Life Upheaval

These past 2 months have been incredibly busy. My work transferred me to another location and gave me 4 weeks to pack everything up, make all the arrangements I had to make, and then move. They wanted to give me 2 weeks, but that was a little much…

So, now I’m here in the new location, which is actually in my old stomping grounds where I grew up. It’s surreal being back in an employed capacity. I’m used to just swooping in for quick visits, so it’s taking some getting used to actually being back.

But it feels so, so good.

I’m back on the query wagon for my book and I’ve started writing a new one! It’s amazing how creative I can be when I’m in a place that’s more suited to me.

I’m back, baby! And I’m happy!

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Rest in peace, Julie

A few weeks ago, I noticed that a woman I sometimes interacted with on Twitter had gone silent. I saw that her account was still up and thought maybe she was just taking a social media break. I looked forward to her return and thought nothing more of it. But I was wrong.

Julie Lonewolf, a delightful woman I enjoyed talking with, passed way from suicide last month. I learned this when her cousin took over her account. As devastating as her death is to me, I can only imagine how her family and friends feel.

What’s worse is that her death seemed to have been spurred on by harassment by certain people in the writing community. Julie’s cousin posted receipts of the harassment on a blog. You can find it here, but huge trigger warnings for racism, suicide, and bigotry. Please read with care.

Our community, the YA community, needs to stop accepting bullies. And I mean the actual bullies, not the victims defending themselves or calling out bad behavior. We need to stop rewarding problematic behavior. We need to stop allowing bigotry to flourish. We need to be better allies for our fellow writers of color. We need to stop allowing them to bear the brunt of the harassment because we white folk have the privilege to look away.

Because when we fail to do all of those things, the stakes are high.

Rest in peace, Julie. You are missed.

 

 

An Unfortunate Year

I tend to write here only when I have something to say and lately… that just hasn’t been the case.

But I’m still alive and kickin’ and hoping all of you are having less existential dread than I am.

On a personal level, life is good. I have two new projects going. One is a new book and the other is top secret for now. They’re both going swimmingly.

How is life for you?

Goodnight, 2016

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I can honestly say I’ve never been this excited to say goodbye to a year and welcome in a new one.

This year has had so many ups and downs. I’ve cried over celebrity deaths and personal ones. I’ve helped welcome new life into the world. I’ve let old friends go and welcomed new ones into my life.

I’ve watched my country divide itself further and further and I honestly don’t see how reconciliation is possible. But hope dies last, and I will fight for love and acceptance until my dying breath.

And two things happened this year that changed me forever.

The first was the Aspiring Writers Workshop with Madcap Retreats. I am a stronger, more fearless writer because of this experience. I’m perfectly willing to burn my work down until only the good remains. Before this, I clung to every scrap of writing even when it wasn’t working. And I have made lifelong friends after getting to know the talented, welcoming people who also attended.

The second was the Strange Escapes: Ghosts of Christmas Passed event held in Gettysburg, PA. Again, I made new friends and I found a new passion to explore. My life isn’t weird enough yet, but I’m hoping 2017 will change that. I want to be braver and put myself out there more to experience new things. Change comes slowly, but I’ll get there.

And finally, there are things brewing in my personal life that I can’t talk about yet, but I hope that soon I’ll be able to share them with you.

So… Goodnight, 2016, and goodbye. I’ll miss the parts of you that were good, but mostly I’m glad you’re leaving.

If it’s safe, say yes

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The view from Devil’s Den, Gettysburg

Ghosts. Spirits. Hauntings. Whether you’re a skeptic or believer, you probably have some strong opinions on the subject, but I’m not here to convince you of anything. I’m just going to relate a story.

When I was in college, my dorm suite was haunted. Other people might have explained it away, but my roommates and I believed that the creepy things that were happening weren’t caused by living humans. We believed so much we had my friend’s father, who is a Russian Orthodox bishop, come to the school and bless our suite. After that, the activity stopped and that just solidified my belief.

I spent this last weekend in Gettysburg, PA at a paranormal conference organized by a company called Strange Escapes. It was a weekend full of ghosts and theories, battlefields and talks, and wonderful camaraderie. It was soul-filling in a strange way and I got to see my writing friend, Christie, which just made the weekend even better.

The most eye-opening talk for me was given by John Tenney. I’ve been mulling over two things he said since Sunday.

The first was that he doesn’t like the word “paranormal” because these experiences are shared by so many people that they are more normal than not, but most people talk about them in whispers. This was mostly just an interesting tidbit that slightly realigned how I see things.

The second he said was that if someone asks you to do something crazy, and it’s safe, always say yes. And he proceeded to tell us amazing stories of things people have asked him to come see.

My life has been pretty routine lately. Work sleep work sleep ad nauseum. I haven’t been saying “yes” to many things lately. Maybe this one line spoken from the front of a crowded lecture room in amongst the weird ghostly happenings of the weekend, is the thing I needed to take away from this conference. I need to hang on to the sentiment and learn how to say “yes” more.

I’m back in the “real world” now and it’s a little jarring. There’s a definite lack of magic in the way I carry out the humdrum of my daily life and this conference really showed me how unacceptable that is.

I want to live a weird, wacky, amazing life. And acknowledging that is the first step, so I think I’m on the right path.

I’ll write more about the actual conference at some point, but this has been what I’ve been thinking about since I left yesterday.

All Hallow’s Read 2016

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Ahhh, October. My favorite month of the year! Halloween lives on in my heart year-round, but there’s something magical about the actual month it exists in.

Starting on Saturday, I have 31 days of  bliss.

And this year, like every year, I devote the month to reading creepy books. I curate a new list every year starting in September, but I have some staples I reread year after year.

Two of those are The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. If you love unreliable narrators and spooky atmospheres, I highly recommend them.

Also on my list this year are some Poe stories (because what Halloween celebration is complete without Poe?) and The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden. I might even read some Stephen King for the first time!

What are your favorite spooky books? Do you have any must-read recommendations?

Writing is Hard, but Keep Going

It’s been about 2 months since the Madcap Aspiring Writers Workshop I attended. I left the workshop in high spirits, really riding the excitement I felt while there.

However, in the time since then, I have run the gamut of “my work is terrible, I should stop writing” to “I can do this! It’s my dream and I will get there!”

Writing is hard. It takes a lot of self-confidence, which fluctuates for me from day to day. It takes commitment and self-discipline. And when I have a stack of books come into the library for me, it’s easy to not write for a couple weeks.

But, there’s always the pull back to the page. Now that I’ve started on this journey, I feel like I can’t give up now. I feel like the finish line is just around the corner and quitting isn’t in my genes.

If I stop writing, nothing is going to happen. No one is going to knock on my door demanding to see my work. No one is going to call me up and scold me for not finishing my book. And yet, I don’t want to fail.

Sure, I might have oodles of rejection letters sitting in an email folder marked “Lit Agent Rejections.” Sure, I might not have heard back at all from a handful of other agents. But I don’t see that as failure.

Failure is me saying “I’m done” for no other reason than it’s “too hard.” There are plenty of good reasons for someone to give up on this journey, but for me, being hard isn’t one of them.

So, I’m going to keep plugging along. And one of these days, my dreams will come true. Then, I’ll be faced with the onerous task of choosing a new dream to fulfill. But that’s the exciting thing about life. You never know what’s around the next corner.