Coming to Conclusions; Healing

So in my last post, I was talking about how I was on a break from writing and how I wasn’t sure what the future holds for me. It has been two weeks since that post, and I’ve done a lot of thinking and soul-searching in that time.

I’m pleased to say I’m in a better place. I’ve made a few decisions and set some goals (both writing and non-writing goals) so I don’t feel as conflicted as I was.

The conclusions that I’ve reached are these:

1.) I still need to be practical in my life decisions and not disregard the security of my future.

2.) I still need writing in my life.

They have to go together. There is no other option.

So now I have to find that much-needed balance. I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s something that I constantly struggle with. The struggle continues but change has not happened, so the answer is that change must happen.

The change is downsizing my life and that has begun! It may take a while but I think I can eventually find myself in a place I want to be in. The most important thing is that I’ve decided to change, and of course, that I won’t stop writing.

I mentioned that something personal happened to me early this year and I’ve debated on whether I wanted to talk about it. Suffice it to say that it was an event that happens to a lot of women, but it was enough to put many things into perspective for me. I was very happy and then very sad… (you get it). But it made me realize that some things had to change and they had to change immediately.

Even so… I like to think in the VERY long-term, so I need to plan for a better future. I  don’t want to look back when I’m old and have accomplished nothing. I’m a problem-solver by nature and I can figure this out.

That’s it! Onward!

IMG_0246 (3)

This picture makes the cover look lighter and a bit blurry, but it’s actually not. The sunlight washed it out and I had to adjust it a little. It actually looks more like it appears in the digital image.

As you can see, one thing I managed to do was get Mark of Thorn: Book of Scars into print. I admit, it felt good to do that. I have reviewed a copy and once again it is great to have something I wrote bound and ready for my shelf alongside the others. I mentioned before that Createspace was joining with Amazon, but the print copy still looks just as good, and it’s slightly less of a hassle to set up, which is nice for us writers.

I’m also in the process of reading it again myself so that I can get back in the groove to work on Book of Beauty, the next in the series. I’m hoping to have it finished and ready to go by this November. I know that’s a pretty big gap, but as of right now, a year apart might be all I can do.

We’ll just have to see how life goes.

Hopefully things will continue to get better. I’m working on myself and trying to get back to a better place. Everyone hits rough times, but I need to press through. I’ll keep you updated on further progress.

Advertisements

Unexplained Absence

Originally, this post was a bit of a downer. I wrote it a while ago and then couldn’t bring myself to post it. I think I’m in a slightly better place now.

I haven’t been around in a bit, I know, but something truly strange has happened to me. The end of the year was pretty bleak, and the beginning of this year has not been great for personal reasons. Honestly, when I think about explaining my absence…I find that I can’t do a very good job of it.

I guess I’ll start by saying that The Mark of Thorn: Book of Scars is now available in ebook form. It’s still not set up for print, but I’m trying to get that done even as I write this. I’ve not been motivated to do this or anything else lately. The book released in early November and I haven’t said a word about it.

I almost cancelled it.

There are several reasons for this. A few months ago, I mentioned that I took a new job, and I feel like this job is all I’ve been doing. I don’t think I’ve written a word since September. But it’s not because I don’t have time. It’s…strange. Even before that, I was feeling distant from my writer persona, and already wondered if launching a 5 book series was the right thing to do, even as I wondered if I would have the motivation to continue it. I still wonder if it was a mistake.

I’ve been absent from writing and publishing and social media. Oddly, I don’t even feel depressed about it. I’m not really sure what has happened to me.

I went through a bit of an evolution this past year. I knew I needed to make some changes in my life. The distant future seemed not so distant anymore. I left a job in May and took 3 months off, trying to focus on my writing before I realized I needed to go back to work. I got a new job and I like it pretty well. I haven’t even thought about writing since. My mind is consumed by other things: finance, retirement, career, family. I find that I rely on others for escapism storytelling instead of my own mind. I’d rather play a game – or even worse, watch someone else play a game that my brain isn’t actively involved in.

I’m afraid I’ve gone and pulled a Wendy. That’s right… I regret to say that I think I’ve grown up. All of a sudden I’m sensible, and the dream of making it as a writer feels more like a delusion of the past.

For a long time, I’ve tried to hold onto my imagination and the daydreamer part of me, knowing that if I ever let it go and became consumed with the real world, I would lose it completely. I’m not sure if that’s what’s happened, but I feel different now. I feel…more like a person I didn’t know I was. I think I’m happier…well, aside from recent events…but I’m not sure what I am. (?) I know I’ve grown as a person, especially as far as my social anxiety goes, and I don’t feel as anxious or depressed as I have in the past. I think this comes from actually being more involved in the world instead of being lost to a story and a dream all the time.

Recently, even the name Lani Lenore doesn’t feel right anymore. I’ve thought, even if I continue writing, that I might change my name. But that presents more problems. I want to be me. I want to know who I am instead of trying to be two people. And letting go of it completely doesn’t really bother me like it should.

I guess I’m just saying that I don’t know what’s going to happen – with me or my writing or my life. I’ve been absent and I wanted to let you know why. Maybe I needed to back up and rethink things.

I wish I could come back with something more positive and upbeat in order to say that I’m still here and working on something new, but that’s not the case right now. Maybe it will be again soon. For now, all I can say is that I don’t have a plan for a publishing schedule anymore, but I am going to try to get back into Mark of Thorn at least enough to edit Book of Beauty, and hopefully that will lead me to finish the next one.

I need to do something different, and I just know that things haven’t been working out for me.

I feel bad for letting people down, and maybe I really am just depressed right now because of other things, but what I’ve been feeling for the past five months has been more of the same.

I don’t want to discourage others from going for their dreams, but for now, my own feels far away. Perhaps I’ll find myself again soon.

I don’t know when Mark of Thorn: Book of Beauty will appear, but I’m certain that it will show itself eventually. I want to also get Book of Scars into print soonish, if nothing else. I have the full cover in the works and have finished the layout, so it’s just a matter of time.

Thank you again to all of you who continue to support me. I know it’s disappointing to hear some of this. Writing has been so important to me for a long time, but it’s so much work for such a small payoff, and right now it’s difficult for me to make sense of it.

I’ll be back when I have more (and hopefully better) news.

Lani’s Lenore’s True Scary Stories (it happened to me)

Happy Spooktober! It has been another year for Project Nevermor!

I haven’t had much time to update in a while, but the new job is going well. I have a better attitude about it now than when I started.

A little book news. The Mark of Thorn: Book of Scars is still planned for Novemeber 5th. But there is one thing that may not go as I planned. I recently found out that Createspace (where I publish my print books) is joining with Amazon, and honestly, it’s about time, but I don’t know how this change is going to affect the timeline in which I’m able to release Book of Scars in print. So, while the print book may not be available immediately, the ebook is still heading for the planned release date.


Lately, I’ve been interested in true horror stories. (yeah, I went from true crime to true horror) I found a channel on Youtube called Mr. Nightmare, one thing led to another, and I’ve been listening to these narrated stories and basically freaking myself out. Late at night… When I’m by myself…

Listening to these stories led me to realize something: they reminded me that I actually have a couple of scary stories to tell. Let me tell you, that thought makes me feel weird. Does everyone experience something like this at least once in their life? I don’t know. Maybe some people never do, but I have two.

Neither of them had a deadly ending, but they were frightening to me – as they would be to anyone in that situation.

When I look back on these events, I can’t help but think that if just one thing had been different, maybe things would have been a lot worse.

It’s not quite Halloween yet, but I was inspired to tell you about these events. They aren’t ghost stories, but they are pretty scary all the same.

Story 1: Shots Fired

This happened about two years ago. I used to work at a pet boarding facility. I had just arrived for my shift at 10 am. Often, I was right on the dot with my clock-in time, but I must have been at least a couple of minutes early on this occassion.

It was a normal day. I came in and said hello to my coworkers at the front desk and began to make my way to the time clock and then to the hallway where we kept all our charts. My coworker (let’s call him Matt) was already standing there, since the morning had been pretty slow. We didn’t have many pets boarding with us, so he had worked the morning by himself. He was supposed to leave at 10 when I came in.

I asked him how the morning had gone, and he said that it was “uneventful”. That would take on a new meaning for all of us.

We stood there for about 5 minutes, chatting, when I began to hear a sound from outside that sounded like hammering. I’m pretty sensitive to noises, so it bugged me that I didn’t know what it was. Was someone hammering on the outside of the building? Were they doing repairs? I asked Matt, and he didn’t think so. He was not very bothered by the sound, but I was curious about what it was.

Briefly, let me explain that this was a pet hotel, so we had a lot of fenced in areas surrounding the building where we could let the dogs out. Some small yards led into larger yards with only wire fencing around them. These areas stretched closer to the road. That said, to investigate the sound, I opened the side door and stepped out into a small yard that had a wooden fence, blocking my view of the road and the other yards.

The sound was definietly louder outside and distorted by an echo. I walked through the small fenced area and I was just about to unlock the gate to step through to the larger yard outside, when suddenly I realized that what I was hearing was the sound of steady gunshots.

I immediately came back into the facitlity, but I didn’t panic. I told Matt that I was certain that the sound was gunshots. They were nearby and I was concerned. I don’t know if he knew what to think about that, but we just looked at each other for a minute. Shortly after that, another coworker came into the hallway from the lobby and said, rather hurriedly:

“There’s a guy out there shooting a gun.”

I heard what she said, but I still didn’t quite understand it. I was alert, but the area around our workplace was surrounded by fields, and we’re in the south, so I was still thinking that maybe someone was in the field shooting their gun for fun or practice.

She said “No, there is a guy walking down the middle of the road in combat gear, shooting an assault rifle.”

That’s when things got really scary. We were in the back hallway, relatively safe, but there were a lot of doors even in the back because we have so many side yards. She told us that we needed to go to all the doors and check to make sure that they were locked, but we needed to keep low.

So I’m crouched down, going through the building, locking all the doors, all the while thinking that there is some crazy guy about to burst into our building and kill us. We did not know what he was doing or why, and it was extremely scary. At the time, we thought it was random, and some guy was out there rampaging, hell-bent on murder.

I stayed in the back with my coworkers, and some of them didn’t seem to know how to react, but I was looking for something that I could use as a weapon, and even shut myself in a side closet for a bit, just in case. I didn’t know if someone would suddenly be in that hallway I was just standing in, so I was trying to be smart about it.

Shortly afterward, we got word from the girls who were still in the lobby, crouched behind the front desk, that the guy had come into the parking lot and front yard of our workplace and had run around the side of the building. They had called the police, but no one knew where the guy had gone.

That made it worse.

The time passing by seemed like forever, but the cops responded quickly. One of my coworkers was married to a police officer, so I think that helped – as if they needed a reason to rush to the site of an active shooter. Her husband had his entire unit down there in a flash, and I think they were actually a gang unit instead. I have never seen so many cops in my life. City, County, Undercover. There were cop cars lining the streets and parking lot. There were helicopters circling overhead.

But they still had not caught the guy.

I remember my friend saying: “It’s okay now. The cops are here.” I’m like “No, it’s not okay until they find that guy.” I was still imagining that he might be crouched outside one of our doors, ready to come in and take us hostage or something. I was not intending to be caught by surprise, no matter what happened.

Eventually, there were so many cops crawling all over the place that I stopped being afraid. A few minutes later, we got word that the shooter had been caught. He was picked up on the next road over, and he was completely naked. We all assume that he took off his clothes so that the police would have no reason to shoot him, because obviously he had no weapon.

Later, we were finally able to learn what happened. Apparently, the guy was a disgruntled employee from the factory across the street. He had recently been dismissed and had been escorted out of the building. He then went to his car, put on his gear, got his gun, and started shooting toward the factory – not at us. But we didn’t know that. He shot into several cars in the parking lot, shot at the security booths, and allegedely even shot into a car that happened to be driving toward him when he was walking down the middle of the road.

No one was hurt. Thank goodness. None of the animals were hurt either. But later on, the shooter was charged with 10 counts of attempted murder for every person who had been nearby in the direction he was shooting. Even the poor woman who had been mowing the lawn across the street, on a mower that my coworker and I saw abandoned when we had to walk down the road to deliver a dog to an owner. I wonder what SHE might have felt at the time.

Luckily for the cops, there was an extensive security setup throughout our building and grounds, which captured a lot of footage throughout the property. They were able to get very good images of the shooter. It was so weird to watch the video feed as each of us in the building became aware of the shots, and how we scrambled to action. I could see the girls in the lobby – one of which actually opened the front door to check out the sound before proptly slamming it shut and getting behind the desk to call the police. It was even creepier to see the shooter walk into our parking lot – not so far from the front door – and even check a couple of our cars as if he might have been able to steal them.

When I was finally able to go outside, I saw that there were shell casings all over the front lawn of my workplace. Dozens. Not only that, but the gun itself had been abandoned beside a large tree at the front of the building, apparently just before he had been seen running around the side of our building, where he entered the wooded area and stripped.

The barrel of the gun was clogged with dirt, and was jammed, so he abandoned it. But I can’t help but wonder how things might have gone differently with just a few changes to the situation.

I am so thankful that there were no customers present, that no one was in the parking lot or coming into the building for their shift (including me), and that none of us were outside doing activities with the dogs in the larger yards near the road.

Because he might have shot at us too. If a dog had been barking at him through the fence and drew his attention, what would have happened?

Ever since that day, it was taboo to say that a day had been “uneventful”.

I wonder what might have happened if I was just a couple of minutes later to work, if I had still been in the parking lot at the time, or if the man’s gun hadn’t jammed when it did. Would he have tried to get into my workplace? I guess I can’t say. I’m just glad that it didn’t happen.

I did not realize that I still have such strong feelings about this happening until I was writing this – until I went back and read a couple of news articles about it. I saw the names of my employers and remembered exactly how I felt that day. It was truly terrifying. Honestly, to remember it, I almost started crying.

Now, even still, when I hear a gunshot that I’m not quite prepared for in a field near my house, I always get a feeling of panic and I remember this incident.

 

Story 2: Paint Job

I said that neither of these stories were supernatural, but this one – well – think of it what you will.

My husband and I had just bought our house. It was our dream home, and still is, but at the time, it needed a little bit of work before we would be ready to move in – and we had to wait a bit longer than we had intended in order to actually get the house.

Our offer had been accepted, and I want to say that the last family moved out around Thanksgiving, but due to some issues with the loan, we were not able to officially get the house until January. Then after that, we wanted to do a few things before moving our stuff in. Like paint.

We did not move in until the beginning of February, so the house sat “empty” from late November until then. During that time, we were both in and out of the house, working on what we could. We did some work on the outside of the house and were particularly interested in redoing the living room ceiling and taking down some terrible wallpaper in order to paint, and also painting the master bedroom upstairs. Those were the three main things.

The house is a split-level, which means that it has essentially 3 levels. There is a base level beneath where you can come in through the garage, go up seven steps and then you’re in the main level, then go up seven more steps (above the garage) and you’re upstairs where the bedrooms are.

One night, I had just gotten off work, but I felt like stopping by the house on my way to my previous home so that I could paint a little. In fact, I think I was determined to finish the bedroom that night.

When I got there, I parked in the garage and closed it, then went upstairs to the first level. There was no lock on the door that led into the kitchen, so I went inside and was then on the main level. We had been working in the living room, so we had plastic sheets all over the floor to protect from dust and paint. I probably looked around to admire what we had accomplished before heading upstairs.

Up the second flight of steps, I went to the bedroom where I had left my painting supplies from before. This room was also covered in plastic. I set my purse in the hallway so that it wouldn’t get paint on it. I only had my phone on me. I don’t remember feeling uncomfortable to go into the house, even though I was by myself. Maybe because it was still daylight when I first arrived, but I’m not sure that it was. It was winter, and it was very cold that day.  Likely, I turned on a lot of the lights and checked all the doors to make sure they were locked. Then I started painting.

Oh yeah, and one other thing. I had earbuds in during this, so I was not paying attention to what was going on around me. I felt secure.

I don’t know what time it was. Maybe around 6 or 7. At one point, I took out my earbuds (or maybe I just turned the music off) and I was messing with my phone to find whatever music I wanted to listen to. Maybe it was miraculous, but it just happened to be right then that I decided to do this.

The house was silent, as of course it should be. Within those few seconds while I was standing there, music off, I heard a screeching noise that sounded like the garage door rising — but it did not rise all the way. It was like it lifted quickly and went back down, then I heard rapid sounds moving through the bottom level of the house beneath me.

It happened so fast, but I remember how it went, even though it was only a few seconds. No matter where I am, if I hear a noise that I don’t recognize, I freeze and listen, trying to see if I will hear it again, or if I can decide what it is. This was not one of those singular noises that make you go ‘what was that?’. No. This was a garage door sound, rapid movement through the garage and up the steps and into the kitchen. The sounds did not stop for me to even consider that it was a simple bump in the night.

Someone was in my house. I was sure of it.

I had never called 911 before, and that thought made me nervous by itself, but I was standing there with my phone in my hand and I KNEW that I could not hesitate. Whether it was or it wasn’t, I had to act.

There was a bathroom off the master bedroom where I was painting, but the doorknobs were old and I knew that the lock wasn’t very good. But it was the only place I could think to go. My purse was in the hallway with my keys, and I don’t believe I even considered going for it. I dialed 911 as I went into the bathroom, closed the door quietly, and sat down in front of the door to lean against it. I had no choice.

When the operator answered, I quietly told him ‘I think someone is in my house.’

I gave him my address as quietly as possible, and I don’t remember everything I said to him. I remember him periodically asking me questions to try to get me to talk to him, but I didn’t WANT to talk to him. I knew that the walls were paper thin, and he kept asking me things like ‘do you still hear noises?’ I would answer “yeah”. His voice seemed loud to me, and I kind of wanted to punch him through the phone, because I was afraid that whoever was there would hear his voice. Not to mention that the house was empty, and so there was also an empty house echo.

I sat there against the door, knowing there was a gap under the door that someone could likely see my shadow through, but leaning against the door was all I could do. I tried to stretch out my legs and wedge myself between the door and the cabinet in front of me, but my legs were almost too short. All I knew was that if someone had tried to get in, that leverage was the only thing that would keep them out since the door wouldn’t lock.

During all this, I was still hearing sounds of movement throughout the house. No, it didn’t stop. But after they had gotten into the main part of the house, they seemed to slow way down. They were moving through the house at their leisure. I heard someone walking on the plastic in the living room downstairs, and eventually they came upstairs.

The bathroom I was in was actually back to back with the other upstairs bathroom. I heard them go into that other bathroom. I heard them tapping on the countertop, like drumming with their knuckles. Shortly afterward, I thought I heard them come out and then look into the other two bedrooms on the other side of the hallway.

I stayed on the phone with the operator the whole time, and I felt like I sat there forever. My legs and back were hurting where I was stretching, trying to brace myself against the door. Where were the cops? It was true that it was a winter night and the roads were bad, but I was about to be axe murdered, and it shouldn’t have been taking them that long! Honestly, I had no idea how long it had been.

Then, I heard a footstep on the plastic that was covering the bedroom floor beyond the bathroom, over by the doorway.

I remember thinking ‘Oh my God, they are going to find me’. I tried to be quiet. The operator tried to talk to me again and I didn’t want to answer. I was probably the most scared I had ever been in my life. I was already certain that they could hear me quietly talking to the operator, but yet they didn’t hurry away.

I believe that the footstep on the bedroom floor plastic was the last sound that I heard. It did get silent after a bit. I never heard the person leave, and certainly didn’t hear them go downstairs or through the garage.

They never tried to get into the bathroom. I don’t know if they even approached the door, but I remember imagining them standing there, hearing me and knowing I was on the phone with the cops, and trying to decide what they wanted to do at that point. Would they have enough time to do what they had really come to do? What an eerie thought, even now.

Finally, the disbatcher told me that the cops had arrived, and they were outside the house. He said they had looked around the house outside and were at the sunroom door, which was just beyond the bedroom, and that I needed to let them in. I remember saying “are you sure?” because I was still afraid to come out. He told me yes, and so I did.

I opened the bathroom door, and went into the sunroom, where I saw 4 or 5 police officers waiting. They came into the house, guns drawn, spreading out to search the whole house. I think there were a few outside, but I was left in the sunroom by myself after that. The operator had hung up. My teeth were chattering and I was shaking.

The police searched the house inside and out. They did not find anyone. All the doors to get into the house were locked. My purse was untouched. They checked the rooms, the closets, and mentioned to me that they did not see attic access. I told them that there was a panel in the closet downstairs, but I don’t believe I had heard anything that might have sounded like someone trying to climb into the attic. They could not have done that silently.

After searching the house, they didn’t find anyone.

Eventually, the officers came back upstairs and gathered around me, and at that point, I admit, I felt a little foolish. They asked me questions about the house – likely to help me feel more at ease – and complemented the house. They apologized for it taking them so long to get there, but the roads were a bit slick. I remember them smiling as they chatted with me. I didn’t realize until later that it had taken them twenty minutes to get there even though I only live five-ten minutes from town.

But one officer had a more serious look. He pulled out his notepad and asked me: “what sounds did you hear, exactly?” And I completely flaked. I felt like a fool when they didn’t find anyone, and quickly convinced myself that I had imagined the whole thing. I told him “I don’t know. I just heard a lot of sounds — but I’m not familiar with this house and I don’t know, maybe it was mice!” I really just felt like an idiot, and I brushed the entire thing off.

Sadly, I let them believe that I was just some silly person who heard a little noise and panicked – though the 911 recording would tell them otherwise, I’m sure.

They said they were leaving and asked if I would also like to leave while they were still around. I said that yes, I definietly would.

I walked outside with them and opened the garage from the outside so that I could get my car. When I was leaving, the notepad officer said something about the garage, and I said ‘oh yeah, that’s where I thought they came in. The garage’. Even though, yes, I should have told him everything while he was writing it down. He kind of eyed the garage door, but they did not check it again. I got in my car and went home.

Afterward, I called my husband and parents to tell them what happened. Actually, I think I went straight to my husband’s workplace, because he was working nights at the time. And even though I brushed it off to the cops, the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that someone had been there.

The next day, we all went back to the house because I wanted to figure it out and try to relive it. I had them experiment with sounds while I was upstairs – had them go up and down the stairs and open doors. And yes, those sounds sounded like what I had heard.

I think the thing that fully sealed the deal for me was when we went to the garage, and even though the door was down, my dad was able to lift it up and mimic the sound as if someone had lifted the door just enough to duck under it before letting it back down.

I was convinced that someone was in the house with me, but I never heard a person say a word or make a sound. There was no defining noise – like the sound of running water – that would obviously let me know that it was a person. But someone was there. I’m 100% sure.

I do not know who the person was or what they wanted. Maybe they thought the house was empty, as it had been for several nights. It was very cold that night, and maybe it was someone who wanted a warm place to stay. Maybe they were a neighbor, merely curious about what we were doing to the inside of the house, and meant no harm, only wanting to look around. Or maybe they knew I was there.

What I know is that the sight of my car in the garage did not stop them from coming in. The sight of my purse in the hall did not stop them. I’m not sure what did. Maybe it was the sound of my voice on the phone with the disbatcher as I was cowering in the bathroom.

But I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t taken my earbuds out at that exact moment, in enough time to actually hear the first sounds of someone coming into the house.

Right after that, I decided I wanted a Rottweiler and a gun. (I didn’t get either.) Well, the scare passed, but I still think about it on occassion. My husband even went to meet the neighbors after that to check them out, but they are older couples, and he didn’t get any weird vibes. They didn’t even seem aware that the cops were swarming all over the house and yard that night!

We still live here, and I’ve since grown more comfortable in the house. I feel perfectly safe here, and I have never heard any sounds like that since then, which makes me believe without a shadow of doubt that someone was in the house with me. And yet I wonder… I never heard that person leave, and the police never checked the attic… Though they might have easily exited the house after we had all left for the night.


I don’t know which of these two incidents was scarier for me. Maybe the second one, even though the threat in the first story was clear. The cops showed up quickly and I knew that the threat was outside the building. In the second event, the threat was unknown and in the house with me.

Whew! I am creeping myself out just writing this stuff. These were both very scary situations that I was involved in, and I certainly hope that there are people out there who NEVER have to experience anything remotely like this.

Anyway, I thought I would share these experiences with you since I’ve been thinking about them.

Life-Changing Happenings, Keeping on Track

Life is a funny thing. You think it’s going one way and it winds up going in a completely different direction.

I was in the middle of writing my longest post ever: Why I decided to quit my job and become a full-time writer (and what that actually means). …I didn’t just mean that the title was long though. Unfortunately, I feel that the post may no longer be relevant. All of a sudden I’ve had to seek employment again, and it’s kind of unfortunate that I messed around and wound up actually getting the job…

Yay for me! And also bleh… I don’t really mean to complain. I got lucky, actually. I needed a job and I managed to get one. I just know that this is not where my heart is, and that makes me feel a bit bland.

So, I’m going back to work. I feel that this is good and bad, but I plan to soldier on for a while. This wasn’t in my plan. I was hoping to make it at least a year of writing full time before having to work a day job again, to give me the opportunity to get ahead with my writing and to build it up a bit more before doing anything drastic. But, the time is now.

Even so, I’m not going to let it get me down!

That said, I’ll likely have to revoke a few things that I had originally planned. I wanted to continue to publish on a three month schedule, but I doubt that will happen now. I may try it, but I don’t want to be so rushed that the quality of my work slips. So, 6 months may be more reasonable. If you follow the blog, you’ll know when I get behind. I’m not going to set up a book that I know I can’t finish in time.

It also means that now, just after I’ve said I would post on the blog twice a week, I’ll likely have to dial it back to once a week, or else just posting when I have something to announce – like I used to do.

Even though I’m going back to a day job, I still have the same goals in mind. I want to get rid of debt so I can make my ideal life a reality at some point in the future! I might be a full-time writer yet!


Okay, now onto the book stuff! As you know, I recently released The Captor’s Redemption and now I’m pressing forward with The Mark of Thorn Saga. I’m left to wonder if three months in between books is not enough time (not for me to complete books, but for my fans to catch up). Maybe I’m just not promoting enough, anyway, I feel as though The Captor’s Redemption has been glossed over a bit. I know my fairy tales are what people really get excited about though. Releasing Captor was more of a soul-quest for me, so I understand that it may not be as popular. It happens.

As for The Mark of Thorn, I’m busily reading through it, anxious to work on the new material for the series. I know it will take some time, but if I focus, I know I can get it done just like I originally envisioned. I have a lot of notes so I believe I can still drive it in the direction I want without losing anything I had originally planned.

I’ve always been proud of the ideas behind this series, so it will definitely be an epic experience.

I’ve decided I might do a few character profiles for The Mark of Thorn characters after all, though without revealing too much about them. It was always fun to let readers figure it out based on where the story was going. Of course, along with the major fairy tale stories being explored, there are several obscure ones incorporated as well, and I think it was fun to have people wondering which characters and events were associated with tales they may or may not have heard before.

That said, not every character is associated with a fairy tale. Some are just there for my own devices, whereas some characters serve more than one purpose. Interesting, right?

It’s going to be fun! The Book of Scars preorder is posted now on Amazon only. I did this because I went through the trouble to do full distribution for several of my books, but it never pays off like on Amazon. Also, like usual, I cannot do a preorder for the print copy, but it will be available on November 5th alongside the paperback (or you may be able to order it sooner. Keep your eyes open.)

I think that’s all I have to say for now. I may not be as active in the coming weeks because I’ll be working, and learning what I need to know to do this job, so I’ll be focused on other things.

As always, if there is anything you want to know or anything you’d like me to post about, just speak up!

An Author’s Way: Connection with Nature

IMG_3273

Authors, as people, are different. I’ve always thought there were two kinds, but there are probably more than that. I’m talking about what we crave as far as the career, not how we write. For now, let’s just say this: Some long for the hustle and bustle of the city, meeting people, making deals, and living a fast-paced life. Others, however, long for something a little simpler.

For me, I enjoy the simple life. I like to write and read outside when I can, and taking walks through the trees while getting in touch with nature really helps me to zone out and use my imagination. It lets me forgot, at least temporarily, about all the other things weighing me down, as if none of that really matters. When I can truly clear my head and focus on a project, I find that I am at my happiest.

(You’ll notice as well that many of my books feature travel in the open world instead of dealing with matters in cramped society, court, etc. I like this idea of freedom, and the inner workings of politics and society has often baffled me.)

I grew up in the country. As I child, my family always had a garden — not a farm, mind you, but a garden (and a few animals). During the summer, my parents always made me help, and I would say ‘there is no way I’m going to need this as an adult! I’m going to be so rich (ugh) that I won’t have to do this.’ Sure. My brother and I used to talk about having mansions with hidden doors behind our bookshelves. Those were the days… And guess what? Now we both garden and try to live frugally.

The older I get, the more I find myself looking back to that. Lately, I’ve become fascinated with growing things. I have even begun to feel empathy with plants, which is new for me. (I’m sad when I have to clip a vine that doesn’t need to be climbing wherever it is climbing. It worked so hard to get there!)

IMG_2762

Our young garden (it was prettier then, haha). Now it looks like a jungle.

For the past few years, all I can think about is living a simple life to coincide with my writing, to have a self-sufficient, frugal lifestyle which is slower in pace and truly stress-free and enjoyable. I think I’ve been longing for it for a long time, I just didn’t know how to identify it. Along with all that, one thing that remains important to me is connecting with nature.

Growing up, one thing my family often did was go camping. This was something we could do together that didn’t cost very much, and though I likely complained about it at the time, it’s still something that I hold dear and enjoy doing on occasion. I have a lot of good memories about sitting out by the campfire and riding my bike during the day through all the campground trails. It was a great time for me to sit back and brainstorm, and even now when I actually get to go, it feels like a chance to unplug, to sit and read by the campfire.

Sometimes, I honestly wish that experience would carry over to my daily life. I wish I wanted to spend more time outdoors every day, but it’s easy to just stay inside in front of the computer (and with the air conditioning), but when I do take time to go I out, I usually smile and breathe a sigh of contentment. If it wasn’t so hot out right now, I think I would sit outside to write and maybe even get some reading done, just to enjoy the time in nature.

Even mowing the yard is a fun task for me now! Not sure how that is, but it works as an outdoor excursion.

DSC00710

 


I’m thinking that I might take the blog in a slightly new direction, exploring not only my books and projects, but to share more about what I’m doing to build my life in this simpler way. For a long time, I feel that what I’ve been seeking is peace in my life and a balance between what I have to do and what I want to do. I don’t think that I have fully found that comfortable place, but I’m trying to get there.

Also, I’m hoping to publish posts twice a week instead of once. I’ve been doing well with the once a week thing, and right now I feel that I might be able to do more. That could change, but I’ve been enjoying working on the blog lately, and I hope it sticks.

Right now, I’m feeling pleased with the thought of the future and the direction that I’m headed in, but I’m also nervous at the thought that it might have to change a lot sooner than I want it to. Either way life goes, I’m hanging in there and trying to focus on what I need to accomplish to make my life better.

I just thought I’d share some of these peaceful pictures with you! I want to make this a recurring theme on the blog and talk about how taking a break and enjoying the simple things in life will help clear the mind and make for better creativity.

What do you do to keep the balance?

The History of Me: A Writer is Born

**If you’re reading this on the blog, you can see I have a new banner for a new book that will be released in November! While I already have it listed, I’m not going to talk about it yet. That will come soon. For now, go read The Captor’s Redemption!**

Now, on to the post.

I’ve been trying to write more personal posts lately to let you see a bit more of who I really am. Some of this might be information you’ve seen before, but I write this for myself as well. It’s interesting to look back and see how fiction writing has been a lifelong interest for me. It wasn’t something that I thought I’d ‘give a try’ in adulthood. It’s something that I’ve always felt a need to do. With that, I suppose my life story can be played out through my writing history because I’ve probably spent more time in fantasy worlds than in this one.

The very beginning

My first real word was ‘book’. I had a small bookshelf near the kitchen doorway, and my father says that one day I looked at him, pointed to the bookshelf and said ‘book’. And thus, my fate was sealed.

The first book I read

I’m not sure of my complete writer timeline when I was a child, because I’ve simply forgotten most of it, but I do know that I loved writing short stories even in elementary school. My favorite subject was ghosts and witches, which likely explains a few things. The first book I ever learned to read (in first grade) was The Spooky Old Tree. It was a Berenstain Bears book, but I’d like to say that it set the course for my love of horror and supernatural stories.

My first attempt

When I was in third grade, I distinctly remember trying to novelize a video game that my family had been playing on the Nintendo. It was called Maniac Mansion, and if you play it today, you will see that it is a rather fun but silly point-and-click adventure game in which a group of teens tries to rescue a friend from a mad scientist’s house. It is not quite horror, but at that time in my life, I thought it was extremely scary. (I was a kid!) If you moved your character into a room that one of the family members was in, they would grab you and lock you in a dungeon! But the idea of that game has stuck with me my entire life. The characters were all so different that they captured my imagination and I wanted to write a story about the complex ideas before me. Even in High School, this game stuck with me, and I played with these ideas many times in writing. Perhaps one day I’ll finally manage to capture that old inspiration. But anyway, in third grade, I was trying to novelize this game on notebook paper. I would write at school and a girl in my class was like “You are going to be a writer. Why don’t you write and I’ll sell it for you.” We even went so far as to say that she was going to be my agent! How either of us knew what that was at the time, I have no idea, but I remember telling her that we couldn’t do that because it wasn’t my idea, I was just writing it. So cautious and aware, even then.

Novelizing and the Typewriter

I had a typewriter long before my family had a computer. I had an old one for a while that had belonged to my mother. It had issues, but I loved to type on it. I remember having to press the keys with force just to make the letters show up. I remember pulling the teeth back and having to push them back in place when they got stuck. (Now I want to get another one…) I taught myself how to type on it, and to this day, I do not type correctly. My dad tried to tell me that I should stop myself and learn to type properly in case I needed it for the future, but I didn’t listen. I type quickly, but to this day, I consider my improper method a hindrance. But oh well. I’ve tried to retrain myself, but it doesn’t work.

After a while, my parents bought me a newer typewriter, which was much nicer. The keys were automated and I didn’t have to worry about getting my fingers stuck under the keys. Ouch! It would hold a separate ribbon which would erase mistakes. No more white out! Yay! I replaced both ribbons often and probably spent a small fortune on that. So what did I do with this glorious machine?

I novelized movies and TV shows that I liked, changing things as I wanted to. It was sort of like fanfiction, yet mostly, it was frame for frame and line by line of what was said on the show. I really enjoyed translating what I saw into words, and still do that a bit to this day. I see a scene in my head and then have to explain it on the page.

I would go to a movie and then come home and try to write a book about it based on what I remembered about the story. My most famous of these is a novelization I did of Homeward Bound, which was pretty short as far as books go, but I included pictures of my own animals. When I watched it again later, I realized I had gotten some of the details wrong, and oddly, I felt embarrassed! But it was pretty good for my age. People were always impressed with my memory skills.

The Grand Mystery

At some point, I remember that my best friend and I were writing a book together. That was an amazing and wonderful time. We were middle school age, I know. So maybe 12-13. I would spend the night with her on the weekends, and we would sleep in the small room above the garage all by ourselves, stay up late, and work on our book. It was a small room – her dad’s hangout, I think. There was a couch in there, a small tv, a computer that we didn’t use much, and some other stuff. It was awesome. We would talk about our book and write all night. It was great, because not only was it a small taste of freedom, but it was a great way to connect with my friend as we worked together on this project. I remember that the book was a murder mystery story about a will reading, and all the potential heirs were being killed off. I remember that we each had a character that was supposed to be ‘us’, and both of our characters had their love interest. All in all, it was terrible because it was just a mashup of all the stories and movies that we were fans of, but it was a really fun experience. I don’t think I have the entire story, but I definitely have parts of it somewhere. I believe that we did indeed finish it.

The rise of horror and my first real book

R. L. Stine was extremely popular while I was growing up. I read so many of his books. I went from Goosebumps to Fear Street through middle school and High School, and in seventh grade, I wrote my very first complete book: The Vampires of Riverdale High, based on some of my favorite R. L. Stine works. I wrote it all by hand in a small notebook and I know for certain that I still have this one. I haven’t read it in ages, but I was in seventh grade when I wrote it. I know that for certain. I was very into vampires back then, but for a long time afterward, I wouldn’t touch the subject because it has been done to death. But I’m not sure I care much about that now.

FYI: This is how I spent most of my time in grade school and college, writing when I should have been paying attention. Oh well. What’s done is done.

Embracing Fantasy

When I was in High School, I think I went through a ton of writing phases. I would read a lot as well. Mostly, I think I went back and forth between writing fantasy novels and writing teen horror fiction, both of which sometimes had sci-fi tendencies. At home, I would hang out with my brother while he played video games, and I would either write or draw. My brother was more into games than I was at the time, but he would tell me bits and pieces of the storylines of the games he was playing. I thought a lot of that was really cool, and so I would take little bits of that and add my own ideas to write stories.

When I was a Junior and Senior in High School, I wrote my first Fantasy novel called Versallies, about a group of people who were dealing with an alien invasion on their home planet. I was proud of it, even though it wasn’t great. It was supposed to be followed by my next novel The Ascension, which I started, but never finished. Still, I think it was a good idea. I had others, but many of those also went unfinished.

During this time and after High School, I was also into writing fanfiction, which I think can be a great learning tool for writers. You can take what you like about something and add what you think would make it better, or else alter events that might have been a bit better in your own mind. That, to me, is a big part of what I do in general. I like to capture things I liked about other works, and try to find a way to use them in what I do, in what I often consider to be a better way.

That’s just me. I like to rebuild.

The fanfiction that I was most interested in was anything to do with Final Fantasy, and I was extremely into writing Daria fanfiction. I wrote a lot of other fanfiction along the way until eventually, I decided that I didn’t really need that anymore. I wanted to write my own works. But starting with novelizations and fanfiction helped me to pinpoint the different aspects of other works, how they went together, and that helped me learn how to build my own stories.

So, jumping into retelling fairy tales seemed pretty natural. I was able to write my own stories, but there were already base ideas in place.

The Twisted Fairy Tale 

I was out of High School when I wrote my first twisted fairy tale. I believe I started with the American McGee’s Alice fanfiction called Behind Sanity, but I didn’t finish that one until much later. I think the first twisted tale that I completed was Jack and Jill. It was short, and I was pleased with myself when it was finished. From there, I went on to do others, many of which have turned into the stories that I have published today. Others, however, have not seen the light of day in years, and may never.

The Captor’s Redemption – a turning point

When I was 21, The Captor’s Redemption was the first serious novel that I wrote. Around that time, I had discovered Stephen King, and I became completely enraptured by his writing style. I wanted to write like him, to learn to capture images and feelings with words just like he was able to do, and reading his work brought me to a new level with my own writing.

Back then, I didn’t know much at all about publishing or genres or any of that, but I was convinced that if I completed this work, it would be a success for me.

I worked on The Captor’s Redemption for a year, writing and rewriting — truly putting my heart and soul into the work. I learned a lot that year about what I could do and what I should pay attention to as I pushed myself along.

All that came and went, and when it was finished, I still couldn’t find an agent or sell it. It was a frustrating time, and yet I was proud of what I had created.

The works that followed

Even after all this, I didn’t stop writing. I gave up pursuing any other career in favor of writing. In my mind, I was just holding out for success in this area, believing that there would one day be no need to do anything else. Sigh. I sometimes wonder if I would have made the same choice if I could turn back the clock, but it’s impossible to say.

As far as writing is concerned, there was only to grow. After I learned how to complete a book, I was able to go back and revisit older works, finishing them as needed. Finishing a book was no longer such a daunting task, and I learned to not begin a book unless I knew how it was going to end. Unfortunately for me at the time, I had so many unfinished works, and not all of them had a clear path to the end.

Retelling fairy tales worked for me because I already had a base story to work with and I could build from it with my own ideas, but I also wanted to write my own thing with ideas that I created from nothing. Aside from The Captor’s Redemption, I think The Needle’s Eye was the next original work that I completed, and I was extremely proud of that one. It was like all the elements that I had worked with came together in one book. There was a bit of fantasy, a bit of horror, and a bit of fairy tale.

I wrote story after story, posting chapters on Fictionpress and later on Wattpad as I wrote them. I earned a decent following from it and was excited to complete and post each new chapter. I enjoyed a lot about that, but there was still something wrong: I wasn’t making any money, and my books were not in print.

Project Nevermor

I had tried to get published and failed several times with different books. I pitched The Captor’s Redemption, The Needle’s Eye (I was hopeful with this one), The People in the Rickety House (which I believed ALMOST got me an agent, but it didn’t work out) and even Neverland: Forsaken Dreamscape. Nothing was happening, and I was bitter about it.

One day, I was having a routine conversation with a friend through text. I was at work, and I was doing something that I did quite often back then: complaining about popular published works, about how they had no literary merit, and about how they were only written for simple-minded individuals. Well, that was the old me — the young me. I don’t think that way anymore. (People are allowed to like what they like, however, I do believe that if you advertise something enough, eventually people will break down and buy it.) Anyway. Back to the subject. On this particular day, we were bashing Fifty Shades (which I have still not read but I did read a snippet of, and I never continue anything if I feel like it’s lowering my IQ.) So we were talking about that, and my friend said the magic phrase that made me so angry that it drove me to action:

“You know that Fifty Shades was originally a Twilight fanfiction, right?”

I’m not even sure why, but that infuriated me. These were two things I hated, and yet everyone seemed to love them, and it was terrible! It just made me feel like nothing when I learned that something so popular had roots in something else that I also felt was garbage. And there I was, feeling like I was a talented writer who no one appreciated. I was annoyed with the thought that I might be destined to live my life in obscurity.

Again, I think differently now, but at the time, that one statement was enough to drive me to self-publish. I was infuriated and determined at that point, and nothing could stop me — even though my friend tried. She did. To this day, she still doesn’t exactly love the decision I made, but I don’t know if she could truly understand my frustration either. I decided that I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way! If I wanted to see my books in print, I was finished with sitting around and waiting for someone else to decide that this was going to happen. I had waited on responses from agents – and waited, and waited – only to be rejected. No more!

So, in September 2012, Project Nevermor was born from my intent to rework and publish one of my most popular stories: Neverland Forsaken Dreamscape.

The rest is history – and the future!   

I’ve been on this path for nearly 6 years now. So far, I have 14 books published, and I don’t plan to stop. I may get off track at times, but to survive the struggle feels worth it. Still, I don’t make much money, and I always hope of finding a way to boost that so that I can truly support myself as a writer, but there are other things about what I do that make my work fulfilling.

All of these books and projects I’ve mentioned have played a large role in my growth as a writer. That said, writing is certainly something that you can learn to do, but I don’t believe that it’s something you can learn to do overnight. It comes from thought and experiences, from practice, and from finding out what you like and what works for you. Through a unique cocktail of exposure, you can find your own voice. No one can tell us exactly what is right and what is wrong, and I’ve always believed that no one can teach you how to write.

Do you have a writer story like this one? Is there something in your own past that reminds you of who you are and what you were meant to do?