juggling like a juggler

I always hesitate to use that phrase, because my ex-husband was a juggler. (No, I’m not kidding. You have no idea how well going to juggling conventions prepared me for going to science fiction conventions. No idea.)

But that’s what I’m doing nowadays, and better than I was before (I think. So far.)

I’m up to 15,000 in the complete rewrite of my YA, and as grumpy as I am about rewriting the whole damn thing, I think it’s turning out spectacularly. What’s more, is that I can’t just let it go — which is a good sign. Any time things bite into my brain that hard, well — I’m on the right track. Even if it’ll be a few months before I’m done with rewriting it.

And I’m turning in the final version of The Hunted today, which feels awesome :D.

Annnnnd, I’m prescheduled to work a double tomorrow at work. (If something happens with my heart this time, I will pull it out myself and throw it onto the floor :P.)

I was in a fender-bender the other day on the way to work — it was my fault, and mostly my fender that got bent :(. I’m fine though, and my car’s at a bodyshop — I felt reallllly stupid for it having happened, but it hasn’t thrown my mojo off like I thought it would, which is nice.

I’m busy, but not overwhelmed, and I think things are going well, even if I’m having to bounce around a lot. I feel competent. It’s been awhile. It’s good. :D

DABDA and the editing process

I’m at a coffee shop this morning with my husband’s cousin (he works from home, so we coffee shop it up sometimes) and he was all, “How’s it going?”

And I was all, well…um….

Because I sent the first ten thousand words of my YA over to Daniel, my alpha reader, to read last night, who had salient points on it that I read first thing this morning and was grumpy about.

It isn’t that he’s not right — he totally is — it’s just that before I move forward I have to do a little mental shuffling first.

DABDA’s the acronym for the five stages of grief according to Kubler-Ross — Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance — and in addition to being totally applicable to losing someone from your life, it’s a really good…metaphor? Metric?…for how it feels to find out that something’s not as right as you thought it was.

Luckily, since it’s just book edits and since I know that Daniel’s right, I cycled pretty fast…but it’s funny how easy it is to get hung up in the “no way, my book is perfect!” or “if only so and so read my book they’d like it” or  “everyone hates my book” stages on the way to acceptance of the need to edit further, heh.

Anyhow. In case it’s helpful for anyone else to realize where they are today on the path ;).

Journey Into Podcast – The Secret Diary

Awhile back I wrote a crazy short story, The Secret Diary, and it was accepted into Flyptrap Magazine Issue 11.

The Journey Into Podcast asked to run it as a podcast — it just went up yesterday — and I love the narration of it! Like, this is my favorite audio of a story of mine yet. I’m not just saying that because it’s the most recent one, I really love it :D

It’s also up to help raise awareness of Flytrap Magazine’s Issue #12 kickstarter — which you can donate to, here!

 

cat and mouse –

It’s been awhile since I posted last!

I was in a horrible funk for a very long time. (Well, it felt long to me. Three weeks? Maybe four? Probably since my last heart thing, honestly.) I felt burnt out with the amount of stuff I had to do and afraid I wouldn’t be able to do any of it, and just generally suffused with overwhelmedness.

But the past few days have been better so I thought I’d better come out of hiding to commemorate it while acknowledging that it happened. I appreciate when other people admit they’re not superhuman, so I feel the need to do the same, in this age of ‘everything is awesome!’ all the time.

I emailed some people who’d asked me for reads/blurbs to admit that I couldn’t help out — I hated to do that, but I needed to clear some mental space and have fewer things to guilt myself about — I finished the short story that was due by the end of the month (hooray for flash!) — I got news that’ll postpone the release of The Hunted until 10/1, which is probably a blessing in disguise — annnnnndddd, spent the last four days beating my head against Electricity edits from my agent.

(Warning, so many mixed metaphors follow!)

I started feeling okayish in general on Monday? And so I started back in. My agent wanted me to toss my old intro, which was good advice, but it’s like cutting off the head of a living animal and then suturing a new one back on that performs the same functions of the old one, by and large, only in a shorter space and also cooler. I also, well, you don’t even want to know all the stuff I need to do to this story. Basically the only thing I get to keep is the character voice. I have to make a marginal character important, I have to deal with the consequences of part of the plot better, I have to make everything better-better-better…I feel like I gave her a Pinto and she wants a Mustang. I can see why a Mustang is preferable to a Pinto, yes, but the upgrades are going to be painful. There was a phase shift in the plot, and if you’re a writer, you understand how bad those are, when you think you’re writing about one thing thematically but you need to include another that changes the first radically…oy.

But today I figured out the first new 600 words. Which may not seem like much, and doesn’t nearly spin enough plates for the thing to get off the ground, but it’s something. At long freaking last, it’s something ;).

I’m tempted to work on it more now (my husband and I are just goofing off) but I’m not going to. Just because I’m betterish doesn’t mean I should run myself aground. I may not make my self-imposed deadline of having it done to turn back in on 9/8, but that’s OK too. I just really have to work in increments I can handle and not push myself too hard for a bit — so I’m playing cat and mouse with my brain, and I’m just going to have to be patient.

I’m gonna give myself some bonus points for: visiting my therapist last week when I really started to spiral, being good about going to the gym/doing yoga while I was blue, and for setting up writing dates to stop me from rolling out of bed and staring into a screen and feeling lost and lonely. Tomorrow’ll be my first unaccompanied writing day of my break, but I think I can finally be trusted to be productive independently, which is a really good feeling.

In the future, hopefully I can feel things coming on sooner and avert them via nicer to myself earlier. (Doubtful, but one can hope!)

Hooray serotonin for now and all that :).

Snowpiercer and Arrow and hopes and dreams

So, under much duress, I decided to take this past weekend off. (I did not really want to, however people I cared about didn’t give me much choice :P.)

Friday night I went out and saw Snowpiercer with friends. It’s been awhile since I talked about my kind of ultraviolence here but as you might imagine from my books I’m quite fond of it — and in that sense, Snowpiercer totally totally delivered. The axe fight was so lovingly reminiscent of the hammer sequence in Oldboy (the original, of course!) — I loved all the close in fighting, the surreal changes from car to car, it was like an anime come to life. And even the heavy handed moralizing worked for me. If you’re going to be shameless, there’s no point in doing it halfway! I loved it.

Saturday I went into SF with a friend and walked around and looked at Fluevogs (oh, please self-publishing gods, pay out more and faster so I can buy more shoes ;)) and when I got home I finished off season 1 of Arrow…and then bought season two on prime and spent the majority of today watching the first ten episodes.

I heard people didn’t like season 2, but it’s still totally working for me, I’m very pleased so far — although I’ll probably have really weird dreams tonight. (And it was odd to ride on BART after having watched Snowpiercer the night before, ha.)

I needed the time off because I was feeling burnt. Not as burnt as I have been in the past — I remember wandering the halls of my mind thinking, ‘Really? So this is what I’ve decided to do with my life again? Am I sure I can’t go back to school and become something — anything — else?’ and it took me a long time to come back from that last time….

But this time was just as valid, and I’m glad I was able to be talked into doing a little self-care before it became too bad. (Not to mention my husband thinking that if I work too hard, my heart will explode. :/)

I’ve got a short story to do for a friend (which is stressful because it’s a friend and I want it to be amazing and perfect) and then I’d like to do a novella (um, we’ll see) and then I have two weeks off to edit the YA project of my dreams up in. The YA project that I think will put me back on the map in a big way — it’s important to me, and I think maybe to readers (when I’m not too scared to admit it because saying you’re writing something Important sounds silly, even if you’re pretty sure you are.)

That’s sort of the problem right there. All these things on my plate with hopes and dreams pressed into them, like thumbprint cookies. If I didn’t give a shit, I wouldn’t stress, and the quality of what I did would probably be much less. But by giving too much of a shit, I deny myself the normal joys of life — not having an exploding heart, walking around SF with friends, and watching roughly 8 hrs of Arrow on the couch with my husband.

When I was on nights, it was easier to chop my life into segments, I had no choice, I didn’t be social as often, I had never ending nights to write in and get stuff done. But now that I’m working less, and I expect more of myself…finding balance is hella hard.

The last time I was super burnt out on writing was when I finished Deadshifted. I was sure it was the worst book I’d ever written (it wasn’t. Book 1, way back in the day, totally holds that title.) I can remember laying in bed at my parents house, staring up at the ceiling, desperately clicking from site to site on my tablet having an existential crisis, trying to find something that’d give everything meaning again. That’d pay me back for having devoted sixteen years of my life to this thing that I currently didn’t enjoy. The irony of the fact that I was reading other people’s words for solace was not lost on me then, or now.

And here’s what I read — because I snipped it out and saved it for myself for other times like these:

“Sometimes everything seems pointless, sure. You can’t be a writer and not stare down the barrel of that gun regularly. When Philip Roth recently said in an interview that he sat down and read all of his work, from earliest to latest, to see if it was worthwhile, that gave me a shiver down my spine. I imagined myself as a very old woman, re-reading my extensive coverage of “Paradise Hotel,” and then pulling out a shotgun and blowing my brains out.

But fuck that. Why should our lives be deemed “significant” at all? What if we’re just doing what we do reasonably well, and working to get a little better each day? What about focusing on enjoying your fucking craft, and leaving it at that? Our culture has been so fixated on psychology and happiness for the past few decades that we all have bloated expectations. Our days are marked by the neurotic dissatisfaction that comes from a constant examination and reevaluation of what really, truly matters in the big scheme of things. We must upgrade every dimension of our lives and ourselves constantly or reveal ourselves as mediocre. Even the common exhortation, repeated from parent to parent, to make every moment count with your child, has the unique ability to suck the joy right out of every moment. Does this moment count enough? How about this one? Each moment cannot be so important without inducing a coronary.

When I accept that it’s all pointless and it will all end far too soon, I can’t see any reason not to enjoy it. I kiss my kids a lot. I stick my neck out more. I don’t mind that my ass is showing. I try things that I might never be any good at. I appreciate breathing the air, listening to the crows. And that salted caramel tastes so good.”

That’s from the Ask Polly column on The Awl. Her columns are always fantastic, and that one in particular gave me some sort of hope then — even to start the long gray walk back from the bottom of the Abyss I was slowly drifting into. And it gives me a whiff of hope now, when I need it again, so that I might not tumble down quite so far.

That, and hell, the fact that I’m writing this post, which is a suspiciously writing-like activity for someone who is supposed to be taking a day off (and someone who’s husband is calling from the other room, to remind her to be taking it off, at that ;)).

I love words, words love me, it doesn’t have to be meaningful to anyone but myself, and everything’s going to turn out just fine.

Plus I still have 12 episodes of Arrow left to look forward to :D.

 

The Tell Tale Heart

So, yesterday my heart decided to do one of those things again where it forgot how to be a real heart and thought that maybe it lived inside the body of the Flash, and zipped up to 226 beats a minute.

Luckily, I was at work when it happened (unless work is somehow triggering it, since all my episodes have been at work?) and they took me down to the emergency department, again, only this time shit got real faster and they cut my scrub top off of me and put defib paddles on ‘just in case’.

Actually luckily, it converted after that, dropping down into the 120′s for a bit before it chilled out and hung out in the 105s, before going back to my normal 80′s rate. I was very happy to have skipped getting adenosine again, because That Sucks.

I had to hang out for a few hours before all my lab results came back normal, again. I haven’t even had my follow up appt from the cardiologist for the first one yet, it’s not until the end of August, so the only thing I can see that might be causing it is ever so slightly low potassium (nothing I would even worry about at work in a patient :P), so in the interests of Health! I’ll be eating half an avocado a day on principle (and also because I really like avocados. ;))

It’s interesting to note that having been psychologically ‘I wish I could die’ at many times in the past when I was depressed, that the physiological equivalent of ‘I might really die’ is quite different, and good at putting things in perspective.

So I spent some time laying in bed this morning thinking about things, and what’s nice, is that I’m happy. My life is pretty awesome. Everyone that I love knows that I care about them, without doubt, my husband, my family, my friends. I don’t have any bitterness or anger or regret, I’ve done a decent amount of good in the world through nursing and fiction. I’ve gotten to pretty much live out my dream, and I’ve gotten the chance to share some of those dreams with some of you. I may not have conquered as thoroughly or as broadly as I might have liked, but I also might never get to go to Europe, so hey. Not everyone gets what they want — its making the most of what we have that matters.

I’m taking tomorrow off work at my husband’s request, although I feel pretty fine now and am out at a coffee shop (drinking decaf, I swear) and hanging with a friend. Like I said, life is good.

Onwards.

 

The Hunted done!

The Hunted - High ResolutionFinished my draft of The Hunted tonight! Now to reread it all from the beginning on Tues/Thurs and make sure that it makes sense, and then send it out to some people before it goes off to the formatting mines!

I’m feeling pretty good about it. I think I accomplished a lot of plot in a little amount of time, and I’m hoping that future readers agree :D.

This is my second book in my Sleeping with Monsters series (which is only a series by the loosest definition of the term) and it’s about werewolves and gangsters and revenge :D.

In other news, since it’s been awhile, life is good! I’ve been working a lot and writing a ton (obviously!) and I got notes back on my YA that I’m taking two weeks off later in the month to try and knock out of the park. I’m also trying to see more friends while the weather’s gorgeous and I’m finally living the dayshift life ;).

I got into Japantown in SF on Friday and finally got to see the Aqua Forest Aquarium store. I was walking back from a coffeeshop writing date with a friend, and THERE IT WAS. Angels started singing, y’all. Anyone who has planted tanks knows that Amano is the mothership of all tanks planted, and Aqua Forest is their only local store.

I had a planted aquarium tank that I loved for years, but then when I left my ex I had to leave it behind. That, plus never having anywhere permanent to live for a long time, meant it’s been awhile since I had fish — until now. I’ve got a betta living the high-life in a 6 gallon Fluval Edge, all to himself, with a smattering of live plants and wood. This is my clever way of introducing my husband to the idea with a tank set up that’s pretty indestructible — so that eventually I can be all, “You know…I’ve always wanted a 120 gallon pond in my living room.” Muahaha!

Anyhow, just walking past the store and getting sucked in — I dunno, it felt charmed somehow. Here was this thing that I thought I could never get/do again for so long, only I’m doing it (albeit on a very small scale!) and soon I can do it again in a big way — and I can even go there to buy the real stuff! (Once I can afford all the set-up guiltfree, which’ll be a bit, since the tank I want is pretty $$$.) It was just so nice. I’m slowly realizing that I’m kind of living the life I always dreamed. Working part-time, writing whatever I feel like, finally living in a real house — life isn’t perfect, and I wish friends/relatives were closer, but it’s damned near close.

Anyhow! Probably more radio silence over here while I start working away on the next thing. I have a short story due to a friend, and then I’m going to work on a novella for my Tales from the House series, so that I can still have a new release out while I’m doing my YA-age. We’ll see how that goes, it’s OK if it slips off the plate ;).

 

The Haunted is out now!

Haunted - High Resolution

The Haunted is out now! In the wild and everything! :D

I can’t believe I have two erotica books out there now. (And that I’ve released three books in the past two months, ha!)

Now to keep working on The Hunted, which is the next one. It’s coming along brilliantly (she says, still needing to write the last ten k or so words ;))

Bloodshifted — almost out!

Bloodshifted, the final book in the Edie Spence series, is alllllmost out! :D

bloodshifted

The reader response on this one so far has been pretty darn fantastic. I’m very pleased that it’s getting its moment in the sun, and trying not to have all the feels in the world about it being the last one.

When I turned it in, I did so assuming that I’d be getting the chance to write additional books in the series. And so while it has a book ending, it does not have the epic series ending that the series deserves. Which is why people are already asking me if there’s gonna be a sequel. At this point, I really don’t know. I have all the sequel stuff going on, up in my head, and I’d love to write it — but I only have so much free time, currently. Y’all don’t understand how much hustling behind the scenes I’m doing right now, trying to get my erotica career to kick off, and waiting on pins and needles to hear back from my agent about my YA.

If either of those things take off, full steam ahead, then I can stop working extra shifts, and then I would have time to write Dayshifted. (See?!?! I already know what it’d be called. *sob*.) But if they don’t, then I am where I am, writing my ass off until the next big thing takes.

It is no lack of love or enthusiasm for Edie that’s stopping me. It’s just that it’s far easier to ‘hit’ with something new than it is to flog life into a pre-existing property. And so while I love that Edie has a small and dedicated fanbase, I also have to take things into consideration like ‘how much free time I currently have’ and ‘do I like to eat and/or pay bills?’

I do hope you enjoy Bloodshifted, it’s a great book, and totally worth your time. As for a series-ending, trust me, no one’s hurt more by this than I am.

Love,

Cassie