It Never Ends

The stresses and the hits keep coming.

They never really end.

The punches to the gut keep coming.

They never really end.

When one thing’s over, three more begin.

When will the whole thing end?

Up and down and this and that,

They never really end.

Piles and piles of things to do,

They never really end.

I try to pick the pieces up.

But I cannot find the end.

Dropping balls and tripping up,

It never really ends.

High octane and low on fuel,

What happens if I end?

The bitching hour

It’s a little after 0500 here in Arizona, and all I can think of to write here is a slew of complaints about my stressful job and my equally stressful life. But nobody wants to hear about that…or at least, I assume nobody wants to hear that.

What to talk about then? Well, I am patiently awaiting the first round of edits on Escape the Light. I’m eager to see how it turns out, especially since I tried to be aware of my writing weaknesses when I was drafting and revising it, so my hope is there’s less work for my editors this book. Be wary of adverbs. Don’t use gerunds. Watch the telling and staging. I don’t know how well I did on the last bit, but at least on the adverbs and gerunds I tried my damnedest to limit or eliminate them. Gotta learn from the first time.

I want to say that I’ve made progress on my assignment to book podcasts, but I’m still exhausted from Estrella War and haven’t had the energy to go searching for new ones to contact. Just now my eyes are crossing from being so sleepy, and I have to force them to both focus on the same target in the same direction.

I’m getting back into the embroidery commission after getting stalled at Estrella with all the rain and damp and ick. I didn’t want the fabric to get ruined, so the projects basically stayed in their little Ziplock baggies the whole time. It sucks that I’ve had to push it back again, but what can I do? Better to turn in a quality product than to rush or ruin it. Also halted by the rains was my embroidery class that I planned on teaching at Estrella. It turned out there were people actually interested in it, so I agreed to teach it at an upcoming event in another Barony.

My dad’s birthday is Friday, and I have zero ideas on what to give him. Not even Mom has any ideas. He’s been mum about what he wants/needs. Maybe a finger splint after the dog bite? I have no idea. What do you get for a retiree who returned to the work force who has all the hiking/camping gear he needs, all the work equipment he needs, and all the yard work stuff he needs?

My aches and pains from Estrella’s grueling weather are almost gone. I guess that’s one less thing to bitch about. I still ache, but it’s more on a tolerable level. Basically, I’m back to baseline (for me) in that it’s roughly equivalent to my normal rheumatoid aches and pains. There’s still that one pesky muscle in my back that’s bugging me, but it’s trivial at this point.

Speaking of the War, the Laurel friend I’ve been talking to the past year has agreed to take me on as her apprentice here soon, so that’s another embroidery thing to do…I have to have a green belt (as is the SCA standard for apprentices), which my husband is going to weave for me, but the ends have to be embroidered with her device. It should be quick and simple to do, but it’s the doing that needs to be done.

Aaaand I sat on the heating pad button and didn’t realize it until my back suddenly got really hot. I better coffee up if I’m going to function at work today!

Shedding Light on My Darkness

Bipolar disorder sucks, but it’s livable given the right access to good mental healthcare and the right combination of therapy and pharmaceuticals. Why am I bringing this up now? Well, I’m in talks to, er, talk on a podcast about mental health issues. I was introduced to the podcast by a fellow bipolar author, and it seems like a good fit. I have mental health issues that I have to deal with on a daily basis; they’re a show about mental health.

I talk about mental health a lot here, about my stresses and stressors and stressing out in general, but I want to make it known that you can fight the demons inside and live in the world outside at the same time. It just takes a lot of effort.

It also takes admitting that you need the help.

Hopefully my appearance will help others realize that they don’t have to be holed up in their own little world of demons, suffering through hell on a daily basis. Hopefully it will help them realize that there are options and avenues for relief. And hopefully they’ll realize that they can’t give up after a few things don’t work; they have to keep trying until they find the right combination of therapies for them.

I’d say more, but that would be potential spoilers for the show. ūüėČ More details as they come!

Almost Home

It’s 0432, and I’m at a friend’s house for the night, waiting for my husband to wake up so we can go the rest of the way home. So what’s an insomniac to do but write?

I tried to take a writing break during Estrella War, but my story started speaking to me again, and I couldn’t ignore it. This is after weeks of little to no progress on Book 3, so I’m glad the Muses decided to become chatty. Still, hand writing when you’ve pulled a muscle in your back (on your dominant side) isn’t exactly fun. I’ve already called out from work–well, texted out, I should say–and I foresee a heating pad in my future once I’m home… Possibly a doctor’s appointment. Depends on how much worse it gets. At the moment, I really don’t want to yawn, as I discovered last night that breathing too deep causes pain in the pulled muscle.

My feet hurt, too, as well as my legs, but it’s more of an ache from overuse of muscles that I’m not accustomed to using. You’d be surprised how many new muscle groups you will discover when you have to sludge through half a foot of thick, slippery mud for days on end. It actually got to the point where walking on dry land felt unnatural.

I’ve been tasked by my publisher’s publicist to find and book no less than three (preferably five) podcast appearances by mid March. I’ve had terrible luck getting responses, so that’s another thing I’m going to have to do once my laptop is unburied from the mess that is our car. I’ve enlisted the help of Twitter, whose #writingcommunity hashtag is a wealth of help and knowledge for newer authors like me, but I’m still going to do the “legwork” of searching podcast apps and contacting shows. It’s going to take a lot of my time, but I know it’s for my own good. I need to keep promoting ABNORMAL even though I’m working simultaneously on ESCAPE THE LIGHT and Book 3. An author’s work is never done, I guess.

I’ll be glad to get home. I miss my cats, miss my shower, miss my bed. I miss my house, my comfy couch, and all the things that I couldn’t take with to Estrella.

I wish that I had ventured out from camp more during the War. I was so miserable that I didn’t make enough of an effort to see friends that I rarely get to see or even to meet new friends. To my SCAdian friends, I apologize for not having much of a presence this War. I’d promise to make more events or something, but I’m still not sure what my mental state is following this “break” from work. I feel somewhat refreshed in the sense that, aside from a few frantic texts, I haven’t had to think about work in a week. However, that little twitch in my right lower eyelid is still there, and I still don’t know how I feel about getting back into attending more SCA events. I want to keep active, but I also need to take my mental health into consideration. That being said, I got some of the best hugs this past week, much needed and sorely missed.

Goodbye, Estrella War. Until next year.

Dry for now, but a mudpit to clean up later

Estrella War has been wet. It’s been damp and mucky and gross. I’ve escaped two nights in a row to sleep off-site in a warm bed. Tomorrow, however, we have to go back and clean up the mess that is our tent and pack up the car.

That means three hours in a car loaded up with mud-soaked items. It means sorting what can be saved and what is a wash. It means tomorrow is going to suck.

I tried to get stuff together today in preparation, but the task was too daunting for myself alone, and my husband was busy most of the day. Over half of our stuff is soaking wet, another third is damp, and a small sampling of the rest is salvageable.

I’m so done with this vacation. I’m done with the mud and the port-a-johns and the cold. What was supposed to be a relaxing break from work has been nothing but a mudpit. I enjoyed the time I spent with my SCA family, but overall it did nothing to destress me.

I’m going back to a slammed office, or at least I’m pretty sure I am. I’ve stopped receiving text messages from work, but it’s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I’m not getting inundated with texts about work stuff while on vacation….on the other hand, I could be walking in to anything. Chaos could be awaiting me when I walk in the door….or it could be handled. Who knows.

I might end up going to my psychiatrist early after all. I can’t keep going at the pace I was and survive. War did nothing to relax me. It just keyed up different triggers.

I’m still writing. I’m still holding in there. But I’m not going to be able to hold in there much longer.

War of wet

So in addition to snow in Arizona, it also rains. A lot. Especially at inconvenient times.

Take yesterday, for instance. It rained yesterday. And it rained. And it rained some more. It rained until our tent was flooded on the inside and outside was a muddy, sloggy, sludgy, mucky mess. The “roads” are inches deep in water, with an inch or two (minimum) of soggy mud beneath. You sink in so deep that, if you’re not careful, you could lose a boot in the mud.

We have cots. Most of our clean garb is dry. And we’re warm enough at night when the heater is running… though at this rate, we’ll run out of propane before War ends.

Some lessons have been learned. Next time, we need to bring our stuff in plastic tubs rather than bags. Next time, I need to belt my floor-length coat in such a way that it doesn’t drag through the mud. Same for my dresses. I need to bring more socks, and warmer ones. Possibly bring another propane tank in case we get too cold and use the heater more.

There are more lessons, but my brain is too frozen and damp to think about what they are. I just dropped the bottle of acetaminophen in a puddle, and my arthritis is making my knees ache.

The sun has made occasional appearances since I started writing this, so that’s promising. Hopefully it warms up enough that we’re not driving three hours home in a mud-filled car full of damp clothing, rugs, blankets, and tent. We will most likely have to dry everything out once we get home.

Where it has been snowing, I hear….

Where in Estrella War Is AJ Mullican?

I’ve not had nearly enough sleep today, and that means that four lucky SCAdians will receive a free copy of Abnormal!

What’s that? Free book? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there are catches, of course. Rules and what have you.

1.) Go to my Facebook author page and “Like” the page:

2.) Read the pinned post.

3.) Follow the instructions!

It’s that simple, and that hard ūüėČ C’mon, I can’t just give the books away….I have to make you work for it!

There you have it! I’ll be at Estrella from tomorrow (Wednesday, February 20th) through Sunday, but the game’s over after the last winner on Saturday!

Special Delivery

It’s official: Book 2, a.k.a. ESCAPE THE LIGHT, has a signed contract with RhetAskew Publishing!

Okay, so I knew it was coming. It actually technically should have come a few weeks ago, but due to email issues I wasn’t getting it. Now, though, the balls are rolling and things are in the works. It’s happening–really happening. Er, again. Lol I wonder if the excitement will ever wear off…y’know, like one day I’ll open the email and be like, oh, yeah, another one. I hope not. I’d like to think I won’t become so full of myself as to just automatically assume I’ll get a contract for whatever I write. As for right now, I feel like..

Yep–I feel like I just scored an imaginary touchdown in a mental institution. Lol It’s okay though. This mental institution is a pretty cool place to be. I’m in good company. And look! The other patients are celebrating with me!

Seriously though, it’s a thrill to sign and know that the next book will be in my hands, er, eventually. It’s still got to go through Creative Development edits, revisions, line edits, revisions, more edits and revisions, et cetera. But it’s coming, and it’s mine, and it’ll be awesome.

Cold War

Estrella War is just a day away for me, and this is how my part of the desert is looking this morning:

Yes, that’s my land, just behind the house. It wasn’t much, but it snowed last night, and it’s supposed to be cold and rainy in Queen Creek for a good bit of Estrella.

We’ve got a new canvas tent (that’s supposed to be warmer than modern nylon tents). We’ve got a heater. We’ve got a wool coat for me and a reversible wool/cotton cloak for my husband. We’ve got thermal underwear for nighttime. We’ve got blankets and thirty-degree-graded sleeping bags. We’ve got throw rugs for the floor of the tent (because the floor is a tarp, not canvas, and that will be cold to step on in the middle of the night). We’ve got warm hats. We’ve got rain boots and fuzzy boots and thick socks. We’re set–right?

I sure hope so. Last year it got so cold that our silicone-gel-filled pillows literally froze. Rock solid. Not comfy. We had the heater then, but the nylon tent we had wasn’t very good at retaining the heat, so the heater was almost useless. Almost. I was sore and achy and miserable every morning because my arthritis did not appreciate the cold. So this year we’re packing extra heat-conserving methods.

Am I looking forward to Estrella? Sure. I mean, I’ll get to see people I haven’t seen in a long time, hang out with friends, teach some embroidery, and maybe get a little fighting in. (The last one I’m not 100% sure on, because I have the royal embroidery still to finish…so that’s going to take away some of my time.) But I am not looking forward to the cold.

Yes, I know, cold in the desert? It’s true. It can get biting cold, especially at night, and it’s not fun going to the port-a-priv at 3am to sit on a freezing-cold plastic seat. Sometimes when we’re camping and it’s cold in the morning I hold it for an hour or more just because I’m dreading the trip to the priv and the ensuing frozen butt.

I don’t know how much posting I’ll get done at the event. I usually have a few hours in the morning where I’m up and awake but not able to do anything like embroider because of the lack of light and the fact that the rest of the camp is asleep. However, if it’s cold enough, I might not want to sit up on the laptop or even lie down with my phone to post something. Regardless, I’ll try to get my weekly newsletter out. I think I can manage at least that.

One thing is certain: I’ll be glad to get back to my warm, warm house once War is over. Even though it snowed last night, I haven’t been cold inside at all, unlike the apartments we lived in. So there’s that.

Harp, the Herald Angels Sing

Harper Williams had survived a lot: Abuse at the hands of her favorite uncle, rape and torture inside the camp at Kensington, the loss of her eyesight, and, most important of all, the loss of her lover Clare.

Born Harper Lee Revenant, Harper grew up in the heart of Heaven’s Light. She got her Sniper eyesight from both her parents, but her olive skin, turquoise eyes, and raven hair came from various gene donors, hand-picked at her mother’s insistence. These qualities enticed her pedophile uncle when she was a young girl, and the resulting psychological trauma left her with a hunger that couldn’t be sated. This hunger caused a rift between Harper and her boyfriend Eli, a rift that turned into a painful chasm–until Clare came into their lives.

For Harper, Clare was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant situation. Exiled from Heaven’s Light as a teenager, Harper found refuge with the roaming camps of Abnormals known as the Dead Cities. There she met Eli, but her nymphomania eventually pushed him away. Clare, a bipoly Abnormal that Eli had rescued from Heaven’s Light after two Gifted assailants nearly killed her, was everything Harper needed: strong and fierce, intelligent and intuitive, bold yet timid, all rolled into one tight, tiny package of sex and love. Through their mutual love of Clare, Harper and Eli’s rift was mended, and the three of them became inseparable.

Inseparable, that is, until they were ripped away from each other at Kensington.

The torture at Kensington was unbearable. The red-hot pokers that took her eyes, the broken bones, the gang rape that seemed unending–Harper wished for death more than anything then. Clare, with that brilliant, powerful mind of hers, found Harper and talked her back from the edge of the abyss. She joined their minds with Eli’s and drifted Harper off into a coma, a blissful nothingness that ended her suffering while Clare figured out a way to escape.

Or so she said.

While Harper slept, Clare–unbeknownst to Eli–struck a bargain with the Devil incarnate, Ezekiel Howard, the head of the Council. She made a dead for Harper and Eli to be healed and released, on one condition: Clare would go with Ezekiel back to Heaven’s Light.

Clare woke Harper from the coma with a kiss, and for a moment Harper thought everything would be okay. She was healed, save for the ocular implants that needed to be calibrated to her body, and Clare was with her.

Then Clare left.

She left. She left Harper alone and frightened, and she left of her own accord.

Harper and Eli were released once their injuries had been repaired, and Eli hurried them back to the Dead City before Ezekiel changed his mind. Eli was distant during this time, his easy-going personality replaced with a hardened, broken man. He stayed with Harper throughout her recovery and helped her adjust to her new way of seeing.

Harper wished he had left her alone. Without Clare, she didn’t much want to go on. She trudged through the days and nights in a haze, daydreaming about her lost love and hoping that she’d return. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, and after two months with no word from Clare, Harper gave in to her demons.

Eli found her and took her to a medic, and to Harper’s dismay she woke up very much not dead. She’d been hoping to an end to the pain, but instead she wound up with deep scarring on her wrists that even the medics couldn’t fully repair.

Her dark life was brightened, however, when the medics gave her the happiest news of her life: Harper was pregnant.

Harper didn’t believe in any God; she didn’t believe in angels and Heaven. But one thing she was certain of: this was a miracle.

No longer feeling so alone, Harper threw herself into the pregnancy with a joy that was unsurpassed by anything else in her life–with the exception of Clare. She longed to share the news with Clare, to tell her that she was going to be a stepmother, to let Clare help name the baby girl. Instead, she busied herself with preparing the home she shared with Eli for the new arrival, fixing up the nursery and painting the walls the best she could with her artificial eyesight.

Eli’s mood brightened as well with the news, and he proposed to Harper on her birthday. Harper squealed with joy and threw her arms around Eli’s strong neck as she accepted.

Finally, she thought, I get to have a family.

There were still nights where Harper stayed up well past the time Eli retired, where she gazed out the window of the abandoned suburban home where they’d taken up residence and wondered what life would have been like if Clare hadn’t left.

One day, she told herself.