February. Get ink. Shed tears.

Or another translation of this post’s title:

February, pick up your pen and weep,
Write poems about February in sobs and ink,
While thunder booming in the background
Is burning in the black of spring.

-Boris Pasternak

Regina Spektor’s song “Après Moi” introduced that poem to me (in its original Russian) and it is all things beautiful and lovely. Check out other translations of the full poem here and here.

This Month in Writing

February underscored for me the difficult knowledge that with each book, you sort of have to learn how to write a novel all over again. Each one is different and presents unique challenges. You’re always learning, and hopefully you don’t make the same mistakes each time, but there are always new mistakes to make.

My “surprise” (to me) novella, Angelborn, will be off to the copy editor in mere days. This last draft was rough going, and I wasn’t sure I was going to make my deadline for much of the month, but last weekend brought with it the gift of six+ inches of snow, so I hunkered down in front of the fireplace with my laptop and busted it out.

I’m also really excited about Earthsinger 2… Darvyn and Kyara’s story has been making me super emotional – too many feels for one book!

This Month in Listening

I discovered the group Ibeyi and fell in love with their sound. Check out this video to get some of their funky cool twin weirdness in your life:

This Month in Watching

Sleepy Hollow had its problems, bit it was a consistently entertaining show that I really looked forward to each week. And, they get the award for best season finale in a long time! I hope they get a third season.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming back next week, but really for me it’s all about 12 Monkeys. It always delivers wibbly wobbly timey wimey goodness with the occasional paradox and some fairly interesting characters. Loving it!

I’m quite sure this weekend will be filled with binge watching House of Cards season 3. I also have to work in a re-watch of Twin Peaks at some point this year to prepare myself for the upcoming new series. My high school life was defined by three shows: Twin Peaks, The X Files and My So Called Life. This is slightly odd since according to the Internet I hadn’t actually started high school when Twin Peaks aired. It doesn’t seem like the sort of show appropriate for an eighth grader, but maybe that explains a few things about me… Hmmm. (Sidenote: I read Toni Morrison’s Beloved in sixth grade and did a book report on it. I need to ask my mom what, exactly, was going on in the parental supervision department…)

This Month in Reading

In preparation for my workshop with David Anthony Durham next month at the Hurston Wright Writer’s Weekend, I’m currently ensconced in AcaciaI’m 47% in, and I adore this novel. It certainly puts the epic in epic fantasy. My Kindle told me it would take 12 hours to finish which is mind boggling. I read extremely fast. I’m used to wrapping up an average length book in 4 or 5 hours tops – maybe because I skim the boring parts – but there’s nothing to skim here and I’m exercising my under-utilized patience muscles.

This Month in Fur

Sterlyng found a new pillow:

Not sure this is the ergonomically correct way to type…

A photo posted by Leslye (@lpenel) on

And Saybl is recovering nicely from last month’s illness. You can’t keep a good pit bull down!

Sabyl after playing in the snow
Sabyl after playing in the snow

So, how did February treat you? Let me know in the comments.

 March giveaway info is going out soon!  Get on the mailing list so you don’t miss out!

Monthly Recap – January 2015

This year I started a logbook. I got the idea from Austin Kleon, who lays it out really well here. Every night before bed I sit with my chamomile tea and jot down the events of the day, how I felt, and what I’m grateful for. It adds a routine to bedtime that helps improve my sleep hygeine and stave off insomnia. Besides, I have long wished for a personal stenographer to capture the details of my daily life since my memory isn’t up to the task, and the logbook is as close as I will ever come.

Then, I came across YA author Jodi Meadow’s blog and got the idea to do a monthly roundup blog post. (I do occasionally have original ideas, just saying). So here you go:

This Month in Writing

I did double duty, working on two books at once. I finished up the surprise novella I drafted last fall and sent it out for developmental edits. Also, I put the pedal to the metal on the draft for Earthsinger Chronicles, Book 2. I have a title, but I’m not ready to make it public yet because I might change my mind. (I brainstormed nearly 100 titles before settling on Song of Blood & Stone, so I’m hesitant to commit.)

The Month in Designing

Carrying the book around in my purse to show people is kind of awkward, so I figured I needed some swag. After scouring the interwebs, I came up with a couple of ideas and here is the first one.

I made transforming bookmarks that turn into business cards. #MoreThanMeetsTheEye

A photo posted by Leslye (@lpenel) on


This Month in Reading

The first few weeks were a reading desert as the activities associated with the book launch took over. I reduced my yearly Goodreads challenge to 125 books (from 150 last year) because it can be hard for me to read in my genre when I’m writing. Specifically when I’m drafting. Fortunately, one of my favorite authors not in my genre, Courtney Milan, released a new book: Trade Me. It was amazing like all of her other novels and you should definitely check it out!

This Month in Watching

The movie Selma was way, way better than I thought it would be. If you haven’t seen it, you’re really missing out!

I also caught The Imitation Game. It’s great to see movies where the hype is well deserved for a change.  I’m a huge Sherlock fan, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s role as Alan Turing had some deja vu moments, but nothing that took away from the brilliance of it all.

So now I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominations except for The Theory of Everything. I’m hoping to get to that this weekend.

Also, thanks to Ines Johnson, I’m now completely hooked on 12 Monkeys on SyFy. I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore (otherwise I’d never have time to write or read anything. I’m in awe of people who can consume large quantities of media in various formats. Maybe I spend too much time in the shower or something…) But it happened and now I have to deal with it. Hopefully it will be a short season. 😉 

This Month in Listening

The new Sleater-Kinney album No Cities to Love came out. I’ve never met an S-K album I didn’t adore, but it’s taking me a while to warm up to this one. Though I had the same reaction to The Woods and now I can’t remember why I felt that way. So I’m letting the music seep into my pores and settle some more.

This Month in Fur

Sterlying had a good time chomping on my locs as he helped me through my manuscript.

  A photo posted by Leslye (@lpenel) on

And Sabyl had to make an impromptu visit to the vet for her swollen neck. They gave her something that made her almost too high to function and the poor thing is just starting to come down.


Well, that was my month. What did the January hold for you? Let me know in the comments.
And don’t forget the monthly giveaway starts in February. Make sure you’re on the mailing list for entry information!