Blog posts

Every cloud

This weekend has been nice. Low-key, home alone, and best of all: not sick as fuck.

I made myself retrospect a little too much, though. I was cruising Netflix, looking for something to watch, when I found a good movie. Silver Linings Playbook. Excellent flick, great acting….and maybe a little too real.

Being bipolar, I feel this movie on a visceral level. No, I’m not quite like Pat. Or Tiffany. Not really. I’ve never been hospitalized for my emotional state, never been that far off. But yeah, I’ve missed work over my mental state before. I’ve obsessed over failed relationships, I’ve written nutball letters/texts/emails to my exes, I’ve been the “backup.” I’ve slept around because my depression had me down, or because my mania had me horny. I’ve quit taking my meds more than once. So maybe I’m bits of Pat and Tiffany. I’m Piffany.

I’ve been doing okay for a while now. Well, mostly okay. I mean, I get depressed sometimes. I get manic. I’ve been on an embroidery kick this weekend, and I’m pretty sure it’s not completely deadline-induced. I’m probably manic. I mean, I’m tearing through these embroidery projects, stopping briefly to eat or go to the bathroom or take a catnap. But mainly I’ve been embroidering. To the point of dry skin and calluses on my fingertips.

The whole Pat thing happened to my brother a few years ago. Not the beating-a-man-almost-to-death thing, but the bad ending to a bad relationship that ultimately resulted in him being committed. I won’t go into it too much here, because it’s his story not mine, but it was scary to watch.

It was even scarier knowing that our great-grandfather died of psychosis. “Exhaustion in the progression of psychosis”–that was the CoD on his death certificate. He was so fucking crazy it killed him.

Since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder before my brother was, I always assumed that was my eventual fate. Then my brother got diagnosed, and combined with his substance abuse issues he’s way worse off than me. He had his psychotic break in his mid-40s….the same age good ol’ Great-Granddad was when he died.

My brother didn’t die. We’ve got better meds now, better tech, better treatments. But guess what? This year I turn 40. Now, like I said, I’m not as bad off as my brother. So I’m not necessarily on a timeline here. The past doesn’t have to repeat itself. Maybe my brother’s incident was the repetition, and I’ll be passed over. Like the Christian thing. I dunno–I’m not the religious type. But maybe I don’t have to dread my mid-40s. Maybe I don’t have to go go go, to push myself so much, to worry about whether or not I’ll make it long enough to do the things I want to get done.

I want to finish my sci-fi series. I want to finish the collaboration I’m working on. I want to learn more about making garb and clothes and embroidery and get good enough at researching it all to become a Laurel. I want to learn more rapier techniques and practice enough to be good at them. And I want to lose this weight I’ve gained. I want so many things, and I think the back of my brain is telling me “You’ve got a few years left. Five, six max. You need to hurry up. You need to get your shit together while you have the mental capacity to do it.”

I gotta get that out of the back of my head. I gotta tell myself that there’s no deadline to insanity, that it’s not written. It’s not predestined. I don’t have to go crazy. I can stay sane, stay mostly stable, stay me.

I also have a secret weapon: my husband. Even if I do go crazy, I have him to keep me alive, to keep me from going so far down the hole that I can’t crawl back up.

That’s it. That’s my silver lining. That’s my ace in the hole.

Five or six years. I pass that, and I win. I beat history.

Limbo

I’m trapped between two worlds, and I don’t know what more I can do to get out.

I asked my rheumatologist, who had taken me off work due to my autoimmune condition and COVID, if I could go back once the Stay At Home order was lifted. I called and left a message two weeks ago. I left a message the next day. And the next. And the next. Then it was the weekend, then that Monday through Friday I called again. No response, and no answer.

I tried again every day the next week. One of the days I got a person, who claimed they would message the doctor with my request and get back to me. No response.

Last Friday, I couldn’t even leave a voicemail because their box was full. I drove over an hour and a half to their office, went in, and asked if I could get an answer. I was told they’d put it on the doctor’s desk. I said I’d wait, and then I was told the doctor “didn’t have time to talk to me.” I said I’d still wait. I talked to the office manager. I was told I’d get a response maybe by the end of the day, maybe yesterday afternoon. (Monday was a holiday.)

Yesterday, my office still hadn’t gotten a response in the morning. I called their office right away, because it was early and I hoped to reach a person instead of a voicemail. I did get a person, and was told that it would be by the end of the day.

Around 3pm, I actually received a phone call from my doctor’s office! It was them calling to let me know that, before the doctor signs a release for me to go back to work, I must sign a waiver clearing her of liability should I contract COVID while at work. I had them fax it to my office, I went to work, and I signed and returned the fax.

Today, at about 9:20, my boss texted me to notify me that they still had NOT received the release that I can go back to work. An hour and a half (and nine unsuccessful phone calls) later, and no response, no answer.

Now, with the countdown to the cutoff for me to be able to work this afternoon ticking away, my inexplicable anxiety from early this morning now has an explanation. I should’ve known it was too simple. Just fax a waiver, and I’ll be able to work? Yeah, right.

I want to go back to work, but I can’t without that release. I want to talk to the doctor’s office to get them to fax it, but I can’t get an answer. I want to be able to stop panicking about money, because I also cannot get hold of a person–or even a voicemail–at the unemployment office.

Stuck in limbo, with no way out and no way back. I can’t undo the past five weeks of being off work, can’t go back to work, can’t do anything until I get a person on the phone.

I’m terrified of what might happen if I can’t go back to work. I’m terrified of what will happen if I can’t get through to unemployment to find out why I’m not getting paid. I’m terrified of what I might do if this madness continues.

Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get through before lunch time and be able to go in this afternoon. Maybe, if I’m less lucky, they’ll fax my release before the end of business today and I can go back tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll be stuck in limbo forever.

Chatty Cathy

So, as a writer, I tend to babble on about writing to anyone who will listen.

This sometimes results in me being really annoying…other times, it results in comedy gold.

Let me back up a bit. I was chatting with a friend online this morning, and she asked how my morning was going. Naturally, I answered with a brief description of what I’d written so far in my work in progress…and this was the resulting synopsis:

Eloquence at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

I swear, in the context of the story, it makes sense.

It’s funny how different contexts and different venues of communication–say, chat versus narrative–take on different forms. I write in chat differently than I write in story, I write here in this blog differently than I write in either of those, etc. Communication is a strange beast indeed.

I suppose, as an author, I should consider using more professional grammar and syntax in my messages, but really, do my friends and relatives need to read chats that read like novels? Conversely, do my readers want to read novels that read like chats? Well, that one depends more on point of view, but I digress. Each avenue of writing has its own purpose, so I think it’s reasonable to treat each as a separate form of communication. Yes, it’s all writing, but a good writer can convey the same thought in multiple ways, with various depths of description and emotion.

Obviously, the chapters I described above are not that cut-and-dried. They’re not that cheesy (at least I hope not), and they’re not that outrageous. Within the context, it all fits.

I’ll figure out where “somewhere” is and what “stuff” is going to be done later… Today, I have housework and chores and general adulting to get to. Besides, I’ve spent several hours on writing already today, and I don’t want to obsess and spend all my time on one thing.

The Roads Taken

Life is fucking strange.

You make decisions every day that determine the direction your life will go. They could be innocent decisions like whether to have cheddar or Swiss on your sandwich. They could be momentous, like moving cross-country. Either way, every little decision, every choice, starts you on a path. It could be good, it could be bad, or it could kind of hopscotch between the two, never finding a middle ground.

On today’s episode of “AJ Has Been in Quarantine Too Damn Long,” we’ll reflect on choices and directions and how one little “yes” or “no” can build and shape an entire life.

I’ve had so many big and little decisions to make in my life, so many choices that could have gone one way or the other. I could have stayed in college the first time around (long story). I could have taken different classes in college. I could have moved to Phoenix. I could have stayed out on my own after my lease ran out with my first roommate. I could have never moved in with the guy to begin with. I could have stayed in Alabama when my family moved out west. I could have done a million things differently, but how would my life be now if I had…or hadn’t…made some of those decisions?

Yep, I’ve officially been in quarantine long enough to question almost every choice I’ve ever made in my entire life.

Do I regret any of them? Eh, some. Not the major ones, not really. But maybe a few tattoos would be different, or I’d have more of them, or I’d have kept certain piercings that I ended up taking out or gotten other ones I never had the nerve to get…little things.

One “no” cemented my decision to move away from Alabama for good. That “no” resulted in a series of “yeses” that put me on the path I am now. So strange that a little thing like yes or no can shape everything for the rest of ever. I’m glad I said that one no, though. It was worth it. I don’t think I’d have nearly as many friends. Maybe not any. Who knows?

There’s the tricksy part of this line of thinking: the What Ifs. What if I’d stayed? What if I’d taken Job X over Job Y? What if, what if, what if…?

Truth is, the What Ifs don’t mean shit. They’re in the past. Or maybe that’s the wrong way to put it. They’re in alternate presents that I can’t access, in realities that aren’t this one. Parallel universes and all that jazz. No-man’s lands.

Where am I going with all this introspection? I’m not sure. I haven’t decided yet. I could keep going down this rabbit hole and see Wonderland, or I could stay safe here at home and just dump these thoughts down the disposal and shred them before they do permanent damage. Alice sure as hell wasn’t the same after her trip, I bet. And even if I did go to Wonderland and see what the What Ifs might have had to offer, what then? There’s still nothing that can take me out of Now and put me Then. The physics for that to happen don’t exist yet. Or maybe they do, but only in theory.

Now I’m getting into a path of thought that’s above my pay grade. I’m not smart enough to figure out what it all means, or what it might have meant. All I know is, I’m here now, in the Now, and good or bad, that’s where I’m going to be until the next choice is made.

We’re b-a-a-a-ck!!

Guess what, everyone? Muses and Murderers Podcast is coming back!

We took some time off for life stuff and scheduling issues, but we’ve decided to reformat the show a smidge and let the guests work themselves out when we can. For now, we (author Angelique Jordonna and I) are going to spend an hour every week shooting shit about various writing/entertainment-related topics. Will we stay on-topic? Not likely. Will it be funny at least? We sure hope so!

Season 2, Episode 1 will be titled “Sex, Death, and Rock and Roll – Writing the Taboo.” In this episode, Angelique and I will discuss, well, writing all the nasty, naughty things that some writers might shy away from putting in their works. Why do some writers include things like sex and death while others avoid it? Is genre a factor? Age range? Should these things be factors? Tune in Sunday, May 10, to find out what we decided!

Angelique and I will record at least once a week, and I’ll post the edited recordings on Sundays. That’s the plan for now, at least. Seemed to work for S1, so we’ll continue with S2 airing on the same day (and I’ll try to edit and upload the episodes BEFORE I drop my fucking phone on the concrete floor).

If you have a topic you’d like for us to discuss or a question for us, you can go to the Muses and Murderers Podcast page on this site and message us through the page. (Facebook has this nifty thing where you can embed a Messenger link that connects the website with the Muses and Murderers Facebook page for messages! How cool is that?) One of us will see the message, and we’ll add your topic or question to our queue! 🙂

We’re so glad to be coming back and getting back into the swing of things with the podcast, and we can’t wait to see what topics y’all come up with for us to shoot the shit about!

On the Rise

Well, I’ve submitted Book 3 of the Abnormal series, Fight the Light, to the publisher. I banged out my Mage Asylum Trilogy and put it up for preorder. Now what should I do during my doctor-imposed quarantine for my own good??

Why, start on Book 4 of the Abnormal series, of course! It’s high time I started penning Dead Cities Rising, but there’s one teeny, tiny problem: I kinda did a crap job of plotting the outline for it, so I have to start over from scratch pretty much. Yeah, it was a pain in the ass, but I think that, after much brainstorming and arguing with my characters, I’m at a point where I can get back to redoing my outline with the newer, better plot, drawing up a nice little timeline (because I just now decided I have to have a timeline), and then I can take off with the wording!

Sometimes writing a book comes naturally, and sometimes, like with this one, you have to kind of beat it into submission. I’ve got new characters popping up, old characters who are fighting for the spotlight, and the usual crew just wanting to have a decent storyline.

It’s going to take hard work, but I can do it. Bonus for you readers, with the changes I’m making to my long-term plan for the series, the Abnormal series will now have six books instead of five! It’s like getting a bonus book! Lol

Now to get to that outline-that-insists-on-being-done-now. Pesky muses. They’ve been keeping me on my toes lately. Lol

New Preorder from AJ Mullican!

*Enjoy three novellas for the price of one with this collected set!*

For enchantress Karrye Gibbons, being committed for nymphomania isn’t too bad. The facility is coed, at least, and offers plenty of eligible mages for her to choose from…until, that is, a patient is admitted who’s immune to her charms.

Enter Whittaker Franklin, an ex-military interrogator who happens to be an anti-mage. No magic can work within twenty feet of Whit, but that’s not going to stop Karrye. She’s determined to win him over, but when strange new therapies begin in the basement, things get complicated. Can Karrye and Whit find out what’s going on at Palmore’s and stop it before everything goes to hell?

Hey, everybody! Guess what I’ve been up to? 😉

That’s right, I have a hot new release for you! The Mage Asylum Trilogy is now available for Kindle preorder for just 99 cents! That means you get three steamy paranormal erotica novellas for the price of one.

This has been a two-month-long labor of love for me, and a bit of an obsession. While I’ve had help along the way in the form of advice from friends in the industry (and my mom’s awesome editing), this is, essentially, all me. From concept to cover design to formatting and publication, I threw my dumb ass headfirst into these books, and I can’t wait to see how they do.

I’ve done a preorder for a couple of reasons, but mostly because I noticed that, with Whispers of Death‘s cold release–and with no pre-marketing on my part–it did not do well. I had to put my first novel on a free promotion for a few days to get it up to #6 in one of its categories, and that was basically a one-off. It did well, and technically was a best-seller/Top 10 book for a nanosecond, but I want to see what I can accomplish if I apply the things I’ve learned over the past five years since.

I’m posting in genre readers’ groups on Facebook, I’m tweeting and Instagramming, I’m even going on TikTok (that’s a new one for me, so it’ll take some finagling to figure out what works and what doesn’t). I’ve updated the links and graphics on my website as well as in all my reader magnets on StoryOrigin, and I’m starting to go fishing for newsletter swaps.

Aside from getting impatient and not doing ARC copies for reviews, I think I’m doing okay so far. We’ll see what happens come July 1, when all the preorders translate to actual sales. So far? Well, less than 24 hours after the preorder link went live, I’m sitting at #506 in Paranormal Erotica in the Kindle Store….I have no frame of reference as to how good that is, however (how many Paranormal Erotica books are on Kindle right now, anyway??), but I’m going to keep on the positive. It’s only been half a day. Give it time.

Now get your tail clicking on that link above to preorder The Mage Asylum Trilogy! I mean, c’mon, only 99 cents to support a great author? Why wouldn’t you? 😉

Isolated in isolation

Most of my life, I’ve been pretty much a loner. Liked sitting by myself, doing my own thing. Occasionally hanging out with a few close friends.

So….Why in the bloody hells am I upset at being left out of something that I don’t want to do anyway?

I would’ve been better off never knowing said thing I’ve been left out of existed, really I would. I mean, I really have no interest in said thing, but just knowing that it exists and that no one, not one single, solitary friend thought to include me….That smarts.

It’s grade school all over again. And middle school. High school. College. It’s my life, trapped in an endless circle of exclusion. I’d thought I was past that, or at least past caring, but I guess not.

Sometimes, a little knowledge is a bad thing.

Then, come to find out my husband was one of the first people included and invited to do the thing. Knew all about it. Granted, he probably didn’t say anything to me about it because not only did he not want to do the thing, he probably knew I wouldn’t want to do it. Still…Ouch.

I shouldn’t take it personally. I know I shouldn’t. That doesn’t stop it from hurting, though.

It’s enough to make me question what I want to do after the quarantine/COVID/coronapocalypse is over. Do I want to go back to being social on the weekends? Is it even worth it? Maybe I should reconsider. Dive deeper into the stories I write. Write more stories. Who knows? Maybe this is my chance to break out. Become a full-time author. Live the dream.

Ah, there it is. The Dream. Full-circle again, back to the issue at hand.

My Dream got a little bit stomped on today. I’ll get over it, I suppose, but I’m going to probably sulk a bit about it. Have my own personal pity party. Feel bad for my poor, unwanted self.

I’ll get over it. Stand back up, brush myself off. Keep on moving. I won’t even say anything else about it, aside from this here post. I’m going to vent, hit “publish,” and leave this post for the archives. It’ll get buried by others, only to be found some day by a random fan going through my old posts. They’ll wonder what the hell I’m talking about.

Don’t mind me, random fan. I’m okay. I’ll be okay.

Just had to get it out.

Going boldly

So I’ve been working on a novella trilogy during all this social distancing stuff. It started as a paranormal romance series, but quarantine boredom being what it is, the stories are turning a little… steamy. Like, I’ve basically resigned myself to the fact that they’re going to end up being paranormal erotic romance novellas.

Is that really a bad thing, though? I mean, there’s a market for that kind of thing, possibly more so during these times of shut-in orders. Can’t go pick up someone you met on Tinder? That’s okay–pick up a spicy book instead!

I’m having fun with the stories, which is important, and I may even write more stories of the like later on. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to turn the Abnormalverse into an erotica zone; I’ll maybe write a couple scenes per book, but nothing like these. No, these take place in a different universe. A kinkier universe.

Despite my commitment to this series–I’ve even already got all three covers designed–I’m a little uncertain. I mean, writing something of this nature, I’m learning, is like baring yourself. Exposing yourself. And when those friends who love to support me go out and buy the books? What will they think of who I am as a person when they read what my characters do?

I am one hundred percent not like my characters.

Well, maybe I’m a little like them. In some aspects. But I’m definitely not as…uninhibited as they are. Not as free spirited.

I guess I’ll finish writing the trilogy, get it edited and polished and published, and let the chips fall where they may. Will I get teased? Oh, I’m sure someone will. But the main question is, do I care if they tease me?

We’ll find out the answer before the year is up!

Starting all over again?

Well, it’s another COVID-related off day, so today I’m working on a couple of things: I’m going to be researching and contacting authors, bloggers, and podcasts to potentially receive ARCs of ESCAPE THE LIGHT, but I’m also going to be heading into Book 2 of the Palmore’s Home for Wayward Mages trilogy. The first task is mostly just the tedium of research and typing up emails to the various persons.

My problem with the second task?

I don’t know where to begin.

I mean, I know where to begin, but I don’t know how. I have a few different ideas for the opening, but I can’t decide which has the most punch, the most draw for readers.

I originally wanted to mirror the opening of the first book, but now I’m not sure of the best way to make that work. I want to open on something interesting, but the scene I have so far is rather dull. Not suitable for an opening scene at all.

I know I’ll get it worked through eventually, but it’s the working that is the tricky part. Which characters (besides the main character) do I have present? What are they doing? What’s the exciting thing they’re saying or doing that hooks the reader and makes them want to keep reading? So many questions, so many options, and I just can’t make up my mind.

That’s the life of an author, I guess. You gotta start somewhere, and since I’m not the “write it out of order” type, I have to start at the beginning.

I’d better kick it into gear soon. I don’t want to end up releasing this trilogy/set next year!

ARC Readers Needed!!!

Hey, everyone! Guess what? It’s that time now! I’m eagerly awaiting the ARC file for ESCAPE THE LIGHT, the sequel to ABNORMAL!

What’s an ARC, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you…

ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy, and in the publishing world, they’re sent out ahead of a book’s release to get reviews and blurbs before launch. I’ve already gotten a few ARC readers lined up, but I need more!

For ten lucky readers of this blog who email me here, I’ll send an ARC copy once I’ve gotten it from the publisher! Don’t really want to be an ARC reader but know someone who would? Share this post link with them! Know of someone who has a book review blog or podcast? Send me their info so I can contact them!

ARC readers are so vital to a book’s success! They’re our little magic elves who go out into the world and whisper sweet nothings about our books to others. 🙂

What else does it mean that I’m looking for ARC readers now? Well, that means that ESCAPE THE LIGHT is that much closer to production and release!!!

You want some more good news? Book 3, FIGHT THE LIGHT, has been submitted to the publisher! That means I’m finally happy with the draft and ready to get the process started on that one.

Also in me news, I got the first draft of the first novella in my paranormal romance trilogy finished and off to a beta reader this week! Book 2 in that series is in the works already, and I hope to have the whole kit and kaboodle done and released before the year is out.

Stay tuned for more!