England, I love you

I try to focus on writing the next book. (Shifter School is with my editor and I’m outlining WereHuman: The Warrior’s Son.) But now and then, I admit it, I peruse my reviews. I was reminded that British Amazon reviews don’t show up on the American site. Look what I found across the digital pond for Killer on Call 6 Book Bundle:

5 stars Loved it

by Julie

I wasn’t sure from synopsis of this book if it was my sort of book, but as it was a book set I thought hey why not give it a go. I am so glad I did I loved it. Normally with books sets I read one book and then go back a few months later to read the next book, that was not the case with this. I read them straight through. They are stand a lone stories and aren’t continued into the next book but as soon as I finished one I went on the next as I wanted to find out what happens. I wasn’t to sure if I was going to like the main character,after the first couple of chapters in the first book but once I worked out he only kills bad guys (? He does do his homework to make sure they really do need killing and by the end of the book you find yourself agreeing) I then really started to enjoy them.

There is no torture or graphic details about the kills but lots of mishaps and problems to solve.

I can’t believe this book as no reviews as it is great. So take my advice and get the book set, I am also thinking of purchasing the audio version to as I enjoyed it so much.

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Curse You, You Stupid Girl Bits

I met with the doctor yesterday for my bi-annual torture. I don’t like getting a pelvic exam. I don’t know that any woman looks forward to it, but I’ve had some pretty unforgettable experiences that make the process dread-worthy for me. Since the beautiful state of California permits me to get my birth control pills without a prescription, I pretty much decided to never go again.

See, I don’t trust doctors. Maybe once people became doctors to help people. But I’ve not met many of those. And with insurance deciding who we can see or not, what’s the point in getting recommendations from your friends as all the advice sites suggest? Seriously. What is the point? My friend, Jessica, LOVES her gynecologist. But fiscally conservative as I am, I am NOT going to pay to be tortured.

Doctors, in my experience, rush you in and half-heartedly address the concerns you’re able to express in between them covering their legal butts.

But, I’ve been in pain. Could be gas. I think it’s probably gas. But it started out feeling kind of like a bladder infection. So maybe it’s a bladder infection. Pyridium isn’t helping so maybe it isn’t a bladder infection. It’s probably gas. But gas doesn’t usually hurt all the way down there.

Drugs aren’t helping. Sleeping with a heating pad isn’t helping.

I made the appointment.

As a reward I got those awesome giant Peruvian corn nuts from Trader Joes.

I then spent the next three days intending to skip the appointment.

But I went. I medicated myself and then I went.

And the doctor rush, rush, rushed, talking non-stop.  So I felt like I was being rude when–with my feet up on a table and the doctor already saying, ‘spread and relax’–I spluttered out, “Well really, the only thing that got me to make this well-woman exam appointment is that everything below my belly button has been hurting for a few days or I guess, like a month or so.”

The doctor did stop for a moment, surprised, it seemed, that I might have a medical complaint. The next words out of her mouth were, “Whoa. Your cervix just exploded.”

Oh good. Just what I wanted to hear.

She looked at me for my response while she stirred her bloody brush in the pap smear solution.

I went in to the room terrified. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to come up with any response to that. “Interesting. Do you care to speculate on what that could mean?” Did not come out of my mouth.

I don’t remember a lot of the rest of the exam. I remember one phrase clearly:

“Well the good thing about all of this [gesturing at the abdominal area] is that we don’t really need it so we can take it all out.”

RIGHT.

So now I’m sitting here, getting the word out about my latest book (Junior—A Wyrdos Tale about the adventures of the boogeyman’s son!) and trying NOT to WebMD my symptoms.

That’s a lie. And I know I’m not fooling you. I WebMD the shit of my symptoms while I was still in the lab giving them all of my blood and drinking enough water to give them a big enough sample for the battery of tests the doctor ordered.

I have all the symptoms of cervical cancer.

Of course I do.

But HERE’s the good news. (Shockingly, no, the good news isn’t REALLY that my uterus is extraneous.) I did a quick review of my life–as you do when you’ve convinced yourself there’s a possibility that you’re dying–and I’m good with it. Sure, I’d like to not have to go to the dayjob but I like those people. They’re kind of awesome and I wouldn’t run into most of them if I didn’t have that job. Plus, there’s the insurance, which I’m definitely gonna need.

But I’m spending most of my time writing books and introducing my characters to people and I LOVE that. If it turns out I’m really dying, I’m probably gonna want to write Callie’s Queen before the rest of the Consortium Battle trilogy. But that’s the only major change I’d make.

Well, that and I’d make immediate plans to visit Ireland. I can’t believe I’ve never been.

Too bad it’s probably just gas.

Hope

I love musicals. I had an English teacher in high school, the brilliant David T. Anderson, who admitted he only went to see Phantom because of me. (I would not have sent him to Phantom had he asked first, but. . . ) He always thought it just too silly and unrealistic that people would stop what they’re doing to sing and dance. Then, he met me and observed me, more than once, break into song and dance. IRL.

I grew up listening to the soundtracks of great musicals. I adored Cabaret, Evita, and Man of La Mancha because there is so much hope in these musicals. I love the idea of hope, that things can get better. (I love that my apparently ultra-conservative parents owned these albums and actually took us to see Cabaret and Evita.) Growing up me in a conservative household, I clung to the ideas of hope and change.

So I was over the moon when I got hired as an intern at Timberlake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, IL. I was going to get to be in the chorus of Man of La Mancha. I was so excited to stand tall and proud and sing “To Dream the Impossible Dream” with everyone at the end, filling a theater with hope and possibility!

man-of-la-mancha

Then I was cast as the prisoner who gets dragged off in the middle of the show and killed.

Yep. So much for hope when you’re dead.

Except. I’m a writer. My hope lies in readers. I hope I write good books. I agonize to get the right words in the right order. But until I send my work off to my editors and beta readers, it doesn’t truly exist. A book comes to life when it is read, not when it is written. A great book is a collaboration between my words and your imagination. And readers will continue bringing my book to life long after I’m gone.

Hope teems through in my latest novella, Laylea. Our collective hope that karmic payback exists is embodied in my brownies; Amal, Orin, and Lucio. The hope of life after death which past imaginations have mutated into the monstrous vampire character drives my baby vampire, Kyle. And my eponymous hero embodies my love of hope. She has such faith in hope that she refuses to even consider her friend Kyle might not be capable of being good, even as he changes right in front of her, becoming the undead creature he is cursed to be.

Hope is essential to survival but it is often so hard to find. It is really hard to dream the impossible dream and believe that the waking you can make it happen. But you can. And when you doubt yourself, I want you to stand up, strike the Wonder Woman pose (yes, even you guys), take a deep breath, and sing. SING. Whatever is in your heart will come out. The words may be wrong. The rhyme may be off. But the tune will be exactly right. And once that tune is out of your head, out of your heart, and into the real world, you’ll own it. Make it the tune you WANT to be singing. Dance to it! Then get back to work and make that dream come true.

I’m gonna go rewatch Once More With Feeling now. #JossWhedonRules

BTW, the costumer of that summer theater production gave me a wig and a shawl so I could sneak back onstage and sing “To Dream the Impossible Dream” in the big finale. Hope wins!

Just Keep Going

Newcastle looking at the camera

Newcastle at Franklyn Canyon, his favorite park.

On a sunny day in early December of 2016, I sat down with my bullet journal to lay out my plans for 2017. I made the conscious decision to focus on writing rather than acting. I narrowed that down to a plan to release five Wyrdos Tales and the third Mobious’ Quest novel. I vowed to learn marketing and advertising and wrote down that my first goal would be to increase my social media presence if not savvy.

I was cuddled in a comforter on a lawn chair I’d dragged over to my neighbors’ lawn because my old dog’s legs had given out on him and he hated being carried. My thoughts were often interrupted by neighbors walking by with or without their dogs. They’d stop to chat with Newcastle, the sheriff of the neighborhood, and to nod a hello to me. As I made my plans I read them aloud to Newcastle. Of course, he agreed they were all great goals and I was a great writer and the absolute best human in the universe.

When I was satisfied with my goals, I turned my mind back to the world of my Wyrdos, folks from fairy tales and myth trying to make it in the modern city. I’ve been mulling over a series of shorts surrounding a single event. Each tale will be focused on one of the wyrdos involved. The first Wyrdos Tale I wrote was Dee about a banshee. My first attempt to write the shapeshifter Laylea’s tale turned into a novel, WereHuman: the Witch’s Daughter. But Newcastle was comfy. His little brother Lyman (the inspiration for Laylea) had settled in my lap. So I was essentially trapped, which is the perfect setup for me to write.

I was set. On my way to achieving my production goals. Happy to know I had a plan for the new year.

And then Newcastle had a seizure. We didn’t know it was a seizure. So his vet didn’t know he was having seizures. We just knew that his minor leg issues escalated rapidly. His eyesight began failing. He had no appetite and we switched from cheese to liver to rabbit to get him to take his meds. Then came the worst night.

First I slept on the floor with him. Then my partner Jeff did. Lyman roamed from Jeff to me to Newcastle, confused and either giving or begging for comfort. Come morning, we wrapped him in his favorite blanket, and raced to the vet, desperate for help. They did tests. The doctors called on other doctors. They disagreed and researched and battled. But in the end, it was clear that there was only one way to help Newcastle out of his pain and confusion.

We held him. We told him over and over what a good dog he was and how very much we loved him.

Then we drove home with an empty blanket.

To a home and routines filled with blank spaces.

I made myself get up in the morning without any pawing at the side of the bed. I made myself eat. I made myself go outside and walk though I couldn’t get up the energy to run.

I made myself write.

I poured myself into Laylea.

And the two main characters in the story reminded me that life goes on, death happens, that sometimes you have to ask for help.

January came. I had to address my social media marketing goal. I didn’t have any heart for it. I didn’t care if my books sold. I didn’t want to reach out to happy people. I didn’t see a point to it. But I had told Newcastle I was going to do it and it felt like a betrayal to just give up. I quit on myself all the time but I never quit on him. So I took a lesson from my own book and I decided to ask for help.

Emilie Rabitoy’s name had come across my screen a few times the week I made my decision so I reached out having no idea how she could help me. I gave her access to my Twitter and Facebook accounts to post as ‘me’.

The really bizarre thing is, her posts as me, motivated me. I got to sit back and watch her pretending to be me believing in myself. And I started feeling the spark again. I felt like life and success were possible. I sat down at my desk with a greater sense of purpose. I finished Laylea and am gearing up for publication on February 9th.

I miss Newcastle fiercely. I hope the fierce goes away soon. I hope the missing goes away eventually. But I will forever be grateful that we got to be his family.

Why Bullies Shouldn’t Have Badges or Oval Offices – Or – Why We Really Need to Support Organizations Like The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

I tried to kill myself.

I was 14. I failed. Most of the time I’m glad I failed. Even when I’m not, I stand by my vow that I will not try it again. Life is so often worth living. It’s just sometimes very hard to see that.

My cousin Miki sent out a call for donations a couple months ago. She’s participating in fund raising event for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in honor(?)/memory of a couple of our other family members and friends. I was feeling good that day and jumped on board, saying I’d raise another $250 for the cause.

Then the feeling good slowly faded away as every time I sat down to compose an email or tweet or Facebook post about the event, my heart rate spiked. Soon even thinking about sitting down to write my plea had adrenaline seeping through my veins.

And I’ve been trying to figure out why.

Is it because I’m afraid to ask for money?

Is it because I keep thinking of my friends who’ve committed suicide as quitters and that makes me feel like slime?

Is it because the hatemonger dominating the news cycle makes me feel hopeless?

I think it might be a circular issue. I’m keeping it together despite the bully running for office and worse, the sheer number of human beings praising him. But then I sit down to write a personal plea for support for suicide prevention and am overwhelmed by the memory of a bully I personally faced.

_

There’s a book in my bathroom, Will in the World. An expired coupon for Cliff bars is stuck in between pages forty and forty-one. My friend Patrick gave me the book to read to prepare, he said, for the series of radio plays he was planning based on Shakespeare’s plays and his life. I had read up to page forty-one when he jumped off a building.

I have a copy of the February 1935 issue of Fortune magazine hidden up on my shelves somewhere. My neighbor John came over one day in September 2014 to ask for my help. I helped him record audio for his website. He signed my copy of his book, The Last Goodnights and gave me the magazine as a thank you. The next day he assisted his own suicide.

I was stressing about them and others sometime last year when I was still with Kaiser. I called to find out how I could find a counselor, a psychiatrist, someone to talk to. The instant the S word (suicide, not stress, not support) came out of my mouth, the customer service rep stopped trying to help me and started trying to ascertain how much of a danger I was to myself. I wanted to find someone to talk to. She wouldn’t help me. Instead of screaming out my frustration at her, I hung up. (Or possibly After screaming out my frustration with her, I hung up.)

Twenty minutes later my doorbell rang. Four cops stood in front of my home.

(Four. Only two showed up when neighbor John was reported missing. And those two were more interested in their coffee.)

I stepped outside and shut the door because I have dogs (and I don’t let strangers in my home). The men surrounded me. I started crying. They unsnapped their gun holsters. I jumped back to a stairwell where they couldn’t surround me, blurting an explanation that I was scared because I’m a rape survivor.

The spokesman of the four scoffed. “Police officers don’t do that,” he said.

 

“Police officers don’t do that.”

 

(Daniel Holtzclaw wasn’t news until the following month.)

(When I was sixteen I was pulled over on a deserted highway for no reason by a cop who tried to get me out of the car. I’m an idiot, but I’m not an idiot, you know?)

 

“Police officers don’t do that.”

 

This inanity helped me only in that the other three cops had the decency to look embarrassed at it. One of them had trouble controlling a laugh. They took their hands off their guns. Spokesman gave me a choice, if I chose to continue behaving aggressively. (FEARFULLY is the word you’re looking for here, Jackass! I screamed in my head.) They could take me down to the station or handcuff me there on my front step.

(You are going to arrest me for hanging up on the insurance company rep?)

I chose handcuffs.

This is when two of the cops signed out. They spoke quietly with Spokesman’s reluctant partner and, clearly disapproving yet saying nothing, turned their back on the scene.

Spokesman proceeded to  – You know, I don’t know what happened. I was handcuffed on my front step with two guns and two penises at eye level. My memory is of shaking and trying not to cry, and thinking very very hard about what I had to say to keep from getting shot and to get these men to go away. At one point I called on my dog’s cancer as my proof that I wouldn’t kill myself, that I had no interest in killing myself.

Eventually, through gentle persuasion and promise of a more interesting call, his partner got the Spokesman to stop talking at me, take off the handcuffs, and go away.

You know how I felt after they left?

 

I felt like killing myself.

 

But I have prepared for times like this. I put my Panic Plan into action. I sat on the floor with my dogs. I drank a glass of cold water. I reached out to two people and told them I was sad sad Sad. I did not tell them about the cops. I couldn’t. There are some things you can’t say. I KNOW that. But SAD. I can say I’m sad. Then I got my crumbling copy of Anne McCaffrey’s DragonSong and left this stupid, arrogant, selfish world for a while.

And I breathed.

And I ate, which is really really hard for me when I’m big S Sad.

And I lived.

 –

Trees. Lakes. Books. Corny jokes. Puns. Warm fingers woven with mine. Dancing. Puppies! Fresh bread. Jayne Cobb. Dragons. Hugs. Death threats from my sister who loved a character I created!

There are reasons to live. There are techniques to help get you through the bad times.

There are people and institutions who are not helpful in preventing suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is trying to change that.

 

On Saturday, October 22nd, I will be walking as a member of The Wolfe Pack in The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Walk. (The walk is in Easton, MA but I’ll be walking in Burbank, CA.)  Our team fundraising goal is $250. A donation in any amount will help immensely.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is at the forefront of research, education, and prevention initiatives designed to reduce loss of life from suicide. With more than 30,000 lives lost each year in the U.S. and over one million worldwide, the importance of AFSP’s mission has never been greater, and the work has never been more urgent.
Donate online or mail a check (contact me for address details.) Checks should be made payable to AFSP and are 100% tax deductible.

Thank you for considering this request for support, and for reading this far. If you have any questions about the Out of the Darkness Walk or AFSP do not hesitate to contact me. If you can’t give financially, but are still interested in supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, please click here for activities in your community, Share this plea, or come walk with  me this fall.

 

For help with suicidal thoughts or just to talk to someone when you’re shaking as badly as I am right now and don’t know what to do, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

The Wyrdos Teaser!

At long last I present to you the teaser trailer for the Wyrdos web series.  I’m packed up and ready to head off to Catalina to act in another’s dream project and I didn’t want to wait another minute before putting this out into the world officially.

I have also set up a mailing list for those of you who are interested in being the first to know as the web series progresses.  Sign up here: Wyrdos.net

I love these actors.  I had no idea Jane and Morioka’s relationship would be so interesting but since watching this footage I can’t get them out of my mind.  They are the oldest entities in the group so it makes sense that they would gravitate towards each other.  I just can’t tell which is scarier.

Enjoy and please please please SHARE!

To donate to the project, go to Wyrdos.net!

Video

Whoops!

A week and a half late with this post.  Looks puh-retty bad after declaring my dedication to creating Wyrdos.

BUT.

My partner lost his job.  I don’t have the fallback of assuming he can pick up the bills if I can’t.  Which means I had to go back to the day job.  And record more audiobooks.  And give a little less time to Wyrdos.

It’s okay.  Just because I am hardwired for All or Nothing doesn’t mean I can’t work One Step at a Time.  It’ll just take a little tweaking in my brain.  Or a lot of tweaking in my brain.

Here’s what I’ve been doing.  I began a plan.

  • Write the books
  • Write the scripts
  • Promote the hell out of the books & build a mailing list AKA: CREATE FANS!
  • Figure out how much money I need to shoot Dee.
  • Launch Kickstarter (or other crowdfunding) campaign
  • Shoot DEE
  • Launch Patreon campaign
  • SHOOT SERIES

Where am I now?

  • Write the books
    • Dee is published
    • The Puppy, The Witch, and The Warrior is with my editor
  • Promote the books & build a mailing list
    • See the above bullet point
    • created a mailing list with MadMimi.  LOVE THEM!  You can join the mailing list here to get all the updates on Wyrdos!
    • If you’re already following along the journey  here on my blog, here’s a bonus for you.  Watch the Wyrdos teaser!

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