Personal Life

Being the Professor I Needed

As an adjunct professor, I have a few guidelines for myself that aren’t in any university handbook. They include

  1. Never be the horror story professor students remember for the rest of their lives.
  2. Be the professor young me needed as an undergrad (even if I didn’t know it).
  3. Institutional/systematic change begins in the classroom.

The first one is probably slightly selfish on my part as I like being well-liked, but number one trickles down to the next two. While I know not every student is going to like my class or me, the goal is to teach them as best I can, support their learning, and have them leave my classroom knowing more or feeling better than when they went in. Will students sleep through my class or play on their phones the entire time? Absolutely. But in regards to my third guideline, I’m no longer calling those students out, and I’m doing my best to continually learn, grow, and create a less ableist classroom for my students.

I’m neurodivergent, but I’m [generally] the kind of neurodivergent teachers like. I hyperfocus, I’m type A with my classwork, I ask questions and participate if I’m comfortable, and I have been the kid who is “a pleasure to have in class.” My partner is also neurodivergent and spent his entire school career with unmedicated ADHD. No matter how hard he tried, he struggled to pay attention or take notes, he fell asleep in class (due to struggling to sleep), and his ability to memorize things despite trying to hours was abysmal. He couldn’t help it. I watched him struggle, and I watched professors get frustrated with him or treat him like a terrible student who didn’t want to be there, a student unworthy of college. This was hammered home by coming from poverty, being Latinx, and not fitting traditional masculine standards for someone AMAB. One of my favorite teachers (now a friend and mentor) helped him a lot in her class, and I never forgot how much he appreciated her help and compassion. She could see he was trying when others wrote him off.

When I graduated with my MFA and started adjunct teaching, I decided I wanted to be a professor like my friend/mentor. I wanted to be the professor students looked forward to like I did her classes. The problem is, it’s easy to fall into hard-ass mode. Students are human. They’re obnoxious, they push your buttons, they don’t pay attention, and it was easy to see them as just trying to make my life difficult by not doing what they’re supposed to do. I took it personally when they didn’t do their work, especially when I knew they were fully capable of doing the work and turning it in. It was an incredibly stupid way to look at it, and I didn’t see it until I was sitting at an adjunct meeting at the one university I worked at and heard the older adjuncts talk about their students. I hated how badly they talked about their students, how they automatically assumed they were all trying to pull a fast one on them, but especially how no one seemed to care about the ones who were trying.

There are two things that changed my attitude real quick: how they spoke about international/non-native English speaking students and how they spoke about neurodivergent students.

I had a class that was 75% international students, and to this day, they were one of my absolute favorite classes. I stopped knitpicking their grammar flubs. I corrected them, but I didn’t take points off or factor it into their grades. These eighteen year olds had been in the US for like two weeks and were expected to write essays in perfect English. It was an absurd standard, so I didn’t hold them to it. Toward the end of the semester, one of my students mentioned how they were glad they didn’t have to stress so much in my class because other professors were taking points off for every mistake. These bright, wonderful students I bantered with and were proud of were being penalized for not being native English speakers. Then and there, I decided I would never take off points for grammar or spelling. There’s a difference between careless typos and other language-isms if you’re willing to pay attention. Besides, big picture essay issues are far more useful to correct than knitpicky grammar checking.

When we began to suspect my partner had ADHD, I dove into research for how to better support him and myself. We’re a neurodivergent couple, so what works for us doesn’t work for neurotypical people. After doing more research on autism and ADHD, I started to notice that a lot of what other professors complained about like not paying attention, doodling, having earbuds in, etc. are often neurodivergent coping mechanisms. Often ND people are paying attention, but they aren’t performing listening or focus in a way that NT people recognize. When I was a college student, I spent a lot of my time with my head down, but because I was taking copious notes, my professors didn’t criticize me for it. My doodling partner got in trouble. While I couldn’t easily listen to background noise back when I was in school, nowadays, I probably would have headphones in. I stopped bothering students when I thought they weren’t paying attention or they appeared to be multitasking. At this point, I say to myself they are adults; if they are just f-ing around instead of doing something to help focus, that’s on them.

The pandemic and moving online made me reevaluate if the policies in my classes were ableist or cruel or absurd. As an undergrad, I dragged my half-dead corpse to class when I was ill because we were docked points if we were absent too much and professors wouldn’t provide notes if you missed class. In my junior or senior year, my grandma got brain cancer and died not long before finals. I was spending all my free time at the hospital and not missing class because I was afraid my professors would think I was making stuff up (the joke was that grandmothers died a lot during 8 AM classes). Thinking back on it, I hate that I had to worry my professors thought I was a liar and not that I was young adult going through shit I never asked for or could have foreseen. I didn’t want students to go through that in my classes. I’ve made it my policy that you can basically miss as much class as you need as long as you stay active in regards to doing your work (which feels like the basic consequence of your actions). If a student asks for an extension, I give it. If a student who was otherwise active in class disappears, I reach out to see if they’re okay. The demographic of students in college classes is changing. It isn’t mostly upper middle class white kids with no job apart from school. A lot of my students are taking care of their siblings, their children, their disabled relatives, or their working full-time jobs (or the equivalent of). On top of that, some of my students have chronic illnesses. I have my own inflammatory issues where I have flare ups, and I know how to feels to have anxiety that makes leaving the house feel impossible. My policy has become put your health and well-being first, and we’ll figure it out if you need to catch up.

The worst thing is that I feel like what I’m doing is the bare minimum. There are things I know I could do that would make my classes more accessible, but I haven’t had the time or spoons to do it yet (like recording all my classes again and posting them on Youtube or somewhere else). I can’t make universities more accessible on a whole to those who aren’t native English speaking, neurotypical, or those unaffected by illness. Academia is notoriously ableist, and while some universities are trying to be less racist, they are sorely behind in making academia accessible as the student body changes. My hope is that if enough of us start to enact policies that support our students, we will bring about structural change within academia that helps not only the students but professors who need those same accommodations but aren’t comfortable to ask.

the reanimator's soul · Writing

A Preview of The Reanimator’s Soul #1

I thought this week I would show a little preview of The Reanimator’s Soul to whet your appetite, even though we’re still quite a few months away from release (October 24th). As a reminder, The Reanimator’s Soul is the sequel to The Reanimator’s Heart. If it seems interesting to you, you can preorder The Reanimator’s Soul or you can buy book one here. (Also, please pardon any typos as it hasn’t been proofread yet)

Chapter One

Omnia Mors Aequat

Few things pleased Felipe more than seeing Oliver getting along with his family. Since Teresa came home for the summer two weeks earlier, they had spent a lot of time together. At first, Teresa seemed confused to see Oliver at Felipe’s side every time they came to visit. She was accustomed to her mothers being a couple, but her papa had never brought someone home to meet her. He told himself that it would just take time for her to get used to it. Where Teresa seemed perplexed, Oliver was so anxious about saying the wrong thing or making things awkward between Felipe and his daughter that he spent much of their time together in silence. During the first few days, Felipe feared the summer would be filled with his two favorite people dancing around each other. It wasn’t until they went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Felipe caught Teresa and Oliver hovering over a display case discussing which organs went in each canopic jar that he knew they would be all right. Right now though, Oliver looked like he regretted ever agreeing to this visit.

Raising the practice foil again, Oliver grimaced beneath his fencing mask and braced for impact as Teresa came at him. He deflected the first blow with a grunt only to get poked in the chest when she easily twisted away and hit him on his unprotected side. Felipe smiled to himself. He had trained her well. From the time she could walk, he had taught her all he knew about fighting. She had inherited generations of techniques that had been passed down the Galvan line along with those he had learned during his years at Colonel Monstery’s dueling academy. Knowing how to protect herself was a useful skill for a young woman growing up in the city, even if she didn’t plan on becoming an investigator like him. More often than not, the most dangerous monsters wore human faces.

Unlike Louisa or Oliver, she took to it like a duck. “Teresa, go even slower. He’s still a beginner, and, Oliver, loosen your stance a little and don’t be afraid to use force against her. You’re six inches taller and quite a bit heavier than her. Use that to your advantage,” Felipe called from the sidelines.

“But she’s—”

Before Oliver could finish the sentence, Teresa feinted to the side and kicked the foil’s guard, sending the sword flying with a clang. It was a cheap and unsportsmanlike trick, but it got the point across. Oliver stared at his empty hand with a curious frown as Teresa laughed and went to fetch his sword. She was enjoying herself far too much.

“Let’s take a short break.”

“Thank god. My arms are starting to shake,” Oliver said as he pulled off his mask and wiped his face against his shoulder.

Despite Oliver being sweaty and red-cheeked, Felipe found himself very tempted to kiss the damp, inky curls clinging to his forehead. Oliver looked quite dashing in his fencing whites with the color rising in his usually pale cheeks, but what Felipe truly appreciated was that no matter how many times Teresa outfenced him or Felipe corrected him, he just took the criticism and kept trying. A grown man not throwing a tantrum after being repeatedly bested by a nineteen year old was a good sign.

When Teresa offered Oliver his sword, he took it with a weary smile. “You are an impressive fighter. You could be the next Jaguarina with skills like those.”

“If only the name hadn’t been taken when I started doing competitions.” Pulling off her helmet, Teresa winced as her thick, brown hair caught on the inside. “I think it suits me much better.”

“Don’t compliment her too much, Oliver, or she won’t be able to get her helmet back on,” Felipe said with a laugh.

Her hazel eyes brightened with mischief as she gave Oliver a theatrical bow and returned to her place. Felipe knew he should correct her for that cheap shot she used on Oliver to prove her point, but he couldn’t help but smile to himself. Even though she was nearly as tall as he was now, seeing his little girl fight still filled him with pride. At her age, he had just joined the Paranormal Society and was already throwing himself headlong into danger. She, at least, got the opportunity to live a peaceful life with parents who loved her and let her become the person she wanted to be without too much interference. Any fighting she did now was because she wanted to and chose to.

“Should we try parrying again?” Teresa asked. “I promise I won’t play dirty this time if you promise not to go easy on me.”

“For god sakes, Teresa, let the poor man catch his breath!” Louisa called from the backdoor as she carried out a tray laden with food and cutlery. She let Oliver take it from her and set it on the garden table as she shook her head at Felipe and Teresa. “I leave for an hour, and you two turn the yard into a paste.”

“Piste,” the other Galvans answered in unison.

“Whatever. The dogs need to go out, so there will be no fighting until they’re done. Come and sit. Agatha made lemonade and bienenstich.” Turning back to Oliver, she said, “Do you see how he’s turned our daughter into a common street brawler?”

“Mama, I might be a street brawler, but I am anything but common.”

Felipe bit back a laugh at the long-suffering look that crossed Louisa’s features. As she opened her mouth to speak, Agatha swept into the yard with Kuchen and Pastel in tow. Pastel darted off to yap at a squirrel while Kuchen sidled over to Oliver and eyed the cake. Planting a kiss on Teresa’s temple, Agatha pulled her close even as their daughter wrinkled her nose but leaned into her Ma Ma’s affection.

“Did my little Liebling tell you about how she nearly got kicked out of grammar school for teaching the other girls to fistfight?”

Teresa rolled her eyes. “No, Ma Ma, we’ve been too busy trying to teach Dr. Barlow the basics of sparring.”

“I would love to hear about it later,” Oliver replied as he cut each of them a piece of the creamy layer cake. “You and your papa have been very patient teachers. I didn’t realize I wasn’t your first pupil.”

“Oh, yes, she helped pay her exhibition fees by teaching the younger girls at her fencing club. We’re quite proud of how far she’s come, but Felipe can’t claim all the credit for her talent. Two of my brothers were quite accomplished fencers in their younger days. I never took to it, but it must have skipped a generation.”

Taking his plate, Felipe settled beside Oliver on the hip-high wall surrounding the patio while the ladies took the chairs at the ironwork table. A bee bumped against his hand as if drawn to the honeyed almonds on the cake. Between refreshing bites of cream, Felipe watched the others. Sitting between her mothers, the resemblance was obvious. Teresa had Agatha’s hazel eyes, though hers were more to the brown, and Louisa’s wide mouth and dark hair, but the rest of her ended up somewhere in between. Her skin was slightly browner than Felipe’s, and the combination of Louisa’s compact muscle and Agatha’s added height gave her long, strong limbs and a hearty disposition. Even if they shared no blood, her coloring and personality ended up close enough to Felipe’s that no one noticed she looked nothing like him. As Agatha said, people saw what they wanted to see.

How had nineteen years gone so quickly? He could still remember carrying her on his shoulders during parades and trips to the shore. The squeal of her voice when she won her first competition. How close yet so far away those days seemed. At the gentle pressure of Oliver’s hand on his arm, Felipe gave him a tight smile and tried not to think of the hundreds of little regrets he had in regards to his daughter. The sheer volume of things he had missed due to work was shameful, but no more. He had a second chance to do things right, and he would be there for her while she was home no matter what.

“So, Oliver, how are you settling back in at work?” Louisa asked, topping off their drinks.

“Well, actually.” Moving his plate to let Kuchen sit in his lap, Oliver held the dog close. “It feels like I never left, and now that I’m off light duty, things finally feel back to normal.”

“And you, Felipe? How is partial retirement going?”

Flashing him a sharp smile over the back of her chair, Teresa added, “Yes, Papa, do tell. How does it feel to finally stay put?”

“It’s been an adjustment but a good one. As I’ve said, I’m hoping we can spend lots of time together while you’re home. It should be easier now.”

Neither Felipe nor Oliver brought up the adjustments they were dealing with in the lab, though Felipe felt Oliver’s eyes on him. That month of light duty where they were stuck in the lab together all day had been rough. While Felipe was accustomed to handing off corpses to Oliver for a closer examination or stumbling upon them in the heat of an investigation, he was not accustomed to how they looked and smelled up close. Or how long that smell lingered on everything in warmer weather. He had vomited during a particularly messy case while Oliver bit back a barely suppressed withering look. For a man who could smell traces of magic like a bloodhound, he certainly didn’t seem fazed by decomposition. He made more of a fuss about the chemicals he used to clean the lab than anything else as they gave him a headache. The past few weeks where Oliver had free reign in the lab and Felipe could go to the archives to focus on the cold cases he was slowly picking apart and researching had been nice, but he was itching to go out on an investigation.

“Well, I, for one, am very glad you’re actually done galivanting all over the country. I was half-convinced that the moment Oliver fully recovered, you would be on the first train out of the city,” Louisa said pointedly between bites of cake.

Felipe stared into his drink. He wasn’t dying to leave New York because he had died and been reanimated. And he still hadn’t told his family about what happened that January or how he was now tethered to Oliver, so there was no way for him to leave the Paranormal Society, let alone the city, unless he took Oliver with him. Felipe swallowed against the knot in his throat. They were all together; now would be the perfect time to tell them everything. With four pairs of expectant eyes upon him, his resolve faltered.

“What can I say, Oliver has been a good influence,” Felipe replied blithely with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

Teresa’s gaze shifted to Oliver, her brows furrowing and a look passing across her features so fast that Felipe wasn’t sure if he had imagined it as she turned back to the table.

“What do you all think of going to see The Circus Girl? I know it’s not the kind of thing we would usually go to, but it sounds like good fun and the staging is supposed to be superb.”

“Sure,” Felipe replied without thinking.

Oliver’s grey eyes bore him as he hissed, “But what if we have a case come up?”

At Oliver’s pointed, wide-eyed look, Felipe silently sighed and nodded. “Yes, that could be a problem. Let me know when the performances are, Agatha. I’m sure we can figure out a time that works.”

“And if you do, can we go to Siegel-Cooper and pick out new outfits?” Teresa added brightly. “I have so missed our shopping trips, Papa.”

Felipe smiled and tried to ignore the look of horror on Oliver’s face warring with the happiness of his daughter. They would discuss it later. Poking at what remained of his cake, Felipe found he no longer had an appetite.


Once the conversation moved on to Agatha and Louisa’s latest gallery finds, the knot in Felipe’s chest loosened. Before long, the dessert, drinks, and dogs had been brought into the house and Felipe turned his attention back to Oliver. He was tempted to have him work on defensive moves with Teresa again, but Colonel Monstery had always suggested short practice sessions to avoid diminishing returns. On a full stomach, they would probably be even worse. Letting his focus fall to the tether lodged around his heart, he felt for Oliver at the other end. His heart pumped as steadily as his own, but he could feel the undercurrent of fatigue and anxiety beneath it. The length of the visit was probably wearing on him along with more potential trips out, but Felipe didn’t want to leave yet. There was still so much time to make up for. Teresa pulled her hair back and shot Felipe a questioning look that bordered on mischievous. One last match, then.

“How about we give Oliver a demonstration of how uncommon street bawlers fight?”

“Limitations?” Teresa asked with a knowing smile.

“The usual: no purposeful hits to the face and no taking to furs. Street brawler rules apply. Winner at first blood or forfeit.”

An expression between confusion and anxiety crossed Oliver’s face as he looked between the two Galvans. “Do you need my helmet and jacket?”

“Just the helmet. Don’t worry, we used to do this all the time.”

He tossed Teresa one of the practice daggers from his bag and tucked the other in his waistband as he took his position on the makeshift piste. Slipping the mask on, Felipe’s heart sped at the comforting adrenaline of a fight. He relished the way the controlled chaos of sparring allowed his mind to fade into the background until he was nothing more than limbs and motion. As he and Teresa saluted each other and fell into position, he hoped Oliver could feel his excitement across the tether.

For a long moment, they merely circled each other, testing each other’s swords to see who would make the first move. The impatience of youth won out as Teresa struck. She was fast, hitting him with half a dozen strikes in rapid succession, but he had decades of experience. The moment he struck low, her stance changed, and in place of the decorated fencer was his protégé. The practice foils weren’t his or her preferred weapons; they lacked the stability of the sabers they typically used, but they would do. A small smile crossed Felipe’s lips at the realization she was slowly walking him back toward the high wall surrounding the yard.

When she pressed her advantage, he swiveled out of the way and struck until she was the one being backed into the wall. Her brown eyes narrowed behind her mask as their swords clashed with as much strength behind them as she could manage. Her feet slipped in the grass until her left boot struck brick, but Felipe realized her move a second before she did. When her right foot came up to strike him, he caught it and pulled her forward. She tumbled to the ground with a huffed breath. By the time he backed out of reach, she was on her feet with the dagger in her free hand.

Teresa circled him calmly, though he could see her chest rising and falling harder than it had before. She lazily spun the dagger in her hand as if testing its weight. He hadn’t stipulated they couldn’t throw the daggers, but for Oliver’s sake, he hoped she wouldn’t. The moment he reached for his, she charged. Metal clanged as he threw up his arm to parry both her blades in one sweep. When they collided again, they were so close, he could see her brows furrowed and her teeth gritted beneath the mask. Meeting his gaze, a small smile crossed her lips. Before he could move, her hand closed over both swords and she slammed her hilt into his. It jolted out of his grasp as she swung both blades back with her full weight. She tumbled and rolled to her feet, tossing Felipe’s foil aside as she popped up with both her blades at the ready.

This time when she came at him, he was ready. He caught her sword with his dagger and twisted, pressing with all his strength until he was close enough to grab her. With his free hand, he pulled her back flat to him. She struggled in his grip, pushing his dagger back, despite the close quarters. Letting out a frustrated grunt, she drove her elbow straight into his side.

A crack reverberated inside him followed by a flood of pain. Releasing her with a hissed breath, Felipe schooled his features and desperately tried to keep his voice steady at the sudden stabbing with each breath. “I forfeit. The jaguar wins.”

“It’s hardly fair. You always take it easy on me,” she said while looking pleased with herself, “but I will accept your forfeit.”

A wave of concern flickered across the tether, and when Felipe stiffly turned, he found Oliver’s gaze flickering over him as if looking for the source of his pain. When he opened his mouth to ask, Felipe shook his head.

“I think that’s enough sparring for one day. I’m going to get cleaned up.”

Before Oliver could stop him, Felipe took the steps as fast as he dared with what little adrenaline he had left from the fight. Shutting the bathroom door behind him, Felipe let out a pained breath and unbuttoned his waistcoat and shirt. The beginnings of a livid bruise bloomed across his ribs where Teresa struck him. He couldn’t blame her for hurting him. She had never had to be careful with him before. He was her indestructible Papa who healed immediately even if she drew first blood. Was. The backs of Felipe’s eyes burned as he perched on the edge of the tub and struggled to kick off his trousers without upsetting his rib. It should have started healing by now. In the past, a cracked or broken rib would have been a temporary annoyance he would have shaken off completely within a quarter of an hour. Now, he would be lucky if it was mostly healed by the end of the day, and it would take even longer if he didn’t eat an egregious amount of meat when he returned to the Paranormal Society.

Felipe put his head in his hands and let his thoughts be drowned beneath the water streaming into the tub. He was good at pretending he was all right; he had done it his whole life. But he wasn’t all right. He should have been dead—he was dead—and in coming back to life, he had gained and lost more than he could have imagined.

One thing was certain, the indestructible Felipe Galvan was dead and gone. And that hurt far more than a broken rib.

If you enjoyed this preview of The Reanimator’s Soul, you can preorder it at all major retailers. A paperback will be available closer to the release date, which is October 24th, 2023.


Now on Tiktok

This is less of a useful post and more of an announcement post. I have decided to actually use my Tiktok account and promote some of my author/writing stuff on it. You can find me at @authorkarajorgensen on Tiktok or you can click this link.

It won’t exclusively be a place to post promo as no one likes that, but I think it’ll be a useful place to post some musings, some silliness, craft projects that appear better in video than photos, and of course, writing updates. Basically, it’s a lot like Instagram, but the videos can be longer, which makes vlogging about writing so much easier. That and I discovered Capcut, which is an editing app where you can fix your videos up and make them tidier before uploading them to Tiktok. I may have also bought a cheap tripod because having an intermittent hand tremor does not making filming videos easy.

Ultimately, I have been enjoying making videos, like more than I anticipated. I’m also trying to get more comfortable with talking on camera as I am still not accustomed to seeing my face not covered in eczema. It’s weird and a hang-up of mine, but this is helping to sort of break that.

I’m certainly not going to be joining in on any dancing videos or stupid challenges as the kids do, but if you like queer stuff, historical stuff, weird stuff, or books, my account may be of interest to you.

Stay tuned because next week on the blog, I will be posting a longer excerpt from The Reanimator’s Soul. See you all next time!

Monthly Review

April 2023 Wrap-Up Post

Looking back at my goals for April, I feel like I was a tad unrealistic considering this is one of my busiest grading months. While I hit quite a few of these goals, others I totally fell short, but I will not feel bad about readjusting or rerouting my energy once chaos hit. Let’s take a look at what I thought would happen when I made my goals back in March before checking out what actually happened in April.

  • Writing (we’re feeling ambitious this month)
    • 23,000 words is the goal (770 words a day)
    • Because of this goal, everything else is sort of scant, which I’m fine with since this is also a heavy grading month
  • Read 8 books
  • Refill the well each week (aka do art, crafting, or game)
  • Blog weekly
  • Send a newsletter each month
  • Doctor’s appointment/taxes BOO
  • Start watching Sarra Cannon’s Publish and Thrive updated lessons


My goal was to read 8 books, and I ended up reading 10.

  1. Ironiside (#3) by Holly Black- 4 stars, I thought this was a good wrap-up to the series. While this isn’t my favorite of her series, I enjoyed Roiben a lot and Cornelius as well.
  2. Rattling Bone (#2) by Jordan L. Hawk- 4 stars, my only hang-up with this book is that I felt like we got so little of the main characters together interacting. It felt plot first, characters second, which I don’t really enjoy as much compared to Hawk’s other books.
  3. The Return of the King (#3) by J. R. R. Tolkien- 4 stars, not going to lie, I got choked up in my car over Sam and Frodo. Sam’s love for Frodo is what kept me reading this series. We need more Samwise Gamgees in the world.
  4. A Thief in the Night (#2) by KJ Charles- 4 stars, this is sort of a concurrent story to another set in the same world, and I always love a semi-reformed thief who falls in with someone who doesn’t take their shit.
  5. The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen (#1) by KJ Charles- 4 stars, if you liked Poldark but wished he was less gross and gay, this one is for you as we have smugglers, family drama, and a seemingly mismatched pair.
  6. A Rose by Any Name (#2.5) by KJ Charles- 4 stars, this is a short story that comes after Thief in the Night where the siblings reunite. I loved how unapologetically sweet it is.
  7. I Hear the Sunspot: Four Seasons by Yuki Fumino- 4 stars, I have lost count of what book this is in the series overall, but I love seeing these two get closer and figure out their relationship and lives. Plus the hard-of-hearing rep is well done.
  8. The Black Pages (#2) by Nnedi Okorafor- 3 stars, this story was pretty damn brutal. It felt like it cut off as soon as we figure out what might be going on, which is the point, but it is also unsatisfying as there won’t be a follow-up.
  9. The Invisible Man & His Soon-to-Be-Wife (#1) by Iwatobineko- 4 stars, this manga has visually impaired rep that is well researched, and I always love seeing disability mixed into fantasy worlds and with monsters and such. The Invisible Man love interest is sweet and dapper as well.
  10. Persephone (#2) by Lev Grossman- 4 stars, this also felt like the start of something larger, but it cuts off in a more satisfying place. I read this mostly to see if I’d like his other books and it was enjoyable, though a bit brutal for my tastes.

Admin/Behind-the-Scenes Stuff

  • Set up all my Q2 goals, kanban board, etc.
  • Did my 2022 taxes and set up quarterly taxes for this year, just in case, because I don’t want to pay the US government any more in penalty fees and interest than I have to
  • Went to the doctor to do my 6 month please refill my meds check (a giant time/money waster)
  • I found out there are copies of The Reanimator’s Heart for sale physically at the Meet Cute Bookshop and The Portal Bookshop, an LGBT bookstore in York, England, which is VERY cool (also at some B&Ns as well)
  • Two of my books were part of an Indie April sale
  • Graded so many papers… so, so many papers
  • Finished setting up the proof copy of the university literary magazine my class was working on, and we approved it
  • Did promo for the university’s literary magazine
  • Started using my Tiktok again and have been posting daily
  • Figured out how to use Capcut for said Tiktoks
  • Made a reverse outline for The Reanimator’s Soul so far
  • Ended up running my dog to the vet in a panic, but he’s okay. He has Lyme’s Disease, so he’s getting antibiotics and supplements and such, which took up a lot of mental real estate this month
  • Worked on my craft projects consistently in order to unwind and stay mentally balanced.

Blogs Posted


You may have noticed that I have forgone the weekly breakdown lately. I tend to do this when my writing has been feast or famine because seeing those tiny word counts certain weeks is disheartening and doesn’t really show all the other stuff I was doing, like giving a metric shit ton of feedback to my students. If only I could count my feedback as part of my monthly word count. By the end of the month, I wrote 11,500 words, which is way below my initial goal, but that goal was very unrealistic. I don’t know how I forgot that April is a horrible month for grading. April and November are when all the longer papers come in, and next year when making my goals, I really need to be mindful that, if I’m teaching freshman, I need to ease up on my word count goals. Either way though, I’m happy with those words, and I know where I’m going from this point on, which means that (hopefully) the next chunk I work on will come a lot smoother. Act I is always the hardest for me to write as it requires so much set up and micromanaging of future threads.

Hopes for May

  • Watch Sarra Cannon’s updated Publish and Thrive classes- at least 2-3 weeks
  • Read 8 books
  • Newsletter monthly/blog weekly
  • Keep messing around with Tiktok
  • Write 20,000-25,000 words for the month
  • Finish grading for the semester
  • Relax or do something fun, something to avoid an end of semester burnout/shutdown

What to Do When You Get Stuck

Getting stuck while writing is the worst. Nothing is more frustrating than those days where you actually want to write, you have time, you have energy, but the ideas or words won’t come no matter how hard you try. So what do you do?


Sometimes… if you think it’s going to help, but truthfully, this advice isn’t that far off. Sometimes you have a mental block. There is an emotion or thought that is clogging the pipes, and until you get rid of it, there will be no way to go forward. If you do need a good cry, embrace it, or if you think that will tank your ability to write afterward, you might consider writing about it in a journal or spending ten minutes to just dump whatever is in your head. Another version of this is that you’re ruminating on something you’re worried about with your story. Whether it’s a plot hole you need to fill or imposter syndrome, freewriting for a few minutes can eliminate that block.


One of the most common things for me when I get stuck is that I screwed up somewhere a few pages back, and somehow, my subconscious knows it but I don’t. Reread your story and see if you can figure out what went wrong. Sometimes it’s someone acting out of character, a missing beat/plot point, emotions that just aren’t ringing true, or an imbalance of action to introspection. Once you edit that bit and recalibrate, the words should start flowing again. Most commonly, this tends to be a character issue. We’ve written ourselves into a corner or in such a way that moving in the direction we want doesn’t make any sense. Using a reverse outline can help you avoid this sort of thing, though it does still happen.


I can already hear my past self hissing at this suggestion, but sometimes it’s because you are fried and need a rest. Yes, I know you’re on deadline. Yes, I know you’re behind. Yes, I know you need to write like that song from Hamilton, but if the words aren’t flowing and you’re just getting more and more stressed, sometimes you need a mental timeout. Therefore, it is time to refill the well. Play some video games, go for a walk, watch a movie or favorite show, do some crafts (my personal favorite/go-to). Do something that recharges you and makes you feel more inspired without draining you.

Work on something else.

This has the biggest caveat because if you have shiny idea syndrome, you will never complete anything, but sometimes you started working on something too early or you have another story that is loudly knocking at your brain, making it difficult to focus on your main project. I had this happen with The Reanimator’s Soul. I had a Valentine’s Day short story that sprung fully formed in my head, so I told myself that I get a week to write that, and then I must go back to my main project. I did it, got it out of my system, and when I went back to my main project, things flowed more smoothly. You may want to give yourself a smaller amount of time to work on the other thing. Once you vent it out, you’ll probably have an easier time. If you worry you’re going to run with it and abandon your first project, then don’t do that.

Hopefully, these ideas will help you get unstuck and be able to work on your project. Above all, remember to be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up for needing to rest or having to go back and rework something.

Personal Life

Prioritizing My Dreams

I have quietly come to the decision that I want to work toward becoming a full-time writer or creative. I’ve been thinking about this for a long-time and have been prioritizing my goals over the past few quarters to reflect this. At first, I wasn’t sure if this was even a tenable goal since my author income was pretty low after I derailed my marketing and such during the great burnout of 2018-2019. After reorienting myself to market my backlist better and publishing The Reanimator’s Heart, I’ve seen my income increase. It’s nowhere near what anyone would consider full-time, but it’s beyond what I ever expected to make this past year.

What I would like to do is incrementally move toward this goal of being a full-time creative, and I am taking that first step. I’m only working at one university in the fall. I won’t rag on my past employer, but I find working at this particular university is more stress than its worth. The class sizes are very large, the parking is miserable, and they have a tendency to cut my class like two days before the semester starts, which means I get left in the lurch and unable to make up that income anyway. By only working at one university, I will have more room to focus on my writing while, typically, dealing with smaller class sizes and a more predictable schedule. This university is better for me as I know and am friends with most of the full-time faculty in my department, the vibe of the students is different, and generally, I leave work feeling good rather than frustrated. This is the school where I teach creative writing classes, so I feel like my skills are valued there.

The hope is that I can write more while only teaching at one school. For my writer friends, this part is obvious, but more writing means I can publish more books, which, hopefully, means an increase in author income. Right now, I have decent momentum going with The Reanimator’s Heart and its sequels. I’d like to continue that, but if I’m bogged down by 3-4 classes, I can’t do that.

I know there are some of you out there who are like, “Kara, are you out of your mind? You are willing to trade guaranteed income for hypothetical income.” Yes, I am, but working in academia is never truly guaranteed income. Sadly, this is something I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. Classes get cancelled last minute, you get ghosted by universities, or suddenly a school decides to swap class times and your commute is now 2 hours longer than it needs to be. This costs me gas money, tolls, and my time. The last one is really what has been bothering me. I waste so much time driving between multiple schools or dawdling between classes where the schedules don’t line up perfectly. And I don’t want to do it anymore.

I’m still keeping an eye on the scant academic job listings, but more and more being an indie author feels like a realistic option. I don’t need to make a million dollars. I just want to make enough to pay my bills and occasionally go out to eat or buy myself something nice. That bar feels doable, though I hate that I need to figure out quarterly taxes. On top of all of this, I’m neurodivergent, and I think working for myself, eventually, would be a good option for me. I’m self-disciplined, driven, and willing to work hard to become a full-time creative in the future. Something I would love to do now that I’m dabbling with art again is make planner stickers. I absolutely love using them, and I love drawing objects. The intersection of two of my passions would be a great thing to explore, and this is why I initially wrote in this post that I’d like to be a full-time creative. A writer who also draws and has a little sticker store would be something I would certainly be interested in pursuing.

For now, I’m definitely still working at the small university as long as they’ll have me, but ultimately, being an author is the star I’m steering toward.


Why My Books Aren’t in KU

Because someone on the internet will willfully misinterpret this, this isn’t bashing authors who use Kindle Unlimited, but with everything, it is a business decision. I’m writing this post because I feel bad for my friends who have gone all in on Amazon and feel like their world has been upended. It especially sucks because having been publishing since 2014, this has happened before.

Full disclosure: once upon a time, I had my books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. I’ve been publishing since 2014, so I think my books were in KU from 2014 to 2018 or 2019 (I honestly cannot remember). There were times I made really good money off KU, like more money than I make now because I paired KU with a Bookbub ad and my profits/exposure exploded.

I still took my books out, and the reason being is that I have been through the KU song and dance before. This rollercoaster of profit and loss is nothing new to authors who have been around a while and why you don’t see many authors have been around a while on Kindle Unlimited. KU had a different payout system for a while, then they changed that, and our royalties tanked, then more people started indie publishing and enrolling in KU, and profits tanked again. Lather, rinse, repeat for different yet very similar reasons.

At some point, I got sick of it. I liked the perk of easily being able to run a sale, but ultimately, it wasn’t worth it. I had friends who told me they wanted to read my books, but they didn’t use a Kindle. Looking at other indie or hybrid authors I looked up to, I noticed most of them had their books at stores besides Amazon. That sort of solidified my decision to go wide with my books and pull them out of Kindle Unlimited. It makes me sad that a lot of the indies I knew back in 2014 have disappeared or don’t talk much about publishing because I think a lot of newer authors could have expected this to happen and been prepared for it.

I’m not going to lie, removing my books from KU was an ordeal, and I think they do that on purpose. My books had been published at different times, so I had to pull them out individually and wait until the next one was about to clock out of its 90 day KU cycle. I’m not going to lie, laziness almost got me there. I was frustrated and ready to just let them rot in KU, but eventually I got my shit together and removed all my books. They still remained on Amazon, but I looked into Draft2Digital, and it seemed easy enough to get my books on there.

To all the authors who were not around back in the day, you’re very lucky not to have to deal with Smashwords’s “meatgrinder,” which also stalled my publication process. Now though, it is so easy to post your work to D2D and use their formatting tools to make your ebook look attractive. I, then, took that file from D2D and uploaded it to Google Play in order to have even more reach. If you’ve never published your books wide before, there are tons of resources online, especially on Youtube that can walk you through the process of uploading your books onto other platforms.

At this point, besides fear of lost royalties, I can’t understand why anyone would stay in Kindle Unlimited. I understand that I am looking at this from someone who has watched KU for a long time and been burned before, but between the shittier payouts, people getting their accounts banned because some asshole put their books on pirating cites, and Amazon bots taking people out for no reason, it seems like a terrible decision to keep your eggs in one basket. For those who hang on hoping to ride out the storm, it may happen. KU is publishing chutes and ladders, but at some point, you may feel like you’re still not making money on KU and that money could be made elsewhere.

What I like about having my books on many platforms is that I get readers from all over the world (especially on Google Play, which seems to reach everywhere but China), I get to have my books in library systems, and readers who don’t use a Kindle, can still access my books. The worst part about going wide is that you do need to revamp your marketing a little bit and actually advertise that you’re wide now. You will probably have a few slow months until people realize your books are there, and there will always be platforms where your book does better than others. Series do really well on Google Play, but outside of Amazon, most of my books sell best on Apple Books.

I have to admit that I roll my eyes when people act like having their books on Kindle Unlimited is some moral good because they’re “accessible” and cheap. Having your books in library systems is less sexy than KU, but your book is equally accessible and even cheaper. It isn’t like KU is available in all countries (same with libraries, to be fair). Still, I like the fact that I can make my books as available as I possible can make them without relying solely on Amazon. At the end of the day, this is a business decision that I made for myself and my book. I don’t like leaving money on the table, and after almost ten years of being an indie author, you will see history repeat itself and watch others not heed the warnings from established authors because some hustle-master on Youtube or Tiktok said it was a great way to make money. With what’s going on, you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it to be at Amazon’s mercy. There are other options, but you need to do your due diligence and decide what’s right for you, but please, don’t think KU is the only way to make money because I can promise you that it isn’t.

Personal Life

I Want to be a Mushroom, Not a Bird

The one thing academia and business have in common is the belief that everyone wants to be a bird. They want upward mobility. They’re willing to go where the jobs are, even if the promiseland is filled with people who absolutely hate your guts.

But that’s where the jobs are.

“You can easily find a job in the Midwest,” they say, or “You should apply to universities down South! The South is much more liberal where the universities are.” Considering I drove past a bunch of Confederate flags on thirty minutes away from a conference at a college in Upstate New York, I somehow doubt that.

It’s the same thing we tell people who live in red states. “Just move!” like it’s so easy. Sure, if we hate our families, have plenty of desire and/or disposable income to visit, are free from disabilities or chronic illnesses, aren’t queer or trans, I’m sure it’s very easy to uproot ourselves and fly off to a job that could fire us at any moment and leave us stranded somewhere we never truly wanted to be.

Maybe I’m a cynic. I think in worse case scenarios because someone has to give those shiny-teethed, business-minded bastards a reality check. Some of us don’t want to fly. Some of us don’t want to go someplace far away where no one knows us and we don’t know if we’ll ever feel like we truly belong. The threat of violence is always in the back of my mind. What if there are people who hate queer people there and they’re vocal about it? What if someone finds out I’m nonbinary and fires me? What if I need medical attention and no one will give it to me because I’m still potentially a viable incubator even if my partner had a vasectomy years ago?

But the people who suggest uprooting our lives for a job never think about that.

The sad thing is, I don’t even want upward mobility. I don’t want to be the boss or make six figures. I have no desire to soar so high that I lose sight of the humanity of others or that my grossly oversized paycheck is a sign of other people being underpaid. Other people have to be on the lower levels of the pyramid for it to stand, and I don’t mind being down there. I want to work to live, not live to work. I want to put it my time and go home to play video games and hang out with my dogs.

I want to be a mushroom, not a bird.

Mushrooms are just the fruit of a fungus. The important part is what you don’t see. They can have miles upon miles of roots where they feast upon dead material, gather resources, and stay connected to each other.

I want to be where my roots run deep. My family has been in New Jersey since the 1800s, and I like it here. I like going on boats down the Navesink in the summer or seeing the NYC skyline on a clear night while driving home. It feels like a place that wants me to be there and wants me to thrive. I feel safe enough that I can mostly be myself. My healthcare is protected, and my partner and I can both get our medications easily enough. I grew up here, my family has lived here for two hundred years, and to continue to be a part of my local area to make it a better place is what I want. NJ is good in many ways, but there’s always room for improvement.

Moving somewhere for a job where I’m not invested in the area feels shallow. I care about the students who live here or have come from across the world to be here. I want to show them that we’re nice here, that we want them to succeed too. I want them to have all the good things I had when I went to these universities and the things I wish I had. They’re all part of that root system, those little hyphae and connections that help us all to thrive. If I left for supposedly greener pastures, I would be torn out of that ecosystem. It would heal itself, but would I be able to reconnect in this new place. Would I always be a weaker, more damaged version of myself in this new environment?

I don’t need people to know me or even have local friends to hang out with, I just need to feel safe and supported. Mushrooms can grow alone if they have all the things they need, but is trading those known supports for a paycheck worth it if you need those things to flourish?

Monthly Review

March 2023 Wrap-Up Post

I’d love to know why March felt like the longest and shortest month. Oddly, this month was busy, yet I spent a lot of the time resting and re-calibrating as I worked on The Reanimator’s Soul. It was sort of a weird month. Not good or bad, just a transitional month between projects and parts of the semester. Anywho, let’s see what my goals were and what I got up to during the month.

  • Read 8 books
  • Write The Reanimator’s Soul
    • Minimum goal 15k words
    • Real goal 20k words
    • Stretch goal 25k words
  • Enjoy spring break and actually relax (as opposed to using it to catch up)
  • Blog weekly
  • Send out my monthly newsletter
  • Do some digital art
  • Plan my goals for Q2


My goal this month was to read 8 books, and I read 10.

  1. The River of Silver (#4) by S. A. Chakraborty- 4 stars, a great book of additional stories in a universe I was very sad to leave. Also, yay for some closure.
  2. The Two Towers (#2) by J. R. R. Tolkien- 4 stars, once again loving Andy Serkis being a one-man cast.
  3. Tithe (#1) by Holly Black- 3 stars, it was okay. I know this is one of her earlier books, and it definitely reads like my middle/high school experience. It was weird reading a book that takes place so close to where I live.
  4. Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert- 4 stars, loved this one. The neurodivergent and mentally ill rep was great, as always with Hibbert’s books.
  5. The Ancient Magus’s Bride (#17) by Kore Yamazaki- 4 stars, we’re still mid-arc, but I am enjoying it and hoping the conclusion of this arc will be satisfying.
  6. The Magus of the Library (#6) by Mitsu Izumi- 4 stars, I love seeing a mystery deepen and characters come into their own. This is a complex yet low stress manga.
  7. A Black Women’s History of the United States (#5) by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross- 5 stars, a great primer for further research.
  8. Circe by Madeline Miller- 4 stars, if Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings was your jam but you wished there as extra baggage, this one is for you.
  9. She Loves to Cook & She Loves to Eat (#2) by Sakaomi Yuzaki- 5 stars, so sweet, so tender, so sapphic, and so much good food.
  10. Valiant (#2) by Holly Black- 4 stars, I’m not sure how this one ended up with more stars than book 1. The end sort of saved it for me because I really like Ravus and the whole Beauty and the Beast dynamic we had going.

Admin/Behind-the-Scenes Stuff

  • Finished the major compiling for the university literary magazine my class was working on (low key stressful since this was the first one since 2018)
  • Sent the university literary magazine to the printers
  • Wrote the preliminary blurb for The Reanimator’s Soul
  • Setup the preorder for The Reanimator’s Soul at all major retailers (except Google Play, which I will do soon)
  • Started doing crafts again, yay! I started working on a Halloween village plastic canvas kit from Herrschner’s, which I’m really enjoying doing since I haven’t done plastic canvas since high school. It’s very centering.
  • Made my quarter 2 goals and setup my Kanban board
  • Enjoyed spring break with only a bit of freaking out (my brain has been on fire all month)
  • Retail therapy for a case of the stressful sads, which means buying washi tape and planner stickers

Blogs Posted


If you saw my false starts blog post, you’ll know that I ended up basically rewriting the whole beginning of The Reanimator’s Soul. I’m not going to lie, I was very annoyed at first. I felt like I fell behind as soon as the month started, but ultimately, my writing word count goals take a backseat to story quality and starting over was necessary. I have to keep reminding myself of this when I internally freak out over being behind. Behind is better than words that are lukewarm and don’t make sense in the larger context of the work. It took me about a week to figure out what I needed to fix and how to make it better. In the end, I wrote 12,000 words this month, which I’m pretty happy with since all of these words make sense and have sent the story in the proper direction. I’m feeling much more confident at this point, so fingers crossed no major rewrites will be needed at the 25-33% mark.

Hopes for April

  • Writing (we’re feeling ambitious this month)
    • 23,000 words is the goal (770 words a day)
    • Because of this goal, everything else is sort of scant, which I’m fine with since this is also a heavy grading month
  • Read 8 books
  • Refill the well each week (aka do art, crafting, or game)
  • Blog weekly
  • Send a newsletter each month
  • Doctor’s appointment/taxes BOO
  • Start watching Sarra Cannon’s Publish and Thrive updated lessons
the reanimator's soul · Writing

The Reanimator’s Soul is Available for Preorder!

As the title says, I have officially put The Reanimator’s Soul, book 2 in the Reanimator Mysteries series, up for preorder at all major retailers! Right now, you can only preorder it in ebook form, but the paperback will be available closer to release day.

Speaking of release day, The Reanimator’s Soul comes out October 24th, right in time for an atmospheric Halloween read.

The cover reveal will be sometime during the summer, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, check out the blurb below.

An awkward necromancer, his undead love, and the crime that might break them.

Felipe Galvan has been dead for five months, and whether he likes it or not, he’s changing. But with his daughter home from college and Oliver still adjusting to their new partnership, Felipe is more than willing to continue pretending everything is fine.

All Oliver Barlow wants is to be a good partner to Felipe. When they finally get a case after months of light duty, he thinks it will be the perfect opportunity to prove himself. That is until a mutilated corpse leads them to Oliver’s former lover and the Institute for the Betterment of the Soul–a clinic claiming they can cure people of their magic.

Between Oliver’s old wounds and Felipe’s secrets, they stand upon a knife’s edge. If either man falls, they risk losing not only their home but everyone they hold dear.

So what can you expect in The Reanimator’s Soul?

  • Teresa Galvan
  • The tether becoming a problem
  • A less than savory clinic
  • Oliver’s ex
  • And of course, a strange corpse
an aesthetic. it has a momento mori skull, a victorian man reading a book, a creepy Victorian house, "i am someone who did not die when I should have died," an antique map of New York, "there are times when I am convinced I am unfit for any human relationship," antique medical tools, victorina man in his shirtsleeves, an anatomical drawing of the brain

I’m greatly enjoying writing this book and hope you all will enjoy it. If you haven’t read book 1, The Reanimator’s Heart, yet, it’s available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers. Or if you did read it and want some more time with Agatha and Louisa or Felipe and Oliver, newsletter subscribers get Flowers and Flourishing, a sapphic novella, and “An Unexpected Valentine,” which takes place three weeks after The Reanimator’s Heart.

In future blog posts, I’ll talk more about The Reanimator’s Soul, so stay tuned! If you’re interested, you can add it on Goodreads or preorder it at your favorite retailer.