you have to name your big gulp

Me: So, I’m desperately searching for this new book I read about online.
Ed: Oh?
Me: Yeah, and I can’t find it anywhere. I swear I read an article about it just a few days ago. But I can’t remember the title, the author, the main character, nothing. Not even where I read about it. But the basic plot is that objects disappear if you don’t say their names often enough.
Ed: Kind of like this book you’re talking about.
Me: Um. YEAH. That’s creepy.

Ed: And you’ve Googled it?
Me: Yes! And I can’t find it! I’m starting to wonder if I dreamed this, but it’s too detailed. The main character intentionally misnames hers suitcase to see how long it would take to disintegrate. So, look– *picks up cup* You don’t say “cup” when you pick this up, it eventually disintegrates. *pats table* Table. *touches Ed’s arm* Ed. *touches glasses* Glasses. Burgundy. Polka dots.
Ed *puts hands on his forehead*: Worried.

It’s a wonder I don’t give my husband a nervous breakdown fortnightly.

He named his Big Gulp before drinking it. Our 4yo looked at both of us as though we’d taken leave of our senses.
________________________

In other news, I finally found the book in question: AMATKA by Karin Tidbeck. Totally fascinating concept. It is now on my Kindle, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

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illustrations of depression (major trigger warning)

I’m using this post as a repository for images that resonate with me concerning depression, anxiety, fatigue, and so forth.

Who knows? There might even be happy stuff here on occasion.

But don’t expect it.

This is the darkness. Here there be dragons. And they’re not the cuddly kind.

_____________________________

For a long time now, this image has resonated with me the strongest. To varying degrees, this is exactly how I’ve felt for years.

_____________________________

Upon my counselor’s recommendation, I recently watched the movie INSIDE OUT for the first time. And then, a few days later, I watched it a second time. I’ll soon be watching it a third time, BECAUSE IT IS PERFECTION. It’s probably going to get its own full-length blogpost sometime soon. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s Sadness…who has her place and her vital purpose, and whom I’m slowly learning to love as my friend.

Sadness says, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.”

That’s a yes.

_____________________________

The 2014 film THE BABADOOK has come to mean different things to different people…but to me, it will always be The Spot-On Description of Depression (…and, now, of Grief).

The Babadook. Be careful clicking on this. It’ll give you nightmares.

From the movie:

I’ll wager with you,
I’ll make you a bet:
The more you deny,
The stronger I get.

You start to change
When I get in —
The Babadook growing
Right under your skin.

The more I deny…the more I don’t talk about depression…the less honest I am about it…the stronger it gets. And, as you can see, it’s horrific.

____________________________

This one speaks to my anxiety. I’m learning that a lot of my little habits lead back to this.

“Fear” by Alexandria Lomuntad

____________________________

More here, another time.

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i am so tired and i’m not okay (trigger warning: depression, anxiety, anger)

“Hey, how are ya?”
“How’s it goin’?”
“How’s life?”
“Whatcha been up to?”
“How are you?”

These are all variations of the same question. They all mean the same thing. They’re all delivered in the same tone. They all expect the same style of answer.

Tone: bright, casual, cheery
Style: superficial

In reality, this “how are you” is not a question, in spite of the punctuating “?” at the end.

It is not a question but a greeting.

It requires, expects, and prefers no other response but an equally bright, casual, cheery, superficial “fine.”

“Fine!”
“Great!”
“Just as good as it can be!”
“I’m blessed!”
“Nothin’ much, how ’bout you?”

I’m so tired of receiving that “greeting.”
I’m so tired of giving that response.

I was probably a young adult when I first became consciously aware of this particular difference between the American culture I was born into and the German culture I was raised in:

In American culture: “How are you?” is a greeting that requires little content in a reply.

In German culture: “How are you?” is a genuine request for a run-down on everything going on in your life and how you feel about it. It’s a conversation-starter never offered in passing.

If you’re a member of either culture visiting the other, you’re going to have a very tough time interacting with people if you don’t understand this distinction.

I’ve understood it for a long time. I’ve adapted. I never ask a German how they are if I’m not available to listen to the answer. When I ask an American how they are, I make sure I emphasize that I really want to know. If I don’t want to know, I don’t ask.

Sometimes I do use “how are you” as a greeting — but only in American society, and only when the situation obviously calls for that style of interaction. It’s still not my preference, though.

And I’m tired of hearing that greeting.
I’m tired of giving the standard “I’m fine” response.

Because I’m not fine.
I’m not okay.

I.

am.

tired.

I’m tired of not sharing openly and honestly about my struggles.
I’m tired of not sharing frankly what’s going on in my life.
I’m tired of not saying bluntly how I feel about it.
I’m tired of feeling like it’s not safe for me to be honest.
I’m tired of feeling fear and anger and frustration and sorrow more than I feel joy.
I’m tired of getting out of bed in the morning when I don’t want to get out of bed.
I’m tired of having neither the mental space nor the emotional energy nor the hours in the day to engage in all the things that make me come alive.
I’m tired of watching tv every single night because it makes for effective anesthesia.
I’m tired of eating chocolate just because it makes me feel better.
I’m tired of how fat and lazy and old I feel.
I’m tired of feeling afraid to talk about my true beliefs on social media.
I’m tired of not being able to say, “I am grieving, damnit! I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel guilty, and I don’t need anybody to fix it or try to talk me out of it.” (It’s not your job.)
I’m tired of feeling like my words never come across the way I mean them.
I’m tired of my “everyday” as something I feel I have to slog through instead of live to the fullest.
I’m tired of not feeling as resilient as I used to.
I’m tired of always being the strong one.
I’m tired of always being the one who listens.
I’m tired of always being the one who understands.
I’m tired of always being the one who empathizes.
I’m tired of having my faith questioned by people who don’t see my life inside and out on a daily or weekly or even monthly basis.
I’m tired of being accused of complaining.
I’m tired of being accused of being negative. (Guess what? IT’S NOT ALL SUNSHINE LOLLIPOPS KITTENS RAINBOWS SPARKLIES.)
I’m tired of hearing all the voices in my life and in my head that say I need to have Joy instead of depression.
I’m tired of the “norm” that compares my life to others’ and says, “Look, they have it worse than you, so you should be thankful and grateful and happy for what you have.”
I’m tired of hearing people tell me I should enjoy XYZ when I’m unable to.
I’m tired of feeling like a failure as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a writer, as a human.
I’m tired of so rarely having a real, deep, meeting-of-the-spirits conversation with my husband.
I’m tired of feeling responsible for everyone and everything.
I’m tired of never getting enough sleep, even when I work hard to arrange my schedule for getting enough sleep.
I’m tired of worrying about, oh, pretty much every single person in my life.
I’m tired of the lying bastard named Depression, who is utterly beyond my control and is NOT a sign that I need more faith, thank you very sarding much.
I’m tired of feeding Depression by not acknowledging its very strong reality in my life.
I’m tired of my brain chemicals and neurons not functioning in an ideal manner.
I’m tired of the To-Do List.
I’m tired of worrying about money.
I’m tired of thinking, as I write this, that I’m going to get criticism in response and experience emotionally radioactive fallout as a result.

I’m…just…tired.

And I’m not okay.

_____________________________

It seems needful to add that in all of this, I do not feel suicidal. My “I am tired” is not a statement of “I want to end things.” It is a statement of this:

I am tired and not okay.

I’m getting mad over being so damn tired and not okay.

I want change.

I’m not asking for solutions, so please don’t give me advice because I don’t want it right now. (Again: It’s not your job. If you’d like to pray for me, that would be most welcome.)

I needed to continue my process by writing these things out and making them public. That is the purpose of this post.

I said what I needed to.

My hope is that it’ll help me feel less tired.

Time will tell.

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listening to the rain (a brief treatise on fresh grief)

What do you do when your head and heart both are overfull and empty at the same time?

I’m sitting here in my car, parked in my driveway, waiting for my daughter to wake up so we can go into the house. She has spent the last few days and nights with my parents, and while I’ve enjoyed my mini-vay, I feel an urgency to get back to reading C.S. Lewis’s THE SILVER CHAIR with my kid.

A mother reading to her daughter.
Mothers and daughters have weighed heavily on my mind and heart of late.

One of the daughter’s favorite shows, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” asks the question, “What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad, you could roar?”

A similar set of questions has plagued me for the past 10 days…but mine go something like this:

What do you do with the sad that you feel?
When you feel so sad, you could soar
gently and without fuss on an updraft of foreign emotion
out of your daily life and
into some *between* state
neither dead nor truly living
simply drifting along
an automaton waltzing through life’s daily requirements
to the rhythm of
i-don’t-care
i-don’t-care
i-don’t-care
a beat as steady as a heart too calm
too deeply in repose
too distant ever to answer another call?

What do you do when you feel this grief,
this pain that underwhelms:

–i am not impressed with you
–i shall go about my life because i have such security
–oh pain, you do not own me

and overwhelms:
–i cannot begin to handle you
–i cannot anything
–what life?

How do you take your next breath?

Is it even yours to begin with?

Is the beginning of a next breath. even. yours.?

I do take my next breath
and the next
and the next

But they don’t happen in some serene cocoon
of Comprehension Of Death
no

Oh, on a certain level
I understand

We Live In A Fallen World
Death Is Not The End
At Least She’s Not In Pain Anymore
She’s In A Better Place
The Lord Plucked Her, Beautiful Flower, From His Garden And Took Her Home
do you really think any of that shit matters to me

when i grip my kitchen counter
trying to hold on
un
unable
sliding down the front of my dishwasher
oh so recently having completed its cycle
having done its job on the earth
having fulfilled its purpose
oh happy dishwasher
spewing its drying heat over me like vomit
all to the tune of
the cat’s ingurgitating her meat food
slurp smack
as i seek refuge with my cheek pressed against the floor
my nose in last month’s crumbs i haven’t bothered to sweep
scrubbing the cold linoleum with my tears

good
god
WHY

do you think any of your platitudes matter?
the strung-together syllables of anesthesia
that make so much sense when you’re not in agony

spare me

try listening to the rain
do you hear that hollow growling sound?

i tell you, it is Death

come too soon for her
come too soon for us all

come.
too.
soon

“I needed this today,” says I. “This quiet resting, this listening to the rain. They held her funeral this morning.”

“Rain washes everything away,” answers a friend.

That is the answer to what we do. That is the Truth.

So I let the rain come.

In my kitchen, in front of the dishwasher. With the heat and the filthy tear-washed floor and my soft-howled pleas for an explanation.

I let the rain come.

(completed and posted on 06/26/2017, backdated to June 2, 2017)

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for Christians

I don’t often wax on (or off) about my faith on this blog–mainly because, if you’ve found your way here, you probably did so for the writing and reading and snark, not the “religion” stuff. (Note: I’m not religious. I’m a Jesus-follower. There’s a distinct difference. If you want me to wax and polish that in another post, lemme know. 😉 )

Anywho, ballyhoo.

The current social and political climate in the United States of America is bringing me way low. Still, I sit in a place of privilege because I’m white, educated, and middle-class-ish. Husband has full-time & long-term employment, gets benefits; we’d do better financially if I took at least a part-time job, but we’re not in a position that I *have* to, so I can stay at home with kiddo and stay at home and write (sometimes); we have biological family who help us out with kiddo’s schooling and with LIFE; we have an adopted community that helps with LIFE; we have a network of local connections going back 25 years; we speak English, blah blah more privileged stuff blah.

So, I can sit here fairly comfortably at my newish laptop, reading Twitter and Facebook and news sites and bemoan the state of the Union in *empathy* with the under- and non-privileged, but it’s not like I’m out there getting shot for wearing a hoodie. I know where my next meal is coming from. I can walk into a bank and immediately get service and talk to personnel in English about my needs. I don’t have to know what month Flag Day is before I’m allowed to be a citizen.

That said, my heart still breaks…my soul is crying…my spirit feels, in many ways, broken–all because I see (with my limited sight) the pain and anguish people are suffering all over the world and all over this country, and I see the leaders of this country apparently doing everything they can to increase that suffering instead of diminishing it as they swore to do.

And what rends my heart to shreds most violently is that I see humans who claim Jesus Christ cheering on these corrupt ones instead of rejecting them.

So, I have something to say to my fellow humans who claim Him as their Lord and profess to pledge their allegiance to Him alone (wording intentional, *ahem*). If you’re not one of them and don’t want to read further, I understand, and I hold no negative thoughts or emotions toward you. If you’re not one of them and you *do* read further, please don’t hesitate to ask me anything you like about what I’ve written.

I am always open to talking of these things.
They are the core of my very existence.

If you are one who claims Jesus as Lord and feel moved to converse, please also do not hesitate.
If you are one who claims Jesus as Lord and feel moved to excoriate me or anyone else who comments, check yourself or wreck yourself. I will delete inappropriate or abusive comments and block you from this blog without hesitation.

If you’re a Christian, this one’s for you.

(I have also posted a version of this on Facebook.)

“Take a good look at her. She has had five husbands. And the sixth man in her life, with whom she is presently living, is not her husband. But Jesus Christ does the unthinkable. He introduces himself to her as her new Husband–the seventh* man in her life, the heavenly suitor who will love her like no man ever has. He will turn her tragedy into purity, her ashes into beauty, her misery into joy.

“This woman is a Samaritan; she’s a half-breed–half Jew and half Gentile. In other words, she comprises both Jew and Gentile in her body. She depicts the bride of Jesus Christ, comprised of fallen, tragic humanity, Jew and Gentile, who have been re-created anew to be the masterpiece of God’s matchless grace.”

–Frank Viola,
FROM ETERNITY TO HERE
(*7 symbolizes perfection)

So. If you’re going to ally yourself with Jesus the Anointed One of God Eternal, here are a few facts about yourself you’re going to have to accept:
(Note: every following “you” is collective, not singular.)

You are a hybrid.
You are a half-breed.
You are a wayward, fallen, tragic creature.
You are hunted.
You are a foreigner.
You are a stranger.
You are despised.
You are destitute.
You are homeless.
You are a refugee.

In His glorious, immeasurable Love, God the Father has handselected you to be the Bride for his Son.
In His glorious, immeasurable Love, Jesus the Anointed One has paid the bloodprice that is your dowry.
In His glorious, immeasurable Love, the Holy Spirit has led you to the Lord Your Bridegroom.

(Again, every “you” is collective, not singular.)

You are become His Bride, one day to become His Wife.
You are adopted into His Family.
You are a Living Stone being built into His House.
You are redeemed.
You are safe.
You are a citizen under His Lordship.
You are known to Him.
You are Beloved.
You are abundantly rich.
You are home.

You are still a refugee.

You have refuge in Him.

He does not reject the poor, the homeless, the destitute, the desperate, the alien, the stranger, the foreigner. He does not reject the refugee. He gave Himself to such as these, NO MATTER THE COST TO HIMSELF. This is His courage, His strength, His obedience, and His Love.

(Again: “you” is collective.)

And He lives in you.
His fullness lives in you.
ALL OF HIM lives in you.
His love, his courage, his strength to act in compassion and grace.

Is there a risk in welcoming the stranger? Is there danger in harboring the refugee?

Maybe. Maybe not. “But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
With the time that is given us.
With His Love that “tabernacles” inside us.
With His strength and the courage that reside in us, the Bride of the Anointed One.

The Lord has purified for Himself a Bride who shares His spiritual DNA. As Eve shared Adam’s DNA because she was made out of him, so the Bride has a nature identical to the Bridegroom’s. There is no distinction between the two of them, and when God looks at the Bride, He sees His Son.

Jesus the unique, Anointed Son of God welcomes the refugee.

So does His Bride, the church, the collective of the Called-Out, who is Herself a (formerly destitute) refugee from a fallen world.

The Bride of Christ does not reject the refugee.

And if “the Bride” does reject the refugee, then she is not of Him; she does not belong to Him; and she is not the Bride.

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reading and (w)riting, no ‘rithmetic

Last night, I wrote about my hope, my not-hope, and my forever-hope, all threaded through with the discouraging guanoshow that was 2016 A.D.

Today, I turn my mind and heart to lovelier things. When it came to reading and writing, 2016 was one of my best years ever. 🙂

On Reading in 2016

In 2016, I started reading 67 books, and I finished 64 of them. (The unfinished 3, I just couldn’t get into or enjoy, but I won’t mention them by title.) That’s 17 more books than I read in 2015, and I credit intentionality for the difference. Last year at this time, I purposed to read as many women authors as possible. At some point, my to-read list and to-read stack basically exploded. When the rumblings echoed away and the dust settled, I found a SMORGASBORD BOUNTY OF WOMEN’S VOICES, and I devoured them with vigor. YUMBLY IN MY READER TUMBLY.

This was the first time in my life I’ve read so many women in the space of a year, AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

These voices rang fresh and clear in my mind. They reverberated with beauty and sorrow, disgust and joy. They spoke things I’d never before heard. They made me laugh and cry and think. They inspired me to write more. They inspired me to write more freely.

Reading these women, I found myself living the reality that I could write as they do, unbound by shackles.

HALLELUJAH I’M FREE

But more on my writing later. First, their writings.

Books I Read in 2016

Asterisks indicate particular favorites.

  1. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee ***
  2. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke *
  3. Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse *
  4. Journey to America by Sonia Levitin
  5. Dark Beyond the Stars edited by David Gatewood *
  6. Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas *
  7. Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood, #1) by Aliette de Bodard
  8. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor *
  9. The Giver by Lois Lowry *
  10. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab *
  11. When the Silence Ends by Jade Kerrion
  12. In the Woods by Tana French *
  13. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin **
  14. Gateway to Reality (Reality Series #1) by Becca J. Campbell
  15. Kushiel’s Chosen (Kushiel’s Legacy, #2) by Jacqueline Carey
  16. “The Father Hunt” (A Flawed Story) by Becca J. Campbell
  17. The Selection (The Selection, #1) by Kiera Cass
  18. The Likeness by Tana French *
  19. Kushiel’s Avatar (Kushiel’s Legacy, #3) by Jacqueline Carey *
  20. Open Minds (Mindjack Saga, #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn *
  21. A Wind in the Door (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #2) by Madeleine L’Engle
  22. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) and short story “Glitches” by Marissa Meyer *
  23. The Haunting of Gillespie House by Darcy Coates
  24. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess **
  25. The Three by Sarah Lotz
  26. Blood Oranges by Caitlín R. Kiernan writing as Kathleen Tierney
  27. Hopeful Monsters by Hiromi Goto
  28. You by Caroline Kepnes **
  29. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  30. Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips
  31. The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal
  32. Sword-Bound (The Sword-Dancer Saga, #7) by Jennifer Roberson
  33. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
  34. The Wild Road (Book 3 of Karavans) by Jennifer Roberson
  35. Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1) by Rysa Walker *
  36. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  37. The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude *
  38. Just One Damn Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, Book 1) by Jodi Taylor *
  39. Of Bone and Steel and Other Soft Materials, a short story by Annie Bellet
  40. The Paper Magician (Paper Magician Series, #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg *
  41. The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater **
  42. Tiny Bites: A Collection by Stacy Claflin
  43. Kindred by Octavia Butler *
  44. The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl *
  45. Asylum by Madeleine Roux
  46. The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau
  47. Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse, #5) by Charlaine Harris
  48. Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
  49. Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
  50. Candles Burning by Tabitha King and Michael McDowell
  51. Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
  52. The Christening Quest by Elizabeth Scarborough
  53. Ill Wind (Weather Warden, #1) by Rachel Caine *
  54. Trey of Swords by Andre Norton
  55. Uprooted by Naomi Novik **
  56. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere, 1) by Meg Elison *
  57. The Fading Dusk (Smoke and Mirrors #1) by Melissa Giorgio
  58. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando *
  59. Jinian Footseer by Sheri S. Tepper
  60. The Kraken Sea by E. Katherine Tobler
  61. Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madeleine Roux *
  62. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope *
  63. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness **
  64. The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts *

Recalling these stories is like thinking back on the utter joy and satisfaction surrounding delectable holiday meals. Here’s hoping for even greater tastiness in 2017.

So…what *is* in store for 2017 A.D.’s To-Read List?

Well…lemme tell ya. The other day, during our family’s roadtrip back to Oklahoma from our Florida-panhandle Christmas, I decided to head a head start on my reading list for this year. I already had a few titles and authors in mind, but I hadn’t collected them all in one place yet. Here’s the tentative reading plan so far; the only order is “ladies first” again (with a single exception):

Currently reading: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Further reading
Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl
Sarah Maas, Throne of Glass 2
Aliette de Board, Obsidian & Glass 2
Lowry’s The Giver sequel
Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows
more from Kerrion’s Double Helix series?
Tana French on nightstand (that’s not the title, it’s where I’ve stacked the book)
Jemisin, 100k Kingdoms 2
Cass, The Selection 2
Quinn, Mindjack 2
L’Engle #3
Meyer, Cinder 2
Bloggess, Furiously Happy
Carrie Ryan 3
Walker, Timebound 2
Taylor, St. Mary’s 2
Holmberg, Paper Magician 2
Stiefvater, Raven Boys 2
Sookie Stackhouse #6
Caine, Weather Warden 2
Lilith Saintcrow, Night Shift
Delilah Dawson, Three Lives of Lydia
Ellison, Road to Nowhere 2
Harkness, Discovery of Witches 2
Kepnes, Hidden Bodies
St Crow, Strange Angels 2
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Slipping, Lauren Beukes
Wake of Vultures, Lila Bowen
Fifth Season, Jemisin
Thin Air, Paver
Copper Promise, Williams
Crosstalk, Willis

Wendig: Aftermath, Invasive, Thunderbird
Nod, Adrian Barnes
Dark Matter, Blake Crouch
My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Hendrix
NOS4A2, Joe Hill
Versailles, Yannick Hill
Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones
Paper Menagerie, Liu
Lovecraft Country, Ruff

Well, then. There’s my 2017 reading list already more than halfway sorted, and the year isn’t even a day old yet. And so it goes.

On (W)riting in 2016

Compared to previous recent years, I accomplished quite a bit in 2016. Not as much as I’d planned — I published only one book instead of two — but I ain’t kicking myself over it.

Not too much, anyway. 😉

The Elevator

elevator_cvr_lrgIn tags list at the end of this post, please to be clicking “The Elevator” for more details about this novel. For now, I’ll just say that I consider The Elevator my best published work to-date. As of this writing, it has but one Amazon review to its name, which makes me sad for it. Completely objectively and also quite biasedly, I think the book deserves more. Apparently, others’ mileage varies. Oh well. Can’t make everypony happy, and I long ago decided not even to try. 😉

But come on. It’s a space fantasy adventure with a chaotic psychopath, a cross-dimensional traveler, a vampire, a mech-woman, and two adorable smartass street urchins, all tied up in the nature of Reality at the heart of the multiverse. Who wouldn’t want to read that?

*ahem*

Don’t answer that. Unless it’s with a resounding silence in which you fork over money for my book. In that case, BRING IT ON.

I…uh, what?

elvendeadThe Elven Dead & Other Legends of the Light-Walkers

Ohhhhh, did I ever have such plans to publish this anthology in 2016!

Alas and alack, ’twas not to be.

I just ran out of oomph, y’all. In its final eleventh, 2016 managed to plaster me with that guano I mentioned before, and I didn’t cleanse myself of the disgusting sludge in time to hit “publish.” The short story collection *is* complete, minus a couple of touch-ups. I even have the cover art, thanks to fabulously talented Sam Hunt. All that’s left is to put in some butt-to-chair time to get the book out into all y’all’s greedy little reader hands.

Come on, I know you want it. 😉

Soon, my inklings. SOON.

Writerly To-Dos for 2017

What’s next? Well, that’s an excellent question, dearies. In early December 2016, I counted up the number of projects I could possibly turn to next — after taking care of the pesky pubbing details I mentioned above, of course. The count numbered 9. I repeat, NINE.

Nine project ideas with equal potential for becoming my next completed work.

People ask writers where we get our ideas. The better question is how can we NOT get ideas, so that we have space and time enough to work with the ideas we do have.

When it comes to writers’ ideas, picture a closet with all the junk just shoved in and the door slammed shut, in which each junky-seeming object represents a story or character idea. Except that the closet is actually a warehouse the size of Montana.

That’s why we never need people to tell us *their* ideas for a story *we* “should” write. Our ideas warehouse is already filled to bursting at the seams. Dude. The roof has practically exploded off. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S GOOD AND TRUE AND WRITERLY IN THIS WORLD, DON’T STUFF ANYTHING ELSE IN THERE

*ahem* But I digress.

In trying to figure out what to work on next, I enumerated and described my options to my writer friend Becca. She listened and asked pointed questions. Simply through conversing about my dilemma and sifting through the story ideas in my mind, I realized that I kept coming back with excitement to one particular idea:

the story of Taeven Ravenhair.

Taeven makes a cameo appearance in The Dying of the Light (Legends of the Light-Walkers 3) and gets a mention in Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers 2). I penned the first 12k words of her tale for NaNoWriMo back in 2004 — and promptly screeched to a halt because I had no clue which word should be number 12,001. The story’s been shelved ever since.

But in 12 years, Taeven has never left me alone. She’s not naturally a patient person, but she has exerted a monumental amount of self-control, waiting her turn. So, as I shared a bit of Taeven with a fellow writer, suddenly it all turned crystal clear:

2017 is the year in which Taeven finally gets a real voice.

Of course, as soon as I decided this, I frantically typed out four pages of notes and then started writing a completely different story.

And so it goes, right? Busy, busy, busy.

This new story, currently entitled The Flight of Elfled unBlessed isn’t part of my Legends of the Light-Walkers series, but it does take place in that universe. It promises to be a novella, so I’m hoping it won’t take up too much of early 2017. But more on it later.

Taeven’s story has gathered dust under the title The Bearers of the Stones. I never really liked it, so I tried to come up with something more suitable while I was taking those four pages of notes. As of a couple of weeks ago, Taeven’s story is entitled Sister of the Black Flame — subject to change at my writerly whim. AH THE POWER MUAH-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA

So. 2017 shall be:

  • pubbing Light-Walker shorts collection
  • first draft of Taeven’s story, hopefully final draft
  • Elfled’s story
  • getting paperbacks prepped and on sale pages for all the longer works

Plus LIFE.

And enough.

For now. 😉

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a new hope (in the quiet, not in silence)

What a deceptive title.

One, because this post has nothing to do with Star Wars, at least not directly.
Two, because the hope I’m thinking of isn’t new in the conventional sense.

It’s more of a renewable hope. Or a continually-renewed hope.

I sit here in the final minutes of 2016 (it’s literally 5 minutes ’til midnight), typing on my laptop while the TV regales me with the blatherings of announcers, the poor enunciations of music artists, and the weird ramblings of a woman with green glitter lipstick worthy of Panem’s Capitol. I think of the illusory and foundationally meaningless construct of calendars and years’-ends. We humans get in such a tizzy at this time every year, never mind that flipping a calendar page from one month to the next or one year to the next has absolutely no connection to actual, tangible change.

I set my laptop aside to check windows for fireworks as 2017 A.D. rolls through the door.

The fireworks are audible from inside my living room, but I can’t see them from any of the windows. A quick call to my parents — one I make every year on January 1st at approximately 00:05am — sends love reverberating through the atmosphere. A good start to the new iteration of this particular human construct.

My husband went to bed at 22:35 (that’s 10:35pm); my four-year-old daughter trundled off to sleep at her usual time of 20:00. None of our friends were partying this year.

No one texts me.

This is probably the first time in 20 years that I’ve rung in the “new year” completely alone.

Shouldn’t this make me melancholy? I don’t know if it should (don’t should on me!), but it doesn’t. It’s kind of cozy, really. Until the timer turned them off a few minutes ago, the Christmas tree lights splashed a warm glow across my typing fingers; I’ve turned off the TV, so all is quiet, if not silence; I can hear my husband snoring, my clock ticking, my fridge chuckling. Sporadic fireworks still grace the night behind me, on the other side of the window.

I don’t type in silence, but I type in the quiet.

Ah. There’s the first ambulance siren of the year.

Peace. Peace for this year. Grace and mercy to those who aren’t starting 2017 in peace.

The clock is ticking.

The cat is sleeping under the darkened Christmas tree.

The year 2016 A.D. held so much grief.

Deaths of people I’ve long admired from great distances.
Death of confidence in the basic decency of humanity.
Death to idealism and optimism and other beneficent -isms — all of which are intimately connected with fellow humans-being.

I still like to think of myself as Eternal Optimist Woman, even though that belief has been sorely tried this year. I think the EOW has disintegrated into ash for the time being; I can only hope that, like the phoenix, she will rise from the ashes again.

She’s done it before.

And there’s that word again.

Hope.

I’ve pondered again and again whether or not I should wax political about the goings-on in the United States of America in 2016. And if I decided to wax that way, just what could or would or should (!) I say? But the emotional energy required take for such a blopgost (yes, blopgost) would be an expense I cannot afford.

The Babadook still lives in my basement*. He demands my intensive self-care, which includes not feeding my strength into something that won’t benefit anyone.

(*If this reference makes no sense to you, I recommend watching the movie The Babadook, which is basically a metaphor for depression.)

I will say this, since it relates to hope: I don’t hope for anything Good to come from the USA’s current president-elect. “I hope for no hope from him…poor clown,” as Amalthea told Molly Grue. (Although I know I’m doing Schmendrick an injustice; still, allow me my nerdy references, would you?) He has proven himself ridicule-worthy, dangerously unbalanced, selfish, self-absorbed, greedy, incapable of empathy, ableist, racist, misogynist, bigoted, prejudiced, childish, fiendish, and just plain gross.

If I were to put him into a novel, readers would mock me for writing such a parody of a villain. He’s so much Chaotic Evil as to be unbelievable. No one would read him.

(“He lied in every word, that hoary [emotional-]cripple with malicious eyes….”)

I cannot describe to you how much it cost me to write the preceding two paragraphs. I feel completely exhausted.

But.

The point is, I have no hope for the next year regarding the president-elect of the USA, his cabinet, his advisors, his family, his decisions, his intentions, his cronies, his sycophants. I have so little hope regarding any of those, it has passed zero and dropped squarely onto the negative side of the axis. And on the negative side, my hope moves ever more rapidly away from zero.

Thank God — literally — that the Reality which gives me hope is no human construct or human system.

When I was 19, my atheist friend said to me, “Courtney, I don’t care if you believe in God or not — but if you’re going to believe, you have to be able to tell me why.”

I had no answer for him then.

Nowadays, I have answers squooshing out of my ears, but that’s another tale and shall be told another time. 😉

My thought tonight is that because of my faith and in spite of the Chaotic Evil that has created a safe place for so many other evils to reveal themselves, I still have hope.

A renewable hope.

A continually-renewed hope.

What if we humans had a leader who cared? Who empathized? Who accepted us all, every one? Who wanted to build something beautiful and glorious and beneficial, instead of promising dread and fear and harm? What if we had a leader who actually did represent us and count us in and protect us and serve us and live for us and die for us? What if we had a leader truly “for the people” and “by the people”?

What if we humans had a leader truly made of Love?

I know of so many people who profess to follow this man named Jesus of Nazareth, the Anointed One (that’s what mashiach–“Messiah” and “Christ” mean) — and yet, they are so terrified of someone misleading “their country,” they actually believe that a human construct could “close the doors” of their churches.

(Fellow believers, how could you vote Chaotic Evil when you claim to follow the Perfect Lawfree Good, which never restricts freedom?)

The Good News is that no matter what any man-made system decides or does, the house being built by this Jesus of Nazareth will never close.

After all, He is a carpenter. He knows how to build a house with uncloseable doors.

But it’s not about the closing of doors. It’s about the closing of minds, the closing of hearts, the tearing-down of the differently-opinioned, the shutting-down of empathy, the removal of “with” from compassion (which leaves only passion, and of an undirected, malignant sort).

(Compassion, in case you didn’t know, means “suffering-with”; to have compassion on someone means to enter into their suffering, to become part of it and to make it part of you.)

And this closing off and shutting down is coming from those who profess to own the One who personifie(d)s opening up, feeling with, suffering with, building up, welcoming in.

My so-called fellow Jesus-followers rejected his example and his indwelling Lifespirit.

That, in my very subjective view, is the real tragedy of 2016 A.D., for it leads to the suffering of humanity, most especially including the impoverished and the unbelieving.
In regard to so-called Jesus-followers, this felt more like 1016 A.D.

They have forgotten their hope.

They have forgotten that their hope can be “new every morning”

(great is thy faithfulness).

Jesus the Anointed One, Son of God Most High and Head of His Body (the collective of Different Ones [definition of “saints”] in this world) — He is building a house.

His house has nothing to do with physical buildings ornamented with made-up names and stained-glass windows.

His house encompasses the universe itself.

He will build that house with or without those followers of his who happen to name themselves “American” (for you can be sure that *he* didn’t name them that). He will build his house with the people on the street corners, the ones who actually hear his words and listen to them and respond (Matthew 22). He doesn’t care where these people came from; they listen, and they come to him, and he loves them and takes them in.

They take his Hope and they eat it. They chew it. They swallow it whole.

And his Hope has no relation whatsoever to the construct of human politics or calendars.

In the vastness of the universe and the multi-directional eternity of history, human politics are less than a footnote. I’m not sure they’re even mentioned between the covers of the entire book.

I have hope.

Because I’m a stone in a wall that’s going to last forever. I am a stone in Reality.

That Reality behooves and encourages and enables me to feel-with and suffer-with those who feel deeply and suffer. And it’s the kind of suffering-with that leads to action. Compassion leads to getting my hands “dirty.”

I’m okay with that.

His hands were “dirtier” than mine ever can be.

I didn’t intend for this blopgost to turn into such a revelation about my beliefs. I wanted to keep it simple, really. But it just seemed like the words wanted to come out exactly as they did.

There goes the second set of sirens of the New Year.

No one wants to read a sermon first thing on January 1st (at least, I don’t know of anyone who does.)

Also, I’m tired and starting to fade toward sleep. And starting to type in my sleep; I’ve already had to delete two sentences because they made no sense. 😉 So I’ll wrap this up. There really should be some more thoughts here, but I don’t have any.

I’m too tired.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everypony!

Peace.

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current events; also, stereoscopic vision really freaks me out sometimes

The second half of this entry’s title was a note I emailed to myself more than 3 years ago under subject “blog not tweet.” Actually, the email’s subject line reads, “blog not twwet,” but Ima chalk that up to typo-ing. As it turns out, there are twelve emails nested under that subject, so I’m sharing their content here. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Blog Not Twwet, Because Clearly I Can’t Spell

It is not a happy thing when the baby eats a dead bug. *SIGH*
(2016 Note: This, too, is a message catapulted into this future from about three years ago. The baby has since turned into a preschooler, apparently suffering no ill effects from having consumed dead insect carapace.)

HEY I JUST MET YOU, AND THIS IS CRAZY
BUT LET’S TELL RIDDLES AND I’LL EAT YOU MAYBE.
(2016 Note: I’m assuming this references Gollum.)

Your choices change the direction of other people’s lives. You are not isolated.

(This one’s emphasized because: important.)

Sometimes you just gotta take a few minutes and shave your legs.
(2016 Note: NO.)

Floor messing with head PIC
(2016 Note: I have no idea what this means.)

And now, it seems, quotes:

“@BenHoward87: If you see a centaur, remember it is not your friend. It is a mythical creature and as such does have the capability for rational thought.”

“@BenHoward87: Peanuts cartoons + Morrissey lyrics = the hilarity of existential despair

“@scalzi: Most nerdy t-shirts just don’t seem that clever to me anymore. Clearly, my next t-shirt should read WHY ARE YOU ON MY LAWN”

Remember when Scully wore shoulder pads?

Remember when desktop monitors were the size of anvils?

Remember when we couldn’t Google anything?

Remember when payphones?

“@LeVostreGC: Siri, wher ys the horse and the ridere? Siri, wher ys the horn that was blowinge?”

Wher in the worlde ys Carmen Sandiego?

Just so you know, kinesio-taping your stomach to pull your abs together is not for sissies. #diastasisrecti
(2016 Note: I have a blog post about this. Search for it if you will. I’m too lazy to link to it right now.)

That awkward moment when you look in the mirror and there’s an ant crawling in your hair.

It occurs to me that I haven’t performed a solo in 7 years.
(2016 Note: It’s now been 10 years. I miss singing for audiences.)

Rain. Thunder. Contented. Sigh.
(2016 Note: Weirdness: As I’ve been copying & pasting the last ten lines or so, I’ve been listening to “Love, Reign O’er Me” by The Who. I didn’t know this line was coming up.)

I own a banana slicer and I am not ashamed.

In other news…

As part of my 2016 endeavor to read only women writers, I am currently in the middle of Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED. It is UTTERLY BRILLIANT. It’s one of those books that makes me want to do nothing but read. I resent Thanksgiving Day tomorrow because it will steal me away from this novel. I need to be working on my own WIP (newly retitled THE ELVEN DEAD AND OTHER LEGENDS OF THE LIGHT-WALKERS), but I’d rather read Novik’s book than work on my own.

DASH IT ALL.

P.S. In addition to random “blog not twwet,” I also ran across various Consortium emails from five and more years ago. I let them suck me into reading them, and now I just feel sad. I miss the Consortium-in-its-heyday so much. Being continually involved and multiple-times-daily connected with other artists was a balm to my soul and a life-giver to my spirit. Author-publishing is a lonely business. I desperately miss all-but-living-with other artists, back when everything was running smoothly. We made magic.

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my 10 novels

Since my social media vacay apparently has catapulted me into random-abundant-blogging mode, and since I have books on the brain (HA HA BUSINESS AS USUAL AMIRITE), here are the titles and statuses? stati? of my finished…um…”finished” novels.

Egad, I bet ya’ll thought that sentence would never end.

(BUT I HAVE A MILLION OF THEM OH YES YOU CANNOT HIDE OR FLEE YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED AND YOU WILL LIKE IT)

*ahem*

*eyeroll*

My Ten Novels

1. “‘S’ Is for Survival” — a practice novel

  • completed at age 15
  • YA soft sci-fi/coming-of-age
  • not related to Sue Grafton’s mystery novels
  • inspired by The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson
  • two drafts; will never see the light of day

2. Mindsnatcher — a practice novel

  • completed at age 17
  • YA sci-fi
  • two drafts; will never see the light of day

3. Tomato Electric Destroy Force 9: Writer Dearest and the Interlopers

  • a novel about one writer’s adventure through NaNoWriMo
  • 3rd or 4th draft stage
  • will see the light of Publication Day if I can firgure out how to author-pub it; it contains must-have images and would work best in color

4. Colors of Deception (Demons of Saltmarch, #1) — published by Consortium Books

5. Shadows after Midnight (Demons of Saltmarch, #2) — published by Consortium Books

6. Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch, #3) — published by Consortium Books

7. Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1) — published by Consortium Books

8. Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #2) — published by Consortium Books

9. The Dying of the Light (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #3) — author-published, Faeddra Books

10. The Elevator — author-published, Faeddra Books

Big ol’ FYI. 🙂

What’s next?

Next is the Legends of the Light-Walkers short story anthology I’m working on. My goal is to pub by December 31st; preferably earlier, so I can do a Christmas special and whatnot. But I’m not pressuring myself. The holidays are stressful enough as it is, and I plan to enjoy myself in any case. So we shall see what we shall see. In the meantime, my coffee cup needs a refill. Laterz, inklings!

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NEW BOOK!!!

By-the-by…

The Elevator is out!

Which is, *ahem*, not to say that the elevator is out-of-order. In my humble opinion, it is rather functional. IT IS ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE. Feast thou thine eyes upon this:

elevator_cvr_lrg

Buy now!
Kindle
Nook
Inktera (formerly Page Foundry)
24Symbols
iTunes
Kobo

Y’all, I gotta tell ya, I am just tickled all shades of hot pink to make this book available to you. Most of the time (aside for the occasional bouts of wailing despair) I had a blast writing it. Its first draft flowed from my fingertips (read: creative brain) more easily than any draft manuscript I’ve ever keyboarded. The revisions weren’t always fun, but they kept me interested and increased my own love for the story and its characters. Those characters actually took over the story to a greater degree than I’ve ever experienced in any other story (with the possible exception of Tomato Electric Destroy Force 9: Writer Dearest and the Interlopers, but that’s another story and shall be published another time). At any rate, I HAD FUN.

I hope you do, too. When you read it, I mean. Oh, and in your daily lives as well, my dear inklings. Don’t worry. I got yer back.

Below, please find (PLEASE! FIND IT! IT MIGHT BE MISSING!) the cover copy for The Elevator. I owe friend and fellow wordslinger Josh Unruh many heaps of thanks for helping me punch this up. He’s good at cover copy. I ain’t.

So, without further ado or adon’t:

The Elevator

Went Banning just wants to find his father. Not the cold-hearted authoritarian who raised him, but his real father: a being of cosmic myth and legend, Went’s last chance at love and acceptance.

To find this man, all Went has to do is journey across infinity to the heart of the multiverse.

In an elevator.

This contraption of fanciful magic, futuristic science, or both, allows him to travel the vast reaches of stars and moons and planets, following the series of clues his real father left behind.

But Went runs afoul of Carrigan Bell, a brutish slave trader with a core of all-consuming chaos. Two guttersnipes and a cyborg also stumble into Bell’s clutches. Went doesn’t know if his fellow captives are help or hindrance.

But he must decide quickly. Carrigan Bell perverts everything he touches, and he’s more than willing to spread his dark horror to his captives and across the universe.

Across every universe.

Went’s search for his father will lead Bell right to the control room of Reality. From here, Bell’s dark chaos could swallow all existence. The only way Went can stop him is to reach the heart of the multiverse first. But can Went bring himself to give up everything he’s ever wanted in order to save everything that is?
104,000 words

Happy reading!

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