One of the major parts of being a writer is being a reader. I know that adoring books inspired me to write a few. But I ignored that part of me after my attack (almost two years ago now). One of the things people don’t tell you about PTSD is that it takes away your ability to focus for a while. I couldn’t believe that after devouring books by the thousands, I didn’t want to read anything. I realized that almost all entertainment is violent; TV, movies, books–they were all out of the question for me. I liked Neil Gaiman and thought I could watch American Gods. What a crazy mistake. I was having a panic attack within five minutes. I used to binge space operas and missed letting myself slide into a good story, but The Expanse was so loud and intense and terrifying.
For a time, I gave up. I threw myself into remodeling my house, knitting, and being the best biochemistry student. I continued to write poetry and other works prolifically, but I didn’t pick up a book. Can one have bibliophile dysfunction? I wondered. And no one could tell me when or if words would wrap themselves around me again.
I kept buying books, like a dragon hoarding gold. It’s ridiculous to know you’re not going to read a book, but to fill a shelf anyway. It was my small, stubborn act of faith. I piled poetry, nonfiction, and my favorites–Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Ransom Riggs, and Rick Riordan–all onto a shelf. And I moved those boxes, cherishing the To Be Read box above all others. I moved it in my van with the espresso machine, a place of honor. And I told myself, “I’m gonna need these.” And my husband didn’t say a word, and he held me when I cried about books. And he gave me a little smile when I piled more on the shelf.
Then, a wild thing happened–I bought a Patricia Briggs novel, and I read it. I did all of my classwork, got ahead in labs, and I laid in bed reading a book. I read Wild Sign and didn’t live in my world for a bit. I felt so broken like Anna, but along the road to recovery. She resonated with me. And I haven’t really stopped reading since. I haven’t made it through the stack I bought yet, but can you imagine the ink-and-paper feast I’ve had? I just finished reading Jim Butcher’s Peace Talks and Battleground, all in one week because I had them both. I’ve been eyeing Charlaine Harris’s Night Shift and Ransom Riggs’s Map of Days next. What’s on your to-be-read pile? Help me refill the shelf with good choices–anything but horror and westerns.
I have been prolific over the past few months and working on a cover for the next new poetry volume. I’ve also been remodeling my house and donating so many things that cluttered my space.
I opened the front closet of doom recently so that I could give the door a new coat of paint. (Do you have a closet of doom? I try not to, but it’s not really a priority. 🤷🏻♀️) I had one of those gift wrap/gift bag organizers on the inside of the door. Like an adulty-adult would. And I realized that my gift bag stash is ridiculous. Here’s why:
I learned a secret in my 20s.
You can reuse gift bags.
And I held on to so many.
“I’ll get invited to baby and wedding showers.”
Or so I told myself.
But no one ever tells you there are women who don’t get invited to those events, who are too weird, too awkward, too unaware of what constitutes small talk.
(It’s the weather, isn’t it? I tried that and wound up prattling about lahars.)
I am 33 and trashing all of those bags.
Finally letting go of what isn’t to embrace what is.
Like the rest of the country, I am on edge, watching the votes filter in, worried about how close this election is. I’ve bounced from project to project to project in a house that supports that. No one here has batted an eyelash when I piled shelves, toilets, doors, and sinks in weird places. I’m de-1990-ing a couple of bathrooms to wait out the rising pandemic numbers and the vote count.
If we’re going to have to stay home and not be around anyone all winter, we might as well like the house. Or that’s my theory as I dive into things I have been annoyed by, but living with for years.
My computer is not cooperating with my IT know-how. I’m viewing it as a sign from the universe that writing should be delayed for a couple of hours. I decided to give my latest novel a push with NaNoWriMo, and I already had some written, so I think I can meet this goal. 🙂 (NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write at least 50K words in November.)
For my US readers, hang in there, and don’t be divisive. We all have to still exist together at the end of this process.
October has been an interminable month. It used to be my favorite as I chased down the fall colors, carved pumpkins, and reveled in cardigan and boot weather. I had been dreading the anniversary of my attack and scheduled my book releases and tours to be done before that day hit me.
I tried to block it out with hiking. Mount Rainier, the Smoky Mountains, and other wilderness areas filled my days. I got muddy in caves with my kids. But I’m still me, and the adrenaline still floods me at nightfall, bringing panic attacks and insomnia.
Then, I switched to updating parts of my house. I have steamed wallpaper, patched walls, and left my house in piles of chaotic clutter. It reminds me of being a third of the way through writing a novel. I can see the end in my head, but I’m surrounded by loose threads. And there’s a lot of work to go. Only I can see how it will all work out; I think the rest of the household are humoring me.
I don’t know if you knew, but October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. And I laughed at the bitter irony that I was made indelibly aware of domestic violence in an October. My poems have been darker, like I’ve embraced the month’s black cats, cobwebs, and fishnet stockings and left out the cardigans and pumpkins.
There’s no glitter here. And the lighting doesn’t flatter. But all of the alcohol you can pour is included with a lifetime membership.
We all get our own photo shoots. We’re models you see— of blossoming bruises and chokers stuck to our skin. We skip the lines— at the ER. We take off our clothes— to don backless gowns. We do interviews— with men who forgot their microphones.
Our breaths come in ragged gasps. We have nights we can’t forget and friends who won’t remember us.
I won’t welcome you to our club, but I’ll tell those waiting outside to go to hell when they say you deserved your membership.
Welcome to Day 3 of the Where Angels Can’t Follow blog tour with YA Bound Book Tours. (For my poetry people, that means 2 more days until we’re back to verses and agony in ink. I’ve written about 7 this week so far, so I’m ready.)
Good morning, y’all. My mom likes to start these book birthdays off with issues that will give me mini-heart attacks at 6AM. (She means well and will be spamming all of her friends with my books all day.) “Your pre-orders aren’t being delivered correctly.” Or “people can’t pre-order on iPhones”. With a bit of Amazon consulting, it was sorted by 7AM, but I was almost relieved when Windows told me it had to configure a feature update. (Incidentally, if you have this problem with a pre-order, don’t delete your app and restart your phone over and over. Just delete the book and download it fresh. It will still be in your Kindle library if you delete it from the device.) Since I was helpless due to the Windows gods, I went for a four mile run listening to the catchy, fast songs from Hamilton. It was just the thing for a book birthday.
I get caught up, probably like most artists, in how well a thing is being received. Do I have reviews? Are they good? Did people love my characters? Did I sell enough to keep doing this? In the end, it doesn’t matter. I give my best words and best characters to my readers. I want to give you the same places to crawl into that I have–beautiful worlds with the kinds of people we want to know.
One of my favorite quotes about creating art is advice from Andy Warhol, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” I’ve been taking Mr. Warhol’s advice, and I have over a hundred pages of Iron Spirits done now. Here’s to knocking out the next two hundred.
I hope you find characters and lines in each of my books that sneak their way into the channels of your brain and that my books are a refuge when you need it. Happy reading!
Y’all. Where Angels Can’t Follow will be released tomorrow! This has been a long journey for me. And every time I look over the lines, I am excited to share them with you. I can’t wait for you to meet these hilarious characters who walked into my mind and wouldn’t quit telling their stories.
We’re on our second week of the blog tour, and the lineup was arranged with YA Bound Book Tours. I’m really excited about the new content released in some of today’s posts. Here are today’s stops:
And at all of these stops you can register for a giveaway of my complete works–Iron Shards, Hell and High Water, and Where Angels Can’t Follow. (The copies of Where Angels Can’t Follow are ARCs as it hasn’t been released yet.)
The anniversary of my attack is looming, a great maw snapping at the smiles and sunshine in my life. I’ve had an uptick in panic attacks, super hearing, and insomnia. I’m operating on caffeine and stubbornness today. It’s enough. This poem was inspired by me asking my significant other if he thinks I’ve gotten worse. Because for some demented reason, I have to know the truth; I have to pry it out like a rotten tooth.
“You’re getting worse.” I wrap my arms around myself as far as they’ll go, protecting my core like your words are hits. But they don’t keep coming.
I wait for the conditional get-better-now, stop-panicking receding footsteps. But there was no or else. No if-then.
You pulled me closer as I apologized for more things I can’t help. I might as well apologize for the rain, too. And you stop my torrent like a shut-off valve in the sky.
Good morning! We’re wrappingup the first week of the Where Angels Can’t Follow blog tour. (There’s one more week of blog stops to go, for those of you wondering when I would get back to poetry, writing blogs, and finishing Iron Spirits.) I can’t believe we’re only four days away from the release! I am excited to share the world, the characters, and their hilarity. One of my writing idols, Joss Whedon, once offered this advice for writing, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” And that was my goal.
Today’s stop on the blog tour is Jazzy Book Reviews. You can find an excerpt of Where Angels Can’t Follow here, if you haven’t gotten to it yet. (At least your wait for the rest won’t be long now!) It’s also one of your last opportunities to enter the Iron Shards giveaway.