Ends and lights and all that

A quick popping on for an update:

The Open Book is officially 2 gaps away from going into editing phase. While I suspect there will be quite a bit to hammer out during editing, just getting it that far is a huge victory! It’s coming, you guys! It’s really going to happen! Because of where things stand with it, it is a very realistic possibility that this book will be released before 2016 is over. I’m thrilled, because it’s been some time since I’ve released more than one book a year, and I have some making up to do. I really owe you this one, so I’m more than a little relieved. I’m not saying that these last parts to finish up won’t be a challenge…one more than the other…but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel… Huh. Ironic to say so. You’ll see what I mean once you read it. I think I’d love to help this draft to completion and announce it on Thursday–October 13th is Bonnie and Beau’s birthday, after all, and how beautiful would that be??

Other news (in case I haven’t yet said so): I’m on the docket to attend Far Point 2017 as a guest author. Lots of panels and great people to talk to there, so I hope you can make it! I’ll likely talk about it more as it gets closer. Also, Steampunk unLimited is this coming weekend! YAY! Books and boutonnieres will be available for purchase–including copies of A Potagerie of Rejects. Not steampunk by any stretch, but why hold back the availability? I will have 8 copies, so if you want one, best alert me asap!

That may be all there is for now…certainly all that comes to mind. You know that will change.

A Lack, and A Lass

Not something I talk about much because it isn’t writing related, but it is life related, and it’s still pretty important to me–that being the fact that I didn’t get much of a chance at motherhood. I was one briefly–to two beautiful boys–but due to life and circumstance and choosing the greater good for their sake (god knows, it wasn’t and never has been for mine!!!), I lost out on the privilege of raising them. I am now surrounded by women on one side who don’t have children, either because they chose not to or couldn’t have them, and on the other side by women who have had them (or are still raising them), and I’m stuck in an emotional charybdis that kills me daily. I never had the opportunity to have any more children–never was with anyone who wanted them, or anyone who I actually felt comfortable creating another life with. It has not been fun, and now it’s too late. It’s pretty clear to me that that ship has sailed forever. There are no words for what that feels like…

So today while I sat in the laundromat, diligently working on my Anthropology reading assignment, a young girl came in with her grandmother. She wore wedge heels–faux suede, it looked like–very similar to a pair I have. I got up to get more quarters from the change machine, complimented the girl on her shoes, and then the machine and I argued about whether or not it was going to take my fiver. This young girl watched the struggle for a few minutes as she walked up and down the row of washing machines, pushing the opened doors closed with her body, one loud snap of the latch after another. She finally came to me and asked if she could try the change machine, stating that it sometimes behaved for her… It didn’t, but I managed to get the second machine to cough up the handful of two bits. I stated, “I guess we just had to warm it up!” to which she agreed with a grin. I went on to put my clothes into the dryers and she tagged along, striking up a conversation with me about stuff she’s found in the dryers in the past and things she’s left in her pockets and put through the wash, and of course her shoes–all intriguing to me, naturally. Once my clothing was tumbling, I resumed my place at a little table to continue working on my homework, pretty certain that the little girl had had her fill of me, such seems to be the attention span of kids. But she surprised me and sat at the table with me. I managed to engage her in about fifteen minutes of conversation about school and her favorite subjects (found out she’s in second grade), and how she hates art, except for when they paint. She loves gym and music, and there was a moment of hesitation when her grandmother called to her and said it was time to leave…

I woke up this morning hoping for something good to happen–a big win, because I keep taking the sucker punches in the gut instead of rolling with them–and on my drive to work, forced myself to list off each and every amazing thing that had happened since waking up. I’d come up with nine things along the drive–pretty good, considering. Meeting up with this little second grader blew all of that out of the water, and yet none of the nine things were any more complex or simple than meeting her. It’s really hard to explain to anyone what it’s like to be in my shoes when it comes to things involving children.  What it feels like to remember the loss. What it feels like to recognize the missing out. What it feels like to know that no legacy will follow me after I’m gone.

For the people who threw up roadblocks over the years, trying to tamper with my success, trying to steer me away from my books and my dreams–I hope they–of all people–read this. I hope they understand. I hope they really, truly grasp the reality that all the times my writing came up and I expressed my excitement and passion about it, it has been for the absolute and painful truth that, as a mother: my writing is all that I will ever have. 

Week End = Continued Work For Myself

I had someone try to argue with me that I have every weekend off, as though I actually get to sit around and laze about and do whatever I want with my time. 1–forgetting that I’m on call for my job 24/7. 2–forgetting that I also go to school and have homework to do every day. 3–forgetting that I’m an author and, as that is my real life’s work, there is no break from that (not that I want one!!) unless my muses aren’t speaking to me. With this reality in hand, I do have quite a bit of homework to catch up on, thanks to the week that I have had and all of the damage control and cleaning up after others that I found myself doing. By the time I got home in the evenings these past few days, there was nothing left of my energy for what *I* needed to do for myself. But oh! That’s what weekends are for, right? Aside from still needing to get through Wednesday’s two chapters of algebra, and two modules of Anthropology (including 2 quizzes, and hopefully catching up on my reading assignment), I have it set in my mind to get back to The Open Book, at least enough to push through completing a chapter–all during my “time off” this weekend. If I am able to devote a day/writing session per each chapter needing finished up, I could have this draft done in about six days. Maybe not consecutive days, but six days, nonetheless. I’m not even going to talk about the errands I really need to run, or the housework I need to do…Because–you know–I have every weekend off. Someday I really will have the weekends off again. Someday…
Not today.

 

Perspective

The proof copy of A Potagerie of Rejects arrived today, and aside from a few minor adjustments with images (which I think I’ve resolved now), book baby #13 has arrived! Some strangenesses also arrived with it:

This has been a trying time of life for me. Yes, some of it has stemmed from the past two years’ financial strife, and while some of that has eased, different struggles have come up and I seem robbed of my joy from every which way that I turn. I believe I described my current place to someone today as ‘swimming in quicksand’. I’m 100% in survival mode right now–getting through 1-5 minutes at a time, with very little looking ahead. It’s a nasty way to live, precious. Having my brand new book arrive today and getting to hold it for the first time was of course a thrill, though I was much more reserved in how I wanted to feel about it. I described this sensation to someone recently as feeling like wanting to jump for joy, but the ceiling is constantly too low. It’s a sensation of feeling stunted and caught in the brambles of someone else’s garden. Oddly, there is talk in another of my books, currently under way, of how some characters feel they are trapped in a physical location. They are told flat-out that they’re not and no one else is either. They can leave whenever they wish. I try to think about that when I hit one of these days like today, and remember that I’m not trapped at all. It’s merely the waiting game when it comes to more suitable opportunities that will help me make necessary adjustments; opportunities that are there, and even then, my struggles are against thin membranes that are due to break at some point. Like my books, everything is born eventually in one way or another. So in the meantime, I must continue to eat, take my vitamins, rest, and write. Those are the things I have maneuverable control over, and that is just fine. That is good. That will keep me strong for the positive changes that will help me to get to a healthier place.

Yesterday and last night I picked up that horrendous pirate story that I mentioned a short while ago–the one where I named all the characters after people I had in my life at the time. I’ve added more and done some hard tweaking to improve bits of it. I know I quoted a lot verbatim back during its original writing, but some of the dialogue was just so trite and… I don’t even know what the hell!? Stripped from old IRC conversations, that’s what! Man. That alone is reason for amusement! Anyway, some chunks of conversation are MUCH better now. Enough so that I look forward to re-reading those upgraded sections and have been able to add a few more sentences each time. Might be salvageable! There’s another story that is loosely related to it–written a good 5 years earlier (as this first one is now around 19.5 years old…sheesh! No wonder it needs work!!!) and I have already done some work to turn it around. There are some real zingers in the dialogue of that one–lines that I read again and again and just sit back thinking, “Well, damn!!” By that, I mean I actually impressed myself some. No telling if either of these will work up into books. I actually have about half a dozen that will be books, and that’s where my focus should be at the moment. The Open Book, for instance. I finally gave it a glance over this evening, now that Potagerie is done, to see what areas need to be completed. Still not a heck of a lot–which is a relief–and if this cold, windy, rainy–perfect–weather holds through the weekend, I might be able to get into the right frame of mind to plow through at least some of those unfinished places. Now there is a thought that inspires me! At this point, it won’t be done in time for my next event, but before the end of the year. A December book baby…I don’t think I’ve had one of those yet! Maybe even November… Strange as it sounds–and as much as I want to finish it for its own sake of completion–I am really looking forward to it because I am consumed with curiosity over what I will heavily work on next. There’s always something pretty amazing about seeing which muses speak up and for what story/stories.  What adventure will I be taken on next? Where will I go? What things will I discover of my creations that I will never be able to un-discover?? It’s fascinating–you must trust me on that!

Thinking about that has helped me to feel better than I have for the majority of the day. I think that’s a good up-note on which to end this post.

Birth and rebirth

A few days ago, I uploaded A Potagerie of Rejects and ordered a proof copy. There may be a few more minor fixes to be had, but I wanted to be sure the formatting was okay, as there are several images in this book and, well, sometimes it’s hard to tell without seeing the actual book. So that should be arriving some time this week–I can hardly wait!

In the interim, I spent all day yesterday outside, consorting with nature. I visited Stonehedge in Tomaqua, PA–beautiful and just what I needed to add to my well… I also foraged and got to try a few things: Autumn Olives, which taste much like pomegranate seeds; Kousa dogwood berries, which taste something like apricots; and seeds from jewel weed–which are sort of nutty tasting, but are just a blast to pop open. Ah, the simple amusements in life! There were quite a few streams, pathways, gardens and ponds to explore. I also found a huge paper hornets’ (?) nest–It was impossible not to think of Winnie-the-Pooh. I was there for ten (Uninterrupted!!!) hours and could have been there for days. I found one little section that I could have spent a lifetime in, writing page upon page. In any case, I did get about seven pages written on my mystics/witches/fantastical story while there. Here I am in what will someday be the Lunar Memorial Garden:

tomaquascottskitsune

The weather was also gorgeous, and I dressed in one of the ensembles I made to suit me, I was really in my element. (Thank you to my sweetheart for taking this picture, as well as taking me there in the first place and introducing me to foraging!)

So, that story I just mentioned above…This is the one I didn’t want to write–not being all about the whole witches and wizards and faeries and such–but I still feel compelled to create it, thanks to a dream I had too intriguing to just let go. I’m about thirty pages into this one and, thankfully, I have been able to somewhat alter the ending so it’s not identical to that of another story I’m working on. I’m still not sure how that happened, seeing as the story lines are so very, very different! It’s also looking like the ending to this one may not actually be the ending. I can see this being a momentary stopping point and by the time I connect the dots and get to it, there will be much more that follows. At least, enough to really distinguish it from the other story. (I’m hoping at least one of these two gets a title soon. I really rather prefer to call pieces of my work by their names.) So here I have gone off on a bit of a ramble, totally distracted by how much I need to give Louie a combing while she’s hopped up on catnip. More to come later…

http://www.stonehedgegardens.org

Pre-orders for “A Potagerie of Rejects”

potageriefront

I have opened up pre-sales of A Potagerie of Rejects as of today. I should have copies to sign and send out by mid-October, and will have a more specific date in a bout a week or so. In the interim and if you are interested, you can pre-order a copy to pick up at the Steampunk unLimited event (October 14-16) for $13, or you can have it shipped to you at about the same time for $18 (includes shipping within the US. Outside of the US, please let me know and I will have to research the cost. You can estimate at least $30…). In any case, if you happen to be interested in either form of pre-order, you may paypal the funds to heather@heatherehutsell.com and put “Pre-order Potagerie” in the memo box! Thank you in advance! I’m really looking forward to its birth!!

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Up at a decent time and completely unmotivated to do anything. That’s not really what I wanted to write a post about, but this is where I am at the moment, and until I figure out how to get out of it, well, why not post something?

Today’s agenda lies heavily in my algebra homework, as well as studying for a test. This entire past week did not leave for much time, nor much of a mental space to work on my homework, so what I have to do is from Wednesday’s class…Yeah, I know–days ago already. It’s hard not to get down on myself about this, and at the same time, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint why I’ve been distracted like this. Fortunately, I’m making steps to change my situation–to make it more livable. I know I’m not the only person out there who just can’t lie down and let life trample all over them. It’s hard to know when to start making those moves though, but for me, the biggest indicator that something in my life has to either change or be cut loose, is when it impacts my ability to write. This is happening right now. It’s been happening for a while, off and on, but heavily in the past few months. It’s not hard to know what needs to be done about it in this case–fortunately–though getting change to happen takes longer than I care for. In any case, the truth still stands: I’m happy when I write, but I can’t write when I’m not happy… Not sure what the Universe doesn’t understand about all that, or why I keep getting into these mediocre-to-nightmarish situations that cause me to hit so many walls. I’ve been given a gift and I do not enjoy forcing things from it when I’m in a time like this. It doesn’t work that way and for me, it never will. Nevertheless: change. I can’t control how quickly it comes, but I can control that it does come. And it will.

About a month ago, I wrote out my scenario for an ideal life. It was amazing how simple it actually was, and how blissfully happy I found myself in that life. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around why I haven’t yet achieved it. What am I missing? What am I doing wrong? What am I doing right? It’s not complicated, so the road to get there shouldn’t be either. I suppose the first step is to do what I would for changing any unsatisfactory situation: cut out the rubbish and make room for the good. If I only had the means to continue taking those leaps of faith–hard to do on my budget! And I don’t think I’ve done myself any favors by deciding that I probably won’t ever make a living on my books. That’s not actually up to me though–it’s up to people who would need to be buying my books! I don’t have much control over that part. In fact, I do my part: I write them and make them available. I show up at events when I’m able and I talk about them and writing, and try to create interest. What else would you like from me??

Speaking of money-making schemes…I have tossed around the idea over the years of being a wedding planner. Not that I like weddings much–in fact, I really don’t care for them at all! And I think that is the point: I don’t like the typical wedding that everyone seems to have to have. (You can read about exactly what I mean in A Potagerie of Rejects!) As a wedding planner, I would have a strict contract that would state the bride and groom would plan for what They want, no other opinions would be considered. None. I don’t care who is footing the bill. A bride and groom can pull off the perfect wedding for them without help from daddy or threats from their monster-in-law to be. It can be done. I also wouldn’t allow the bride to shop in a bridal ’boutique’. Her gown would be custom made for her, and she’d be required to do her research and bring in pictures of what she’d want. Then she’d work with a professional seamstress (and I know a GREAT one! No…not me) to create her gown. And by the way: a custom made gown doesn’t necessarily cost more than a generic off-the-rack gown. I had someone come to me years ago, wanting a Victorian gown similar to my Time Jumper dress. I gave her a quote and we talked about details, and then I never heard from her again. I think $1100 for THIS (minus the watches) made to fit one specific person, would have been a steal!!

ship

But… People get confused. They listen to other people who don’t know what they’re talking about, and then get led down roads that aren’t meant for them. I get it. It would be my job not to let that happen. Anyway…Wedding Planner…I think it would be a good job for me and there would be a lot more unique and suitable weddings going on out there. No idea how to get started on that, though I suspect sticking some business accounting classes into my school curriculum might be wise. In the meantime: I have more urgent changes to make that will allow me to keep my head above water and my passions at hand. I’m not sure I was taken seriously when I said I was done with the pointless, mind-numbing, life-stunting stress, but I meant that and still do. There’s no fathomable reason why my life has to be so damn hard for the entire time I’m on this planet. I can’t do much for other people while in a position like this, and as that is the case, seems like such a waste to even be here at all.  Things must change. There is no other option.

SoSoSoSoSoSoSoSoSoSooooo Close!

I didn’t realize that there were about thirty pieces in A Potagerie of Rejects, but as I went through it today to see how many more I needed to do a last edit on, I was amazed at what I found! I had also been hoping for a page count of around 120 or so, and I believe it’s around 135, so that is definitely a good thing! In between doing anthropology homework and quizzes, and studying for my algebra test, I’ve been working on those last edits, trying my hardest to be sure I can order a proof copy by next Friday (!!!), and then turn around and order copies for my inventory the following week (or as soon as I get the proof and deem that all’s well). Exciting, yes?? A ‘birth date’ is nearly in sight! The best part about it–though there are several best parts about having a brand new book in hand–is that I can get back to The Open Book and work on the last of it as well. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t had a chance to work on it in about two weeks (though, not my fault–outside world invasion!) but I’ve had some rather interesting dreams lately, some of which might help. I also had a chance to go walking on Friday afternoon, and am going to try my damnedest to make that a part of my weekly routine–I Need It. My Sanity Needs It. That being said, let the ideas come flooding in–for that book, for future books, for the sake of letting me be Me again, Please.

In light of A Potagerie nearly being in print, and the fact that I have been having more interesting dreams as of late, I’m considering another anthology for future (later) release, made up of strange and random dreams I’ve had. These, of course, being ones that don’t turn into novels as I write them up! I had a good one early this morning and went ahead and stuck it into A Potagerie, so if you’re not privy to my facebook ramblings (which is quite all right because I actually loathe the place and don’t often have many great things to share!), you can see it in the book soon. Come to think of it, there are several of my dreams in A Potagerie, so you’ll have access to those as well. As I sit here and think about this, I realize that it wouldn’t be the first book of my dreams–Woven Dreams was ALL dreams…

DUH.

Anyway…this future anthology will have more than 8 dreams, and may not be illustrated…or maybe it will. I would like to have more illustrations to go with my writing. I think they are important to have in books so the eyes and brain can have a chance to breathe while still being entertained. Too many words in a row is not healthy. (My theory.) After some recent health issues of my own, and some epiphanies as to the causes and how to handle them, I’m pretty much all about healthy right now. After all, what use am I if I’m dead?

When Pieces of Writing Go Missing

I’m going to say this up front:

If you have children and have ever imagined what it might be like to discover that they are suddenly missing, or you suspect someone has stolen them away–that dread and feeling of nausea–that is what losing a work in progress feels like. I know, I know–some of you will argue that you can’t compare a piece of writing to a life. Well, actually, I CAN. Just as you can’t go and have another baby that is just the same (or remotely close to) the one you’ve lost, I can no more easily recreate something once I’ve lost it. Certainly not a book!

Though it’s been quite some time since I’ve mentioned it, I know I’ve talked about it in the past–maybe here, maybe on Livejournal, back in the day–but I know that Scorsese’s Tinder Box will not sound unfamiliar to some of you. Yes: That is the piece that has vanished. I know I talked about it quite a few times, and I know that it wasn’t all just talk. While I may not have completed it, I know that at least several pages of it were written. This is nightmarish and I feel sick. I want to write this book, but there is no way in hell that I can recreate what I had already written. Can I hope that the next try will be better? It’s unfathomable to even go there. I have these silly hopes that it will turn up somewhere–that I’ve somehow missed it while frantically going through 3 boxes and four shelves of handwritten stories and works in progress, but I’m sure at this point that I haven’t. There’s the tiniest chance that there’s something of it on my old laptop…that I cannot remember the password for, and therefore can’t get into without wiping the entire drive–since I no longer have the backup discs that would help me bypass the password. I try not to travel the path of thoughts that point to having been conspired against, but it’s happened before–having a jealous significant other steal, destroy or throw away something I’ve written. I know: how completely weak. (And if you’ve ever done this to me or anyone else and you are reading this post…Yeah,  imagine the karmic backlash you’ll get for it and then try to sleep tonight.) It’s a real shame and aside from what I’ve already said here, I just don’t know what more to add…

Celebrity Status versus Being Real, Icebergs, and High Bars

I am one of hundreds of thousands of people who strive to make a difference in the world, and I want to do it with my talent as an authoress. Last summer–about this time, in fact–I met a woman who told me that the three greatest things you can give to others are Time, Talent and Treasure. While I’ve been grossly lacking on Treasure, and Time has been taken up in part by work and school, what I’m left with offering is Talent. I wish I had the ability to build houses–to give immediate relief to people in need, but I don’t. I don’t have that. What I can build are worlds and lives, both of which can give temporary escape or long-lasting change to an existing life if people are willing to go deep and explore. It’s eye-opening for me to see how friends and acquaintances praise the literary works of other authors, forgetting that there is one very close to them–one they can talk to for further insight about these fantastical stories, or…Life. It’s my contribution to Being Real. There is something about Being Real, however, that seems to make me intangible. Those with the Celebrity Status–whom most people will never be in the same room with–are so far removed from the rest of us, it’s a wonder how people get so star-struck, rather than making the most of what’s closest to them. Nothing much I can do about that, but hope to one day be removed from tangibility…And then where will we all be?

There has been a lot of talk around me lately of icebergs in relation to people’s lives–that we only see the tip of them and that there’s more underneath that we don’t know about. People who seem happy may not be. People who seem successful may not be. I don’t know how much truth there is to all of that. What I know is that I see people posting pictures of going to New Zealand and the Virgin Islands and England, and the harder I work, the closer I get to a grassy gown with a granite crown. It’s truly amazing. Really. Like, I am in utter disbelief that my upswings in life are so much shorter than the downs. There is no logic here. No balance. My iceberg definitely runs wide and deep beneath the surface.

Maybe the reason for this is all my fault. I set the bars of expectation for myself really high–maybe too high. I’m not sure I can stomach the idea of lowering my expectations, mostly because I know what I’m capable of.  I think it might be better if the answer to that were always a mystery. Then again–it really is, because I still keep reaching higher.