Week by numbers.

When you think a week is going to going one way, and then it goes another way entirely…

  • 175, pages edited.  I will definitely finish up the ‘hand written’ draft of Queen 3 this weekend, or early next week at the latest.  I’m think of giving myself a week off to give some attention to marketing the first book, before I dive into actually incorporating all the notes.  It’s going to be a relatively long process.
  • 1, new episode of What’s Cooking UAE I shot last night — lots of fun.  Haggis was involved.
  • 1, trip to Abu Dhabi this week, including a catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in awhile and reviewing 3 new restaurants.
  • 2, (paid) freelance writing assignments I’m up for.  Maybe writing for a living is actually possible!
  • 0, units of alcohol I would like to consume this weekend.  It’s been a heavy couple of weeks.
  • 2, pieces of Halloween candy I bought from the store today.  Sometimes being an expat comes out in strange ways.
  • 0, new reviews for The Queen.

    Hope you have a great weekend!


Week by numbers.

Here and there and everywhere this week.

  • 1, almost last minute trip to Hong Kong trip (another ‘influencer’ fell through and there was a hot second when I was being considered).
  • 122, pages edited of The Queen of England 3.  These are edited by hand, and will then be typed in.  Yikes, there’s a lot of work ahead of me.
  • 1, step class completed (per week). Yikes, there’s a lot of work ahead of me.
  • 1, last minute invite to a Bollinger event I thought about turning down.  You’re probably burned out (or too serious about counting calories) when you struggle to get excited about drinking free champagne. (Spoiler alert, I went anyway).
  • 1, excellent review of The Queen posted on the Silver Petticoat Review.
  • 1, average/not so great review on Goodreads of The Queen (yes, I was waiting for this).
  • 0, new reviews on Amazon.
My feels // current state of being.


An ode to AIM.

This bit of news almost slipped through the cracks of my newsfeed, but I thought I owed a few words to the platform, before it is cancelled forever in December.  In college, AIM was the first platform I communicated with to my then boyfriend, now husband.  It’s how we stayed in touch (for free) when I moved to Australia for a few months after we started dating.  It’s how I virtually met a group of amazing fan fiction authors that I’m still in touch with today (although we use Discord).  We would spend hours in a private chat rooms, hatching out plots and developing stories — getting me through a particularly terrible employment situation on more than one occasion.  It’s the only platform I have to remember a friend who took his life a few years previously, and one of the last ways we ever were in contact.  In fact, after I heard of his suicide, I thought ‘What if I had logged in more?  What if I could’ve been there for him?’  As an expat, MSN Messenger and AIM were critical ways to keep in touch with friends back home in our early years of living overseas.

I only have a few conversations from AIM saved (mostly about story ideas or funny in the moment chats), but from my first experiences online to roughly 2010 or so, it was the program I always made sure was downloaded onto whatever computer I happened to be on.  I imagine I started logging in less once Facebook messenger was introduced to the point that as of yesterday I couldn’t remember the last conversation I had on AIM.  And yet, part of me longs for the silly icons, noises, and away messages — a simpler time in my life and the world.

I logged in for the first time in many years yesterday, surprised the same password worked for my handle ‘cbrandtwright’ (one of my later names… I believe the first was CSailorV17 in 1995 or so).  There were actually a few people logged in, but I didn’t hit them up for a chat (mostly because they live on the other side of the world, and secondly, because I didn’t believe they were actually logged on to receive my message).  Instead, I went through my list of buddies… Names from versions of myself that no longer exist — former bosses and co-workers, early supporters of me as an author, and, the oldest one, from a high school friend with a name involving an inside joke that I helped come up with.  Literally, a name from my life in 1995.  One that we made up while sitting in her basement, typing away at an old desktop.  Courtney at 37 looks back at Courtney at 15 and shakes her head.

As I looked at this list, I thought of the hours of conversations.  Sometimes important.  Sometimes just checking in.  Sharing links or pictures.  Learning how to flirt.  Logging in to see a name that would make you smile.  Checking an away message to see if there was any hidden meaning.

The technology made it into my first four books.  Before text messages, before all the ways we can talk to each other now, AIM was the largest platform.  Part of me wants to ‘modernize’ my novels, and part of me wants them to live on as a testament to outdated technology.

So, here’s to AIM.  While for the most part, I think technology moves forward and modernizes and we all move on without marking time, for this moment, here’s to my formative years and the countless conversations that made me, me.

On using one’s voice in social media.

This is a subject that has actually been on my mind for a few months, made more relevant by recent tragic events around the world, but especially in conjunction with my home country.  So, I’m American.  It is not a particularly lovely or good time to be American.  As an expat, I’ve already explored this topic a bit.  I feel helpless, frustrated, stressed, and anxious and pretty much every day it gets worse and not better.  For better or worse, I check Twitter twice a day.  In today’s world, 140 characters is about all I can take.

Obviously, as a social media platform, anyone can write whatever they see fit.  Celebrities, authors, your best friend, your best friend’s mom, etc.  Like any form of social media, it’s a place to quickly disseminate an opinion.  For those who have more people following them, an idea is expressed to a larger group.

Where am I going with this?  There are a few authors I follow, many of whom have a much (much!) larger platform than I do.  And in recent events (and past events) they’ve remained utterly quiet.  And I don’t know why, but this completely disappoints me.  For the most part, the authors I follow are quite vocal and unrelenting in their support of social causes.  They use their network to speak about important issues (just as I do).  The same goes for many celebrities I follow, many whom I have gained respect for.  While there is no law or best practice, I’d like to think that if I had a larger platform I would use my voice to champion others who don’t have a voice.  To issues that mattered to me.  But for those who choose to remain silent and acknowledge nothing?  I have a hard time understanding why.

The worst part?  I’m a huge hypocrite.  If you look at my A to Za’atar accounts, you won’t fine much, if anything political.  I justify this by telling myself it’s because people follow me for food/culinary opinions and do not particularly want to be reminded that the current American leadership makes me sick, frustrated, and angry on a daily basis.  I rarely, if ever, post my feelings on Facebook, mostly because as part of my self care, I don’t want to be reminded of all the terrible things that are taking place.  It’s as if I can easily compartmentalize where I want my thoughts to go.  Of course, there are certain things I can’t be quiet about and choose to share my opinions across literally any platform I have access to.

What am I getting at?  I wish there was a way to be more honest to myself and  my beliefs while maintaining a healthier mental state.

Doge gif makes us all feel better.

How involved are you on social media?  How often do you want to see the opinions of others?  In your opinion, what is the best way to express opinions in these difficult times?