The Lost Path, Found

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give up. As an author, as a girlfriend, as a student, as an employee…it’s the same urge. Just bone-aching tiredness inside and knowing that I’ll never get to what I want. Even if I got there, the goal would move and leave me grasping.

I’ve had enough nights lying awake regretting something stupid I said or did to last me until eternity. And sometimes, I have given up. I want to write down a particular moment in my life this week. I don’t know if anyone will read, but it means so much to me that I feel like I have to get it down.

After graduating college, getting a job…all that junk. I finished my first series of novels. Sent them out. Got turned down. Gave up. I didn’t have the time, energy or hope to succeed. So I let it go. And as the years went by I wrote a bit here or there but it was only because I couldn’t ‘not write.’ I didn’t finish anything and I never tried to get published or show my work to anyone.

My mom kept pushing for me to keep trying. My husband never pushed, but he always encouraged, even a whisper of that dream. My dad would ask every time I talked to her “You writing anything.” But I wasn’t.

Then my mom, god bless her heart, apparently decided she was going to take things into her own hands. She contacted a man she knew at church who happened to be a published author and own a small publishing house. She asked him to talk to me.

That is how I met Nathan Everett. We talked about nothing in particular, my goals, my writing, all those things I thought I had buried. He asked me to send him some of my writing to look at and we set up a coffee date to talk. So I sent him my novella Shopkeeper.

When I met up with him, mind you this was only to talk, I had not sent him something to be published, just so he could see what I wrote. He sat me down, told me how much he loved it. Said that he wanted to publish the piece. He said that if I needed he would pay all the costs. That he’d only ever offered this to one other client, but he thought this little story of mine should be seen.

Well, things didn’t work out that way, but I will be forever thankful to him for that moment.

Sheesh, I’m crying again thinking about it, and I cried then. After giving up on myself. Completely. Admitting–this won’t happen. This can’t happen and dreaming about it hurts too much. After living that emptiness for so long, to have someone (who wasn’t family…was in fact, part of the industry) believe in me just broke down all those walls.

And I remembered how badly I wanted this. I remembered how alive I felt when I wrote. And I wanted that, I wanted it so badly it hurt. Not to get published, though I wanted that too. I wanted the dream back, pain and all. Because that’s who I am and without it, I was living a half-life.

That’s not who I want to be for my son. It’s not who I want to be for me.

So I picked back up the metaphorical pen and I wrote. I started to do my research. Joined a critique site to learn to do it better. I did Nanowrimo. I entered a contest. I wrote short stories. I tried. I tried every day and I knew that this time I couldn’t give up.

One person believed in me and that was enough. It was like a shield against all the doubt.

And no, I’m not a bestselling author now (ten months later…) but in the past year I’ve had a short story published, been a finalist in the PNWA’s literary contest and have a featured story on Wattpad.

And that’s because I decided to live. But more importantly I decided that no matter what it took I’d do it. I learned to use commas for god’s sake… I finished a degree in English Lit without bothering to know how to do that.

img041

So this is me saying thank you. Thank you to Nathan for believing in me when he had no reason to. Thank you to my mom for using her magical mom powers of knowing everything 😉 And thank you to my husband for supporting my dreams completely, never even complaining that I am not at my computer 100% of the time. I have so much in my life, and its not just writing.

Advertisements

I Put Words on Paper (or Computers) so I Write Words

A question I’ve been hearing a lot of recently is “So what do you normally write? What is your passion?” My auto response has been that I write science fiction with an eye to fantasy, but the more I think about it, the more that isn’t true.

The truth is I write a lot and I’ve always discounted my horror writing as being my slack off pieces. But that’s not what horror is to me at all, it’s just a different sort of release, a different style of imagining. Most of my short stories are horror and many novels have a bent towards that. But these aren’t slack off pieces or throw away bits. They just come from a different part of my psyche and refuse to conform to rules. In trying to make them fit for traditional publishing, I do feel like I’d have to sacrifice the integrity of the story, but that doesn’t mean are any less worthwhile to me… just that I won’t be querying them. So I feed them to the ravenous beast that is Wattpad, where they meet a few appreciative eyes.

Horror Novel Cover

Horror Novel Cover

The reason I think I see my sci-fi/fantasy as being “what I really write” is that those are the works I am willing to go through a gazillion drafts. They are the babies whose basic nature does not seem averse to traditional publishing.  I recently tried to put a fantasy novel up on Wattpad, or the beginning to one, and there is this horror in me that I’ve now killed this novel’s chances for publication. But it’s a tight spot. Having only horror and horror sci-fi visible means that any agent considering my sci-fi/fantasy works is going to say “Wow, she doesn’t really write what she’s pitching.”

In conclusion, this is one big vent. I write prolifically. I write because I must. I write because I’m inspired whether that inspiration be a shiver that crawled up my spine while darting across a dark parking lot, a fascination with gothic heroine’s and their kidnappability, a desire to build a world to suit a spiffy MMO character (Yes…this is how several of my characters have come to me…don’t judge.)Felix

I write how I read. My bookshelves became acquainted with Christopher Pike when I was twelve. They met their first fantasy heroine when I was eight. Science fiction came later but in a rush as I drank in old classics and newer gems. Telling someone which of these genres I read would be impossible because the truth is I read them all. I’ve even been known to sneak in a steamy romance when no one was looking…saved some of those too…they are all missing covers. I read and write fantasy because the world we live in can feel like a trap. A release has an exotic beauty to it. I write sci-fi because I like to play god, toy with worlds, universes, cultures. I read sci-fi because I like to be part of other authors playing the same god games I do. And I read and write horror because the dark undercurrent of fear makes me feel alive.

fantasy horror author

Taglines and Editing

Who knew that writing twenty words could take a week? Well… most author’s doing this longer than me. This week my quest was to write my logline, and to a lesser extent my pitch. Read a couple articles, jumped in wrote it. Read a couple more, rewrote every word (well almost.) Then I shared it with people and those two words that remained from version one disappeared (along with most of version two.)

But after hours and hours of work, and embarrassing myself and imposing on everyone near me in my acquaintance. I have a logline I’m happy with (bets on how long it’ll last?)

On an intergalactic voyage, a devoted mercenary must protect her prince while unearthing dangerous secrets of the galaxies’ godlike rulers.

The pitch was easier in some ways because I had a query letter to draw from. Yay! How often does something turn out to be easier than you feared? Now I just have to memorize it… oh and say it in front of agents and editors… no sweat… right?

Elevator Pitch:
My book is about Taln an insecure mercenary whose greatest quandary in life is whether to sharpen her knives or spy on her beloved employer. That is until her employer is blackmailed into investigating eon old secrets on a voyage across the stars. As forgotten truths about genetic manipulation and slavery emerge, Taln must learn opening her heart can make greater changes than throwing her blade in order to push past prejudice and free a race who has only ever known slavery.

And now back to editing. Ah, the beauty of editing. When I started writing I never thought I’d enjoy ripping my baby apart but I honestly do relish the feeling of a major revision. It’s the little niggling edits that drive me crazy. It’s hard to put creativity and passion into double checking commas and question mark usage.

Anyhow, apologies for the belated and odd ramblings of the week. With fifteen chapters left to comb through I admit my mind is stuck in my novel.

And because I saw it, and its true:

Though I think the artist should try typing with a three year old trying to climb up the back of their chair.

I am a Rock

Currently, I’m listening to Simon & Garfunkel on repeat, in specific I Am a Rock. I’ve never met anyone else who does this, that is, listens to a single song on repeat for hours at a time. But for me there is nothing better than finding that single song that speaks to your soul in its current form because when you find that one song that for whatever illogical reason just fits… it’s the most powerful catharsis I know of.

I couldn’t say why it’s one song or another, but I’ll hear a song and it’s like the world stands still, I often break into tears trying to sing along. Most recently it was Lord Huron’s She Lit a Fire and then respectively Ends of the Earth. Before that, Hozier’s Take me to Church and Bleacher’s Shadow.  But it can be all sorts of music, country songs, folk songs, pop songs, a few time numbers from Broadway musicals.

I’m stuck in my work, have been for weeks. I can’t seem to get past all this advice pouring in that basically comes to ‘you can’t succeed, it’s impossible and you aren’t that good.’ Which every writer who researches and works to get better hears. Mostly from well-meaning sources who are trying to stress how hard the publishing industry is.

To ward off disappointment?

But when you know how tough success is, being repeatedly told not to get your hopes up, that your not ready, that this or that or the other isn’t good enough…crushes something inside you.

You get trapped under the weight of everything you ‘need’ to do. Pinned under the doubts and the fear. The query letter, the synopsis, the pitch, the writing books, the constant reworking of your work (which even after revision you can still always find someone who thinks it’s godawful.) And occasionally into all this, the thought creeps ‘Maybe I should just give up. I’ll never do this.’

I’ve spent weeks teetering. Not able to give up or to get anything done. I knew I needed something, anything to lift me, to remind me that even if no one but me (and my mom and husband) believes in me, I can do this.

Getting Little Cracks published gave me that boost for a while, but getting published once feels like a fluke in my heart. Which I know is whiny and silly since so many authors try for so long and don’t even get that far. I read somewhere that the brain tends to disregard data that occurs once as extraneous. Your mind doesn’t let you believe until there is a pattern.

But you don’t need a metaphorical giant to free you from the crushing weight of doubts. A breeze can lift it, if you just happen on the right breeze.

So I’m sitting in this self-made hole of doubt and inaction…and Simon and Garfunkel comes on the radio. I’m singing along and my voice just fails and all these emotions bubble and I know I’m going to be okay. That I can be both a rock and an island. I know that pain won’t kill me…now I know that isn’t the point of the song…but it doesn’t matter what the point is. It only matters that at that moment, that song, that rhythm, those words broke the stasis.

mmm…point of this week’s little rant…music is beautiful and powerful because it touches emotions not logic. It moves past your guards and touches the tender places where even words fail to penetrate. And that I hope all of you find your ‘song’ when you desperately need it. Because no matter what the facts are in your life that make progress feel impossible, a course exists that will bring you to your destination.

And that sometimes it’s not our brains that need convincing but our hearts. I love what I’m doing and writing this for the first time in weeks I remember that. I don’t write this blog, or my novel or anything because I have to. I do this because it’s my music.

Little Cracks

With no more ado…

The link to my published work on Acidic Fiction!

http://acidicfiction.com/2015/04/17/little-cracks/

 Go ahead and click…I dare you 🙂 Its my first published work so I admit I may be a little over excited.

In honor of breaking the barrier between author hopeful and published author, I posted an extra chapter to my novel Spider’s Game on Wattpad.

 http://www.wattpad.com/story/32022459-spider%27s-game-updated-tuesdays

 Now that I have showered you with links…Pictures! Since Little Cracks was inspired by a real doll from my youth, I thought it seemed apt to share the doll. I won’t say much more than that but both me and my brother were terrorized by this doll in our youth. I much like the girl in my short story, was a lonely shy little thing and even though I was terrified of the doll…like nightmare terrified…I still considered her my friend and used to sneak down the stairs into our garage to hold her and talk to her.

Creepy doll near her natural envoirment...the bottom of dark stairs.

Creepy doll near her natural environment…the bottom of dark stairs.

The author with the creepy doll

The author with the creepy doll

Close up on the cracks and demon eyes

Close up on the cracks and demon eyes

New Generation to Scare Doll Horror

Adventures in Photography

I left my cave today and ventured into the world. I scheduled an appointment to go to a studio to have a headshot taken. It was an odd experience, explaining to people that I’m an author. Though it still feels like it’s a HUGE fib…but regardless that’s why I needed professional headshots.

I started off the experience chatting with the photographer. She was a personable woman, and we got to talking about art. She explained that she was never good at traditional artwork, couldn’t draw or anything, but she always liked creating things. Her mother was an artist so unlike a lot of families it was pretty much in tradition to work in the arts.

Rather than be put off because she couldn’t paint, or draw, or sculpt, she found an outlet that worked for her. I loved her view of photography which was that she got to create the scene she wanted, make the art, and then take a picture to capture her vision. I guess she sees that as an easy way of creating the world she envisions.

I personally think taking a picture is very much its own skill since I take awful photos. I thought mine were the worst until I tried to get my husband to take pictures of things…at least I can get the subject properly in the frame.

But I guess we all create worlds in the ways we are able.

Anyhow, the whole thing made me think about why I got into writing. It’s because I’m a control freak. I need things to be my way all the time.

What better way to control the world than to write your own from ground up? When you make a world, you get to make all the rules. There are two suns if I say there are and if I say the water is red who are you to tell me differently?

It would have worked if it weren’t for the darn characters. Little did I know that characters never listen. Like children.

But I got to choose from a bunch of amazing photographs. Talk to some people outside my home (which for a cripplingly introverted recluse like me is a significant event.) At the end, one of the employees said, “I have a friend who would be so jealous of you.”

That was staggering. My first thought was ‘why?’ But then I thought back to all the years when being published at all was just this dream. And I conceded the point internally. I may not be like the photographer who’s making a living with her art…but I am blessed.

March May be my New Favorite Month

I didn’t expect to be making a post like this one…especially not after my last post. Another wonderful first occurred. My Flash Fiction piece Little Cracks has been picked up by Acidic Fiction. Don’t know a lot of details yet, and I’m not sure I could process details anyway.

I wrote my first book when I was five. It was about plants which I spelled plans…because I was five.

The point is that is how long I’ve wanted this. Growing up most kids had all these ideas about what they wanted to be. Most kids oscillated. Not me. I always wanted to be an author. Even when my parents cautioned me that maybe it would be a good idea to have a backup plan.

The idea that someone is willing to pay me for my writing is so overwhelming there isn’t a lot of brain space left over for puny things like specifics. What I know is that Acidic Fiction is a free online magazine that publishes anthologies of its best stories. When my story goes up, I will post a link directly to it.

http://acidicfiction.com/