A Rare Lazy Weekend

River (pictured above) pretty much embodies my spirit animal last weekend in this picture. I slept quite a lot, and accomplished not much of anything.

Okay, so I got the last of the handwriting from Estrella transcribed. That’s something I accomplished. And I got the laundry done (but not put away). I was basically the noodle-cat in the picture, limp and lifeless.

I know that I kind of earned it, but I still feel a bit rotten for not getting more done. I hope to remedy that next weekend with more embroidery work finished. My timeline on that is ticking down, so I need to focus. Thankfully, I have only two halves of a hem to do to be totally finished. Just a little more…

Book 3 is, as all first drafts are, crap, but it’s got potential. I need to clean and beef it up, but that’s for later, when I have the draft finished. I’m still waiting on the edits from RhetAskew before I get too invested in the story I’m starting to tell there, because if they decide I need to change the ending of Escape the Light I’ll have some rewriting to do for Book 3…best not to get too committed to any one story right now, when I might have to make sweeping changes (learned my lesson the hard way on that one).

I need to bug my mom for the edits on my short story. Time’s ticking on that deadline, too, though I have a couple weeks still. I want to get it submitted ASAP though, because I am anxious to get it in the bag. I know, I know, “patience young Padawan”….I don’t wanna be patient. I wanna get as many coals in the fire as possible. (I’m pretty sure I’m mixing metaphors there, but you get my drift.)

My pen nib tattoo is scheduled for Wednesday after work. I’m really excited about it, especially since I’m funding it with autographed books that I’ve sold. It’s the perfect way to pay for a writing-themed tattoo, right? In case you need a reminder, here’s the image I’m going to get inked:

It’s going to go horizontally along my collar bone (and I’m not getting the little crown or whatever that is put on it).

The surgeon is back at work this week after nearly a week off, so I’m back to work as normal. I’m hoping that the new med continues to work well. I haven’t felt nearly as stressed since starting it, and I hope it’s not a fluke.

I suppose I should get to work on something right now. I have a few hours until I have to get ready for work, so I’ve got some play time, but better to jump into the next project so I can keep momentum going for the week.

Very shortly

It’s funny how the little things can get you more anxious than the big things.

I’m talking about short stories versus novels. With my novels, I usually take more time to fine-tune them and make sure they’re publishing-ready. Short stories, though? Most of the time I just type ’em out, give ’em a once-over for typos and flow, then throw ’em up on this blog.

This time, though, I’m going to be submitting to my publisher for a place in their next anthology. The theme (legends) fits with a new set of characters in Escape the Light, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get the world of Abnormal out to a wider audience.

I’ve never submitted a short story for publication before. I’ve never gone through the editing and beta reading process, never spent more than a couple of hours on a short piece. Not that I don’t care how my short stories turn out, but it’s a different feeling when it’s for publication. I feel more pressure to do it “right.”

Am I worried? A little. But I’m taking the necessary steps to make my story as perfect as it can be. I’ve got a few more beta readers’ feedback to go through, and I want to get someone to do a proper edit on it.

I think it’ll do well. I think it’ll get published. But I’m still nervous about it.

Try, try again

On the advice of many, many people, I went to my psychiatrist yesterday (a month earlier than scheduled) and talked to him about all the stress I’m under. New medicine acquired, old medicine discarded, and now we play the waiting game.

Basically I have a month to adjust to the low dosage of the new med (which totally sounds like an alien species) before I get the full dose filled. There are a few bonuses to this new med:

  • No known weight gain side effects
  • Long half-life, so once I’m on the higher dose I’ll only have to take it Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
  • Teeny little capsule, so not a huge gag issue

The med is soon-to-be-approved for bipolar depression, so that’ll help with that side of things, but I am dubious as to the anxiety/stress benefits of the med. If it’s supposed to help with depression, will it also help these other things? We shall see, I guess.

Speaking of bipolar disorder, I’m slated to appear on a podcast called Speak Your Mind, which is a mental health podcast. I know, I know, it’s not my usual book/writing podcast venue, but the host is excited to talk about Abnormal and my writing in addition to discussing mental health issues in my life and in society as a whole. More info to come on that once I’ve gotten a date scheduled. We had a good, long chat the other night, so I’m hopeful that someone listening in gets some benefit out of hearing my story and my struggles.

I try not to get too political about mental health, but let’s face it: mental health is widely ignored by insurance companies and even more widely stigmatized in society as a whole. I think back on the work that Carrie Fisher did to try to destigmatize mental illness, and I think this is one cause I can get behind, not only because it directly affects me but also because it affects such a wide range of people, and not enough people talk about it. Maybe one day, when I’ve hit the NYT bestseller list, I can have the kind of influence where my experiences make a difference.

Yes, I have a mental illness. Yes, I have bipolar disorder. Yes, I take medicines to be “normal.” No, I’m not crazy.

Imperfect again

It’s time again for an appearance on Writer Imperfect, the Twitch streaming show about writing, publishing, and … vampires?

That’s right, the other esteemed authors I’ll be speaking with have all written vampire stories at some point or another. I’ve had a couple shorts on this blog about vampires, but nothing novel-length. (Well, there was that one failed attempt at a gypsy vampire novel. It was terrible. So, so terrible.) So I’m sure the talk will circle around to that at some point. Lol

I really enjoyed myself at my first appearance, and I’m hoping next Monday goes equally well. I didn’t feel to nervous or awkward, and despite River deciding to appear on camera in the background with her legs spread-eagled, it went great. I had fun, and I felt at home with these other, more experienced authors.

For authors who want a good time chatting with other authors (plus some good exposure), I highly recommend signing up for an appearance on this program. It’s every M-W-F at 8pm PST, and it’s an hour of fun and shenanigans. The show is rated mature, and there’s a reason. ūüėČ We can talk about some crazy stuff. I have seen–no lie–a discussion about killing zombies with butt plugs. It’s a thing that happened. I wasn’t on that episode (I probably would have shot coffee out my nose if I had been), but it was a wild ride.

I’m kinda excited for this next appearance, and after that I’m going to get together with my co-author for The Hunting Woods and work out a time when we can both sign up. That should be a great show. ūüėČ

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.

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.

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.

One¬†day,¬†Clare,¬†I’ll¬†find¬†you¬†again.¬†I’ll¬†take¬†you¬†away¬†from¬†there,¬†away¬†from¬†the¬†Light¬†and¬†back¬†into¬†my¬†arms,¬†where¬†you¬†belong.

Horse of a different color

I started the end of my royal embroidery project today. Granted, the “end” means two full hems that need to be embroidered, but….eh, details.

On the bright side, due to me being unable to math at 0400 this morning, the horse head designs that I’m stitching will have to be spaced out more to make it even….thus making fewer heads to stitch and saving me time in the long run. That wasn’t my intent, but the hems will still look good once they’re finished. Lucky for me I realized my error quickly, before I got too far into the design to take out what I’d done.

Lesson learned: Measure twice, add/subtract/multiply/divide twice, then place the design on the fabric and put on the hoop.

So, instead of stitching two dozen 3.5″ x 4.5″ knotwork horse heads, I’m stitching 16 of them. Thank the Gods for the Tim Gunn method of design: “Make it work.” (At least I didn’t have to use the Bob Ross method and turn my mistakes into birds. Wrong monarchs.)

I should be packing. Or doing laundry. Or something else. I’m of a one-track mind right now, though, so embroidery it is. Writing and the like will have to wait until later.

Oh! Speaking of writing–I’m being interviewed by my publisher, RhetAskew Publishing, on Twitter this evening. They’ve been doing a series of interviews with their authors, but due to my work schedule this is my first time being able to participate. 8PM PST, on the RhetAskew Twitter feed! (Or follow me @AJMullican–I’ll be tagged of course in the interview.) It’s kind of weird getting interviewed when just a couple years ago I was doing the interviewing of people. Strange how things come full circle.

War is coming, but I’m not ready

Next week is Estrella War, the biggest SCA war in this area of the country, and I have a lot to do still before we leave on Wednesday.

I have to repair a couple pieces of garb. I have to keep working on the embroidery for the King and Queen. I have to mentally prepare for the embroidery classes I’m going to teach (the actual physical prep is pretty much done). I have to do laundry. I have to pack my garb and any mundane clothes I want to bring. I have to pick up the Viking coat that my fencing teacher made for me.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now. So despite the fact that after today I’m off work until the War is over, I’m still going to be quite busy.

I’m hoping to get a good start on the hem embroidery for Their Majesties by the end of the weekend. It should go quicker than the cuffs did, despite the additional details. I’m hoping. Fingers crossed. Lol

Even with War going on, I’ll have the good ol’ laptop handy to tap-tap-tap away whenever I have some free time. I’m not going to let my early a.m. insomnia go to waste just because I’m at an event! No, I’m going to keep busy with writing and editing in the wee hours while there’s not enough light to embroider by. Y’all can’t get rid of me that easily. ūüėČ

I’ve added a subscription option to this page, as well as a newsletter that will be going out on a semi-regular basis. I’ll have tidbits about the projects I’m working on, links to blog posts, and other fun stuff. Keeping up with that should prove interesting, but I think if I set myself reminders on my Google calendar or something I’ll be okay.

Well, off to do war-like stuff now. Or embroidery. Or loading the dishwasher. Whatever my happy little butt decides to do. Lol

Scene Interrupted

So there I was, right in the middle of writing a hot ‘n’ heavy scene in Book 3, when all of a sudden our roommate comes home from work.

Mood effectively killed.

There’s something to be said about writing in the wee hours of the morning, especially when my husband is still asleep and it’s just me awake–mainly that there are no distractions, and I can focus on writing what my characters have to say. Not so much when there’s someone else awake, though, especially not when she wants to chat. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a problem with chatting when I’m not writing. But if I’m typing along, generally I prefer to be solo…especially with hot ‘n’ heavy scenes.

I can write sex when there are other people in the room; I’ve done it before, and I’ll probably do it again. However, once the mood is gone, I have to stop until I’m alone again and can focus.

One time, while writing Whispers¬†of¬†Death, I must’ve had the weirdest expression on my face as I was writing one of the sex scenes, because my husband asked me if I was okay. I said, “Sure, why?” and he said, “You look sad.” Oops. Not sure how what I was writing translated to “sad” on my face, but whatever. At least I wasn’t blushing or breathing hard or something. Lol

Yeah, my books generally have sex in them. Sex is a thing that happens. Not the kind of sex that happened in Whispers¬†of¬†Death, but there were demons and other extenuating circumstances. I don’t get too gratuitous, I don’t think, and I have toned back considerably. More fade-to-black, less graphic. Not sure how I feel about that, but it’s what my editors prefer.

Slowly but surely, Book 3 is coming along. I have a good, solid start, and as always there will be revisions and edits and what have you to make it more solid. But I’m on Chapter 5 now when I was stuck for months and months on Chapter 2–the beginning of Chapter 2–and things are picking up. I’ve got to watch my time and make sure I get my embroidery projects done, but when it’s the wee hours (and I’m alone…), it’s Writing Time.

I’ve got to dedicate more time to Writing Time–and treat it like a job. This is work that I’m doing, and if I tell myself “X hours of writing” or “Y number of words written” per session, maybe I wouldn’t be so slow. Lol

As far as this particular session, it’s time to take a break and get ready for the day job. That good ol’ 7:30-5 (or whatever the hours end up being on any given day) is calling.