Mutterings of a mad mind

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Right now, I’m all over the place. I’m in the final countdown for TNEE 2016 as we gain speed and race towards the weekend. Tuesday is going to be here before I know it, and while I’m mostly organized, there’s also a part of me that is scrambling like a wee mad thing trying to ensure that everything is on my list. Hint: everything isn’t.

But let’s not worry about that right now, eh? Instead, here are a few musings from my brain this week that need to get out . . .

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY – GET AN EDITOR

I have not just one, but two editors plus a whole host of additional professionals behind me to make sure that I’m not releasing rubbish. I’ve said this over and over on this blog having learned the hard way myself: no self-respecting indie author should release a book without a qualified editor *EVER* even if you are an editor yourself. Your brain is wired to your thought and speech patterns. It will miss so many grammatical mistakes, typos, word switcheroos that you’ll wonder if some grammar goblin came in the middle of the night and fucked with your manuscript. Just don’t do it. Pay the money and have someone go through it at least twice. Even better if you get a content/vision editor on board first who will rip your darling apart and give you the best damn advice of your career. Life it too short to read badly written fiction much less create it. If you want to be a professional author, please for the love of all things holy, act like one.

WHO INVENTED INSOMNIA – MAY WE BREAK THEIR LEGS

I’m a sleep monster so without it, um, I’m also a monster. A very scary, emotionally psychotic beast of epic proportions. You people who have infants should get Pulitzer Prizes – every single one of you. Anyone with great insomnia tricks, hook me up with your solutions.

WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAPPEN AT ONCE

My life is extremely boring. I like it that way. Right up to the point that I have to something major to do, cue this completely crazy TNEE business . . . so why is it that as soon as I have a big thing coming up does everything else blow up? Is there a rule of odds that I don’t know about?

GRIEF IS A HORRIBLE THING

This post never got finished on Friday because of the post that is about to follow this one. Needless to say, while grief is a part of who we are as human beings, it’s the worst possible emotion anyone can feel. I’m feeling a lot of it today so I’ll finish on this note: enjoy every minute of your life like it’s the last. Love hard and live hard because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

 

 

 

 

 

Two weeks until TNEE

As I was tidying up my desk today, I came across a fortune cookie fortune that must’ve somehow resonated with me in my not too distant past. It reads –

“He who bravely dares must sometimes risk a fall.”

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I’m not, by nature, a risk taker. At all. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m very good at saying “no,” but not so good at saying “yes” when it comes to new experiences. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and at my age, I know who I am and what I want, but at the same time, if approached to try something new, I normally run panicking out of the room, perhaps even leaving the house altogether, diving into the car, and then screeching down the street towards the distant horizon. Yeah, that’s me.

With less than two weeks left before I leave for Atlanta, I’m trying to figure out how I talked myself into not just going to, but also, partaking in a show where I literally know not a single soul. The thought is terrifying . . . and yet I’m conflicted.

There’s a part of my brain that is lonely. Being an author is a lone, introspective form of therapy where it’s just you, a keyboard, and that gray matter between your ears. It can be cathartic, sure, but there are days where you understand why people go into an office and work a 9 to 5 job. It’s because they have to make money, of course, but there’s something about being around other people. Human beings are not solitary animals – we roam in herds/clans/tribes/gangs/gaggles/whatever word you want to insert here. A human being left alone too long doesn’t fare very well. Same with authors. We need hugs, too.

So there’s that. The part about finding my tribe, that age old dilemma of feeling understood and accepted. Atlanta gives me a chance to see if I can connect and thrive. That’d be nice.

There’s also the part about it being hard to be an author without readers. Pretty self-explanatory. Technically, I can be an author without any readers, but honestly, how depressing would it be to write stuff that nobody read? That my friends is a narcissistic wormhole of self-loathing waiting to happen and not something for me. Life is too short to write stories nobody wants to read, but me.

And while I moan and panic and carry on (ask the husbot) maybe it’s not such a bad thing, this putting yourself out there lark, maybe an old, rigid, and anal retentive dog can learn a new trick after all. Got me. Ask me after TNEE.

Author Photos

 

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Author photos are a bit like dating sites profiles: you look too good to be true. No, you don’t run half marathons just for fun, and you definitely didn’t open up that village school for girls in Africa. The closest thing you’ve gotten to philanthropy was giving the homeless guy three bucks in quarters that one time you were stopped at a red light. Exercise is the equivalent of walking to the fridge for left-over pizza because you just can’t seem to get through this one scene in your new draft without a little pick-me-up. That’s the reality. You’re still in your pajamas at 11AM on a weekday wondering what sort of TV you can binge watch as a reward for hitting your 3,500 words for the day.

So when you see us all gussied up and pretty, and this is important, THIN, it’s because someone, somewhere is a photography god, and can make us look 25 instead of 45. They use their magic mumbo jumbo, this thing called a camera, and they make you look absolutely amazeballs. Those people, every single one of them, deserve a god damn award because we’ll be using that photo for the next freakin’ decade. Any author who says differently is a liar. Trust me – go flip open the dusk jacket of any book you have on your shelf. Stephen King hasn’t aged one god damn day since the ’80s. Either he’s done a deal with the devil (which wouldn’t surprise me) or his publicist is pulling that crap out of the archives every time he’s got a new book coming out. It happens.

I’m not pointing fingers because I’m no different. Confession time: my very first head shot was a sideways snapshot of me talking to my mother-in-law in a dark country pub somewhere in the county of Kent in Ye Olde England, on a holiday, to visit family. In 2011.

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So we all do it, myself included, which is why I needed new photos, no matter how much I loathe the whole process.

Enter my sister-in-law, Jodi Hanagan of jodihanaganphotography.com

I’m a big believer that the people who know you best are also the people most likely to capture the true you. That’s not to say that they don’t adjust the lighting or soften the edges, but they do seem to have an uncanny ability to capture the essence of who you are without pulling out all the props and wind machines, and frankly, funky angles that people are willing to contort into to look 5 pounds lighter.

SSAP-JH.jpg-50That’s just not me.

So if I have to have photos done, then I want someone who understands me. That’s why I feel super lucky to have my sister-in-law, Jodi, who is my own photography god (*see above). I’m not good posing in front of a camera. It’s not natural, it’s totally awkward, and I have a tendency to grit my teeth like someone has rammed a pole up my butt. But having my sister take my photo is more like a girls’ slumber party. If I have to listen to someone boss me around and tell me to put on my prettiest smile, it’s much more natural to have someone say it who happens to be related to me. Call it the big sister thing. It works for me.

At the same time, Jodi is a professional photographer and knows exactly what sSSAP-JH.jpg-88he’s doing so there is that. And she’s good at what she does, too. So perhaps I have a bit of an unfair advantage there. I’ll take what I can get.

If you ever have to have photos taken, I’d suggest going down the family tree if you can. Someone somewhere has to be good with a camera. Take them up on their offer to help you, especially if you’re just starting out, or you’re like me and hate photo shoots. They’ll get the job done at a reasonable price, and they’re likely to capture you for who you really are.

Just watch the funny angles and the wind machines.

 

 

Dear Reviewers . . .

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Dear Reviewers,

I must admit that I’m a bit of an idiot. Call it mush brain, lack of sleep, hormones, or just going plain out crazy getting ready for TNEE 2016, but in my frenzy in updating this blog, I inadvertently changed my “Bio” page to an “About” page. That means all those emails I sent to you asking you to review my lovely tomes, yep, in that email is a broken link to my “about me” page.

You may ask why I don’t just change it back? Well, the problem is that the link is correct in about half of those emails so I’m damned if I do, and unfortunately, damned if I don’t. I am literally a horrible cliche right now.

Please don’t hold it against me. It is Monday after all.

Your humble and embarrassed Author Friend

Cue the Pandemonium

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There are not many times that I feel completely out of my depth. I can play it cool, schmooze, be witty, even talk total nerdom when the occasion arises. Part of this is my time spent in the videogames industry being around artists and programmers, part of it is my normal, obnoxious personality.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m no wallflower, and shy is not a word in my vocabulary, but right now, I’m freaking out.

I mean FREAKING OUT.

It’s because of this – The Novel Experience Event.

Somehow I’ve allowed my friend and fellow writer, Christine Ashworth, to coerce me into going to the 2016 TNEE show in Atlanta in April. For those who don’t know Christine, she’s a romance author who could charm the panties off your granny, so I stood no chance in saying no. Plus, with the release of Protector, I felt like it was time to suck it up, and start doing some public personal appearances and book signings. I can’t stay holed up in my office forever, right?

Yeaaaaah. About that. I’ve never been one of those girls. Never really interested in the spot light, more comfortable with freaks and geeks, happy to blend in, people watch, be on the sidelines, lurk inconspicuously, but by no means draw attention to myself unless I’m in the middle of a gaggle of goths, and frankly with so much black, you still can’t pick me out.

As you can imagine, this show is out of my comfort zone, and possibly even out of my genre. I hear that the romance girls have the most fun, and know how to chug a margarita, but will my cynical, awkward self fit in with flowers, love, and hot, steamy sex? Cause let’s face it, in romance there’s as much boom chicka wah wah as there are Lee Press On Nails in a porn video . I can’t even write a sex scene that doesn’t sound like it ran screaming out of a 1970’s naughty nurse book.

But if I was honest with myself, I need this – to be part of something bigger than me, to experience life outside my macro world, but more than anything else, I need to find my writing family – those girls, fans and authors alike, who you can count on to be there when no one else gets it. Because nothing is as comforting as being understood and accepted no matter what the rest of the world thinks of you.

So wish me luck friends and colleagues. Six weeks and counting.