Still Alive

It recently hit me that my last blog entry is about a year old. At the very least, I thought I’d offer an update. I’m still alive, still writing, albeit at a much slower pace. 2014 and the beginning of 2015 handed my little family some big changes. We went from a house on a desert mountain, to an RV in the forest, to a little house in the city. My job changed in some great ways, and I’ve been enjoying the challenge.

But there’s a downside to change, too.

My family lost two members, and we very nearly lost a third. The first loss was a gentle, old Amazon parrot we adopted knowing we were in for a hospice situation. After a long stretch of apparent improvement, one morning, the little guy just stopped breathing. The second loss was our wonderful Shepherd, who had been with my husband and I since before we were married. Cancer took him on Valentines Day, within weeks of his diagnosis. And the almost-loss was our Cocker Spaniel, our accidental second dog. She, an abandoned puppy-mill mom, fell sick for months, lost a third of her body weight, and spent way too many nights in the hospital. She is finally beginning to pull through, and while I can still see far too many of her ribs, she’s actually wagging her tail again.

I know to many people these are just animals, but I don’t draw much of a line between species. To me, family is family, and mine feels decimated. So that’s part of the reason I’ve been a bit silent online. I always hesitate to share personal bad news for fear of bringing people down, when I imagine it’s the last thing anyone needs. But the truth is I’ve had little energy due to a patch of depression steered very much by the losses and illnesses of some creatures I love.

I thought about sharing some of their stories and photos with you, because these (mostly) speechless sweethearts amaze and inspire me every day. But first, I think it’s important to get caught up on projects. Plus I still get a little teary when I think about the ones I lost.

Anyway, don’t give up on me just yet. And thank you for being out there!

Operation “Get Your Ass Back to the Coast” Was a Smoldering Success

Smoldering because it went down in flames. Successfully. We made it, but not in one piece. We lost a lot of money, a transmission, six tires, and one beloved pet. This is the primary reason I’ve been taking my time about getting back online. I think we’ve just about pulled ourselves back together, and I’m so glad to be close to the ocean again. The ocean feels like home to me. It’s funny. No matter where I go in the world, the ocean is home.

It’s good to be home again.

So I’ve made goals, at last! Here’s what you can expect to see from me in the coming months:

1) Chemistry will be coming out in paperback.

2) Titan Magic: Body and Soul will be published in both ebook and paperback.

And here’s what you can expect to not see, but will be done anyway:

3) Titan Magic: Chaotic World will be outlined! YAY!

4) The Watcher, the Thief, and the Sacrifice will enter revisions. I’m really excited to share this story with you. It’s a stand alone frame story, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it when it’s ready.

That should keep me properly busy for a while. Thank you all so much for your patience while I recovered from the catastrophe that was my escape from the desert.

Conversations with Gollum

The Other Lamm and I have set in motion an insane plan to change our lives completely. We’ve done this sort of thing before, but not nearly to this degree. As expected, this process has been an even mix of thrilling and terrifying, and I don’t imagine it’s going to get easier. We’ll see, though.

So far, we’re midway through steps one and two.

Step 1: Get rid of nearly everything we own. This includes furniture, artwork, keepsakes, lots of kitchen utensils. It’s not as easy as I figured it would be. For the furniture, you really want to sell it, since it was pricey to begin with, but people just aren’t buying a lot these days. For keepsakes, you know, you think you can just dump them… until you look at a thing, hold it in your hands, and remember that long-dead relative who gave it to you. And I have this added guilt whenever I get rid of an item I was told to treasure.

gollum happy
Never throw this VCR away. It has all metal parts. They don’t make these any more. This is a precious, precious thing.

But… it’s a VCR.

gollum angryKEEP THE PRECIOUS!

Books are just impossible. Because they’re books. It’s like throwing friends away. I just know I’m going to miss them once they’re gone, even the ones I haven’t spent time with in a while.

Still we’re trucking along, and our house is slowly getting emptier.

Step 2: Buy an RV. This was The Other Lamm’s plan to move comfortably with our pets. The wheeled beast will be our home until we find another in our new location. This should be interesting. We’ve got potential RVs narrowed down, and we’re taking steps to finally procure one. I’m not fond of RVs as a rule, but getting one means we’re another step closer to our ultimate goal, which you don’t get to know yet. It’s easier to share plans when they’re in mid-bloom than to explain why they fell apart before they ever got started.

So that’s the current story of my life. Documentation of the next steps to follow, when they’re a little less jazz and a little more—I don’t know—symphonic, I guess.

Also…

Chemistry Is Free at Amazon Today and Tomorrow

I just found out Doctor Who is back on the air! That’s how out of touch I’ve been. I missed it, and I’m probably going to miss some more because THINGS ARE HAPPENING. My life could change dramatically very soon in so many different ways, and it all comes down to just a few factors. For this reason, I’ve been in high-anxiety mode. When I’m not running around trying to figure things out and get things done, I’m busy fighting insomnia. So I haven’t been blogging, I haven’t been tweeting, I haven’t been very active on Goodreads or DeviantArt, and I’m sorry.

Chemistry CoverOne thing I have been doing is working to get my books to a wider audience. You may have noticed Chemistry, my contemporary YA retelling of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, has been having a bit of a coming-out party in the form of a free e-book event. It was nurtured and sheltered by Amazon for its first several months in the world, and now it’s time for the little book to grow up and meet new vendors like Kobo and Barns & Noble. Maybe even iBooks, if iBooks is sweet.

If you missed the first few days of Chemistry‘s event, don’t fret. You can still grab the book for free at Amazon all day today and tomorrow. Please do, in fact! Compared to Titan Magic, Chemistry has been kind of an odd duck—a socially awkward, shy little book. It needs to get out there and dance with new readers.

And I need to get my life in order so I can sit down and have a very serious Doctor Who marathon night.

All It Takes

Due to the most recent tragedy, there’s been a lot of talk about bullying lately, and it’s brought back some memories for me. One memory, in particular, I thought I would share because there’s someone I’ve always wanted to thank. I never did tell him the extent of what he did for me, so I guess I’ll try to pay it forward.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a small-sized person. Not teeny-tiny, but small, and I was also incredibly thin in school (people always asked me whether or not I was anorexic, and then didn’t believe me when I answered no). I was shy, wore baggy clothes, and hid behind my hair. All this, instead of making me invisible as I hoped it would, turned me into an enormous, red and white target. Throughout my K-12 education, I have memories of boys holding me down in the mud, physically restraining me, sexually harassing me, repeatedly drawing attention to me when I just wanted to be left alone. I told a teacher about one instance, just so I could maybe switch seats in class, and his response was, “Eh, boys will be boys.”

Girls will be girls, too, by the way, in case you think bullying is a male-dominated sport.

Every day was miserable. I hated living—hated it like you hate a person who’s betrayed you. I was afraid to wake up in the morning, afraid to attend certain classes, afraid to eat lunch in the cafeteria (which didn’t do anything to quell the anorexia rumors). One of the worst classes I had was a P.E. class. One boy there was very good at convincing everyone else in the gymnasium that I was worthy of daily public ridicule. He hated me, and I didn’t even know his name. One day, I finally got fed up, and after taking his abuse in silence for almost a year, I finally asked him, “Why do you hate me so much? What did I do to you?”

His answer blew me away. “You were born,” he said.

That was when I realized there was no reason for any of it. There was nothing I had done to cause it and nothing I could do to stop it. I was just there to give some pathetic ass a target to practice on so he could get the attention he craved.

That being my history, I hope it’s understandable that I had a particular loathing for sports. I made a point of avoiding any elective participation in them. But when my only ride home from school joined the track team, my choices became either sit around and wait for them to be done or join. So I joined.

We had one day to try everything, and then we could pick our events. For me, the most awesome event of all was the high jump. I loved it! I admired people who did it well. So I signed up for it, with complete disregard for my decidedly non-high-jump-esque body. I am not competitive. I just wanted to learn to do it, and even if I lost, I didn’t care. I knew I would have fun. I mean that’s what they teach you in grade school, right: the goal of sports is to compete, but mostly, to have a good time?

Nope. Welcome to reality, youngsters. First the coach tried to talk me into doing a different event. But I loved the high jump! Then she told me I would not be allowed to compete. My job would be to right the bar when it fell at meets. Great! I was happy to do it. I didn’t need to compete. I just wanted to learn how to do the jump. Finally, she said it would be a waste of time to coach me at practice, and refused to do so.

So here’s where the story takes a turn for the best-ever.

The best-ever was an awesome high jumper. He was tall and confident (by confident, I mean real confidence: not loud, showy cockiness, but a quiet strength of identity). This isn’t the twerp who needed to tease me in P.E. in order to feel good about himself. This kid was the real deal. And he volunteered to coach me after practice. I didn’t even know him; that’s the part that gets me. He stayed late every day and taught the high jump to a near-stranger. He even discovered that my strong leg was not the one I’d been using, so I was able to switch legs and improve to almost the minimum competition level.

I was so happy! Sports were fun! I could watch myself get better and better, thanks to the help of one kick-ass person who took it upon himself to teach me. If I could find that person today, I would tell him what he did for me and owe him forever. He may not have aided the track team by helping one sadly inadequate athlete, but he restored my faith in people, and he gave me a reason to get up in the morning. He couldn’t have known that’s what he was doing, but it was.

I guess what I’m trying to say is it isn’t enough to oppose bullying. There will always be people who don’t give a shit and need that rush they apparently get by kicking those who are already down. If we want to make a difference, we have to tip the scales in the other direction.

I’m not suggesting anyone walk up to a bullied person and start complimenting them out of the blue. They’ll be suspicious of that anyway, as they’ve probably already had someone ask them out on a dare (yay, memories). But if the opportunity presents itself, don’t hesitate to show miserable, downtrodden people they’re worth something. Just a little extra time and effort, maybe a sincere smile—that’s all it really takes. Because some people have nothing but negative interactions every day of their lives, and just one shift from that heartbreaking routine can change everything.

Lastly, don’t be offended if your smile isn’t returned at first. The person you acknowledged is likely just in shock. But know they’ll go home tonight and remember that smile, and maybe they’ll even remember it tomorrow morning. And maybe, eventually, they’ll get the courage to smile back or say hello. And then you’ll know you’ve changed someone’s life for the better.