June Wrap-up

So I’ve started actually moving again in June, wrapping up several pieces that had been languishing, ignored, on my hard drive for weeks or months. I took a few reference photos for other drawings I want to do in the next few days, and still have several more to take — I realized the other day that of the five A-to-Z redraws I was supposed to do in May, it has taken me until the end of June to complete just two of them. I’m still interested in revisiting several of them, so I will have to do some reference photos for them this week, as well.


Life keeps moving. We’ve been venturing into the Outside World a little more, establishing household routines, buckling down and actually making strides on goals we’ve been talking about for ages. Life has some semblance of order and routine, and we are secure enough within our social bubble to finally be making plans with friends and family again.

I am glad, as I am often actively glad, to live in Massachusetts, where we have more than half the population fully vaccinated (and 70% of the actually elligible population), and a 0.33% positivity rate. I’m hoping the trend continues; I’m liking this controlled return to something approaching normal. I’m liking having something like a life, again.

Stay safe and sane, all.

Polishing Up

I said I was going to do redraws of my five favorite A-to-Z Entries, and damn it, I meant it.

Original sketch for my “A” entry:

And here is the finished drawing, Aldwyn & Amara:

Surprisingly happy with this one; I love the rays of light filtering down!! And the beading on her tunic!! And the highlights on Aldwyn’s wing!

I love far more about this than what I hate. I don’t even think I hate, to be honest; there are things I could have done better, but I hate none of it.

How refreshing is that??

I am working on wrapping up some stuff I started prior to A-to-Z — some of it from long before A-to-Z, to the point where it’s noticeably stylistically rougher, but I’m still fond of it, I’ve put in quite a few hours on it, and it’s a goal of mine to not abandon projects anymore, so I will likely still wrap and post it at some point.


Related to art and projects, a big project that I was an artist on recently, The Fat Folks Tarot Deck, is live for pre-orders! The art is stunning, and includes the work of 77 artists in just as many styles. This is a body-positive, fat-positive, queer-positive, trans-positive Tarot Deck, and all the proceeds go towards Trans Lifeline! Please, if you are someone who is into Tarot, consider picking up a deck! This is my piece for my card, the Nine of Pentacles:

Things are moving along. I’m going to be working on my next A-to-Z revision, which I think is going to be my “C” entry. I’ll be honest, the more I look back and start to more fully conceptualize, the more I think I am ultimately going to be doing more than five works.

Not that I’m complaining, to be honest.

Hope all is well. Stay safe and sane.

A-to-Z Challenge: Queer/Queen/Quaint; Rider/Rise/Reward; Spine/Sign/Study

Come on, how much do you love my conceptualization of the mom? It’s great, right? Art at it’s finest.

“These are the best we could do?” Arianna murmured doubtfully as yet another potential suitor — smug and dark-haired, just like all the others — left the dining hall. “These are our best and brightest? This parade of arrogance and swagger?”

“They have every right to be proud,” her mother chastised sharply. “Pride is not the same as arrogance if it’s earned, Arianna. These you men are high born and highly skilled.”

“So their parents have money and they’re good with a sword,” Arianna said dismissively. “I don’t see how that sets them apart from me in anyway, and yet I’m constantly being told to be humble.” She side-eyed her mother, boredly.

“I can only assume that humility is to be the ‘lady-like’ counterpoint to my husband-to-be’s arrogance. Oh, apologies — pride. What a quaint arrangement.”

Her mother let out a long suffering sigh as Kiara, one of the servant girls, entered the room with an elaborate tray piled high with pastries and a gilded teapot. She waved the young woman in, rubbing at her temples.

“What would you have me say, Arianna?” she asked. “We have traditions, we have expectations and social mores. You are expected to find a husband, to be taken care of, to have children. Do you not want a secure life?”

“I don’t want that life,” Arianna sniffed. Her mother shook her head in frustration as Kiara poured her tea in a delicate china cup. Her mother took a long sip.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” her mother huffed, placing the cup back in it’s saucer with a little more force than strictly necessary. “You’ve not lived long enough to know. Your life will be long, God-willing, and what a horrid thing it would be if you were to live it alone.”

“I never said I wished to be alone,” Arianna aid airly. Kiara set a pile of sweet cakes on a plate before her. Arianna winked at her surreptitiously. Kiara’s face turned bright pink as she turned away, grinning.

“I only said I don’t wish to have a husband.”


Five a.m., and they pulled off the highway to eat, not a leisurely breakfast but a desperate devouring of the last remnants of the meal from the previous night; ham and cheese sandwiches kept cold in the front pocket of Erin’s Jansport with a sweaty dollar store ice pack. They rinsed their mouths with flat coke, tore into packets of Little Debbie swiss rolls with their teeth, and leaned themselves and their old bike against the guardrails on the highway as the turned their faces east.

How much further to go?” Kelly asked, her voice hoarse from disuse and the road. Erin took the last swig of Coke and shrugged.

“Miles or time,” she said, tossing the bottle over the guard rail. Kelly clucked her tongue disapprovingly. “Which is more helpful?”

Kelly shrugged. “Time, I guess.”

“Probably another five or six hours.”

Kelly chewed her lip thoughtfully, scuffing the road with her well-worn leather boats. Dry puffs of dust rose from the pavement in diaphonous clouds.

“That’s not so bad,” she muttered.

“No,” Erin agreed. “Not after everything else.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

The sat in silence for a moment, Kelly picking absently at the blood stains crusted on her jeans, the flesh still tender under the bulk of the bandages. She forced herself to stop worrying the injury, sat on her hands to keep her promise. The cold pavement against her hands, and the pressure of her weight was comforting, in a way. She turned to Erin and chanced a smile.

“At least we get sun today,” she said. Erin glanced over at her, her face unreadable. The corner of her mouth quirked, and she dipped her head in agreement.

“Yeah,” she said. “Yup. At least there’s that.”


She felt the gentle swish of her shirt in the path of approaching footfalls, but was still startled when she felt a hand on her back

“Naomi!” she signed. “Don’t sneak up!”

“Sorr-” Naomi started before catching herself.

“Sorry,” she signed. She pushed a stack of books out of the way with her foot and sat facing Zara. “I thought you had your hearing aids.”

Zara pushed her hair back to show her the buds in her ears.

“Turned them off,” she signed. “People never respect the silence of a library and I am beside myself trying to get shit together for my thesis.


Not going to lie; this might be my last year doing A-to-Z. I might take on some other monthly challenges, or seriously rethink how I handle this challenge, but I feel more and more — and I felt it a little bit last year, but hooo boy, is it full force this year — I feel more and more that it’s actually hindering my creativity more than helping me.

Actually, no; let me rephrase. I’m actually happy with what it’s doing for my creativity, because I was running out of ideas and also because I tend to stick with very similarly themed and similarly composed drawings, so this has been good in helping my generate scenes I normally wouldn’t consider drawing/painting. It’s hindering my productivity, because despite how rough the sketches are — and yeah, I know, they are rapidly degenerating before our eyes — it takes time and effort to conceptualize what I want to do for the sketch and what the story behind it is.

I already have a few front runners for what I might want to work on next month — and that’s exciting! — but I’m not getting much else done right now, and while I was a-ok with that at the start of the month, I’m regretting it a little now.

Because I hadn’t banked on the fact that, hey — ideas generate naturally, as well. They develop organically.

I have non-A-to-Z art ideas now, but I really can’t devote the time and energy to them that I’d like to, because I have to shift gears and conceptualize something new every day.

Next month when I’m not on a timeline, I can work on multiple projects at once and can easily do some of my own ideas alongside those generated by A-to-Z, but right now, my fingers are just itchy, man, ya know?

Hope all is going well for all other participants. Stay safe and sane.

A-to-Z Challenge: Potential/Pick/Pier

He sat on the dock and caught his breath; off in the distance, he could see the silhouette of a solitary fisherman out on a dinghie. He was an impossibly small shadow against the setting sun, and Denny considered, briefly, if he could chance a quick binder break. He looked around surreptitiously, fingers worrying the bottom edge of his binder before thinking better of it. He breathed in, as deeply as he could, , slicked his wet hair back, and stretched his back until it cracked. Just a few weeks until top surgery. Just a few weeks more until swim team tryouts. He could keep it under wraps (literally and figuratively, he mused) until then. He was sure he’d be a top pick. He was abso-fucking-lutely sure of it.

It would be so good — so so fucking good — to breathe easy for once.


Just a quick one tonight. Support trans athletes and support trans inclusion in sports.

Stay safe and sane.

A-to-Z Challenge: Nun/Name/Needle; Outside/Offensive/Oven

I will be honest; I’ve not got the energy to write out the vignette for the first of these, but the second of these has no vignette attached to it at all. There was no story or scenario in my head for the second one; the words generated, and automatically I thought about a couple of days last week, where the temperature far exceeded what we were expecting and we were sorely unprepared for it.

The first one was a little bit drawn from vague memories of my own Catholic schooling, but also somewhat inspired by a scene in The House on Mango Street. I imagine a young girl — disheveled, embarrassed — wearing shoddy, falling-apart clothing to school and being made fun of my her peers. One of the sisters sits with her in the classroom while the other kids are at recess, offering comfort and mending some of the more egregious rips and tears in her clothing. I like the idea of the scene quite a bit. I feel like I’ve said that about a fair few — which is not a bad thing! I would rather an excess of project ideas rather than a dearth — so I’m not going to say this is in the running just yet, but don’t be surprised if you see it again next month is all I’m saying.


I am on Spring Break! I spent yesterday and today getting my house in order so that I could throw myself into projects, both personal and creative, over the next seven days. I have activities to do with my son, I have four library books checked out on digital loan, I have three new podcasts I’m ready to check out, and I have two shiny art projects — not including the A-to-Z — that I’m working on. All in all, I’m incredibly glad for break.

In another bit of news that reminds me me both that I want to start writing new poetry again, but also that I need to bring over and archive my collection of sestinas (some of which are over a decade old at this point) — I was a finalist for the 2021 Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Prize with a sestina a wrote bordering on ten years ago (holy shit) called “Noise.” I miss writing poetry, particularly sestinas (they’re like a little puzzle to me; it’s such a thrill and a joy, figuring out how to piece it all together), and that is definitely something I should make room in my life for this summer.

I am breathing a deep sigh of relief and am eager to have a productive and relaxing break. Hope you all, whether you are working or not, have a lovely week.

Stay safe and sane.


This month, I’m using a random word generator to generate three words around which I will then craft a sketch and a literary vignette. I will chose my five favorites to fully flesh out (as full digital paintings and short-short stories) in May and beyond.

A-to-Z Challenge: Mother/Misery/Mass

I don’t have a vignette written for this one; I just wanted a young mother-to-be coming in off the streets, out of a bad situation. It’s been raining, and her hair and clothing is plastered to her skin; she sits in the final row of pews to be less obtrusive, but the church isn’t currently holding mass. There are a few people scattered here and there, kneeling in prayer and rising only to light a devotional candle before they leave.

Can people even do that anymore? The churches in my city used to be perpetually unlocked, open to anyone who wanted to come in at any time. I’m pretty sure they lock the doors now, when not in active use. It’s still an image I love, though, and one — now that I think about it — I’ve used before, ages ago, in a NaNoWriMo novel that I lost after the laptop I’d saved it on was stolen (note: back up your work, kids!) I’m not a religious person by any stretch or by any means, but I grew up immersed in a lot of Catholic “stuff” and for every religious “trauma,” I also have a good or pleasant nostalgic memory — I spent a lot of spring feast days and special occassions in grammar school in church for the morning session, and celebrating in the afternoon. As much as I don’t miss the religion, I miss some of the rituals, and some of the memories of my youth.


I’m exhausted. I’ve been exhausted for days, and maybe the reason it’s coming to a head today is because I finally got my period, or maybe because this is the first day I feel like I can really breathe a little bit — my parents and brother got the first dose of the vaccine today, and it was the last day of work before April break. I feel like a lot of pent up tension is released today, but the result of that is this weird emotional let down — like I’ve been holding myself together with duct tape and safety pins and now that everything is done, that whole scaffolding is just crumbling.

So I will have to catch up on A-to-Z tomorrow and Sunday. That’s fine. I also have chores tomorrow, but I got a hell of a lot down yesterday and today and I am trying extremely hard to give myself the due credit for my progress instead of berating myself for not having completely finished.

And I think I’m going to kick off the first night of Spring Break with some mindless YouTubing, a chat with my mom, some Annie’s Organic Peanut Butter Snack Bars, and our new Rosé All Day candle.

Cheers to you all. Stay safe and sane.


This month, I’m using a random word generator to generate three words around which I will then craft a sketch and a literary vignette. I will chose my five favorites to fully flesh out (as full digital paintings and short-short stories) in May and beyond.

A-to-Z Challenge: Jemidar/Jamboree/Jive

I have no accompanying vignette for this one, at least not at the moment; this one stumped me, honestly. I had generated a couple of sets for J that just yielded nothing. Like, I generated most of these prompt clusters a few weeks ago and most of them weren’t a ton of work. J just tripped me up, though.

When this list generated, I had to look up jemidar, which apparently is “The chief or leader of a band or body of persons; esp., in the native army of India, an officer of a rank corresponding to that of lieutenant in the English army.” That definition was a little too niche for me (and military culture of any strip really ain’t my bag). so I sort of took it to just mean a leader. From there, I sort of conceptualized a group of girls — dancers, maybe — who are sort of the top tier at a local burlesque club. I just started very generally contemplating a particularly wild weekend — after hours at a burlesque expo, or after a show at a particularly raucius festival — and thinking of all manner of trouble they could get up to.

I’m not in love with the idea, but it did get me thinking about how much I miss burlesque — both attending performances and taking classes — and was a nice little reminiscence, which was nice.


Day Ten! My wife is off tomorrow to go get her Covid vax, woo hoo! She’s getting the Janssen vax, which I’ve heard can pack a punch, so I imagine she will be utterly unbearable, ha ha. But she was patient with me post-vaxx, so I will endeavor to be patient with her.

In other nearly as exciting news, I got an art gig offer today! Details still to be worked out, because she’s still doing logistics and budgeting, but a photographer friends wants me to paint a graffiti-style backdrop mural for her photography studio. I am beyond excited. See, these are the moments where I’m like, yes, taking just one more summer off was the right call. Now I have time to do things like this.

Four days until Spring Break.

Stay safe and sane everyone.


This month, I’m using a random word generator to generate three words around which I will then craft a sketch and a literary vignette. I will chose my five favorites to fully flesh out (as full digital paintings and short-short stories) in May and beyond.

A-to-Z Challenge: Hostage/Heaven/Harvest, and Insect/Idea/Imagination

“You’re familiar with the arrangement, I assume?” The voice was all-encompassing, enveloping every sense; she could some how feel it reverberate in her teeth, could feel it rattling her eyes, yet she felt no pain. It simply was. Everywhere.

“Obviously,” she said, keeping her voice low. A young couple passed, leaning into each other, hands deep in their pockets against the cold. She kept herself tight against the cold brick of the building, still unsure if people could see her or not. Somewho, she sensed Death smiling, not unkindly, but not without a sense of wry irony, either.

“It’s like the quintessential ‘strike a deal with Death’ trope,” she continued. “Right? I’m assuming I’m going to be expected to–“

“Reap,” he said. The voice was no less omnipresent, but there was a softness to it, now. “Yes. There may be some fine details I need to fill you in on, but you’ve clearly got the gist. Good. That will save time.”

She followed the young couple down the alley with her eyes, watched as they stopped at the far end for the young man to take out his phone as they huddled together to check something on the screen; a roster of movies playing at the local cinema. She thought about James, then; James, who had driven that road a thousand times, James who always knew his limits, James who had reassured her he was the more sober of the two of them. He probably had been, too; that was the sad thing.

She swallowed.

“How will I know when–“

A heavy hand came down on her shoulder. She gasped, instinctively reaching for it, and touched only her own flesh.

“You have eyes, don’t you?”

She blinked.

“Counters,” she sighed, watching the numbers above the young couple ticking down, but still a long ways off, thankfully. “God, how abhorrently cliched.”

Death shrugged. “It’s not on us to be creative. We only need to be efficient.”


“Fifteen years of studying genetics, chemistry, engineering,” Tennyson rattled off, pinching the bridge of his nose, “and this is how you choose to spend your talents.”

Avriel raked his fingers fondly through the setae along the creature’s unnatural large thorax, like an equestrian stroking a favored steed. The creatures wing flitted, stirring the air and whipping the long coats against the young mens’ legs.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said airily. Tennyson glared at him.

Dragon-powered,” he hissed. “Dragon. Which, granted, I thought was utterly insane, but this, against all odds, is somehow even worse. This is not what they are going to be expecting. Were you intending this as a joke? Because I know my father, and he is not going to think it’s funny.”

“Your father,” Avriel said calmly, bundling together thick cables and anchoring them to a set of carabiners, :is interested in novelty. ‘A whole new way to fly,’ he said. Balloons, dirigibles, gliders; done, dull, dreary. So I made a suggestion.”

“It may have been… impertinent,” he admited. Tennyson huffed an exasperated laugh. Avriel held up an admonishing finger.

“I spoke arrogantly,” he said. “I admit that. Got swept up in the challenge, and really, who could blame me? What would be more novel, more exciting, than dragon-lead flight?”

“It turns out,” Avriel sighed, giving the carabiners a final tug as he attatched them firmly to the gondola and gingerly tugging off his gloves, “dragons are not the easiest creatures to tame.”

The leather gloves came off agonizingly slow, Avriel mouth set in a stoic line as he slowly flexed his hands. The skin red and raw, unnatural shiny. Tennyson lurched forward instinctively, one hand jumping to his mouth.

“For the love of God, Avriel,” Tennyson breathed. His voice was soft. “What were you thinking?”

“I wasn’t,” he admitted. “I just…so wanted to impress your father.”

Tennyson smiled, though there was little humor in it.

“But dragonflies,” Avriel continued, eyes glinting. “I could work with.”

“But this,” Tennyson gestured to the monstrous creature, tethered to the rafters of the workshop. “This is…”

“A whole new way to fly,” Avriel said simply. He smiled, gesturing to the gondola, and the lush cushions lining the spacious basket.

“Care to test it out?”


Day… Nine? Oh my God, Jess, it’s just counting. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I…. yeah, nine, okay. Ugh.

I am actually very happy with both of these concepts and both vignettes — the sketches themselves (as the Insta caption says) is edging more and more towards the “sketchy” side as the month goes on, and my instinct is both to rebel against it (“Come on, you can draw better than that!”) and to lean into it (“Why waste time with unnecessary details when you are going to do a whole-ass redraw of everything next month?”)

I wrote some notes to myself on the drawings, rather than try to visually convey some details that wouldn’t really be possible to convey in a pencil sketch, i.e., partial transperency, luminescence, etc. — things that will only really come to life once I start digitally painting it, so again, why waste time? Conceptualize it, make note or it, move on.

In other news, I have now generated words up through “S,” so now all I have to do is try to keep up with the sketches.

Hope your challenges are all going well! I went around and visited a couple of other A-to-Zers during downtime at work, and hope to do the same thing thing this week, between consults.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.


Nine days in, and I’ve only now thought of adding the explanation for what, exactly, I’m doing as a footnote instead of shoehorning it into the entry. Sigh.

This month, I’m using a random word generator to generate three words around which I will then crafta sketch and a literary vignette. I will chose my five favorites to fully flesh out (as full digital paintings and short-short stories) in May and beyond.

A-to-Z Challenge: Generate/Grenade/Gun

I didn’t write a vignette for this one yet, nor is my brain cooperating to write one now (I’m halfway through my second glass of wine, and it was a day that warranted a two-glass-of-wine night, so there you go), but some of the inspiration that words lent was something along the lines of: someone being shot, and the ramifications thereof. Each bullet generates a series of distinct possibilities even before the bullet emerges from the victim’s body — there’s a world where they die, a world where they suffer permanent injury, a world where the bullet narrowly misses a major organ, a world where it barely grazes their arm — and it generates paths and possibilities for their assailant, as well. Will they be haunted for the rest of their life, will they be vindicated, will they repent and seek forgiveness, will they walk away scott free, will they spend the rest of their life behind bars, etc.

I liked that I conceived of this is a slightly more abstract way; I made a few short notes to myself, but I would like to see the moment from two perspectives, the silhouette of the victim getting hit with the bullet, and the bullet itself, barreling through, generating a galaxy of possibility in it’s wake.

Again, to refresh: This month I am generating three words a day using a random word generator, and creating a rough sketch and short prose vignette based off of the words. My five favorite will be turned into fully-fleshed out digital paintings and short stories in May (and likely beyond).


Anyway, Day Seven, woo! One whole week of A-to-Z. In the interim, I’ve been slowly working — off and on — on a digital piece, and I’ve been applying to some zines as interesting ones are popping up via Twitter. Most of my energy has been going towards work– as in, my day job — trying to keep my head above water with regards to chores (failing that pretty hard-core right now) and making some tentative plans with people now that my sister, brother, mom, dad, and wife are all or will all be vaxxed by next Friday! I am beside myself ecstatic. We still have to be careful, because we all have young kids who can’t get vaxxed yet, but as long as no one is taking the kids gallavanting all over town and all the adults are vaxxed and continue to observe safety measures (masks, distance) in crowds, it will be nice to get Bear some socialization again. He is sorely lacking for it, and his behaviors have been skyrocketing again.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. Tomorrow is Friday, and I am thrilled. One more week until Spring Break (which will be spent mostly at home with my newly vaxxed wife (ahhh!!), but I may take a day to induleg myself at my parents house so my mom, brother and I can catch up on the frankly embarrassing backlog of Hunt-a-Killer boxes).

Cheers. Stay safe and sane, all.

A-to-Z Challenge: Day/Dismissal/Direct

Today was a poor mental health day for me; I didn’t sleep much, and everything seemed overwhelming and oppressive. I managed to do a very, very rough sketch, but I didn’t write a vignette to go along with it. However, the prompts — day, dismissal, direct — have very strong sense memories for me, and the scene I sketched resonates with me quite a bit.

When I was in high school, my school building was, for all intents and purposes, on a riverbank. We were not directly on the banks of the river, I guess, but when the river flooded — which was not uncommon in the spring — our school would have to close, because the parking lot would become unusable, many of the roads in and out would become dangerous to navigate, and some of the basement-level classrooms would flood. This would mean, mid-day sometimes, they’d have to call the day and send us home.

This was in the mid-90s, pre-cell phones, and our school had two office phones and one pay phone off the social studies hallway. The lines, as you can imagine, for a school of about a thousand students, were unbearable. So, for those of us who lived within walking distance, walking was often the less frustrating option.

My best friend and I would usually leave together, heading towards my house; now, while the girl in this sketch is wearing a uniform, that’s sort of a conflation of the experiences of my high school and middle school experiences. My high school had a massive strict dress code, but my middle school had a proper uniform. Given how badly the surrounding streets would flood, we would often be wading in Catholic school khakis and buttons downs through knee-deep water, squelching most of the way through the city, along the flooded park, back to slightly drier land and busier streets. The rule was, because our folks hated us walking home through that much and mess, that if we were to do it, we were to take the most direct route to the house, which was about a twenty, twenty-five minute walk.

So of course we routinely stopped at a bodega to grab snacks and pet their cats.

The bodega I remember the most was almost claustrophobically small. There were bins of tostones and bundles of sugarcane on the counter, shelves of Goya treats and soft drinks in the cooler by the door. The huge, tortoiseshell cat would lay on the understocked shelves, watching you out of his one good eye.

We’d stop on the stoop to unwrap gold foil packs of Maria cookies and pop open cans of tamarind soda and guanabana juice. By the time we got back on my house, our feet would be rubbed raw, the flood water staining our pants stiff.

Flood days are among my fondest memories from high school.

Day Four done! Onwards and upwards to Day Five. I think I have up through “K” planned, but this weekend I’ll have to buckle down and load up the random word generator again.

It’s getting later and I have felt exhausted all day. Stay safe and sane, guys.