Tag Archives: waxing philosophical

In which I try to determine the true meaning of life.

#AprilLove Day 14: Dear Courage

Just chugging along. I’m still really behind, but I’m managing. 🙂

Dear Courage,

I did not know your depth until I was forced to find you. Until I was forced to reach for you, and use you to vanquish my fears, or get through something very scary. And there’s the little things, too — a tough situation at work, going to the doctor to investigate this or that, having to have 3 MRIs in a row when I am severely claustrophobic. Facing illness in others. When a co-worker died and I was grieving. Every time I put words on the page (or computer screen). These are all acts of courage, and without you, I couldn’t have done them.

Every book I’ve ever written has been an act of courage. Every poem. When I decided to self-publish Fey Touched in 2012, that was you helping me to reach for my dream of being published. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what I was doing or how the world would react to my book…I’d decided to put it out there, whether I got glowing reviews or bad ones, because I needed to. For myself. You stood by me every step of the way.

Rewriting Grave Touched was also an act of courage. You were there when I rewrote it and revised it, telling me to keep on it, that it will be good. And that was important because at the time, I couldn’t imagine this book being good. It just wasn’t in me, after the TN and low esteem and insecurity got a hold of me. But you were right. Grave Touched is great book, and I’m damn proud of it.

I remember a line from Rod Stewart’s song “Forever Young”: Be courageous and be brave/in my heart you’ll always stay/forever young. And when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and intractable vertigo in 2003, never have I needed you more. I was scared. I was faced with people not believing me. I was faced with daily pain and fatigue, and a zillion other things going wrong health-wise. I was faced with weekly doctor visits, and medications, and people’s ideas being pushed on me because they thought they knew better. I learned how to stand up for myself and advocate for my own health. My life had changed irrevocably that year, and not everything survived the change. But, most of all, I learned that I could find you when I most needed you — in those dark moments when I believed it a death sentence, those times when I had to make tough decisions about what to do or not, based on my pain level. When I was teaching, and I was so tired, but wanted to do it so badly I put myself through it anyway (and a full-time day job). It did a bit of damage, but it was what I needed to do for myself and my students.

When I had to have three surgeries on my jaw due to infections and rejection from a previous surgery, when I thought I would die, when my fear of needles was so overwhelming that I didn’t think I could go through with it — you were there, whispering in my ear, saying that everything will be okay and it will only hurt for a bit. I remember my last surgery, in August of 2011, the song “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin was playing on the radio, and somehow I drew strength from that (because music and my mind have been intertwined since I was a kid).

(Obviously, the song had nothing to do with the surgery, but a connection was made that somehow let me find you quicker and easier.)

And, the doozie was when I was in so much pain daily from the trigeminal neuralgia that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on, and you told me to never give up, and to keep on, as much as I can, because things WILL get better. (An they did, thanks to you!). But man, I was so scared and freaked out and couldn’t imagine living that way. And when I had my little meltdown after watching “The Fault in Our Stars” and my mom and husband were looking at me funny because I’d been crying for an hour, you were there with comforting words and the strength I needed.You gave me the strength to say, “I have never mourned the loss of my normal life due to this. I have never LET myself feel it so intensely. I was too busy trying to be brave.” But, as the movie has shown me, pain demands to be felt. And right then, I needed it, despite what others may or think.

My general philosophy in life actually comes right from you. I don’t believe in conformity, or being someone I’m not, or not standing up for myself. That, too, is very courageous. It takes courage to be your true self and live without apology or a care. I NEVER worry about other people and how they may react or think. I worry about what’s right for me, and what I’m doing or not doing. Because this life is mine, and I have one chance to live it. Living for someone else or censoring myself or pretending to be someone else is just pointless. Unfortunately, a lot of people do that and I just shake my head.

I’m cool as I am. I have hopes, and dreams, and things I want to accomplish. You’re there for me every step of the way, supporting me, encouraging me, and not letting me fall. You are truly my partner in this, and I look forward to many more courageous things in the future.

#AprilLove2016 Day 12: Dear Future Me

So I’m back with Day 12, Dear Future Me.


Dear Future Me,

You probably don’t know this, but you’re cool. Really, truly, totally, utterly, completely cool. You may not feel this way at times, but let me assure you: YOU ARE COOL.

You’re doing great things: writing, taking pictures, trying to get healthy. These things will stick at some point, and things will get easier. I know this, deep in my heart. I also know that you are capable of great things if you just keep at it.

Also? I can’t guarantee that your health will be good, because there are so many factors in this. But what I can guarantee is this: you’ve got this. Whatever life decides to throw at you, you’ve got this. You’re strong, you’re capable, you’re brave. Maybe even braver than I am now. I’ve spent years being brave and handling things, tough things, so you can work your way through whatever it is that happens. And…it’s scary. As we get older, things start going wrong. Not pessimism, just reality. And I have a lot going on now, and I’m just 40. So I do not expect it to be easy. But you can handle it. You’re made of tough stuff. You’ve watched your loved ones (Grandma and Mike in particular) bear illness with grace and dignity. You learned, and you were changed by the experience.

So much can change, you know? Like with the trigmenial neuralgia. I was fine one day, and the next, I was in excruciating pain for nearly three years. I never would have guessed that it could happen, that it would happen, and how much it would impact my life. But I got through it. It was tough, and sometimes unbearable, but I managed. I survived. So I believe that you can, too. You just need to reach inside yourself and find that strength you possess.

Don’t ever give up writing or photography. I know both can be frustrating, but they are what feed your soul. You need them like you need air to breathe. Eight years without photography taught me never to do that again. I felt the loss daily. And losing writing for three months was absolute torture. Don’t do it again. It’s not pretty.

Continue to be creative and to give thanks for each day. Some days just plain suck, and I know that. But another day is a gift. Some day there won’t be any more. Cherish them. Cherish your loved ones. Time is finite. Don’t ever forget that.

But most of all, enjoy life. Don’t forget about the little things. Don’t forget to revel in the beauty of life and living. Live each day as if it were your last.

And, chase those dreams. You’ll get there.

#AprilLove2016 Day 9: Dear Inspiration

I decided to make this one public, too. 🙂

Well, being a creative individual, inspiration is so dang important. Because without it, we are nothing…or are we?

On to the letter.

Dear Inspiration,

I’ll be brutally honest here. You are an awesome, thrill ride of a thing, but you can be the most vexing. I mean, writers/painters/photographers/other creative types depend on you for everything, but you can be as flighty and elusive and sometimes just not present. I speak of you as my muse, but really? You’re my right brain, my subconscious. Writer Holly Lisle, one of my favorite writers, says that you keep all the secrets and cool stuff and only speak in images. Sometimes words. You’ve caught me off guard with some of them, the most recent one being “old but new, incorporeal people trapped in cybernetic bodies” that spawned the entire war thread of Ever Touched, which was awesome and intriguing, but a bit…ah…different. Yeah, let’s go with that. I hadn’t expected that.

But I’ve learned over the years to expect the unexpected. You can be pure evil, unhinged at times, and at others, you can throw out pieces of cool things like crumbs but remain tight-lipped about the rest until about a third of a way into a book than shout, “hey! This is who he REALLY is!” or, “hey you writer person! She’s not this, she’s really that!” Or my personal favorite, “hey moron, how could you not figure that out? Seriously?”

Photography inspiration you hand me is often bizarre but cool. I’m still working on making your images come alive. You seem to enjoy self-portraiture, which is just awesome, but it’s easier than it looks, you know. So many things…costuming, location, lighting, etc. I’m a perfectionist, and I want to capture what you give me just right. But I have to admit, they are some cool ideas there.

But when you leave me dangling by a thread, like with the end of Survivor [my book, not the show!]? I think I hate you. Because dragging the one piece of information from you is like pulling teeth. Banging my head against concrete. Poking my eye repeatedly. It’s not fun, and it’s frustrating, and frankly? It freaks me out. I need you to work with me on these things. Do what you do best! And you are brilliant! So show me!

But at the end of the day, I’m happy for you, vexing or not. I need you, and I think you need me, too, to bring your ideas to life.

Let us never be parted, huh? Let’s do this together. And make some beautiful, awesome, heart-rending, joyful art and novels and poems.

Because we have to.

AprilLove2016 Day 8 – Dear Younger Me

Where are the first 7 days, you’re probably wondering?

And what is AprilLove2016?

The Younger Me in college (1997). This was when I started experimenting with self-portraiture. Yes, I took selfies before they were cool. 😉

Okay, AprilLove2016 is a journaling/creativity challenge where every day you get a prompt, and then you write (or draw, or photograph, or something else creative!) a love letter. It’s been pretty fun so far. Days 1-7 are written in my journal and I’ve elected to keep them private.

But this one really resonates with me, and I believe it will resonate for lots of folks, too, so I decided to make this one public.

So, onward to the love letter.

Dear Younger Me,

I wish I could have told you — and made you believe me — that things would get better: that you weren’t always going to be made fun of and bullied; that someone (several someones actually!) would love you; that you’d become one hell of a writer and photographer. That you’d be beautiful, in your own way. That you’d feel better about yourself and, most importantly, not want to die.

Oh, sure, there were times when I (Older Me) have still felt like that, but there’s one very important thing is that I got help. So, you’d never have to worry about feeling that alone ever again or that hopeless, because there is hope, and it was there. I was in my twenties when I made that all-important, life-saving decision to get help.

You were never alone.

You had friends. You had boyfriends. I know you continued to feel awkward in your skin, so much that the idea of dancing froze you up, and that unfortunately, had still persisted. But feeling okay? Not like a freak? That’s much less. Sure, there’s the whole chronic illness  thing to contend with now, but damn, girl, what you went through then prepared me for this. It gave me strength and tenacity and an iron will. It helped me cope with my chronic facial pain. When you used to say to yourself, “if they don’t see how much they are hurting me, they’ll leave me alone,” you didn’t know that someday you’d be using that same skill to not fall apart when the eye pain got so bad you couldn’t think. It helped me to be more stoic and calm, and not complain or curse my fate (well, I did, a few times, but I made sure to also be grateful that I could still see!).

Everything you did then, everything you felt then, led to me to the woman I am today. I just turned forty, you know. Back then, I couldn’t imagine forty. You know, a “real grown up.” When you had your first boyfriend and had that nasty break up, you learned from that experience although it hurt so bad back then. And then the next one — and the one after that — all the way to my husband now. All the things you went through, all the heartbreak, all the disappointment, all THE SHIT, was preparing me for this marriage I am now. It wouldn’t work so well without all that experience, all that heartache you went through, that taught me how to function in a relationship.

This is the Older Me today, in my home office. See that blue photo behind me on the right? That’s one of mine. Originally b&w, toned brilliant blue. The lovely green, red, and yellow wall hang beside it was made by my very creative Mom. 😉 

When you had jaw surgery at fifteen, and couldn’t talk for three weeks and couldn’t eat solid food for two months, I’m not sure how you made it. When you had to go back to school in the fall with your jaws wired shut, you had to reach down into reserves of strength you didn’t know you possessed. Your French teacher said, after listening to you trying to speak French, that you were brave. To which you answered, “I’m just doing what I have to do.” And when the wires got cut and your jaws were stuck, you didn’t cry as the doctor cranked them open. Didn’t cry when you were forced to do it to yourself every day at home so you could eat. Didn’t cry when everyone else could eat cake at your sister’s party, and all you could “eat” was frosting and ice cream. Yeah, you were strong. This taught you strength and resilience and perseverance for what was to come.

Your decisions weren’t stupid, you know. They were the right ones for you at the time. You couldn’t possibly know what would happen in the future, that a driver’s license would be out of my reach, or that my health would be the suck. You loved writing, so you went for Journalism. You fell in love with photography, so you pursued that (and had to have your own darkroom!). Nothing is ever wasted, nothing is a mistake. Granted, my life looks so much different than the one I envisioned in my twenties, but who cares? I’m me. I’m still the same person. My goals and dreams have changed dramatically. (By the way, that dream you had about being published? Yeah, did that in 2012.;) ) And that’s perfectly fine. You were such a dreamer. You really were. And I suppose I am still, but I’ve grown up, you know? Things change, but that’s not always a bad thing. We’re evolving. We’re meant to become who we’re meant to become.

I am still evolving, I think. I’m not sure when that will stop, if it will. I’m learning still, even though I’ve been out of school for twenty years. Life teaches you so much.

I have a quote that I absolutely love: “The world breaks everyone. And afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” I think the world — and perhaps life? — broke you a bit there. But you grew stronger. What was weak is now strong. What is sad is now happy. What is broken is now put back together.

I think I will always be a bit broken, though. I don’t think I’d want to be “fixed.” Reason being, this is what gives my writing/photography/etc such depth. Because I feel so deeply, and strongly, and I know what it’s like to lose everything. I know what it’s like to feel like a freak. I know what it’s like to be in someone’s shadow, to not be perfect. To not be cool.To feel like I failed. To feel like I am worthless and not worth loving. That nothing of me is worth it. That I exist in darkness, bereft of light.

This is only slightly true. But I’m working on it. It’s because of you. The You From Back Then taught me this.

But you also taught me how to be free.

And that, my dear, is everything.

On Grief

On Wednesday, I found out that my former co-worker Leo passed away. I’d known him for almost 15 years, and he was like a grandfather to me. His health hadn’t been the best, but it still came as a shock to us. I had just spoken to him last week (and realized how different his voice sounded) and he was seen at a food show as well. In a wheelchair, but there nonetheless. So we were shocked and a bit freaked out.

It didn’t really hit me until i was at the viewing and saw him there. He looked almost the same, which was cool (because sometimes despite best efforts, the deceased usually doesn’t look like him or herself) and he had his pipe in his pocket, which tickled me because he was always smoking that pipe! His car had that pipe-smoke smell, and I will probably always associate it with him.

Leo was a fun person to work with. He was always cracking jokes and lightening the mood. We got along very well, mainly because we both had dirty minds. 😉 When my mother couldn’t drive me to work because she was sick, Leo made sure I got there. When I had to wait outside for my hubby to pick me up after work, Leo would let me sit in his car with him so I didn’t freeze to death. I always thanked him for it, and he always said he didn’t mind. But no one else would help, and it meant so much to me that he cared enough to do it. He would also feed me baklava before I became allergic to nuts. Sometimes when it was slow we’d talk about things and he’d tell me about his time in the service, or past experiences being a salesman. He was driven to sell, and a good salesman, and taught us a lot. Up until he got sick, he was always there, always ready with a joke or a prank, always just being his crazy self.

He was 85, and lived a good life. I used to think he’d live forever, he was just so alive. And now, he’s gone.

So I have been in mourning. Weepy on and off this whole weekend. Unexpected things would hit me, like his famous sayings that I find myself repeating without a second thought. Just yesterday I said one, and my breath caught. He’s…gone. I’ll never hear him say another one ever again. And it would hit me like a ton of bricks all over again.

I’ve been thinking of the memories we made, and the things he taught me, and all of the good times we shared. And I get weepy and emotional, and it’s hard for me to believe he’s not in this world anymore. It’s inconceivable to me. But the reality is there and it hurts.

This is the first writing I’ve done since Friday. I tried — I had my document out and waiting, and…the words wouldn’t come. It’s been weird because I write through just about everything, and writing is my primary way of coping with things. A writer friend suggested that my muse was sleeping (after I said I thought she was in mourning with me) and to let her sleep. And I think that’s so true. Sometimes, for whatever reasons, the muse (or “writer brain” or whatever you want to call it) needs a break. It needs time to reflect and rest and maybe even to grieve, too. So I decided that I wouldn’t push it. If the words come, great, but if they don’t, it’s okay, too.

I haven’t felt like doing much of anything this weekend. I did clean, only because I had to, and I tend to clean when I’m upset. I keep telling myself that he’s in a better place, but my heart hurts. I feel his loss so strongly, it’s like my life has turned on its ear. He’s gone. The man who lived life so fully and was dear to me as a grandfather, is no longer here. How do I move on? How do I cope?

I’m taking one day at a time, and I know that in time, my grief will lessen and I will be able to smile instead of cry when I think of him. He impacted my life so much — he taught me that laughter really is the best medicine in all things, and his kindness…I hope to be as kind as he was to me. I want to live a full life as he did, and make memories, and impact peoples’ lives. He was a rare kind of person, and I will never forget him. Never.

I also believe that he’s still around in some form. When I tell some of his jokes, I’m sure he’s close by, laughing with us. When I look at his seat, and feel a presence, I’ll know he’s there. When I smell his pipe, I know he’s around. When I eat Greek food, and wish for the baklava he used to give me, he’s there. He’s everywhere, if I know where to look.

(I have plans to eat a donut in his honor every year on his birthday because he loved donuts.)

I’m also planning on dedicating Awaken Me in his memory. Why Awaken Me? Because he’d get a kick out of it. (Dirty mind, remember?) Maybe this will give me the kick in the pants I need to finish it and get it submitted somewhere.

So, Leo, my friend, your memory will stay alive in my heart. Rest in peace, and safe journey. You are deeply missed.

So this end of the world thing? So over it.

It just dawned on me this morning that supposedly, if you believe all of the doomsday hype, the world is gonna end in 3 days.  Dec. 21st.  Well, let me tell you why that would suck:

I haven’t finished Grave Touched yet, dammit.
Christmas hasn’t happened yet.
I haven’t learned Gaelic yet.
I haven’t written all those books in my head yet.

I truly, in all honesty, don’t believe the world will end.  It can’t.  It’s too…final.  I mean, three friggin days to do everything I must do before I am vaporized into space debris with my nearest and dearest and…everyone else?  Seriously?  What are you smoking, and can I have some?

First of all, the doomsday thing has to do with the end of the Mayan calendar which is supposed to end on Dec. 21st.  But — and this is a biggie, you might wanna pay attention here — that’s what the various people studying it believe.  In other words, it’s a guess.  There’s no one thing that says, “Yo, people of 2012, I regret to inform you that the world will end on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 at exactly 12:00p.m.  Have a nice life.”  Yeah, so not true.  So that’s my first question.  How is it that because the calendar ends, the world ends?

I actually find this stuff fascinating.  I know, I know.  It don’t seem that way, but it’s true.  I’ve been reading Jessica Anderson’s Nightkeepers series, which is about the modern-day mages who are trying to avert the end of the world through magic of the Mayan people and gods.  Awesome, kick-ass series!  The final book just released, and I am dying (ha!) to find out how it ends.

I’d also be curious to know what evidence there is for this.  Just give me a logical, simple explanation and I might swing to your side.  But probably not.

It’s not you; it’s me.  I’m a skeptic by nature.  If anyone tells me something big’s happening, or this or that is suddenly bad for you (or, god forbid, deadly), my first question is: who says so?  And the second question: What are his or her credentials?  (In other words, does this person have something besides a toothy grin to back up his or her claims?  Lemme tell you, this questioning and skepticism has saved my life at least once.  If not more.

So yeah, I’m not in the camp of believers there. I suppose if the world really ends, I guess I’d be SOL because I wouldn’t be prepared.  But at this point, how can anyone be prepared for total destruction?  Kinda puts a kink in the holiday cheer, doesn’t it?

So, let me say this.  If the world does end in three days, you can find me right here.  Because it aint’ ending.

A few things to consider:

The whole shebang explained in far prettier language http://www.voxxi.com/myth-doomsday-mayan-calendar-explained/

I’ve hit 64k on Grave Touched.  That’s news, right?  Only… *counts* 55,543 more words to go!

Uh…finished Nanowrimo with around 29k.  I’m too lazy to double check.  I know it was shy of my goal of 30k.

And lastly: we, the inspired and talented ladies of Turtleduck Press have conspired to bring you another anthology.  It is called Seasons Eternal, and the premise is so cool.  It’s about a world without changing seasons.  Each one of us picked a season and wrote a story about how the people of that particular region would adapt and what would change.  I decided to go all sci-fi and used virtual reality, but we have fantasy and steampunk as well.  My story is called “Stasis,” and I’m very proud of it.  Actually, I’m proud of the entire thing because we really outdid ourselves with this one.  Each story is unique and fascinating.  I think you will enjoy it.  Plus, proceeds will go to UNICEF, which is a great cause.

To read an excerpt and/or to buy a copy (Kindle, print, Smashwords), go to http://www.turtleduckpress.com.

Happy end of the world.

In which you learn more about me than you ever wanted to know…

Internet memes.  I’ve been tagged in one, and I tagged myself in another.  To make things so much more interesting, I’ve decided to combine them together to create one big Q&A where hopefully you’ll learn something new about me.

Or not.

So, let’s get this shindig started, shall we?

1. Of your characters, who would you most like to have as a real-life friend?

Alisia Duvall from Pirouette.  She is passionate, stubborn, strong, and brave.  She’s loyal and she’ll do anything for those she loves.  And she can communicate with ghosts, which is really interesting.

2. Which would you not want to be around anywhere but in the pages of a book?

There are quite a lot of characters too scary to be anywhere but in the pages of one of my books, but if I were to pick just one, I’d have to go with Raelan, the antagonist from Pirouette.  Spending any length of time in his twisted mind gives me the creeps.  And how he justifies his twisted actions?  Yeah, scary.

3. When a song bowls you over and you have to hear it again and again, what is probably the reason? (Great voice, real emotion, clever lyrics, et cetera)

All of the above!  Seriously.  I’ve fallen in love with songs for the voice (Geoff Tate of Queensryche and Adam Lambert come to mind), lyrics, emotion.  Sometimes a song will hit me so hard it gives me shivers.  One that does that all the time, even though I’ve listened to it at least a thousand times, is Queensryche’s Eyes of a Stranger, which happened to be the first song of theirs I ever heard.  And that was it.  I was a goner.  The main reason is the lyrics and situation behind the song (it’s part of a concept album) and Geoff Tate’s incredible voice.

Another one is Crestfallen by Avantasia.  It stuck in my mind for a least 3 days afterward.  It was a combination of lyrics, feeling, and the song construction itself.  Just…shiver-inducing.

4.Of everywhere you’ve been, where was your favorite place to be? (Home is a perfectly acceptable answer!)

New Orleans.  I seriously considered moving there at one point.  This was pre-Katrina, so I have no idea what it’s like now.  Then, it was a place of magic and wonder and art.  It was amazing, and I desperately want to go back someday.

5. Where do you want most to go?

Ireland.  Because I’m Irish, and I’d like to see where my ancestors came from.  (And I hear it’s amazing).

6.What is the meaning of life? (okay, okay–YOUR life.) What do you think your life is about?

Um…well, I think life is a big mystery.  A journey, not a destination.  Constant evolution, becoming the person you are meant to be.  Everything that happens helps shape you, helps you evolve. (I’ve given this a great deal of thought over the years).

7. What’s the best thing about what you do for a living?

Well, I work a soul-sucking day job, so there’s not much that’s good except the paycheck (and that it exists!).  But one of the effects of working a day job is the structure.  I need structure, and without it (like on weekends), it’s very difficult to be productive because hey, I have so much time!  Holy crap!  I’ll do that…tomorrow.  Nah.  Tonight.  Nah.  And nothing gets done.  Since I have limits on my time during the week, I have to work to fit it all together and thus it helps me stay on task.

8. What do you do when you need inspiration?

I listen to music.  Sometimes it’s music that fits the mood.  Sometimes it’s the actual soundtrack I put together for the project in question.  Sometimes I let my mind wander.  It depends on the situation.

9. When you need some time for you, where do you go?

I hide out in my basement office (my “woman cave”).

10. Plotter or pantser?

It depends on the story in question.  Some I’ve written using a loose outline.  Others I’ve written using a monstrous detailed outline of doom (which worked quite well).  And there are some that I’ve completely pantsed.  I actually prefer to pants it the whole way, but that could be the fried brain talking. (I just finished an intense, unspeakably brutal revision on Fey Touched and my brain is now fried.  And quite possibly dead).

11. To close with a (fairly) easy one–talk about a book. Any book. :)

Oh, god.  Let’s see…if I mention my own, will you think I’m a narcissist?  Oh, fuck it. Fey Touched rocks, guys.  It’s a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance.  It has swearing and battles and sex.  It’s got some awesome twists and turns in it.  Buy it, buy it, buy it in August (oops.  Got carried away there).

In the interest of fairness, I will mention The Hunger Games, which I just finished reading.  It was a great book.  Kept me totally riveted.  Very unusual premise.  I’m reading book 2, Chasing Fire (talk about appropriate titles!) right now.

12. What was the first story you ever wrote? Spare no embarrassing details.

Oh, boy.  Can I skip this question?  No?  All right, fine.  When I was a kid, I was obcessed with unicorns and wrote a story about a girl who gets transported to a place called Unicorn Valley where she meets these uh, unicorns and she ends up saving them from an evil …something or another.  I don’t actually remember.  It’s scary but I still have it somewhere.  I’m sentimental like that.

13. What’s your favorite nonfiction topic to read about?

Well, as of late, it’s been the Holocust.  It started with a book called Rena’s Promise that’s a true account of a Holocust survivor’s time in Auchwitz.  But my go-to topic is science news and/or brainwashing.  For stories, of course!  I’m intrigued by the brain and the human mind.  And the human spirit.

14. How much research do you feel like you need to do before you start a new story?

Depends on the story.  Some require a lot, some don’t.  I try not to get bogged down in it (but it’s so much fun!)

15. Writing challenges (ala Nanowrimo) – useful, or merely stress-inducing?

Useful to the point of obcession.  I can’t formally participate anymore because my wrists are the suck, but I try to do something at my own pace, using the Nano (or challenge) spirit to keep me moving.  I do well with challenges.

16. Why do you write your main genre?

Well, once upon a time, a romance reader got hounded by her mother to read a fantasy novel called Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind.  “But I’m not a fantasy person,” she complained.  “I’m not into this.”  “But you’ll love it!  Just give it a try!” Her mother said, pushing the book into her hands. The reader put it off, dreading it, but finally decided to pick it up.

And she was fucking hooked.  Everything — the people, the magic, the world, the story itself.  The main characters, who were brave and noble and amazing.  The struggles they went through.  The love they had for each other that survived through hell and back.

The reader said, “Wow, I never knew it could be this cool!  Or riveting! Or amazing!  I must read more!”

And the result of that reading frenzy, which continues to this day (going on 8 years), is this romance only reader decided to write fantasy.  Because she wanted to write something this amazing, with noble and brave characters and love that survives anything in a world of magic.  Thanks, Mom!  Best thing you ever did.

17. What genre/author/book do you secretly love but would never admit to in polite conversation?

*blushes* Adam Lambert fanfiction.  Don’t look at me like that!  There are some really good fics out there, and it’s interesting to see the different authors’ spin on things, real or imagined.  And anything Adam is happy-inducing.

18. What’s your favorite movie-adaptation of a book?

Well, it’s not a movie, it’s a TV series called Legend of the Seeker, based on Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books (Wizard’s First Rule is book 1).  They made a lot of changes and although a lot of fans were upset, I think they did a decent job.  Unfortunately, it was cancelled after the second season, so we may never know what comes next (no, I’m not bitter.  Oh all right, I’ve had a sad since finding that out.  A sad that won’t ever go away, sniffles).

19. What is your favorite type of cephalopod?

Octopi, although I’d never eat one (can you say suction cups?  Ewwww.)

20. What is your writing tool of choice?

Computer.  Can’t live without it.

21. What are your feelings about the proper usage of whom?

My feelings are quite intense.  Because I pride myself on good grammar and spelling and all that shit, I think people should be more aware of their usage of it.  Sometimes, I go into convulsions over bad usage.  Makes quite the spectacle at work.

22. What are you doing to bring yourself closer to your writing goals?

A couple of things.  Currently, I’m gearing up to self-publish Fey Touched as an experiment.   I will at some point be looking at Pirouette again for agent submission.  Also, I continue to learn as much as I can.  I’m taking Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel class, and hope to come out of that with a saleable novel.

23. Where do you get your ideas from? :-P

The hamsters in my head, of course.  Seriously, anything and everything.  My brain likes to sift through things and make connections.  It’s kind of scary at times.

24. If you have some terrible old stories that will never see the light of day, which one do you still have a soft spot for?

That would be what is technically the first draft of Fey Touched.  It’s called The Sacrifice and it was my first  finished novel that I completed in 30 days for my first NaNoWriMo in 2003.  Although not much of that draft remains except the main characters’ names and the whole paranormal creature/hunter thing, although now they’re science-based and…never mind.

25. Where in the world would you live if you could live anywhere?

New Orleans.

26. Where would you love to visit, but not live?

Colorado.  Mostly because I can’t breathe there but love, love the mountains.

27. What’s the most awe-inspiring moment you’ve had (that you’re willing to share)?

That would have to be atop Pike’s Peak in Colorado.  It was as if I were on the top of the world.  Amazing.  Also amazing were the American Indians that did dances for us (I knew one personally and we were close and it made me feel closer to him even though he’s deceased).

28. Who’s your captain — Kirk, Picard, Captain Jack from Torchwood, Jack Sparrow, Malcolm Reynolds, other?

Captain Janeway of Voyager, of course!

29. Which author’s universe would you love to write in if you could?

Oh man, tough question.  Okay, I’ve narrowed it down to two.  Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth world and Karen Marie Moning’s Fever world.  Both are amazing.

30.What was your gateway drug into your genre of choice?

Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series.

31. What’s your favourite hobby, creative or otherwise, when you’re not writing?

Photography and reading, hands down.

32. Are you a morning person or an evening person?

Sooooo not a morning person even though I work a day job.

33. What was the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?

I’ve had a lot of memorable meals so that’s hard to say.  Every holiday I’m bowled over by the amazing cooking skills of my mother and mother-in-law.

34. To plot, or not to plot?

Yes and no.  Depends on the book.

35. If you could have one super-power, what would it be?

Gonna sound like a twisted maniac for this, but it’s pretend so…what the hell…mind control.

36. Of all the stories you’ve created, which one’s your favorite, and why?

This is tough.  Really, really tough.  Six months ago I would have said Pirouette, but Fey Touched is also dear to my heart.  It’s a tie.  I refuse to choose.

They both have the coolest protagonists and they both have amazing twists and difficult decisions to make.  Both have romances, both have an intriguing world.  Both have scary antagonists with scary magic/technology/personalities.

See?  Can’t do it.

37. What’s your genre of choice, and why?

Already answered that, but basically fantasy because there are so many different possibilities. And there’s magic.

38. If you were given one “free” year (no responsibilities, a year’s worth of disposable income) what would you do with it?

Write like a madwoman.  Natch.

39. What’s your strategy for beating Writer’s Block?

Well, usually that involves a wrong turn taken somewhere so I first try to pin down where I went wrong.  And then I analyze it to death.  Ad analyze it some more.  Then I brainstorm ways to fix it.  And then, I just write.  And keep writing.  That’s the best way to work through writer’s block in my opinion.

40. Do you tend to stay in one particular genre, or do you write all over the map?

I stay more or less within the speculative fiction genre (sci-fi, fantasy) but occasionally I veer into horror.  It’s that twisted, dark mind of mine.

41. What’s your “universal” theme?

This is a really tough question, as I don’t really set out to write to a theme, but if I were to guess, I’d say redemption.  That comes up a lot in my books.

42. Dogs or cats?

Team Feline for the win.

43. What’s the last thing you read that you couldn’t put down?

Rena’s Promise (about the Holocust survivor) and The Hunger Games.

44. If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be when you grow up?

This is assuming I could be anything I want regardless of ability (or math skill, as it were): a neurologist. Are we surprised?


Okay!  Now it’s your turn.  Pick 10 questions from the above and also answer the following:

1) Do you have a specific writing ritual that puts you into the proper mindset?

2) Have you based any characters on real people?

3) Who’s your favorite author of all time?  Why?

4) When did you know you were a writer?

5) What’s the craziest novel idea you’ve ever had?

6) What book of yours gave you shivers?  Why? (Doesn’t need to be horror, either).

7) Do you have specific songs associated with your current work-in-progress?

8) How long have you been writing?

9) What’s the secret project you wish you could write but haven’t yet?

10) Who is your coolest character ever?  Why?


I tag the following: whoever’s reading this and wants to play, SM Reine, Ana Ramsey, and Kendall Grey.


Update and future projects

Been sicky for the past few days, so not much has been accomplished.  However, before getting sick, I’d broken 11k on Alpha Female.  And, yes, I’m admitting it — this is kind of a rewrite/edit/revision.  Because I’m basically doing everything at once so I can send it to critters once the “draft” is done.  I say “draft” because I’m not really sure what to call it. 

That’s my crazy process for you.  It took me two false starts to get it right.  Put me behind, but I’m doing okay.  I’m not really worried.  I guess I’ll start worrying in two weeks when I need to have it done. 

I’ve been doing alot of thinking about future projects.  I’m definitely going to take another whack at Pirouette once Alpha Female is done and submitted.  That’s the top priority.  Next, the big question is, do I want to do a mini-NaNoWriMo in November?  I can’t do the full NaNo anymore (50 in 30 days) because of my wrists, but I’ve had some success with doing a 25k “mini-Nano.”  I’m tempted to start a new novel.  It’s one that’s been patiently waiting for oh….I want to say at least 5 years.  It was going to be my 2006 NaNo novel but I changed my mind at the last minute.  The story has been haunting me for five years.  A lot of it has changed — for example, the main characters were all vampires (“vampira”) and now they will most likely be a type of Dark Fae.  A few days ago, the phrase “a battlefield of souls” popped into my mind, and at first, it felt like a seedling of a new idea, but when I probed it deeper, I discovered that it could work with this novel, which is called Darkweaver.  A few weeks to a month ago, the first line — hell, the first damn page — came to me, again out of nowhere.  At work, no less.  I was even going to type it up before I forgot (I haven’t).  So it’s been really strong in my head.  Muse says it’s about damn time.  I’m trying to wait, because I have three unfinished projects that need to get done.  But then again, what would 25k hurt?  Of course, it’ll take another month of work out of the equation, and will leave me with a hanging manuscript, but I just don’t know.  I’m completely and utterly torn.  Broken could use another 25k (it’s sitting at 12k at the moment).  Flamebound needs a revision and most likely a rewrite. 

How does one choose?  Lately I’ve been going according to one, the market (which I heard isn’t the way to go, but hey — I don’t want the paranormal market to die while Pirouette sits for another 5 years) and where the project is in the process.  I’ve been making a conscious effort to finish my unfinished projects and get them submitted.  So far, Pirouette’s 3rd draft got done last year, and Survivor’s first draft last year as well.  Speaking of Survivor, there’s another one that’s haunting me.  It needs a rewrite.  I am toying with the idea of making it a trilogy.  Again, market considerations.  And the sheer time would be massive.  So that one is probably going to have to wait, probably until I sell something.

What to do, what to do?  There’s just not enough time anymore, you know? 

Soooooo I guess we’ll see what happens.  I’ll decide….later.


Lately I’ve been well…..wangsting over my lack of publication.  Stupid, I know, right?  The Inner Slave Driver seems to feel that I’m not working fast enough.  18k so far on Alpha Female + 70 or so notecards done for Pirouette in one month?  That’s slow?  As Alisia would say, mercy me.

Okay, so I’m just a wee bit impatient.  I’m very competitive, and when I hear about writers being successful, I always feel a little sick inside.  The whole, well, why the hell aren’t you there yet? Huh? routine.  And I’d like to make it clear that I am happy for those lucky writers–I’m sure they worked hard for it — and feel no ill will against them.  However, it always shines the spotlight on what I haven’t done.  And that just blows.

And I’ve been working hard, not lollygagging around here.  I just feel so…..inadequate.  Like I should BE there by now.  But one thing I keep reading everywhere it that every writer’s journey is different.  Some get lucky.  Some actually have more time to devote to it, and thus progress faster than me.  Others struggle.  I think I’m in the middle.  I know I’ve improved alot over the last 6 or 7 years, and I struggle with tendonitis on occasion, which makes high wordcounts impossible.  My progress is more slow and steady.  I might be slower, but my wrists don’t die and maybe I won’t need to pull out the Dragon again. 

Furthermore, I have other things as well — full time job, chronic illness, a husband.  A family.  Relaxation (what’s that?) or reading time.  I’ve learned that even I need breaks occasionally.  Even I need to back off, which has been tough with Pirouette because my every instinct is screaming at me to get back to it, fix it, polish it, get it out the door, and I know that it needs time to gel more.  I’ve got a ton of ideas, and they’re all documented.  Notecards are in progress.  I’m constantly thinking about it.  But it needs time.  And that’s time I wish I could be querying it, but as I’ve said before, it’s not flippin’ ready yet.  And that’s the biggest bug in my butt here.  I can’t send out an inferior, crap manuscript.  Can’t do that.  So I gotta cool my heels and wait till I can make it better.  Sometimes I just wish I could work faster.  But it is what it is.

I’m still hoping to make my one HUGE goal of submitting something this year.  Will probably be Alpha Female, which is going okay, except that the story got away from me and may no longer fit with the antho I was looking to submit it to.  Oh well.  It’s one of my rules: I go where the story takes me, even if I outlined it a certain way or had a different idea in the beginning.  I can submit it elsewhere if need be, so this isn’t wasted time.  And I’m getting good practice on writing on a deadline. 

This whole go where the story takes me thing is how Hereafter went from comedy to friggin dark fantasy and how Survivor turned into a rich, complex story about several key characters versus the few I wanted to focus on.  It’s how Pirouette went from practically fanfic (and no, I’m not proud of it at all, but it did start the whole thing in motion…gulp..5 years ago) to its own world and own characters and its own plot and worldbuilding and such.  But if I hadn’t followed the story for the 11 months it took to write that critical first draft, Pirouette would not exist as it is today.  I’m positive about that one.  So, Alpha Female changed a bit.  I like the changes.  I think they are strengthening the story.  I’ll make a ruling after I’m done with the first draft whether or not I’m going to try to revise it to the antho specs, or just revise/polish it and send it elsewhere.

So I haven’t been sitting on my butt moaning my fate.  I’ve been productive.  I just need perspective, you know?  I need to believe, now more than ever, that I can succeed at this.  It’s been my dream since I was a little girl.  It’s what I am.  And I want so desparately to get my stuff out there, and maybe make a living doing it.  Just got to wait my turn.

Reassessing and making decisions.

Whilst on vacation, I did alot of thinking and brainstorming and figuring.  I did a bit of writing and a bit of revision, but mostly kept things open because it was vacation.  Luckily, the Inner Slave Driver was actually in agreement with me this time.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to work on one book at a time.  Working on three wasn’t difficult, but it was cutting into the time I could be working on Pirouette (we’re back to Pirouette now, no third draft or 1.0).  While it was good to take a break, I’m now starting to feel the urge again.

Considered doing another rewrite for the sheer amount of stuff that needs to be changed or fixed.  A lot of people I asked about it strongly suggested against not doing a rewrite because I should learn how to revise.  Flamebound is the first novel/novella I’ve attempted to revise since a failed attempt in 2004ish.  Unfortunately, with the amount of work I still have yet to do on Flamebound (before even making the changes and such), it won’t be ready by the end of the year.  I just can’t see it happening. 

With Broken, that can be done whenever.  I have no set deadline or timeframe.  When I can, I will continue work on it.

However, my one big goal was to get something out THIS YEAR.  With the year half gone, I need to get moving.  And I feel the urge with Pirouette.  I’m using a mix of methods for this.  Some HTRYN methods and some of my own.  Also Holly Lisle’s One Pass Revision methods. Going to be notecarding soon, to figure out how the scenes are working (or not working).  I need to get a handle on Alisia and Lucien’s relationship arc.  Also Raelan’s (the villain).  I may go through them separately and then string it all back to together once it’s good.  I’ll be rewriting some things.  Refiguring others.  I’m also going through every single crit I got and making notes.  I thought I’d remember and I didn’t remember alot of it (this is from last year on the 2nd draft).  Some things I fixed in the 3d draft, but there’s still alot that’s messed up.  I’m also going to be doing some Tarot readings and some journal entries in Alisia’s voice.  I might write some in longhand.  Basically, I’m using a bunch of things that I think will help.  And I want to get through this rather quickly (not crappy, mind you, just quickly) so I can get it to my critiquers. 

I hope this will be it (ha, I said that last time) and I can move forward.  My idea is to get it to be the best it can be, using all of the things I’ve learned and using my critters’ insight.  I’m hoping I can nail it, or at least come close, this go-around.

I made a discovery while reading one of my critter’s notes.  The 2nd draft sucked.  Yeah, it had its good points, but most of it was awful.  Granted, I wrote it in 2007 almost completely with voice recognition software (and, despite my fearsome editing skills, I still missed a ton of mis-recognitions 😦  ) and well….I’ve gotten better over the past 3 years.  I think I can do a better job.

But I believe in the story.  I wouldn’t be working myself into a tizzy if I didn’t.  Sure, I could move on, but regardless if this book gets published, I need to learn to revise/edit.  Although I might be one of those writers that just does multiple drafts.  Hopefully, I’ll get a clue.  Meantime, I’ll be plugging away at Pirouette.  It needs to shine.