Five Reading Lights to Geek By

Books are hands down my favorite thing. I like looking at them, touching them, smelling them, and of course, most importantly, reading them. I do a good bit of my reading before I go to bed at night, so reading lights are essential. Of course, it must be fantastical, or what’s the point, really?

Here are a few of my favorite fantastical reading lights. Though, reading may be tough without a little extra lighting for some of these. But hey, form over function, right?

raven claw reading lights
I love this Ravenclaw reading light from StorybookCraftGroup on Etsy. Ravenclaw is my alma mater, so I was quite please to find this out in Etsy-Land. This one is their medium sized lantern, but they also have a large version.

You can get the other houses, but… why would you?


totoro reading lights
I sprayed geek love all over this Totoro light from LightGuild, also on Etsy. I’m a huge Miyazaki fan (I mean, who isn’t?), and while Princess Mononoke is hands down my fave, I love love love Totoro. This would go quite nicely in my fantasy reading nook.

tower of fantasy books reading lightsI love the idea of creating a lamp out of a stack of old books. I also simultaneously cringe about it. This one here is from HGTV, but of course I’d want it to be made from all seven Harry Potter books, or maybe Lord of the Rings with a bit of The Hobbit on top. But I have to admit it’s a bit hard for me to consider defacing such beautiful objects – even if they are mass produced paperbacks! Still, this has to be on my list for book nook lighting.


super mario brothers reading lightsNo list of geeky lighting options would be complete without a bit of Super Mario Bros. This one is by 8BitLit on Etsy. It’s not book related, but you can’t deny the compelling nature of the story itself. Yes, it was cliche (save Princess Peach!), but it was also the best video game of its day. Maybe it still is the best, for what it is. Regardless, I love it hard. The fact you have to ‘punch’ this to light it up makes my day.


paper mache mushroom reading lights
I absolutely adore this paper mache mushroom light from BostonePaperMache on Easy. It’s got a sophisticated feel to it, and the soft frayed paper edges give it a beautiful finish. It looks downright magical in these images. My finger is itching on that buy now button.


What are your favorite fantastical reading (or somewhat readable by) lights? I’d love to see your links below.

Happy reading,


When I’m Brave, Even Now, It’s Because of Puff the Magic Dragon

puff the magic dragonStories may consist of a mix of words and ink and paper, but they hold a powerful magic. They have the ability to change us, shape us, maybe even to save us, even long after they first touch us. I was struck by a poignant example of this today. I realized that when I’m brave, even now, it’s because Puff the Magic Dragon showed me how.

The looming release of Pete’s Dragon had me waxing nostalgic for some of the dragon tales of my youth and I’ve been walking around humming Puff the Magic Dragon for days. So today I thought I’d see if it was available on YouTube for a watch. It was, of course, because, literally everything is on YouTube.

The film does show it’s age in many ways. The 1978 animation and storyline are much different from the sorts of films we see today. But the message was surprisingly on point even now. I’m not ashamed to admit it choked me up a bit. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if this tale of a young boy coming to terms with fear and the bewildering array of ‘shit’ in the world doesn’t choke you up at least a little, you’re just not human.

What really caught me off guard was just how much this little film influenced me. If you’d have asked me last week to list films or stories that had shaped my life Puff the Magic Dragon would not have made the list. But today, after a re-watch, I realize just how much it really did.

We all experience fear, after all. When we’re young it’s often from our own imaginations,  the terrifying  monsters we imagine living in the darkness beneath our beds or in our closets. We’re no more immune to fear as adults either, though the source of that fear shifts. We fear other people laughing at us, hating our books (me!), we fear failing at something, or even trying something and looking foolish in our clumsiness. Adults still fear the unknown too – our monsters under the bed become rapists, serial killers, immigrants, or the people who live on the other side of the border.

In Puff the Magic Dragon, little Peter Draper has become so afraid and so filled with self doubt he can no longer speak. But then Puff comes along and takes Peter on the adventure of a lifetime. Three little lessons forever changed Peter Draper, helping him realize things are not so scary as they seem.

Lesson One: See things as they really are. Not everything that seems scary is actually scary at all. And while it’s easy to imagine all the terrible things that can happen, how about imagining all the wondrous things that can happen too?

Lesson Two: Believe in yourself and have the courage to try. You may still fail, but at least you tried. The reality is that failure is rarely as scary as it seems (see lesson one).

Lesson Three: With the help of friends and family, we can do anything. No one is successful alone. We all need help from time to time, and there is real strength in those ties that bind us.

After watching this not-quite 30 minute cartoon I realized that I use these three little lessons almost every day. This is what allowed me to write and finish my first book, to write and publish more books, to start a business, and to write and publish this blog post. Even things such as how I think about politics, my attitudes on economics… all of these things are influenced by these three little lessons.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that Puff get’s all the credit here. We all have millions of influences in our lives that help shape who we are. But, stories… stories are one of the great influencers. And they are mighty. I think that’s why I have such a love affair with books. Who can resist that sort of magic?


Free Books – You Want Them, and I Have Them!

Give Me All The Books!I like free books, I’m not gonna lie. I mean, really, who doesn’t? And I really like them when they come with a recommendation attached to them.

So I’ve decided to share the love and give away some books! Not one. Not two. But a stack of four books! Four books that I particularly loved, that stuck out to me for one reason or another, and that I think you’ll love too.

The books are (Drumroll, please): Read more


water dropletIt’s only a mile from the surface down to the cavern, but the weight of guilt and blame make it feel so much longer. The sand rubs roughly against my calloused feet. The grains whisper softly against one another as they shift and move beneath me. It’s the only sound down here other than the slow steady throb of my breathing. Even the steady trickle of water is stilled. He sleeps.

I move into the cavern quietly. The thick roots of the Heart Tree stretch from the top of the cavern, wrapping tightly around his wrist. His back is to me, deep shadows beneath his jutting shoulder blades, ripples of muscle down either side of his spine, and thighs that are still the size of my waist though he has hung here for millennia. God’s don’t waste away. Read more

Writing Life Comic #6: Inspiration, Wot?

Oh, the writing life. Muse? Malarcky is more like it. Inspiration? Pfft! That’s for beginners. We’re half way through the year now. That idealistic bullshit has worn thin, if not altogether off. At this point in the year I’m lucky if I can even type

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

anymore. You can look high or low, under every last thing in the house or outside of it. You may find dust bunnies and spiders, but not much else hiding there. This is the part where you gotta buckle it down and just churn, baby, churn.

writing life comic, looking for inspiration
The Writing Life is a once monthly comic released on the first Wednesday of every month. Stop by and check out the next one scheduled for 7/6/16.

Writing Life Comic #5: What People Think

From the outside, the writing life is a glamorous one. Speaking engagements all around the world with free airfare and hotel, adoring fans fawning on every word you utter, plenty of money for you to live quite comfortably while you scribble away over at the coffee shop everyday. And oh… how wonderful must it be to live so creatively every day!

It has it’s benefits, I’m not going to lie. But things are rarely what we initially believe them to be.

What people think the writing life is.
The Writing Life is a once monthly comic series released on the first Wednesday of each month. The next is due out on 6/1/15.

Writing Life Comic #4: Ideas

Ideas, and no more ideas? If I had a dollar for every time this happened to me I’d be giving my books away and living like J.K. Rowling! Many (most) writers are part-time scribblers and part-time something elsers. Ideas seem to fall from the sky at an alarming rate while I’m working on that something else. I wade through them like snow during a March Colorado snow. (That’s super deep, in case you didn’t know.)

The instant my butt hits my office chair at home, however, not even a cricket can be heard through the deafening silence in my head. *sigh*

So many ideas
Artwork by Kelci Crawford

The Writing Life is a once monthly comic series posted on the first Wednesday of every month. Stay tuned for the next comic, scheduled for 5/4/16.

Writing Life Comic #3: Writers Boulders

Somewhere roughly about the midpoint of a novel life really begins to suck for a writer. You would think that being a plotter would help with this, but, you’d be wrong. Middles are simply shitty places to be. I think if a novel could be written without a middle all of us would do it.

Comic - getting blood from a stone
Artwork by Kelci Crawford

The Writing Life is a once monthly comic series posted on the first Wednesday of every month. Stay tuned for the next comic, scheduled for 4/6/16.

Writing Life Comic #2: Writing is Dangerous

Writers may not always be writing, but they are always working. Last winter I took a vacation to Puerto Rico and I spent a considerable amount of time of every activity considering how/if/when it might be used in a story. In Across the Darkling Sea (releasing in April 2016!) an entire chapter of that book came out of an experience I had while in Belize several years ago.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 6.11.52 PM
Artwork by Kelci Crawford

This is all fine and good while you’re on vacation. But when… well…

The Writing Life is a once monthly comic series posted on the first Wednesday of every month. Stay tuned for the next comic, scheduled for 3/2/16.


Writing Life Comic #1: I Got This

I Got This - Spider Wars
Art by the wonderful Kelci Crawford.

Aaah, January. It’s still cold as hell outside but the motivational fires are burning hot on the inside. We’ve made resolutions, commitments to ourselves. We’ve got ideas dammit, and they are clawing their way out of our chests like a xenomorph. We are mighty. Our ideas are mighty. And our enemies small. I got this. We got this. This year, we will prevail.

The Writing Life comic is a once monthly comic on the trials, tribulations and outright humor that is a writers life. It comes out the first Wednesday of every month.