I’m not going to kid you – 2015’s been kicking my butt. Maybe not the year itself, more what I’ve been doing with myself this year.
The answer: Not a whole hell of a lot.
The reason: Trying (with various degrees of non-effectiveness) to get through this multi-month roller-coaster of depression.
This particular bout of the blues hasn’t followed my usual pattern, which is: Grit my teeth through the holidays, the anniversary of Don’s death (January 19th) and my birthday (February 2nd). If I make it through all that, I’m normally home free, except for the odd week here or there.
This year I got past all the stressful dates, and then – BAM! It hit me hard in mid-March, and I’m still trying to climb out of it.
I haven’t been this depressed for such a long stretch of time in ages. Between my antidepressants and medical cannabis, I’m usually able to hold it at bay, though I never really escape it. Even when I’m feeling cheerful, I know the darkness is still out there, waiting to pounce.
I also know that I should be feeling a greater sense of urgency about taking care of myself, making sure I meet my writing goals, trying harder to get my work done…
And yet, I don’t.
You know that tingly feeling you get all over, that sense of anticipation when you know something good’s coming?
I don’t have that anymore. In fact, I haven’t felt that way in years.
I don’t get excited about anything anymore. Life, for me, has become a sequence of events I don’t particularly enjoy or not enjoy. My reaction to everything these days is, mostly, “meh.”
Which is why I’ve been working on this second Seth/Bilal book since February. It’s not that I think it’s a bad book, but it is way different from anything I’ve written before, so naturally I’m nervous. I’d hoped to get it out by May, then June, then last month, and now here it is, August, and still no book.
I’m sorry to have let you all down, but I’m more sorry about letting myself down. I don’t usually have this much trouble living up to my goals. I will do better, though – I promise.
Right now, my goal is to get the book out in time for GayRomLit in San Diego this October.
Well, you know the rest! Sorry I’ve been so scarce, but I’ve been neck-deep in this new Courtland book since…February? March? I can’t remember the last time it took me this long to finish a manuscript. This story just doesn’t want to come easily.
I am still working on the manuscript, but I’m getting close to the end. I don’t want to mislead you all by ann0uncing a release date and then blowing past it, like I did in June. I’m doing everything I can to have the paperback ready by GRL.
As a matter of fact, I just got the new cover today!
This novel’s different from anything I’ve written (solo) before. I’m not sure how to describe it, other than saying the last third of this book is some of the most emotionally intense stuff I’ve ever written. It definitely raises the bar on putting my characters through the wringer!
Yes, there are some dangly plot thingies that remain unresolved at the end, just like in the first book. I’ve answered some of those questions, while raising even bigger ones. (That’s what she said!)
In fact, the major event that happens in the last third of the book will come back to haunt the characters big-time in book #3.
WOW. I honestly hadn’t realized I’d neglected to post since last March. But y’know, shit happens. In my case, it’s happened for about two years!
Actually, more like three – if we’re getting technical, five. First, the cumulative emotional upheaval of two separate professional partnerships that didn’t work out, then realizing I’m not physically able to keep up with most able-bodied people anymore…
It wears you down, all the depression and stress. In fact, it reached a breaking point this past winter.
When I made it through Christmas, the anniversary of Don’s death and my *mumblety-mumble* birthday without a major depressive episode, I thought I was home free…
But that was just tempting fate. One morning around the middle of February, I woke up and burst into tears. That was the beginning of a major depressive episode that lasted until…
Well, I’m still trying to pull myself out of it. I’ve started working on my latest manuscript again. Progress on it carried on slow as molasses while I spent twelve weeks sleeping twelve hours a day, and the rest so weepy and depressed, I couldn’t get out of bed anyway.
But I’m feeling better now, thanks to medical marijuana and my goofy old tuxedo cat. My sweet boy Timothy just loves to keep me entertained.
Quick update: As of now, it looks like I won’t be attending RainbowCon in Tampa this July. My roommate’s cancelled, plus airfares are prohibitively expensive. Last year I spent $300-400, but this year it’s looking more like $600-700.
However, barring complications, I plan to attend GRL in San Diego this October. Can’t miss the first GayRomLit in my home state!
I haven’t posted anything lately, because… well, there’s not much to say. I’ve blasted my way through the first precarious 10K of the new Courtland book, and when I figure out the best way to start Bannon’s Gym #4, I’ll get going on that one, too.
For the next few weeks (months?) I probably won’t be around much. I need to be alone to sort through some stuff. I’ve got a lot of baggage I want to leave behind. So, I think I’ll just be a hermit for a while. An opera-loving, cat-petting, tea-quaffing, book-writing hermit.
In other news… I’m signed up for GRL in San Diego this fall. Finally, they’re having it on my side of the country! The weather should still be nice, so I won’t be freezing my butt off like I did in Chicago.
Getting back on a regular sleep schedule’s been tricky. I do okay for a few days, then, like last week, I’ll go to sleep on, say, Wednesday night and wake up Friday morning.
No, I’m not kidding. I spent half of a week from last Friday thinking it was Thursday, and not realizing it until I saw my DVR had already recorded my Thursday night shows.
But that’s not the whole problem.
My energy level’s been in the toilet for a while now. Most days I sit on the couch in my pajamas trying to write – accent on “trying.” My brain’s become as sluggish as the rest of me. I sit there staring at the page, looking for the right words which, more often than not, refuse to materialize.
And on those rare days like yesterday, when I actually feel like getting dressed and going out to a lunch and a movie, I spend the next day exhausted.
I’m starting to wonder if I have chronic fatigue syndrome, or something even worse. I’d go to the doctor, but honestly, I’m afraid to find out.
Tonight I watched the dreaded 50 Shades movie – I cannot tell a lie: I downloaded it off a torrent site. It fluctuated between being nowhere near as bad as I expected to being five times worse than I expected.
I’d never seen Dakota Johnson in anything before. I found her performance to be the best thing about the movie. She does some real acting here, which couldn’t have been easy – rumor has it that she and her co-star didn’t get along. I spent the first few minutes going, “How can I watch this? I used to lust after her dad back in the ’80’s.” But somewhere during the interview scene, she enchanted me.
Sadly, that cannot be said of her co-star – and I actually like Jamie Dornan. He’s done a great job on The Fall, but here he was a very pretty hunk of wood. His expression never changed – for two whole hours, he wore this smarmy little smirk that fluctuated between cute and sarcastic. I wish they’d let him keep his beard – that baby face of his makes me want to put him over my knee.
I don’t know whether to blame the script, or if this role was simply beyond Dornan’s meager acting skills, but this could’ve been so much better! I’m sure the scriptwriter realized extracting a coherent story out of EL James’ glorified fanfic was a tall order. Still, I applaud her for giving us a few snarky comments from Ana so we could all laugh at appropriate moments too.
OTOH, it’s the first BDSM-themed movie I’ve ever seen – that wasn’t a documentary – that addresses safewords, limits, etc. So, that’s a step in the right direction. I especially liked the way Ana’s journey took her from shrinking violet to assertive, empowered woman. Dakota Johnson did a really good job showing us that, and for giving Ana a brain and a sense of humor.
Okay, I haven’t read the books – nor do I intend to – so can you all enlighten me as to what happened to Christian that “made [him] this way.” I know we had that Big Confession scene with Christian telling Ana that his birth mom was a druggie hooker, and what he saw in their household scarred him for life, but… is that it?
What I mean is – is he traumatized from the whole experience (well, duh – but bear with me), or was there one particular incident that imprinted on his psyche before he even had a psyche? IDK, it kinda feels like they’re going for the pat answer instead of the real one. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments!
All in all, I give it 3 1/2 Kitties!
And believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to the sequel! Will Ana return? (*snort* Three guesses…) Will Dornan get a clue and play Christian as a human being with a problem, instead of an uptight control freak who won’t even let his girlfriend touch him. (Oh, and get yourself a dialogue coach, dude – your accent keeps slipping!)
*sings* How can you mend a broken heart / How can a loser ever wiiiiiiiiiin! / Please help me mend my broken heart / And let me liiiiiiiive again!!
When the words don’t want to flow, I try to kick-start my brain by reading. In the last week or so, I’ve stumbled across a bunch of eye-opening articles and blog posts…
Dying To Be Free is a long, enlightening read. I had no idea there was an actual medical treatment for heroin addiction. However, I’m not surprised at the pushback from the DEA and for-profit twelve-step programs, who for the most part have kept this drug far away from the people who desperately need it.
Here’s how I propose ending this pus-encrusted mess called the War on Drugs…
Legalize everything for adults over the age of 21–booze, drugs, prostitution, all of it. And in one fell swoop, we’ll have put every drug dealer in this country out of business, not to mention cutting overdose fatalities by a wide margin. (And don’t tell me it’ll never work. You ever been to Amsterdam?)
Decriminalize addiction, too. Twelve-step programs don’t work for opioid addicts, because 1) Using heroin, morphine, etc., brings about a physical change in the addict’s brain. Trying to stay sober by sheer will power is admirable, but by itself it’s no match for the addiction, plus 2) Most twelve-step programs don’t allow the use of maintenance drugs (like methadone from the 60’s-70’s, or Suboxone, the new medical treatment for addicts referenced above) and treat addiction–and relapses–as a moral failing.
And most people in this country have been brainwashed to believe that addicts are all criminals. Not the case, I’m afraid. Believe it or not, most of the addicts I talked to (research of my own, y’know) were regular folks–the mom helping her kids into the car, Mr. Nelson across the way over there, and that poor kid down the street who has convulsions. Most of them got hooked after an injury that, even post-recovery, still required heavy painkillers. None of them set out to become an addict, but when your choice is between lying on the floor in agony, or getting a few hours’ relief from that agony… Well, I would’ve done the same.
Of course, some addicts are criminals, over and above their drug-related activities. But the ones who aren’t–the ones no one would’ve guessed were addicts in a million years–the ones who want to be free from their addiction, can now seek out medical treatment without risking arrest.
Treating addicts like patients, not felons… What a concept!
But seriously, doesn’t that sound like a far more compassionate world than the one we currently occupy?
Thanks for indulging my impromptu rant, everyone. And now, back to more articles you should be reading…
I saw myself in both of these short pieces. Starting a new book is always a challenge for me, with that tiny, shrill voice in my head constantly yelling: Not good enough! Do it again!
I’m my own worst critic, always worried about not measuring up. Not getting any favorable reviews. Or the really big worry: Not selling any books.
I’ve been reading a lot of self-promotion books lately. Most of ‘em are “Follow These Six Easy Steps to Kindle Best-sellerdom!” spiels with ten or more pages of back matter plugging the author’s other books, as well as his “consulting” business. (And guess what? He’s a PR guy who specializes in working with indie authors. Imagine that!)
The tome I found both the most useful – and the most demoralizing – was Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Unlike those other self-promo books, this one doesn’t pretend to give you all the answers, but what wisdom there is here she’s gleaned from thirty-plus years in the publishing biz. So, y’know, I figured I’d better listen.
Self-promo’s a long game built on persistence, hard work and networking. It encompasses everything from your website to how you interact with readers and other authors on social media.
And I’ve done very little of that lately, which may be part of the reason for the sudden drop-off in my sales. I was busy publishing up a storm last year, so, consequently, I backed off from social media. Only so many hours in a day, right? I was never a social media star, before or now. Truth? No matter what kind of crowd I’m mingling in, I always feel like the stupidest person in the room. So I’ve tried to keep socializing, online and off, to a minimum. But now I need to make connections with readers again – or, for most of you, the first time.”
For those of you who really are reading me for the first time – WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? - Rest assured, I don’t go off on medical cannabis-induced rants like this every day. I’m normally a wham-bam kind of blogger – log on, paste in my pre-written post, hit Publish, and I’m done.
As for my long-suffering, long-neglected blog here… Well, she deserves to be treated like a lady. All those one or two minute in-and-outs have got the poor, faithful girl all out of sorts.
Me: Don’t worry, baby. *pets blog* I’m gonna take good care of you. I’m gonna make up for my neglect by spending a lot of time with you very, very soon. How’s that sound?
Blog: *goes ‘wah-wah-wah-wha-wha’ like all the unseen adult characters in a Charlie Brown cartoon.
Me: I knew you’d understand. *lays a big wet one on blog’s, um… then slaps blog’s ass* Now get in there and make me a sammich!
Okay, I’m sure some of you found that offensive, and the ones who didn’t – WHAT THE FUCK’S WRONG WITH YOU? DON’T I EVER GET A SHARE OF ALL THAT FAKE OUTRAGE? WHY CAN’T THE NEXT KERFUFFLE BE ABOUT ME FOR A CHANGE?
[This is me, being completely serious. The last few paragraphs were a joke, okay? A really bad joke that I’m going to post anyway, because… Fuck it, it’s after two in the morning and I want to go to bed.]
PLEASE FOLKS, DO NOT START A KERFUFFLE!
It feels like the height of presumption to even type those words, but better to have it on record, right?
One last thing…
I’ve been trying to think of something special to offer my readers – something they can’t find anywhere else…
How many of you remember that movie from a few years ago – Julie & Julia, with Meryl and Amy Adams? Adams’ character decides to cook every single recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking – and more importantly, she blogged about it.
So I was thinking… Maybe I’ll write my next opus – Courtlands, coming right up! – here on my blog. You all can be my cheering section, and in return, I’ll be posting snippets, scenes…maybe even a chapter of the work in progress. Who knows – you might be able to charm a secret or two out of me.
Okay, just to be clear, I won’t be actually drafting the book in this space – this ain’t GoogleDocs. (And before anyone asks, I fucking hate GoogleDocs, so no, we’re not doing this over there.)
What I mean is, I’ll drop by and post my daily word count at the end of the day. (End of Day = Whenever the Fuck I Decide to Go to Bed.) You all get exclusive sneak peaks – a look under the hood, if you will – of a work in progress. You guys can help me stay on schedule, keep me producing new wordage every day. You all up for it?
Let’s get to work tomorrow night, okay? I would say tonight, but I just spent three hours on this essay, it’s 2:30 in the AM and my comfortably numb, sleepy bod needs to hit the hay.)
[Thanks for sticking it out, folks! I didn’t mean to veer off into tl;dr-land, but the muse is with me tonight, and I wasn’t about to disobey! :)]
Stumbled across this silly but fun meme this evening. (Yup, still looking for reasons to avoid writing…)
1. How old will you be in 3 birthdays? 58.
2. Do you think you’ll be married by then? God, I hope not!
3. What do you look forward to most in the next 2 months? Starting the next book in the Courtland series and the next book of Bannon’s Gym. I wasn’t planning on writing another BG book, but everybody wants Aaron to get his HEA, so, okay, twist my arm…
4. Do you prefer shoes, socks, or bare feet? My husband didn’t like me wearing socks to bed, but my tootsies get SO COLD at night, even in the summer.
5. When was the last time you cried? What do you mean, ‘last time’? I never stop!
6. What was the last thing you drank? Green tea.
7. Favorite ice cream? Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream from Ben & Jerry’s. But I don’t dare eat it very often.
8. What is your favorite number? Whatever age I can get away with claiming…
9. What’s your favorite color? Blue or green. Depends on the shade.
10. What Jelly do you put on your PB&J? Apricot-pineapple.
11. What location(s) is/are on your bucket travel list? I’d love to take a summer off and go on the opera/symphony tour version of a pub-crawl all through Europe. Italy, France, the UK, Germany… Hell, I’d never come back!
12. How many glasses of water a day do you drink on average? I usually drink about a liter of water per day.
13. What do you drink in the morning? Green tea or fruit juice.
14. Would you rather kiss someone with or without tongue? Depends whether I like him/her or not.
15. Do you sleep on a certain side of the bed? I got in the habit of sleeping on the left-hand side of the bed when my husband was alive. Even though I have a bed big enough to stretch out in now, I still climb in from the left-hand side.
16. Do you know how to play poker? I prefer blackjack.
17. What’s so good about Fridays? Bill Maher’s on Fridays. So is Banshee.
18. Any plans for this weekend? Other than sitting around worrying about my next project and berating myself for not starting it yet? Not a thing!
19. Do you eat out or at home more often? Home, mostly. I haven’t run out of canned food yet…
20. How big is your TV? It’s a 42 inch plasma screen. I probably should dust it – the guys on Black Sails looked a little fuzzy tonight.
21. Ever stolen a street sign? No, but if you dare me…
22. Do you keep a piggy bank? Not since I was ten.
23. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again? Yes…
24. Have you ever been in an ambulance? NO! *knocks wood*
25. Do you prefer an ocean or a pool? Pool. I haven’t waded into the ocean since I saw Jaws.
26. Do you prefer a window seat or an aisle seat? Aisle seat, please. So I don’t have to make everyone in my row get up whenever I need to pee.
27. Do you know how to drive a stick shift? Nope.
28. What is your favorite thing to spend money on? DVD’s and books.
29. Do you wear any jewelry 24/7? No. I don’t even wear a watch anymore.
30. Do you speak any other language? I studied French in high school and college, but hell if I can remember any of it now.
31. Can you roll your tongue? No.
32. Last person you lay in bed with? My kitty-cat, Timothy. (He is SO a person!)
33. Do you sleep with stuffed animals? Nope. Timothy wouldn’t like the competition.
34. Do you still have clothes from when you were little? No.
35. What is the color of your bedroom wall? White, or cream-colored. I can’t really tell.
36. Do you shut off the water when you brush your teeth? No.
37. Do you currently hate someone?
Hate’s a strong word. I used to be consumed by it, until I realized it was poisoning my life. So… no, I don’t hate anyone, even though I can think of one person out there who never wants to hear from me again. And that’s fine. We haven’t spoken since our parents died, and frankly, it’s a relief. My life hasn’t been the least bit diminished for not having my sister in it. If she wants to go on believing I’m some kind of monster, let her. Her insults stopped having any effect on me years ago.
38. Do you currently have a crush on someone?
39. What are you listening to? A live recording of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, with Anna Netrebko. I’m seeing it on The Met Live in HD broadcast in a couple of weeks.