junowrimo day 3

Today’s stats:

titles: 1 (The Priestess Murders — a Light-Walkers murder mystery)
today’s wordcount: 1,774
total wordcount: 7,580
chapters: 1
cups of coffee consumed: 9
beers consumed: 1
sleuths: 2
assistants/servants: 2 onscreen, 2 offscreen
murder scenes: 1
corpses: 1 offscreen, 1 onscreen
dismembered body parts: 3
suspects-to-be: 4
deceptions: 6

I’m enjoying this story, but if it weren’t JuNoWriMo, I’d be heavily editing already. I’m 7k+ words in, and I’m still in Chapter 1. And I also haven’t even gotten Body #2 onscreen yet. I know there’s no hard and fast rule about when/how that kind of thing is “supposed to” happen, but it still seems to me like I’m taking WAY too much time about it.

Building realistic suspense is hard, y’all.

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junowrimo day 2

Today’s stats:

titles: 1 (The Priestess Murders — a Light-Walkers murder mystery)
total wordcount: 5,839
cups of coffee consumed: 7
beers consumed: 1
sleuths: 2
assistants/servants: 2 onscreen, 2 offscreen
murder scenes: 1
corpses: 1 offscreen, 1 onscreen
dismembered body parts: 2
suspects-to-be: 2
deceptions: 5

The plot, like the blood of the murder victims, thickens.

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junowrimo day 1

I tried to post this last night but fell asleep at the keyboard. So.

Without further ado or adon’t, yesterday’s stats for my first NaNo Day One in seven years and my first ever JuNo Day One, period:

titles: 1 (The Priestess Murders — a Light-Walkers murder mystery)
wordcount on story: 2,427
wordcount on notes:879
total wordcount: 3,306
cups of coffee consumed: 4
beers consumed: 1
sleuths: 2
assistants/servants: 2 onscreen, 2 offscreen
murder scenes: 1
corpses: 2 offscreen
suspects-to-be: 2
deceptions: 2
movies/TV shows watched by 5yo: 2

Excellent start, I daresay. 😉 Onward!

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the one where i don’t make wise choices sometimes

Dear Two Remaining Faithful Readers,

I’m back.

Sort of.

Maybe.

Long story short (too late), I have made the probably unwise choice of signing up for JuNoWriMo. It’s 99% like NaNoWriMo, except that it’s in June instead of November and it’s not affiliated with NaNoWriMo except for having gained permission to use the concept Mad Dash of Writing a 50K Novel in One Month That Isn’t November.

It’s Becca‘s fault for telling me that she’s doing a murder mystery for hers, and trying our respective hands at a murder mystery is something both of us have expressed a desire to do, and when she told me she’s going for it, it took me about five minutes to roll my eyes and sigh and come around to deciding that I wanted to hop on this crazytrain too.

So. There you have it. I’m doing a murder mystery for JuNoWriMo, and I’m setting it in my Light-Walkers Universe. After all, if I’m gonna indulge in complete insanity, I might as well go all-out and do my first ever murder mystery AND add magic and otherworldly creatures and lack of “modern” technology into the mix. It’ll be FINE.

Oh but come to think of it, it’s not actually my first murder mystery. My very first novel was a murder mystery. I was 12, I got 1.5 chapters in, and the gardener did it. I was highly inspired by Jessica Fletcher at the time. I still have the two typewriter pages somewhere. They’re a thing of ancient beauty, lemme tell ya.

During June I’ll try to update here daily with word count and story progress and amount of caffeine consumed. I have zero idea if I can actually swing the requisite 1667 words per day — in regular life I struggle to write even a little bit every day. But I also know that when motivated by sheer panic and the cheers & desperation of fellow writers, I can accomplish way more than I give myself credit for. So we shall see.

It’s worth noting that I’ve never done JuNoWriMo before, but I’m a NaNoWriMo veteran. From 2003-2011, I “won” it 7 times out of 9. Hopefully, some of those mad skillz still lurk deep within the recesses of my writerly subconscious.

I’m off now. Need to do some more plotting (murder mysteries are complicated!) and make sure the five-year-old isn’t torturing the cat. Ta-ta for now, cutie pies. *kisses*

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to blog or not to blog — is that the question

Hello, blog. Long time no write.

As the two of you who still read this blog already know, I went on a social media hiatus last summer. I call it that, but what I’ve really done is absent myself from the platforms of Facebook and Twitter. The reasons for my decision are myriad, but the most important ones are:

  1. Both platforms bring out the worst in people I know (Facebook) and in people I don’t know (Twitter).
  2. The more time I spent on those platforms, the stronger the Babadook became in my life.
  3. These two platforms have edges without railings, and there’s a sheer drop-off that will plunge you into an endless abyss if you step over the edge. I was too close to the edge.

So I flew instead: away from both platforms. And I’m a happier person for it. I’m also a more patient person, a more productive person, a more focused person, a more giving and forgiving person. No amount of online “social” interaction is worth losing that. I’ve checked back in lurkingly with both platforms twice since last summer. Both times, the people on them showed me that little has changed. (And where it has changed, it’s worse.) So I know I made the right choice.

In the meantime, I thought I’d be blogging more, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve felt no draw to use this platform, either. My lack of online presence is horribly detrimental to my book sales…but honestly, I can’t bring myself to care. The pocket change I get from book sales isn’t enough to make me want to try herding the cats of online presence, branding, blah blah marketing emergency blah.

Instead of blogging, I’ve been noveling. In less than one year, I finished the first and second drafts of The Flight of Elfled unBlessed, my latest novel in the Light-Walkers universe. I’ll publish it this year and probably spit out an announcement into the toxic cesspools of online social media, then forget those cesspools again. We’ll see. It’s a new year, I have lots of plans, I have no idea if they’re going to come to fruition, but I’m setting goals and loosing my arrows at targets to do my part in getting those organisms to produce. This is the year of mixing metaphors, and it is glorious.

I’ll say that I’d like to get back to blogging regularly, but I don’t know if that’s a realistic hope for myself or if it’s even a thing I need to be doing. If you see me here (you two Faithful Readers who remain), then you’ll know the answer to that. And so will I.

Toodles and kisses!

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2017 Book Reads and 2018 Reading Hopes

As has become my annual tradition, here’s a list of the books I read during the previous year. In 2017 I read 66 books, beating my 2016 record of 64. Beating 2016’s record was my goal, so go me. For 2018, my goal is to read a non-fiction book concurrently with every fiction read. I’ve rarely been one to read more than one book at a time, so we’ll see how this goes. It’s an experiment, and I won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t work out.

So, without further ado or adon’t, here are my

Books I Read in 2017

Fave reads have * or ** or ***, depending on how much I enjoyed them.

1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant *
2. Definitely Dead (The Southern Vampire Mysteries, #6) by Charlaine Harris
3. Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #3) by Tana French
4. V by A.C. Crispin
5. Steelflower (Steelflower Chronicles, #1) by Lilith Saintcrow
6. The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale
7. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King **
8. Redshirts by John Scalzi
9. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl *
10. Gathering Blue (Giver Quartet #2) by Lois Lowry *
11. Messenger (Giver Quartet #3 by Lois Lowry *
12. Son (Giver Quartet #4) by Lois Lowry
13. Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz
14. The Four Forges (The Elven Ways, #1) by Jenna Rhodes (Rhondi Vilott Salsitz)
15. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
16. Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls by Jane Lindskold *
17. Zer0es by Chuck Wendig
18. The Descent by Jeff Long *
19. Thunderbird (Miriam Black, #4) by Chuck Wendig *
20. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
21. IT by Stephen King *
22. The Sandman: PRELUDES & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
23. The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy, #2) by N.K. Jemisin *
24. The Gate of the Cat by Andre Norton
25. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs *
26. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
27. ‘Tis by Frank McCourt
28. I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier *
29. The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
30. Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
31. Flight in Yiktor by André Norton
32. The BFG by Roald Dahl
33. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby *
34. Maiden of Greenwold (Choose Your Own Adventure: Dragontales #11) by Rhondi Vilott
35. Cyndere’s Midnight (Auralia Thread #2) by Jeffrey Overstreet
36. The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl (The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., Vol. II) by Ishbelle Bee
37. The Black Prism (Lightbringer #1) by Brent Weeks
38. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
39. Updraft (Bone Universe, #1) by Fran Wilde
40. The Magicians (Magicians Trilogy, #1) by Lev Grossman
41. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
42. Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2) by Marissa Meyer
43. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2 by Sarah J. Maas
44. Author Anonymous: A True Story by E.K. Blair
45. The City Stained Red (Bring Down Heaven, #1) by Sam Sykes
46. The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
47. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
48. Amatka by Karin Tidbeck
49. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
50. Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teeth by Richard Roberts
51. After the Woods by Kim Savage
52. The Troubles Keeper by Susan May
53. The Black Swan Effect by Felicity Dale *
54. Jesus Is Family by Jon Zens *
55. Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness *
56. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis *
57. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, graphic novel adapted by Charles Dixon, illustrated by David Wenzel
58. Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury
59. The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer, #2) by Brent Weeks **
60. Closed Hearts (Mindjack Trilogy, #2) by Susan Kaye Quinn
61. Death Pope, (Death Pope, Vol. 1) by John Oakes
62. Death Pope: Black Flame (Death Pope, Vol. 2) by John Oakes
63. Harbinger of the Storm (Obsidian and Blood, #2) by Aliette de Bodard
64. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert ***
65. Green Darkness by Anya Seton
66. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood *

Happy reading, all. 🙂

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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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