isn’t really an option. Most people have time. They make the time for what they think is important. Sure, you might be really tired from work and want to just sit and watch tv, but couldn’t you use fifteen minutes of that time to do a word sprint? What about writing during your lunch break for ten minutes on your phone? If it’s important to you, you’ll find time. If it’s not, you won’t. It’s that simple. Remember, you are going for quantity of words over quality. I usually do fifteen minute sprints several times a day until I hit my goal.


Let me repeat that, because it’s important.


Editing slows you down and keeps you from adding words. What’s worse, it usually means you are SUBTRACTING words from your total word count. Lock your inner editor in a closet for the month with a nice supply of canned goods and cookies, then forget about him! Here are a few tricks to help.

When you come across a scene where you are stuck, insert a placeholder instead. Put in an unusual word (like scrumpdillyicious) that you can search for in the document later–or a highlighted and ALL-CAPS notation to catch your eye–when December comes. That way, you can find your placeholder easily when you do edit. Plus, the extra nice thing about doing the ALL-CAPS notation (LIKE THIS), is that it still counts toward your word goal!

Now, I know this post is about preparing BEFORE November, not what you do during the month. So here is where it’s relevant to October’s preparation: create a loose outline this month with one-sentence chapter summaries that you can use as chapter HEADINGS in November. Not only does it help keep you on goal for each chapter, but it allows you to add to your novel wordcount without technically cheating. Sweet, right? I usually just copy and paste them in as my chapter headings, then fill out what’s underneath for my daily goals.

  1. Writing Tools and Delayed Gratification

Whether you write with a computer, a phone, or just a pad and pencil, it’s important to always have tools handy to write whenever you get a chance; all those stolen minutes add up. When you are waiting in a long line at the grocery store, you can write on your phone or in a notebook. Taking a ten minute break at work? Write a few lines. Hell, if you use Twitter and post on forums, those are words you could have written on your actual novel! I’m not saying don’t tweet. I’m saying, don’t tweet until you have met your goal, even if it’s just a mini-writing goal like 250-words before lunchtime.

I use this technique to meet mini-goals each day until I complete my daily goal. I can’t check my email until I’ve written at least another 250 words; I can’t have lunch until I’ve hit 500; I can’t watch tv until I’ve hit 750. You get the picture.

  1. Eliminate Other Writing Goals during November, if possible.

Part of the magic of November is that you are pouring all your creative writing energy into a single project, so don’t divide that energy between projects unless you have no choice. If you are a blogger like me, you can schedule blog posts ahead of time, so you don’t have to stop writing on your novel to write on your blog. If you post on twitter, you can schedule tweets ahead of time using FutureTweets.com. For example, I post a helpful vegan tip each day under the hashtag #dailyvegantip, so I just schedule those ahead of time.

  1. Brag. A LOT.

Yes, you are attempting something incredible, and just the fact that you are trying says awesome things about you. But that’s not the reason I’m suggesting you brag about writing a 50,000 word rough draft novel. I’m not suggesting you brag about the attempt, but brag about how you are going to do it, all the things you will do when you have completed your masterpiece, and so on. Why? Because if you don’t finish after shooting your mouth off that much, it will be a huge embarrassment. And embarrassment is a great motivator. Basically, back yourself into a corner so you have no choice but to write your way out of it. It works! At least, it’s worked for me in the past.

  1. Listen to podcasts

I recently discovered a podcast called NaNoWriPod, that you can download onto a podcatcher and listen to while driving your car or running or eating cookies. There are 39 episodes that you can listen to over the course of thirty days. I have not listened to it as of the date I’m writing this, but I’m looking forward to it. The NaNoWriMo site used to have an official podcast, but now I just find other ones to motivate myself. Another good podcast is Writing Excuses–“Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not the smart.”

And those, dear readers, are my October strategies. Use them in good health. Have a safe and fun Halloween, and don’t forget what true terror is–a missed deadline.  Happy Novelling!*

UPDATE: 2016-11-01

You may also download the latest installment of my podcast, My Writing Niche 2.0 -Episode 1: Welcome to NaNoWriMo 2016. DOWNLOAD HERE.

*If you would like to look me up and be writing buddies, my author name on the site is ganymeder–the same as my Twitter alias.

**NaNoWriMo web banner courtesy of the NaNoWriMo site.