Back in February, JD Estrada—writer, poet, and Youtuber—invited me to take part in his online event, March of the Writers. With many interesting prompts, I was hoping to join in the fun, but unfortunately, reality decided otherwise. The beginning of March wasn’t too kind to me, and as weeks passed, things didn’t improve enough for me to take on another commitment. But I still didn’t want to miss the opportunity, so in a way of a compromise, I’m writing this post. I won’t cover all the 31 prompts, but I chose the ones that seemed the most interesting.
Everyone who knows me even a little, knows that I’m a fan of all things fantasy and science fiction, and these broad genres make up the majority of what I read. At the same time, I don’t shy away from non-fiction, reading about writing craft, business side of writing, world history, and other topics that interest me. Every now and then, I reach for a romance or a mystery, but as you might have guessed, I like them sprinkled generously with either fantasy or science fiction.
In writing, I’m focusing mostly on fantasy at the moment, finishing my epic fantasy series, Pacts Arcane and Otherwise, and I have more fantasy in the works, but it doesn’t mean I don’t take a detour to write a science fiction story or have fun with a speculative romance. If you’re interested in the craft side of writing, I also share my experiences and knowledge on Medium.
Music to write to
I prefer instrumental music to write to, so that lyrics don’t distract me, but at the same time, I can’t have anything “ambient” or “relaxing” in the background as it’s more likely to put me to sleep than make me productive. Therefore, over the years, I compiled a playlist full of instrumental but energetic music—mostly trailer and video game scores—that in the time of writing this post is over 18 hours long. I often put it on shuffle, but I’ve been also known to find a song that really speaks to me and put it in a loop… for hours. It’s available on Spotify, and I keep adding songs to it regularly.
As a reader, I’m not opposed to them, but I don’t open a book to open a book to go on an egg hunt. A well-placed reference to another book of an author or some pop-culture icon can be delicious, but too many of them are more likely to make me lose interest in a book.
As a writer, I sprinkle them here and there, more for my own amusement than anyone else’s as they are usually quite obscure.
Secret identity a.k.a. day job
Ever since I moved over to the USA, I don’t have a typical 9-5 day job anymore. I’m a freelancer, writer, and an artist, dividing my time between translation work, writing my novels and articles, and creating designs that are available on Society6 and Redbubble. And since my freelance work hours aren’t regular, I also consider myself a stay-at-home witch, taking care of the apartment and chores.
First book published
It’s always an interesting question to me, as I see it from various perspectives. My first English-language novel, “By the Pact” released on January 10, 2021. But before that, I had a short story collection published (you can get it for free here). And before that, I had quite a few publications in magazines and anthologies. And before that, there were more short stories in Polish. Even though the prompt is clearly “first book” and getting “By the Pact” out in the world is surely a milestone, I can’t help thinking about all those writers who actually never have a “book” published, because they prefer writing short stories or articles. Of course, one day they might compile them into a collection, but not necessarily. They deserve to celebrate their first piece of writing too.
Liquid fuel and favorite candy
I’ve always been a tea kind of girl. Though in Poland, traditionally, one drinks tea with sugar and a slice of lemon, and the little Melfka didn’t like that taste much, especially when it was cold. I preferred herbal and fruit teas (tisanes), and in my early teens I discovered green teas and fell in love with them. Nowadays, I’m not picky, and drink green teas, black teas, and white teas, though I always have them as they come: no sugar, no lemon, and definitely no milk or cream in them. My favorite black tea is Assam, and I like jasmine green tea.
Recently, though, I decided it was time to ease up on my caffeine dependency, so I switched to grapefruit white tea, and ultimately, I’ll move to tisanes and decaf teas.
When it comes to coffee, I drink it too, though less frequently. I didn’t develop a taste for it until my early twenties, when my friend made me a sweet dessert coffee with sugar, milk, whipped cream, and spices. Since then, I’ve been drinking it with milk only, but as it is with the case of tea, I’m sticking to decaf.
As for my favorite candy, recently I haven’t had much of a sweet tooth. If I get a sugar craving strong enough, I bake a coffee cake, brownies, or banana muffins, but I did write a longer post about my favorite sweets back in 2018, so you can check it out.
An avid reader I am, I never had a huge collection of bookmarks. Mostly, because I used to just open the book more or less in the spot I finished. Leafing a few pages back or forth to find the exact spot was never a problem for me.
Nowadays, I read mostly on my ebook reader, which marks the page for me, so I have even less need for a bookmark collection, but I still have a few. A magnet bookmark which was a gift from a friend and which is still packed somewhere among my memorabilia, and one that I picked up during my trip to the Grand Canyon.
Too many prompts
With 31 days of March, there are as many prompts, and it would be impossible to cover all of them in one post. Some of them feel less relevant while other seem to deserve a separate blog post one day, like writing about cartoons I grew up—a topic all the more interesting that with people spread across the world and across generations, some of those cartoons don’t overlap while others seem to cross continents and decades.
I hope you enjoyed those tidbits and feel free to share any of yours in the comments.
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.