Nighttime ramblings about muchness…

impossibleIt’s so funny that this boy-crazy girl ended up alone. I spent all my life growing up dreaming hopeless romantic dreams and molding myself into the kind of person I thought would be perfect for someone else. My mistake was thinking all men who paid me any attention would be doing the same. My mom always used to tell me I attracted the wrong type, and it took me years to understand what she meant.

When I started getting tired of the abuse and living in fear of angering my now ex, or worse, my kids angering him and getting a taste of his wrath, I rediscovered myself and found some new things to cling to and give me a sense of “muchness” and enjoyment of life, since my marriage was making me wish I was dead. I found steampunk and pirates, and remembered that I used to love music, writing, and art. I involved the kids in all of this and probably drove them crazy most of the time, but we had a lot of fun in an otherwise dark existence.

After I left, it still took me a while to learn how to be happy on my own. I’m a lone pirate (I still love pirates and steampunk, obviously), and I imagine myself still being alone when the kids are gone–except maybe having a dog for companionship and protection.

I’m not seeking a co-captain of my ship, but I’m not ruling it out either. I still consider my best traits to be the ones I developed when I was trying to be the ideal person for someone else: love, loyalty, passion, kindness, compassion, empathy, humor. Only now, he has to be worthy of all that and to have the same traits himself.

In realizing I’m a pretty damn awesome solo pirate captain of my own ship, with a fiercely loyal and amazing crew, I think I’ve finally learned that the best way to be ready to let someone else into your life is to not only be okay with–but to love the idea of–being alone and being the kind of person you always wanted to be. For yourself.

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Sometimes things don’t go as planned

rejectionAlmost four years ago, I got my long-dreamed-for acceptance letter and had one of the happiest days of my life. Lots of events happened between then and now–things for another post. Sadly, work on my book stalled for unknown reasons, and my publisher and I have parted ways. I still think they’re a good publisher that has produced some exciting speculative, steampunk, and horror books, but it wasn’t meant to be.

When one door closes another opens, blah blah blah… Yes, I think I’m being guided down a different path. Where that path will take me, I don’t yet know. But I’m actively pursuing publication again. For now, I’m querying agents, but I’m also not ruling out the possibility of going indie. One day at a time, one baby step at a time. For those who still care, I’ll keep you posted. For anyone just finding out your weird socially awkward friend writes books, stay tuned! You’ll want to read them. 🙂

Cover Reveal!

No, it’s not for Cobalt, but now that I have your attention, today I’m spotlighting another Xchyler author, Ben Ireland – who is apparently not Irish, but Australian and lives in Texas. Awesome. So Ben’s exciting news is that his second book with the X, Kingdom City: Revolt, is going to release in a couple months, and all of us at the X are freaking out about his new cover today, the best day of the year.

I’m just going to get straight to the candy first (ahaha, candy, Halloween, you see what I did there?) and let y’all geek out a little over the book trailer:

I love the dark, edgy art theme for this series. In case you missed it, here’s the cover spread, including the back cover copy:

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About Ben Ireland:

Ben Ireland 200x240Ben churns out his prose from his home in Southeast Texas, where he lives with his wife and three children, and works in IT. When he isn’t writing, he’s either thinking about writing, or he’s driving his wife insane talking about his novel ideas. His work has appeared in two X-anthologies: “Kissed a Snake” in A Dash of Madness: a Thriller Anthology (July 2013), and “Fairykin” in Moments in Millennia: a Fantasy Anthology(January 2014). His first novel, Kingdom City: Resurrection was published in February 2014.

Find Ben on Facebook, Twitter, and his website Ben Ireland Books.

KCR_200x274Take a look at Xchyler’s other books here. Oooh, can you see why I can’t freaking wait to see what they come up with for Cobalt??

And now I’m off to get into my kids’ candy stashes have a lovely Halloween with my family!

halloween

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Arachnophobia 2: Terror at the Library

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He’s probably hunting for bookworms.

I don’t know if you’d call this arachnophobia or something else. I’m at the library so I can work on some procrastination while the kids play on their computers. Suddenly this giant wolf spider appears from beneath the armchair next to me. I don’t freak out or scream – this is a library after all (the same couldn’t be said for my daughter Emily).

I also decide not to stomp on the spider. Even though I’ve been known to drop everything and rip my shirt off screaming if I even think a spider’s on my clothes, I don’t just kill them for no reason. I’ll put them in jars with lids and leave them on the kitchen counter for the kids to discover when they get home. Then I’ll throw them in the backyard.

So this hairy little horrifying thing stops just two feet shy of my sandals and is clearly considering climbing up my leg, and I can’t scoot any farther away without crawling onto the arm of my seat. We’re at a stalemate. I can’t concentrate on my law blogs, because I have to keep one eye on the spider. I consider moving, but I’d have to unplug my laptop from the outlet on the floor and that not only risks getting my hands close to the spider, but I will win this fight, dammit. I’m not that much of a wimp.

I pull out a library receipt and use it to flick the spider away. He’s having none of it. He turns around as if to charge, and I quickly find out that my feet fit quite nicely onto the end table next to my chair.

Losing interest (and probably thinking he’s won), the spider turns around and makes for the nearest table of computers. Still uncomfortably within range in case he’s deciding to wait it out and catch me by surprise again.

Let me just mention that some of the people who sit on the computers at the library are – interesting people – and I’m all too aware that with my feet up off the floor while nervously glancing around every few seconds, I definitely fall into this category.

The spider is currently hiding out under the computer chair nearest me, but I can’t keep an eye on him without leaning over to the side and peering around the chair leg. I realize it looks as if I’m acutely interested in the feet of the man in the next chair over, who looks to be having a lot of fun on Twitter and keeps swearing under his breath.

The productive library session I’d planned is, as usual, not very productive at all. And now I’ve lost sight of the spider. Definitely time to go home.

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About as good as it gets for free

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I didn’t know what else to put here.

Since apparently I can’t have a sleek new skinny body for 2015 (at least not overnight), I settled on the next best thing and gave my blog a makeover and even turned it into a website! It’s not exactly what I have in mind for a final draft, but until I can shell out some money for a really professional banner and background, this is what it’s gonna be.

And it’s not too shabby, IMHO. Although I was ready to hang it all up after a couple hours messing around with WordPress and go back to Blogger, but I finally figured out the basics. I thought I knew how to work with WordPress and all, having posted to blogs with my job, but actually setting one up is a whole new can of crazy.

Anyway, go have a look at my other pages and all, and feel free to offer some constructive feedback. I know it’s nothing special yet, but it’s just the change I think it needed, after a few years with the old blog.

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The Weirdest Book Acceptance Story Ever

This is not a dignified tale. I wish I could say I acted professional and composed after getting my acceptance letter, or that I even had a little celebration dance, or ran outside and bugged the neighbors with a few whoops and hollers, as I’d always imagined it would go down. I certainly didn’t anticipate the explosive reaction that a lifetime of waiting, hoping, praying, and repeated disappointment would elicit in me. And I don’t know if anyone ever shared the long-awaited news of their publishing acceptance with other travelers at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere.

We were driving home at the end of our vacation in the Rocky Mountains a couple weeks ago. I had crappy cell service most of the way through Wyoming, but I got a faint signal while we ate at a rest stop out in the prairies. Just enough for some emails and texts to come in while I sat in the car waiting for Lia and Emily to finish up in the restroom. The first email I saw was the one from the publisher I’d wanted for Cobalt since the beginning: Xchyler Publishing. I would have psyched myself up for the feeling of crushing disappointment I’d grown accustomed to when I was sending out The Moongate, except I saw the email header: Welcome to the X!
I sat uncomprehending for a second, then launched out of the car shrieking. Eva thought there was a bee or something in the car (we had wasp and bee problems at the resort, including one wasp that was NOT happy that I rolled over on it in bed), so Eva ran out right behind me and didn’t realize what was going on until she heard me screaming at my mom through her car window. My poor mom, she was so stressed over the problem of finding a motel for our last night on the road; she caught on but stared at me kind of shocked, until I turned and ran flapping and yelling up the trail toward the restrooms, Eva hot on my heels and screaming even louder.
People stared. I didn’t care.
Emily said she and Lia heard us coming and wondered if we were just on our way to tell them to hurry up because we needed to go, but they didn’t know why we were screaming. I burst into the restroom and found a confused Emily standing near the sinks. The exchange went kind of like this:
Me: *UNINTELLIGIBLE SCREAMING COBALT UNINTELLIGIBLE SCREAMING*
Emily: “Wait. Cobalt got accepted?!”
Me: *SCREAM GIGGLE SHRIEK BOUNCE*
Emily: “OH MY GOSH I COULD JUST KISS YOU!!”
Emily, Eva, and me: *SCREAM TACKLE HUG JUMP UP AND DOWN SCREAM*
Lia (from the stall at the end): “What is happening out there?”
And that’s the story of how I celebrated the acceptance email from my dream publisher with my kids and strangers inside a rest stop bathroom.

Our Vacation: Dying Cars and Frisky Wasps

The story is even more awesome to me considered what we went through at the beginning of the Most Stressful Vacation Ever. I won’t say Vacation From Hell, because it turned out really nice in the end, but boy did it have more than a few glitches.
We caravanned out from Boise with the intention to stay overnight in the mountains in Utah, then continue on to our family reunion at the Winding River Resort in Colorado. Just after making it into the beehive state, my step-dad’s car broke down. After attempting for hours to urge the disabled car out of the wilderness at least (big costly mistake), the girls and I went on ahead and got a room at a scary motel in downtown Ogden. My parents finally got their car towed to a mechanic and they got a room at another (and nicer) place, since ours was now fully booked.
The next day we were supposed to have arrived at the resort, but we spent the day at a public park, many of us in tears, as we tried unsuccessfully ALL DAY to find a rental car to continue the trip. My mom was resigned to staying behind with my step-dad in Ogden while the rest of us drove up to the resort, but we didn’t want to go without her. She’d planned this trip for over five months, and my brother’s girls were so looking forward to seeing their grandma. Meanwhile, my step-dad’s car needed a new engine, and as of this moment is still at the shop in Utah waiting to be repaired. Defeated, we got another hotel room that night and went to bed not knowing what we were going to do, but pretty much certain our vacation was ruined.

The next morning, my mom made a few last calls and found a rental. Once again on the road, we made it to the resort that night. We had a wonderful time with family we don’t get to see very often, and I got some pictures like these:

A wild Lia. Sneaking in for a closer picture might have been dangerous.

The adorable cabin I stayed in with three of the girls
Partyin’ around the campfire
My brother and Lia jamming

Emily and my mom 😉

A rustic writer’s setup (I didn’t get any writing done)

Inspirations for Creepy

I love creepy. The spookier the better. In trying to figure out what to write next, I decided to give the Cobalt world a break and work on something dark and eerie (like Cobalt wasn’t?). I’m still working out the details, and trying to decide between two different story ideas that are taking shape.

Like many people, I’m inspired by other stories, music, and imagery. The following are a few of my favorite spooky inspirations. For some reason, I find myself really looking forward to Halloween now.

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is just like an old-fashioned ghost story complete with nightmarish illustrations. The movie didn’t disappoint either. Would have scared the crap out of me as a kid.

I just finished reading this one. The Ocean at the End of the Lane had its creepy moments, but was, overall, a beautiful story written by an amazing author.

I read this book as an adult and had nightmares. I can’t see the upcoming movie being as creepy as the stories in this book and its sequels, but maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Stolen Babies knows how to do creepy when it comes to music and costumes. Heavily influenced by Oingo Boingo and Tim Burton, this band brings graveyards or nightmare carnivals to mind. Grubbery is about a couple of hillbilly cannibals who get a dose of karma when they find out their dinner doesn’t like being dug out of their graves. 🙂

One of my friends on Facebook posted this great link on a gorgeous photo project that brings Grimms’ fairy tales to life, and provides more than enough inspiration for surreal settings and spooky forests.

And then…

Like her sister before her, this creepy 8-year-old left a bunch of scary photos on my phone that she edited herself.

She also touched up this one of her sister, which is creepy in a different way.

Do you have any other spooky or disturbing books, movies, or pictures to add to my list?

Meanwhile, Cobalt is on an editor’s desk awaiting approval or rejection and my fingers are cramping up from weeks of crossing them. Cross some of yours for me too, please!