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Archive for January, 2013

When we last saw our heroine–that would be me–she was suffering from panic attacks.

I got over them. Lily is fine staying home alone. But that Friday…

The hubs and I have decided that we really don’t ever want to cook a meal again unless it’s something fabulous that we really want. We’re so over asking “what’s for dinner” and having each of us just go *blah*. Dinner has gotten old, cooking the same thing over and over again. Not to mention that it’s actually turning out cheaper for just the two of us to damned well go grab something. So! We had sub sandwiches from a place I don’t really care for, but it was different.

And it was *blah*. More *blah* than usual. Maybe the sandwich was bad?

My stomach felt tender. I commented on this and the hubs kinda nodded the same.  This was about 7:pm.

By 1:30am Saturday morning I was struck with an illness so vile I dare not give details. I will write about murder and mayhem all day, but I will not gross you out with these details. You’re welcome, trust me.

The hubs was sick, too, but not like I was. We had different symptoms, but thought we’d gotten a bug and it had just manifested differently. By Monday I felt fine. Seriously. I was over it, with maybe just a sniffle left. He was still “sick”, but okay. We both went to work. One of my co-workers said he’d been sick all weekend, so now I know who to blame, but! I’m okay at this point, so is he, so I let him live.

Monday night I felt like death warmed over.

flu

Hero that I am, I went to work Tuesday, Dayquil in hand, and let me tell ya! Liquid Dayquil, real liquid Dayquil and not the fake stuff, tastes like Satan’s piss. But I drank it and stayed at work, miserable as all hell. Wednesday was another story.

I went to work and couldn’t string a coherent sentence. I was trying to discuss something with a co-worker and finally told him I was just too damned sick to get my head straight. I was dizzy, had the chills and yet was sweating, and couldn’t hold my head up. I went home from work after only two hours. The vileness struck again.

I called my mother-in-law because I was hysterical and I wanted my mommy. She has a friend who is a nurse. That friend said I had the flu. I scoffed and went back to bed.

At some point in the day I called my BOSS to take me to the hospital because I was in so much pain and slap out of my head. There was no way I could drive with my head swimming, clutching my stomach. I barely remember being there for two hours and leaving, only having gone through triage because the ER was backed up with people just like me (and ambulances like crazy). I do remember the nurse saying the words “super flu” when she checked me in, and my boss telling me not to come back to work until next Monday when she dropped me back off at home. I was appalled! I DO NOT MISS WORK. I just don’t have that in me, but how could I argue? I couldn’t. I felt like I was dying.

I remember telling her I’d had the flu one Christmas/NYE and on the other side of the flu–because the nausea didn’t go away, I went to the doc–found out I was pregnant. That was nearly twenty-two years ago. ((Yeah, ha-ha. Funny then, but let’s give that thought a HELL NO, now. Been there, done that. I’ll pass.))

That’s about all I remember clearly from Wednesday through Friday. Except that the vile came back Friday morning for a few hours while I was on the phone with my boss, trying to answer some work questions. Because, yanno, that’s how it is. Work-a-holic, me.

The hubs? He was “sick” and still is, didn’t miss a day of work. How he’s managed not to catch the flu from me is a miracle.

I’m obviously better today, but folks… this stuff ain’t no joke and better is relative. I still feel like I have a really, really bad cold, and I’m worn slap out. You will know I’m near death’s door because of two things: I stay home from work and/or I miss buying a book on release day. I did both this week.

I’ve been reminded of my age–the age where you should get a fucking flu shot every year.

Get a flu shot. Wash your hands. Don’t try to play hero, stay your ass home from work, send sick co-workers home, and don’t spread this around. The business will not fall apart while you are at home getting well and everyone will thank you. Yes, I said it, work-a-holic, me.

Now, if I can only feel well enough to go get that book.

ETA: flu.gov

Seriously.  Take care of yourselves.

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One panic attack at a time.

Appropriate for today, I found this article on Spreading a Little Anxiety… Info and said, “This is so me. To-day. Right now.”

Not that it was a shock or anything to find myself nodding and nodding and nodding even harder as I read the article, because I have generalized social anxiety disorder.

*boom*

I know I do and have known, as in an official diagnosis, for over a decade. I’ve often told people that the reason I don’t talk a lot in person (or on Facebook/Twitter) is that a closed mouth gathers no foot. That being touched on in that article actually made me laugh. As the article stated, it’s not that I’m anti-social at all, I’d just rather stay home, shut up, and feel safe in the knowledge that I said/did nothing stupid. I also have a touch of agoraphobia–which means I have a hard time being… well, anywhere but home, or anywhere I don’t consider a “safe place”. There’s not too many of those for me, so my travels are limited. Fun, huh?

But I also have panic attacks and, dude, if you think GSAD is shitty, try not being able to breathe because, out of the blue, you get it in your head in .005 seconds that the worst possible thing is gonna happen and there’s not a damned thing you’re able to do about it. It can be about anything and happens for no reason at all. A switch gets flipped and I’m doneI’m probably one of the most well-functioning nut jobs you’ll ever meet, but sometimes it just cannot be stopped, no matter how I try. It touches every aspect of my life, from work, to writing, to trying to just live day-to-day.

Article quote: The mind of a person with this type of anxiety shows no mercy. Each day is filled with criticism and negative assumptions. And they rule that person’s life.

Unless you, too, have an anxiety disorder… you, dear readers, have no fucking clue how accurate a statement that is.

For instance… today.

Lily. My gator. My love. My eight month old Pittie puppy.

I left her at home today.

Outside.

In the back yard.

Alone.

See, normally I’d take her to work with me if no one was going to be home, but… just no. Not today. Day job = Hell right now. Lily was with me at work Monday and Tuesday, but I can’t bring Lily to work every single day. Just… no. While she’s quiet when it’s just us in my office, the minute someone else comes in she’s all goofy-puppy and wanting to love evvvvvverybody. It’s a bit much. The Hubs got a well deserved promotion, so he works days now. She’s gonna have to start staying home alone.

This is day one and it’s killing me. I keep repeating she’s fine over and over in my head, but I don’t believe it.

We have another dog to keep her company and they get along great. The gate’s locked, yard’s fenced, we even have the koi pond drained right now for repairs and spring cleaning, so there will be no drowning dog, no matter what my brain says. She should be fine, right?

No.

In my mind, because I left her alone today, she’s gonna end up like the poor dog I passed on the side of the road this morning that was so beautiful… and so not alive anymore. Upon seeing that dog, I almost turned around and picked Lily up. That dog was Lily and I was awful, horrible for leaving her home.  Or… goddess forbid, someone could steal her. There’s always missing dog signs in the neighborhood. Just the thought makes me sick.

My husband says I worry too much. Well, I can’t help it.

Anxiety rules, but I also know anxiety lies, and still, I can’t help it. 

I’ll be home in twenty minutes….

*hit save on the blog–drive home*

~

The speed limit’s thirty-five. I can do forty. Goes up to forty-five, I can do sixty–screw the ticket. My hands squeeze the steering wheel so hard that the hard plastic actually gives a little. Speed limit drops again, idiot in front of me goes five-under and I wanna drive my mini-van straight up his tailpipe. Getting near where I saw the dog this morning. My stomach turns. There’s a special place in Shambala for whomever collected that dog. Thank you, and bless that poor baby’s heart. I reach the stoplight by my favorite gas station, close to the house. The light is red and my eyes start to sting, my chest feels tight. These people need to MOVE. Get to the four way by the house–screw you and your horn, asshole, I’m going out of turn. Whip into the yard, eyes are filling near to spilling, leave everything in the van. Door open, alarm alert is going off and it gets ignored. Turn the corner into the kitchen and there… with her mushy little face pressed up against the glass in the back door window… is my girl.

Finally, the tears fall and my hand presses to the glass for a second before I open the door… and the burglar alarm goes off while I’m laughing and hugging my perfectly fine psycho-nut of a dog.

And that’s how it is, folks. And how it’ll probably be for a few days. Until I get it in my head that she’s fine at home without me.

One day, one panic attack, at a time.

She doesn't look like she missed me.

She doesn’t look like she missed me, but GOSH, is she dirty!!

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Fifty New Smells

I read somewhere that a dog needs fifty new smells a day in order to be happy.

Really?

If my dog caught fifty new smells in a day I think her already hyper-spaz brain would fry and she’d develop a twitch. If fifty new smells suddenly appeared in the sphere of our lives, I’d wonder that the cats I’ve been trying to herd hadn’t finally curled up under the house and died.

Herding cats = trying to manage all the things done in the name of the chaotic decision I made two years ago to attempt to be traditionally published.

Some days, I embrace the decision with everything I am. Some days, I want to tell it to fuck right off. Learning and processing at least fifty-billion new things (smells?) about the publishing industry in the last two-ish years…  *gaaaaaaaaah* From writing advice to advice on agents…

Holy balls, I’m the one with the twitch. 

Show, don’t tell. Hmm. The new release, trad-pub book I’m currently reading is slap full of tell. Great voice, I’m enjoying it as a whole, but so full of tell. Needless to say, I’m confused by this because ‘show, don’t tell’ gets pounded into your head at every turn. I know a crit group that would slaughter this book, yet there it is, Big Five (Four?) endorsed. (For the record, I make an effort to show first and tell only when I must.)

Don’t pay anyone to pro-edit your MS before submitting, because agents want to see your voice, not someone’s edit of your voice. Hmm. I’ve had an agent I totally respect tell me different, where I’ve seen other agents turn their nose up at the idea of a pre-edited sub. I’m not so sure I’d want to have it edited before sub because then it’s not your work you’re subbing. It’s been altered–it’s not your own. It seems like cheating, because if you sell the first edited book, when you write the second book and send it to your new editor–not someone you first paid to edit–it won’t be presented on the same level. Wouldn’t that new editor then say, “WTF happened? The first book was… different. Let’s, um… reconsider this author’s contract.”

You need an eye-popping opening line/paragraph and to just dive straight into the action, or you’re doing it wrong and we don’t want it. Period. I don’t understand the need to be beat over the head as soon as you crack the book. I’d rather get a sense of setting with good pacing, and smooth into the action. I’ve been told by readers that they agree, so where did this trend come from?

Prologues are the Devil. Hmm. I see a prologue right here. Not in my MS, but another new release, trad-pub book in my Kindle that I still need to read. I peeked. I’m not a fan of prologues unless they’re really well done.

If you can’t write a query or a synopsis, then how can your MS be any good? The query, I’m pretty okay with, but a synopsis is a spawn of Satan in my eyes and the ability to write or not write one well shouldn’t be an indication of your talent. I can’t understand calculus for the life of me, but I count beans at work all week for a $500k a year company and I still manage to do it well.

I will not even start on self-promotion, social media, platform, and branding, or the fact that I have gay/bi characters–which creates a whole different set of frustrations.

~

Do you understand why I have developed a twitch?

It’s hard to work while twitching. And when distracted by “smells”.

~

So, really, what’s a gal to do? I took a year to write and actually study writing–ignoring fairly everything else–then I took almost a year to study the industry, polish up the MS, and entered a contest or two. You know where it got me? A damned good MS, a workable query, no synopsis at all, a few bald spots, and the realization that every aspect of publishing is subjective (and subject to change at a moment’s notice, but that’s another blog).

I’ll share part of a note I was left one afternoon by my husband when a contest I entered was found to be a bust. Apparently, he listens when I rant. I carry this note in my wallet.

I know you will do well with your book. It just has to land in the right pair of hands/eyes.

Everything’s subjective.

That’s my one absolute truth of it all, and what keeps me trying.

~

Don’t mistake this blog post as bitching because it’s not. I only wrote it to show other writers that what they’re experiencing in their own head is normal. The frustration, the confusion, it’s all valid. I was sitting smack in the middle of wondering what to do next because there’s so much information to process, so many paths to take, and it was overwhelming. I’d reached critical mass and my brain was gonna explode. Yours will, too, trust me. When that happens, take a break like I did. Publishing will not collapse while you’re taking a breather and you will thank yourself.

The industry is different from twenty years ago when I wrote my first story, which is why I think I have such a hard time processing the insanity. Perhaps younger writers  adapt more easily because they’ve never known it to be any different. I hope so, but it’s no wonder so many just quit. Or self-publish. Whatever you do, if you really want it, don’t quit out of frustration. One day the “smells” won’t be new and so overwhelming. I keep telling myself that, anyway.

~

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

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Twelfth Night

Also known as the first day of Carnival, Carnival Season, Mardi Gras season–which is acceptable, or more commonly the often misused as all encompassing, Mardi Gras. I’m a pain in the ass when it comes to the terminology, because Mardi gras is French for Fat Tuesday, which is a day–the final day of Carnival, the day before Ash Wednesday–not a season. I’ve had enough conversations with New Orleans locals and people who have grown up with the concept of Carnival to know that nobody really cares what you call it, as long as you laissez les bon temps rouler! I think the only reason I care is that it gives me a reason to be grumpy.

It’s cold, windy, and rainy in the French Quarter today. Everyone looks perfectly miserable, ducking their chins into their coat collars as they step from the protective walls of buildings to cross the street, the music from a karaoke bar in the background. I know I’d be perfectly happy even if I was soaked to the bone.

How do I know what the weather is like? *BOOM* My window home. I watch it. A lot.

A reporter from Horse and Hound hurriedly flips through his notes and says, “But, Astrea, you’re not from New Orleans.”

No, I’m not, but tell that to my soul; the one I left behind so many years ago; the one that sings a siren’s song for my return… while playing a washboard.

All that said to say I could have done without the realization that today is Twelfth Night.

It’s cold, windy, and rainy here today.

It’s not the same.

 

 

 

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Songwriters

Yesterday’s blog made me think of something that’s come to my mind before: song writing is the ultimate interpretive flash fiction–three to six minutes of condensed prose, and every single person who listens will take away something different.

Song writers are my most envied writers because they have an even more extreme short time than storytellers who write in words by the thousands to get it right and hook you, or you’re gone.

I don’t mean ‘baby-baby-baby’ sung auto-tuned over and over again, but if that’s your thing, more power to ya. I mean the likes of Elton John, Gordon Lightfoot, or Don Henley/Glenn Frey when Don’s gone through a rough break-up. (Come on, who doesn’t miss things on the radio like the gut-wrenching Wasted Time out of Don? He needs a good break-up in order to produce. Someone send him a memo.)  We listen to their songs and some of what they’re saying is obvious, but I can bet you what I feel when I hear them isn’t what you feel. And that’s just awesome.

Ok, I had to stop and erase all my examples and find new ones because they were Tony Lucca stuff and that would just blow the mischief. 😉 

I hear The Backstreet Boys, I’ll Be The One, and I’m seriously rockin out because it brings back memories of concerts with my daughter and has nothing to do with the lyrics.

*Hi, I’m Astrea, and I’m a Backstreet fanatic. Hi, Astrea!*

Lucia Micarelli’s (I want to have Lucia’s babies, gods!), Kashimir, and Apocalyptica’s Hall of the Mountain King makes me think of my Faerie Dragons. So does Drowning Pool’s Let The Bodies Hit The Floor. Odd song for a faerie? Not by me.

I hear Disturbed, Down With The Sickness, or Foghat, Slow Ride, and I think of strippers.

Long story. *snicker*

Is there a point to this blog? No. LOL! I’m just trying to have a little fun.

Lily-dog is trapped in the house with me because it’s raining and she’s driving me bat-shit-crazy, and my confidence, my drive, has taken a nose dive this morning because I’m too distracted by life in general. Which means I’m playing my ‘muse song’ to try and wake up that drunken drag queen. What’s my muse song? The one the bitch sings me when this stuff happens?

I don’t knowwwwww. Gosh. It’s just the way it is.

~

Never asked for anything? *PFFT* Riiiiight. That shit’s debatable.

ETA: It drove me bat-shit until I could get back here and correct something. Bernie Taupin wrote the majority of Elton John’s lyrics. I knew this when I wrote the blog, it just went straight over my head.

OCD anyone?

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The Dedication Page

I have a group of friends on Facebook and we have… interesting… conversations. These conversations can go from expressions of support in some pretty damned serious family stuff, all the way to the finer points of pet zombies vs. a pet bigfoot. This morning one of them mentioned the dedication page in novels and wondered if anyone else ever read them and wondered wussup. Another commented that they “often say more about the author than the bio if you pay close enough attention.”

I snickered because my dedication page in OW sends me into fits of giggles, smirks, and chair dancing.

Tony Lucca is by far one of my favorite singers/musicians ever since I found him on The Voice. Two of his performances inspired part of my dedication. (My cat, Kal, inspired the other part.) Nah, I’m not gonna share the dedication. What fun would that be? I’ll leave the clues to figuring it out here and spend some time listening to the songs because they push me and make me want to finish what I’m writing just so I can leave that dedication behind and one day have one less cryptic.

So! While I’m off today writing whichever book ends up calling to me, I’ll leave you with Tony’s music. I’ll be chair dancing. And smirking.

~

Sorry about the embedding being disabled, but these really are the best versions of the videos.

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*shhh*… Happy New Year.

*shhh*

*shhh*

It’s however long after the ball dropped on 2012 and I’m listening to Lily snore like a freight train.

This is the first NYE I’ve been awake at/after midnight in many years. It’s also the first time in many years that I was the only person in the house when the clock struck twelve. It’s called a job–my husband has a relatively new one, so he’s low man on the totem pole and not here. But that’s okay. I got my kiss at 11:30 as he walked out the door, still sent text messages at midnight even if he’d only been gone thirty minutes. My daughter saved my sanity and didn’t go out tonight, so I’m good with knowing she’s asleep at her place. I’m alone, yeah, but I’m still spending the evening with someone I love. The sleeping, snoring freight train.

Ask me if I care about the dirty paws on the bed. Please do, because that’ll be a no.

I suppose that while I’m up I should be thinking about resolutions, but *pfft*, I only have one and that’s to try and stop driving myself bat-shit crazy over things I cannot control. There’s things I want to do in the coming year, but they’re not resolutions, more things I’ve been mulling over while I’ve been drifting in Lorcet Land for six days with my missing fang situation.

That abandoned, rough opening line I had for NaNo this year? There’s a horror story there, just gotta write it, keep it no more than novella length, and find it a home because it won’t let me not.

Book two in the urban fantasy Luce-verse is outlined, 7k into progress.

World #2, of which I rarely speak, started knocking on my skull pretty hard while I was watching a series on medieval queens of England (I’m a royal freak, sue me). So hard, I have the opening chapter outlined in my head. Fantasy, without the ‘urban’, I think, and full of faeries. It can/does crossover into the Luce-verse, so that’s a plan.

Revamp the blog. Still pondering that one.

On the personal side… quit bein’ such a fuckin’ bum. Take better care of me; lose some weight; get my hair did.

That’s enough, doncha think? I do–yanno, the whole bat-shit crazy thing.

So, hello, 2013.

Play nice.

Lily says it's time to go to bed.

Lily says it’s time to go to sleep.

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