Off to a decent start here. On New Year’s Eve, I finished another story for The Doll Collection series–“Within”. Since I was having so much trouble with “Cradled”, and “Within” was needing to be finished, I went ahead and did it. It took the better part of the evening, but it was very much worth it. Probably the most cathartic writing experience I’ve had so far, and it helped me to shed a whole lot of emotional dead weight. It feels really good. That said, I have definitely picked Darling Orphan: The Case of Lucy Stewart back up–again. This time for good. I’m about 55 of 245 pages into rereading it so I can get back into the vibe. The ending is written and I know there are about half a dozen scene gaps. My rough assessment is that 30-50 pages more will finish the first draft. I cannot tell you how glad I will be to have this one done! I have also recently found an artist to do the cover, and that is a major motivator for wrapping this one up. I’m pretty excited and hopeful about it. Should be an October release (as seems to be about the usual for this series). I’m not sure why that is, but what can I say? Should all go well with the artwork for that, and the illustrations and cover art for The Doll Collection: Volume Two, I’m looking at at least 2 new books out for this year. My part in both should be complete no later than March, so I guess that means 1-2 more books on top of that could easily happen. The Pound….Definitely at the top of the list. Since I can do the cover for that one myself, it should be an easier accomplishment. As for whatever the 4th book…. I’m not sure yet. It would probably be wise to do another one I can complete on my own, cover wise. It’s not cheap, paying artists–Nor should it be!
Nothing much else going on. FarPoint is a month away and I’m ready for that!
I hope this New Year brings all good things to those reading this.
I just spent about an hour trying to troubleshoot Word Press’s latest editor update. Wow. More bugs than the apocalypse. I figured it out and for not being a computer nerd, that’s a pretty big deal. We’ll see if this post makes it–that will be the true test.
Just coming off a four day weekend, most of which I spent by myself. Not previously the plan but that’s how it worked out. I’d sure like to NOT be alone for another holiday (starting New Years would actually suit me). I have had quite enough of my own company.
So, I spent it working on editing The Doll Collection: Volume Two. I’m down to the last story and knew going in that it was going to be a struggle. What it all boils down to is that it was inspired by that first big photo shoot back in July. I got the bulk of the story out just fine, but there is a dynamic between the two main characters that I could not make solid enough to hold. Why? Because I know one of them and I’m the other one. Stupidly, I opened my mouth way back when and told him about the story I had in mind (loosely). He was totally game for it. The problem is, I’m finding that those two characters must be a couple. Trying to force them not to be is damaging to the story. It just doesn’t work. I tried and in several ways, but they just have to be together on the page. So why did I resist? Really, I shouldn’t have cared and just went with letting it be what it needed to be. The fact is, anyone who reads this and knows him, knows of the photo shoot location, and props involved will know it’s him. I didn’t even bother changing his name–that’s how clearly defined he is. He wants to read this when it’s done, and of course that makes me nervous, but I’ll let him. The real problem: he’s also married… Do you see where this is going? I tried to force this story to be something it isn’t, for the sake of saving face (mine and his), because the relationship between “Chad” and “Lainey” doesn’t actually exist between him and me–and I REALLYdon’t want anyone who knows either of us to think that it does. Quite a monkey wrench, isn’t it? The downside to short stories is that the muses who inspire the characters tend to stick hard. At least with writing novels, the characters eventually morph into their own deities, and any original influence as to who they are is replaced. Not so here. Not in the least. It’s….truly awkward. Anyhow, I’m about six pages into the rewrite and it’s somewhat more comfortable so far. I’ll keep going and see how things develop. Once it’s done and I’m satisfied with it, I’ll have to make the decision on whether to go ahead and forward it to him, or to just pretend we never made that deal…
More has been added to The Pound. Not much, but definitely enough to get it moving again and at least 2 gaps have been filled. Aside from that, I poked around with a super old story a few nights ago. I had started revamping it months back–oh, it was so very, very bad!!! And was happy with where it was advancing to. The several pages I recently added are taking it in a nice direction. Not sure if it will ever be in print for public consumption–kind of a historical bodice-ripper type–but we’ll see. It sure does make me want to stow away on the ship of a rebellious prince, just to see what would happen though.
I have no idea if that’s an appropriate title or not. I rolled out of bed about ten minutes ago, it’s still dark outside, and I have a new cat (Lady Sif) who is SO excited to be here as of last night, that neither of us slept much. She has a nice little meow that sounds like a crow giving input to court, but it’s thankfully soft in volume. I think she is at least in part rag doll; all ashy gray and long-haired. She’s sweet and her feline craziness trait is fully intact. She is sweet though. It’s strange shifting gears from having Louie, to an empty apartment, to having a new fur baby. Good…but very strange.
Writing: The semester ended on Friday. For me, it was done on Tuesday. I’ve been cruising through my first pass edits of the stories for The Doll Collection: Volume Two at surprising speed. Out of 13 stories, I have 5 left to go through. All of the finished ones have been sent to one of my editors and I have sent descriptions, etc for the first two stories to Felix for illustrations. The manuscript should be done before the end of the year. As soon as the illustrations are done (could be spring…) this book will be out.
As soon as that is all out of my hands, I will move on to the next project. At this point, it’s a toss up between continuing with The Doll Collection series, or moving on to get The Pound completed. I have less bits and inspiration for the latter, but there is more of a need for it to be finished. It is going to require more and longer stretches of uninterrupted focus, whereas the short stories are a little more easily done in quick stints. In all honesty, I should finish Darling Orphan first. It has been a while since I worked on it and I might be removed enough from some of the more personally painful elements that I can push through and get it done. Maybe. It would be nice. I don’t have an artist lined up for the cover art, so that is a slight deterrent. “Write it and they will come“. Maybe that’s how it will work for this one.
That’s about all I have going at the moment. The short stories keep getting stranger and stranger. This isn’t at all a bad thing and definitely not surprising, except that I’m impressed by the things I seem to be tapping into. It sure is a deep one, my psyche, and the lines that are connecting with other peculiar consciousness, quite strong.
This is going to be a less than peppy post, just to give a quick update on my works in progress and a life-changing event. Short on detail because I’m really just trying to hold it together and hide in a little bit of denial for a little longer.
The writing: I’ve officially decided which stories will go into The Doll Collection: Volume Two and have since finished “Again” and “Sting”. I believe those were the last two still in progress. There might have been another one, but I exchanged it for a finished one destined for TDC: V3. As soon as the semester is over (December 14th, officially), I’ll get to the editing. In the meantime, I might sneak a bit of work in on some of volume 3’s unfinished pieces, just so I can try to stay sane. The remaining work for school (especially this week) is going to be heavy and I have already lost a day to work on it…
Right in the middle of my “vacation” away for the holiday, I received word that Louie passed away. For anyone who doesn’t know who that is, she was my cat of 19 years. I had her for all but the first 2 months of her life. She has been the only being to actively be in my life for that length of time, which even outweighs my childhood, considering that I left home almost immediately after turning 17. At her age, it wasn’t unexpected but I wasn’t home at the time and I’m devastated. This has pretty much left me with a very empty apartment (since I hardly feel like this is home) and certainly with no emotional support except what people on the fringes can stop and give here and there during the busyness of their lives. It’s all I can do not to lose it, and I have to go back to work tomorrow. I have no idea how I’m going to do it… I got home from my trip on Saturday and had to figure out what to do with her. Nothing felt right about having her cremated and I’m not “allowed” to bury her in the bit of yard where I live. It didn’t feel right to do that anyway either–I don’t plan to stay here, so why would I want to intern her here? I made a split second decision to drive up to Erie yesterday morning and take her to a good friend’s house (she has a yard and burial was okay to do). Erie is also where Louie was born, so it seemed like the right thing to do. People will probably think it was stupid of me to make a 12 hour round trip drive for a cat, but when she’s the only one to have stuck by me for so long and shared in my ups and downs, you’d better believe I’d do it. I just couldn’t put her into the hands of a stranger. I just couldn’t. It was excruciating to dig a hole in the cold ground, in the dark, after being in the car for a chunk of the day, and then to hold her for those last few moments…But it was less cruel than the alternative. It’s bad enough that I wasn’t home when she died. The least I could do was bury her myself. There is a little bit of peace that came with that.
It was a turn and burn road trip, as I arrived back home this afternoon. I’m exhausted and distraught and feel like I’m splashing around in a dark ocean where I have nothing to grab onto and my feet can’t touch the bottom. IT. FEELS. AWFUL. I keep looking for her–watching my step, because I’m so used to having to do that with her here. I am expecting any minute to have her come to me to let me know it’s time to start our nighttime routine…but she’s not going to. Here I am, completely alone now, and nothing I can do to change it in this moment. Everything feels so empty, and so raw at the same time. As usual, there’s no one to even offer their embrace, and always when I need it most. That I have to still be here to live through that repeatedly is cruel. I will be drowning myself in my stories, hiding behind my characters and their tales, until the universe decides to be nice for a change.
Before leaving Erie this morning, I located the grave of an ex-boyfriend who died two years ago of cancer. We didn’t part on good terms, and I’d not forgiven him for some of the stuff he said and did to me. He is not the worst of people I’ve suffered time with–not by a long shot, but I’ve still held a grudge for about 17 years. At least I was able to let that go over the past few days. At least that anchor is gone. He was still a jerk and he was still mean, but I’ve forgiven him and the graveside visit gave me closure. At least we have that. If there’s any truth to the whole energy bit, there’s now a gaping space with that awful weight gone. It would sure be nice for it to be replaced with something loving. There is certainly now the room for it, and if karma exists, I think I’ve paid quite a hefty penance already. I deserve better than what I keep getting.
I’ve been trying off and on all day to get some writing done–all homework pushed to the side for once (well, until tomorrow, anyway)–so I could get into a daydreamy mindset instead. I actually got down two pages for “Dumb”, before realizing that it will go into The Doll Collection: Volume Three, not #2. So, I set that aside and went back to working on “Sting”. That poor story keeps getting set on the back burner, and funny thing–I actually have a tender fondness for this one, and it should be worked on before any others! Well, it’s about half done at this point. I’ve been poking along at it and added 2.5 pages today. What is stumping me at the moment, is that I keep stopping to look at pictures of Monte Carlo (where part of the story takes place). Really: wouldn’t it just be easier to go there and see it for myself? Then I could write from the experience.
What was that about a “daydreamy mindset”? I guess travel plans are bound to slip in there as well, and why not? I would actually love to go there–it looks beautiful. I keep saying it, and I’ll say it again: I need to update my passport, STAT. Maybe for more reasons than just leisurely travel…
I did just learn recently that there is such a thing as a writer’s visa for the UK. I certainly don’t make enough money to support myself by selling books (sadly), but if I did, you’d better believe I’d give that a whirl. I could definitely use a foreign change of scenery. Preferably for more than a week, and with an amazing travel companion. I’m back to believing that this is possible. Until then, back to the weaving.
Before I do that though: I had a quick chat with my artist for The Doll Collection and Felix will be starting on the illustrations for Volume Two later this month. I’m ecstatic about that! Winter break will be spent focusing on getting my first pass edits done on the stories for that, and getting rough sketches for the illustrations sent to her. Since I’ve done some shuffling around of stories between volumes 2 and 3, I do have two other tales besides “Sting” to get done. If I can fit it in, I’ll be finishing it up tomorrow. “Indeed” and “Again” will get written shortly thereafter.
For whatever reason, this is the longest it has ever taken for one book to be printed and shipped–two weeks. That’s crazy. Anyway, The Doll Collection: Volume One is finally done and ready to go! I will add it to my Books page shortly, but felt I should also make an announcement to anyone who still even looks at this website. (Not sure that’s happening–which is why I just ramble, because–why not?)
Anyway, it looks great and I am itching to get Volume Two done and out. All of the stories have their first drafts done–just lots of editing to do, and the illustrations, of course. My artist is taking a break and working (understandably!) on other projects for a bit. By the time she’s ready, I could have Volume Three ready (maybe!). At least, the first drafts may be done for #3 as well. The nice thing is that I can decide between more stories which ones I want to go into #2, though I think I have it pretty well figured out. I think Volume 1 was dark at times. Volume 2 will be even darker. Who knows how 3 and 4 will end up?? The ideas do keep coming, so I think I’m up to nine stories for volume 4–only 5 left to come up with and that shouldn’t take much. When I go to deliver a copy of this book to the Morris Museum in a few weeks, I will likely come away from there with at least one or two new tales. It’s just way too easy.
I’m not sure there’s much else going on. School is still in session so creating anything new is still on delay. I added a little more to “Sting” (TDC: V2) but I think that’s all since my last post. I’m itching to travel again and get out of this microcosm of a town. I need to see new faces, and since I’m all done with events for this year (until February, in fact), of course I want it all the more. Time to start planning, though getting some money saved up for next year is coming to the fore. Lots of things in the pipeline, if I can manage them.
Ah, yes–one more thing. Muses. Yeah–Again. Back in September after I attended the Erie Comicon, I came away with, not two, but three. One is directly linked to The Pound. One amuses the heck out of me and I’m grateful for his friendship–some of his out-of-nowhere comments hit me just right and I can’t express in words how much I love how our humor matches up. He gets it and I adore him to bits for that. The third muse catches my attention for completely different reasons. Maybe it’s because we didn’t get to talk much at the show. Maybe because he approached me for my business card and I have yet to learn why. Maybe something else? Maybe nothing at all. At this point, he’s all mystery and that will be okay for a little while longer. Sometimes this is good. In his case, sooner or later I’d rather he speak up. At least open some channel of communication–even a little one. Well, a girl can dream, right? I don’t address him as Rabbit in my head for nothing.
I have always loved to dress up in costumes and though I’ve always felt awkward in front of a camera, when I was about 14 years old, I had my mom take me to the Barbizon Modeling Academy in Seattle to see what it was all about. Some lady had me walk in front of her across the room and then back with no other instruction. Her assessment of me: “You’re not model material.”
I put this lady in the same category as Ms. Acton who, when I was in 3rd grade, told me “Not to even bother” because I couldn’t “get” the zh pronunciation of words like leisure. The problem was that I couldn’t comprehend what she was asking of me. I “got it” just fine. I’m on the brink of publishing my seventeenth book–Ms. Acton–I think I’ve more than proven I get it. Besides tear down a 9 year old because you were a lousy, impatient teacher, what have you ever done?
Back to modeling: I’ve never thought of myself as stunning or as a super model. I wish sometimes that I were. I have repeatedly been reminded of my physical flaws–with audacity told to try and “do something about them”, like I have access to plastic surgeons and all that. It’s not fun to be on the receiving end of that and a lot of damage has resulted. Damage that can’t be seen through any camera. So now I do what I can to put myself out there, bite the bullet and smile away, even when surrounded by gorgeous, perfect models who continuously wow everyone including the photographers. Last weekend was one of those times. Here are a few of the results of that:
Photo by Linda O’Donnell
Photo by Linda O’Donnell
Photo by Chad Harnish
I attribute how well these came out to the photographers and luck, though I should take a little credit for being in them. Still–it’s hard. Maybe someday I will be over all of the cruel words that were said to me. It has helped to recognize that they were said by someone who saw a strong, unbreakable person in me and, being inferior, felt he needed to bring me down to his level of insecurity. The thing is, I will rise back up even if it takes time. The effect of his words as temporary as he was, and that is a healing thought.
On another note, I think these images capture the true nature of my humor, playfulness, and maybe even some of my elegance.
I am pleased to say that all of the illustrations for The Doll Collection: Volume One are finished. I’ve gone ahead and put them into the manuscript, formatted everything, added the ISBN and uploaded it all to the printing site. All that remains is the cover art, which I may see in the next few days (?!?) I am beyond excited about that, and at the same time I am hoping that I don’t get it until some time next week. Why the delay? Because I need to be working on (and finishing) an essay for my World History class, and to get the cover art before Monday morning would mean putting everything aside to muck around with final formatting, uploading, troubleshooting, etc. As much as I hate to say it: it must wait until Monday at the soonest, and I’m not that disciplined. This is a book baby, after all. Those always come first, no matter what, and right now it can’t. I don’t think that will be a problem though–getting it before the week’s end.
In other things: I’ll be heading back to Erie again for my birthday, which is in two weeks. I am so frequently ditched around here that I figured I should spend my 45th with people who wouldn’t do that to me, so I’ll be seeing friends for just a few days. I won’t have a con to table, or a book to edit this time around, no plans at all. I do hope to go and sit on the beach again for a bit, since I didn’t have a chance the last time. Rain or shine, I will be on that sand, looking at the waves and contemplating upcoming life choices. It’s weird to think that in the next two weeks probably nothing significant will happen, just the usual: work, sort of sleep, do homework. Rinse, repeat. But everyone knows that life can change in a single moment, and drastically sometimes. I’ll take a positive drastic change–I could use one. And if it involves moving away from here, all the better.
Side note and apropos of nothing: I love being able to daydream. I don’t much get to do it right now because school demands that I think of nothing else, even when I am driving or just sitting and trying to have a moment to myself. I managed a few little sweet ones involving a train ride, a chance meeting, a silver fox, and a new beginning to the rest of my life. It was so sweet and exact. If only…
I am so homesick right now that I could just scream. The kicker is, where I currently live is not home. Where I was before I came here definitely was never home–nor did I recognize it as being in any other place I’ve ever lived prior to that. I don’t know where home is, otherwise I would go there and happily stay. Maybe I will never find it. Maybe I’d rather go to sleep and never wake up again, if that is how it’s going to be.
Some people say home is where they lay their head or hang their hat–how very lucky for them. Some say it’s where the heart is. There is no heart where I am now. There’s definitely no love, that’s for sure. This is the most (okay, second most) indifferent place I’ve ever been. Of the places I’ve lived in the past, there are two places that I might be able to bear living in, and only because there are a couple (and I do mean only two) people there who are genuine about giving a damn. I don’t fly under their radars unintentionally like I seem to do everywhere else. I’m not unseen there. One of those places is still missing something for me–I’d go there to hide from the world. Right now, I kind of long for that womb-like feeling. But this is the time of year that I first saw it and fell in love with the place, so it’s hard not to feel that way about it. Still, it has a hole in it that I don’t know how to fill, because I don’t entirely know what’s missing. Partly, yes, but not all of it.
The other place is farther north. Beautiful. It provided me with a lot of what I needed to maintain creatively. It, too, has an empty space that I have no filling for. I know what that missing piece is: I can enjoy a place, a thing, a moment well enough on my own, but I don’t believe that all of life was meant to be spent that way. I’m baffled as to why that hasn’t been remedied. Worse still: when it will be. That’s the hardest part–the waiting. There’s a lot of just when I thought recurrences in my life. Stupid as it sounds, I feel cursed. “Destiny”–one of the stories of The Doll Collection: Volume One–addresses exactly how I feel about my life, over and over again. “Write your own life how you want it to be”, people say. Those people are idiots. There’s only so much I have control over. I guess people don’t bother to consider that–and why would they? They are usually the ones who have it all. It’s easy to give advice on achieving perfection and joy when you’re on top of the world, isn’t it? I’m happy for you that you’ve mastered it. I’m not you.
I once told my MIA muse that the closest thing I have to home is my writing, because it has always been there for me–it has never failed me. His ghosting in my regard has once again confirmed that truth. It’s a shame that, with the exception of a tiny fraction of people (devastatingly tiny), people are so good at proving this time and again. You’d think it would make me want to be more and more absorbed in my writing, but it actually makes me crave real life connections more–but they end up being connections that don’t come, or that are failures, or don’t come close to all things imaginary. Are other people really that lazy? That disinterested? That aloof and unaware? No wonder so many writers are depressed. No wonder so many end their lives. No wonder we are constantly disappointed.
I consider myself fortunate that I have had three really great interactions/experiences in the past five months that have defied reality, even if one of them decapitated itself for who knows what reason. I relish those moments because, frankly, I never expect them to happen and certainly don’t expect them to happen ever again. Would I like them too? Without question. Make this being here among the rampant hate and ugliness of humans worth my while. Heaven knows I bend over backwards trying to make it so for other people. Though the reciprocation received doesn’t say much for the existence of karma.
Home. Maybe I’ll never find it, and in a way that’s okay. I do believe that a worthy (and compatible) travel companion would remove the sting of such a possibility, and the warmth and safety of home surely exists in that.
Not my favorite phrase: for the win, but in this case I will tolerate it. A much more beloved saying: fortune favors the brave. I’m feeling fortune-favored, at least a little bit. To what am I referring this time? Oh, just a friendly little conversation that has managed to continue for two days. It doesn’t seem like much but according to the revolving door of my life that so many people choose to go through, it’s heartening and frankly, really nice for a change. I’m just enjoying the lightness of tone and casual pace of the whole getting to know a kind and talented person. The fact that he is enthusiastically accepting of being playfully called “foxy face” is big points for him in my book. It’s nice to know someone so delightful–those are the kind of friends worth keeping around.
On another note, my muse for “Staged” is still MIA and as far as I know, dead in a ditch somewhere. That whole ghosting business that people do to each other (and yes, guilty here too, but I’ve had my karmic fill of it and won’t be doing it ever again) is really kind of cruel. I think I’ve finally reached a point of just wanting people to tell me straight out, “I don’t want to interact with you anymore”, instead of this other cowardly behavior. Seriously: save me the trouble of worrying about you and wondering if you’re dead or hurt, or contemplating something tragic, or whatever. Just communicate. It takes two minutes of your life. It’s really not that difficult. It also saves me time and energy. Don’t want to continue having a connection to me? No problem. Glad to know you, I’m moving on. Best of luck! At least I can retain respect for people who are upfront about stuff like that. The others? Dead to me whether truly dead or not. That’s really sad for everyone. In this muse’s case, kind of tragic. Now I have a piece of him in a story that will survive long after we do. In the interim, I get to be reminded that I probably said something wrong or whatever, when truly, I shouldn’t accept any sort of blame. That’s where honesty will get you though, I guess. I haven’t been able to touch “Staged” since before last weekend. There’s a part of me that wants to just push it off to another volume of The Doll Collection. I have enough stories for Volume One already, so really, this could wait if I decide to make it wait. Until I figure that out, the goal is to do my final edit on Sunday, pass it on to my editors, and once it’s formatted, never look at it or acknowledge it again. That’s almost like completely ignoring some aspect of your child–pretending it doesn’t exist. Wow–that’s really awful. Thanks a lot, “muse”. I should probably mention that he’s not the first one to taint a book/story with this kind of maneuver. The Case Files are on heavy stagnation for a similar reason. That’s the trouble with writing a long series where a spoiled character appears at the beginning of the series, which also happens to be the end of the story–I can’t kill him off, even if he deserves it. The lesson here: adore the hell out of my muses, but never give them my heart–not even a little. Don’t even hint at it.
Maybe also not let on how important they are, or how important their inspiration is to my Life’s work–it is my very existence that they are screwing with, even if they don’t acknowledge that. Sure, they can know that they have a part in it, but maybe it’s nonchalance on my part that will keep them from freaking the hell out and doing whatever stupid things they may be compelled to do. I swear, this sort of thing breaks people. Weak-mettled mortals. The disappointment isn’t worth the sharing of this information with them, clearly. At least the muse for Lt. Carver (The Pound) is thus far behaving himself. He is at double arms’ length, so we’ll see how well that works in the end. At least he was gracious to begin with. I can’t say they all start out that way. Very few end that way.