Worlds, words, and more.

Photo by Shane Leonard.png I have one of my new favorite writers on the show today. Kat Howard is quite the wordsmith. I started reading her short stories which you definitely go check out. If you go to her site you can find them there. Her stories led me to her recent release Roses and Rot. Wow! I really love this book. It hits home in some ways but it also just mystified me. It’s one those stories where every line is tight and beautiful and the story stays with you after you read it.

Due to my inability to stop dissecting a character last night, horribly cliche dreams about being  hired to hunt myself, and my cat’s need to eat at 3 o’clock in the morning I did not sleep well. I’m making gradual strides to rid my zombie persona as the day carries on.

First off, I’m going to tell you all to go to the comic shop because there are awesome titles you should treat yourself to. I talked about Ladycastle last week. Delilah S. Dawson does an amazing job and it is officially out in stores out from Boom Studios. Vertigo/DC’s Lucifer is now in Richard Kadrey’s hands. Issue 14 is fun and dark and I love it. So it’s worth the grab for sure. Of course if you aren’t reading Monstress yet you should start. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda hit it through the moon. It’s dark and enchanting.

Next week I have Charlie Stross on the show. Then after that the show will be going on a hiatus for a bit while I bury myself in this massive rewrite. It was hard for me to decide to put the show on hold but my mind needs to be fully focused. I will for sure post dates and details when I have them. I appreciate all your support and patience.

Here are the links for Episode 49:

 

Talking to Myke Cole

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I have Myke Cole on Too Many Words talking about writing, process and his role on CBS’s new reality series Hunted. It was great talking to him. Passing television recommendations back and forth is always fun.
Before Myke comes on, I talk about my current challenges with writing and the awesomeness of Delilah S. Dawson‘s new comic LADYCASTLE.
Make it happen!
iTunes: https://goo.gl/EGp1e8
Stitcher: https://goo.gl/YmXHpf
Google Play: https://goo.gl/wqwiCr

This episode is sponsored by Turn the Page Editing and LuLaRoe Rebecca Clark VIP

A Day In Inertia, Suburbia

A young mother wakes to the nagging sound of her alarm. For privacy sake, we’ll call her Margret. The cat is asleep on her face. After a small battle with the semi-feral feline, she gets out of bed.

Coffee. Book. Then tiptoes to the sofa in hopes of some quiet before the chaos of a weekday morning unleashes itself on the untidy household. Something chunky and wet soaks her sock. The dog ate legos again.

***

Margret is standing in her kitchen wearing superhero pajamas. She makes lunch and breakfast while her children get dressed for the day.

Her seven-year-old son comes into the kitchen wearing six shirts and three pairs of pants.

Margret: Why are you wearing all your clean clothes?

Son: You told me to dress warm.

Margret: I meant no shorts or t-shirts.

Son: How was I suppose to know that?

***

The kids walk to their classrooms. Margret puts on her blinker in an attempt to escape the chaotic drop-off line while blasting Veruca Salt. A woman with shiny hair in a German luxury SUV, who is responsible for one the meaner kids in Margret’s child’s class, holds down on her horn and flips Margret off. She wonders if the angry mother spent less time perfecting her makeup if her child would be nicer.

***

Inside an overpriced grocery store for the over-privileged, the barely thirty-year-old Margret walks to the counter. Her hat is half on her head. She’s forgotten to wear socks.

Margret smiles at the checker, a woman nearing middle-age who we’ll call Abby.

Margret: Hey, how’s it going?

Abby: Oh you know. Life.

Marget nods: Yep. Can I trouble you for a pack of Marb lights?

Abby: Just one pack today?

Margret: Yep. Cutting down. Not quitting.

Abby: That’s something.

Margret: I think so. Monkeys on the back and all.

***

Home again. The house is a droning quiet with the kids at school. She remedies that by cranking her newest playlist. Then sits at her desk in the draftiest part of the house, her office. There is nothing now but the words she needs to write and her own insecurities.

Five hours pass. The same nagging alarm tells her it’s time to pick up the kids. Unsure of how she feels about any of the words she’s written, Margret closes the laptop and slips on her worn Chucks.

***

You see a school with a water view and false ivy-covered walls. Margret gets out of her insincere mini-van and makes her way to the classroom door and waits. She checks her social media notifications hoping to gain some validation for her work she hasn’t yet learned to give herself. A middle-aged man in a golf hat, by the name of Todd, approaches Margret.

Todd: I hear my kid got moved from your kid’s table.

Margret: Yep

She smiles.

Todd: I hear they didn’t see eye to eye.

Margret: By that do you mean anytime my kid asks yours to be quiet so she can focus, he pushes her and calls her names?

Todd: Yeah, man. It’s tough. He’s so strong willed. Can’t tell him nothing. He beats to his own drum.

Margret: It’s called parenting, son. It’s necessary.

Todd: Did you just call me son?

***

The day turns to night. Homework is done, dinner eaten. Margret feels satisfied with the day. She opens her third beer in an attempt to relax and get ready for the same thing tomorrow.

Adam Silvera and History Is All You Left Me

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First episode of 2017 starts with a bang. Adam Silvera is the New York Times bestselling author of MORE HAPPY THAN NOT. He is on the show talking about his brand new release HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME. Adam gets into the journey of creating it, hurtles he had to get through, and upcoming tour dates. Before Adam comes on, I talk 2017 and Apex Publication‘s recent anthology, UPSIDE DOWN.

This episode is sponsored by Turn The Page Editing and LuLaRoe Rebecca Clark VIP

Listen. Share. Subscribe.

iTunes: https://goo.gl/XOWMcE
Stitcher: https://goo.gl/3Ho6XG
Google Play: https://goo.gl/5Ho3zN

New Comic Review: LADYCASTLE

I have been a comic book lover since I was a kid. The glossy pages and the “new book” smell are the first steps to a world all its own. Comics are a special place to visit. As a writer, reading prose isn’t always an option, ladycastle-elsacoverbut comics are always there. There is something special about experiencing a story in panel form. My brain reacts to the story in a different way. That being said, I’m always looking for new, fresh comics. Something I haven’t seen yet.

I reviewed an early copy of the first issue of LADYCASTLE which is a gender-flipped Arthurian comic written by the fantastically talented Delilah S. Dawson. Ashley A. Woods is responsible for the gorgeous art.

I am being perfectly genuine when I say this is the comic I’ve been looking for, for years. Power. Wit. Action. Hope. It’s all there. This is a completely spoiler-free review, so I’m not going to get into specifics. You have to experience it for yourselves. I will, however, say this, there are at least eight times where I thought, “Yes! This is awesome!”

Dawson does a fantastic job weaving the beginning of this female-powered world I want more of. I can’t believe LADYCASTLE is her first comic. It reads liladycastle1coverke she’s been doing this her entire life. I really hope to see more comics from her. I’ve been trying to get myself amped up for this next phase in my career with music from some rocking women from the 90’s, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

Woods’s gorgeous art creates a rich mid-evil aesthetic that complements Dawson’s words flawlessly. I can’t wait to read more LADYCASTLE, and you should start.

The official release date of the first issue is January 25th, but you can preorder here: Get me some LADYCASTLE

Anthology Review: Upside Down

upside-book-coverI received a review copy of Apex Publication’s newest anthology UPSIDE DOWN: INVERTED TROPES IN STORYTELLING. This anthology is a treasure for both readers and writers. Editorial super team Jaym Gates and Monica Valentinelli did a splendid job compiling stories, poems and essays of well-trodden fantasy and science fiction tropes turned on their heads.

Unlike novels, anthologies give you the option of jumping around and reading at all different places in the book. Sometimes I do that right from the get-go, and I did the second time through with this anthology. But, my first time through, I was glued to each page from the very first to the last. The index of tropes and the stories that tackle them encouraged me to go back. Twice. The introduction sets the stage by getting into the comfort of tropes and the importance of them. “We all love comfort food. We all love surprises. A well-executed story trope, like a favorite meal, is always there when you need it, eager to satisfy. A chosen one destined to save the world. A love interest ready to transform your dull life…” -Jerry Gordon

It’s true. There is comfort in tropes. As readers, they give us something to hang our hat on and as writers we need to wield them. There is a fabulous array of authors such as Delilah S. Dawson, Alyssa Wong,  Micheal Choi, Sunil Patel, and Micheal Matheson—to name a few—who take common tropes and do extraordinary things with them. Alex Shvartsman takes all that we count on when diving into an epic fantasy and riddles a satire native with “Nouns of Noun: A Mini Epic” that kept me chuckling. I was delighted by “Drafty as a Chainmail Bikini” by Kat Richardson, which comments of the absurdity of women’s armor in the fantasy genre.

Each story has its “WOW” moment. There are a few stories that stood out to me so strongly I had to go back and reread them and soak in the beauty again and again. That’s the thing about the written word. Stories can carry a certain weight or personal response that just clicks instantly. When that happens, it’s a beautiful thing.

In “The First Blood of Poppy Dupree” Delilah S. Dawson takes the trope of an unprepared preteen’s first period. She paints an incredible picture of a girl who knew it would come, adds some Greek and Southern Gothic mythology and writes a story I wish I could have read when I was a preteen. I was in Walmart wearing white terrycloth shorts when mine first came without a clue. Dawson took all the shame out of it and made getting your period truly badass, raw, and slightly terrifying.

“The White Dragon” by Alyssa Wong is one those stories that reels you in with every sentence and then when its ended, everything just washes over you. Wong built so much in so few words. She tackles the trope of Yellow Peril, which is the fear that Asia poses a dire threat to Western civilization. Wong’s characters are so deep and well conveyed. The layers of magic realism packs such a punch.  It’s truly amazing.

“Those who Leave” by Micheal Choi tore my heart out and convinced me once and for all magic is in the world. Choi took the trope of the cold and calculating Asian scientist and built a world with hope, magic, and the ever-complicated mother/daughter relationship. Just gorgeous from start to finish. I teared up a little.

After the string of awesome stories, the impact of the essays detailing some tropes such as “Into the Labyrinth: The Heroine’s Journey” by AC Wise and “I’m Pretty Sure I’ve read this Before” by Patrick Hester really ties it all together. Each essay detailing basic story concepts somehow made every story I read prior more powerful.

There is whimsy and underlining darkness, heartbreak and satire, that flows well throughout the anthology. UPSIDE DOWN is really worth the grab!

You can find copies here!

 

My Mother’s Whispers

We are over a week into the new year, and I’ve come to the same conclusion I come to every January. Life is life. Change is unavoidable but is gradual. Goals are important. Self-awareness is key to not being an asshat. There is no magic switch.

I’m not a huge adopter of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like putting pressure on a day due the significance tangled up with the date. I used to be a crappy, angry kid and I’ve grown into a pretty okay adult (though I have trouble coming to terms that I am one). I’ve watched people change for the worse and the better and not at all. I wouldn’t say I’m jaded, but my expectations of people stays very aware that we are all animals with instincts. It’s not always pretty.

All that being said, I decided that for 2017 I have a true New Year’s resolution for the first time kinda ever. I’m gonna stop beating myself up with words my mother used when I was a kid.

Words are powerful. They hold different meaning to everyone who hears them and lingers in the shadows. They leave bruises no-one can see. They build worlds and heroes. Words don’t go away without being digested. The past is an odd, nagging element that is significant because we wouldn’t be who we are without it. I have written before on Feminine Collective about how part of excepting myself can’t be done without excepting the parts of me that are like my mother. Regardless of the whole mess of her storm, she was my mother. I learned from her. What to do. What not to do.

Habits are tricky little buggers, especially when they are bad ones. They are like vampires. Once you let them in, they suck your blood. Nasty habits can be dormant or active but are always waiting. I was verbally abused as a child as far back as I can remember. Anytime something good happened to me she’d turn it around. I can’t even count how many times my mother spent my birthday locked in her room crying. She let all her words and unhappiness fire at me. Just when I think I’ve shaken off the urge to think the things she used to say to me, it’s back, and I don’t even see it.

As you know, I’ve been busting my ass building a writing career. It’s part of the path. If it weren’t easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. I’m close, and I can feel it. I’m pitching. I’m making mistakes. I’m learning. I’m getting better at the craft. At this huge transitional period, the frequencies are high, and my vulnerability is maxed out. What I’m doing? I’m beating the crap out of myself with things she used to say, instead of building myself up. Anytime I have something positive to say to myself there is a small voice saying the opposite.

I don’t have a solid plan of attack except that I need to curb the habit. Being aware is the first step. I want to have my back. I want to say “Good job Jayme,” without feeling like I’m lying to myself. Like with anything, there are good days and bad. Making mistakes doesn’t make me a bad person or hopeless, it makes me human. Without mistakes, there are no learned lessons.

Notebook in hand, it’s a new year

Well, I’m back in my real life. Holiday break is over. I dropped the kids off this morning missing the preschool days where I was their main gig for the first time in a long time. This feels like a good thing. The first few days off I had trouble letting go of plots and pitch letters. In the final days of my time off, my anxiety about getting back to it started to build. I was scared of facing responses to what I’ve pitched (short and long works) and was terrified of what I’d write next.

I woke up this morning at six before the house started to stir, got my coffee, and grabbed The Lord of the Rings (a book I can’t even count how many times I’ve read. Sometimes I just have to dive in again and get lost.) I took my time this morning getting back to my chair in my office in the back corner of my basement. As soon as I stepped into the bird-covered walls, I made a playlist on Spotify of kick-ass female music while I wrote down my goals and deadlines for January.

Now my mind starts to fill with inspiration, and I gear up to edit a short story I wrote before the break. My dogs sleep by my feet. I’m feeling good. It’s nice to be back. I guess this is part of being a writer (especially earlier in the career), but sometimes I spend time trying to convince myself I’m not a writer. My inner critic tell me to do something else. But, here I am in my chair with fingers slamming against the keys of my Macbook and I feel like I’m exactly where I should be.

Life is weird. I feel strange about everything most of the time. But, I’m lucky to have an amazing family I helped build and to love what I do for a living, even if it makes me feel anxious, vulnerable, and sometimes terrible.

Happy New Year all!

-J

Life, it keeps going

The kids are at their last of school before holiday break. I have turkey broth simmering on the stove. I’m sitting in my quiet living room beside the Christmas tree, attempting to find peace. I want to enjoy the holidays and make the most of them, but I need to get my head right. In truth, lately, I’ve been feeling kinda lost.

As I wait to hear word from agents about the dystopian novel I spent the last six years obsessing over I’m trying to focus on other things mostly unsuccessfully. Not only am I pitching one book, but I have high hopes of selling the series. I really and truly feel like I’ve put my best foot forward. It’s been professionally edited. The query is tight and the agents I’ve reached out I really researched. Waiting is harder than I expected. I’m finding it hard to focus on much, but I’m making myself write because if I don’t, my mind will implode. I find myself unable to sleep after waking from stressful dreams about simultaneously getting rejection letters and being chased by zombies. They always catch me.

Short fiction is helping. I’ve been able to get a decent string of solid stories out as I spin about the future of my series and plan a stand alone  book. One night while I was staring at the wind-buckling trees I asked myself, “What do I do if this doesn’t work?” This is when my mind lets in the idea of becoming a certified dog trainer again, but then I tell myself, “No you are a writer, and you have made the decision to pursue a full-time career in storytelling.”

I feel like a fake adult.

If I shut my inner-doubt down and really pay attention, I can see and feel how close I am. It’s been an uphill battle of discipline and the feeling like I’m wasting my time, but I am close. There is this weird thing that happens anytime I send positive vibes my own way. A part of me always wants to swat the self-boost away.  I’m not sure what this is, but my inner-doubt is one of the hardest things I have to manage. I think about that scene in Erin Brockovich when Julie Roberts yells, “I’ve taken time away from my kids. If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is.” I spend about 8-10 hours a day writing, networking, and cobbling this career together. Somedays I feel like I’m awesome and others, well like I’m living in a dream world reaching for impossible goals.

Writing all this down helps, just I I thought it would. I’m not gonna hear anything until after the holidays. I need just to put it out of my mind and enjoy the holidays. There will be a lot of down time moments where I can work through the concepts I have for my next book because right now I only have annoying fragments of things that don’t make very much sense, but that’s how it all starts out doesn’t it?

Writing and The Vulnerable Mind

Episode 46 Promo.pngToday I have New York Times Best Selling Author, Richard Kadrey back on the show talking about the writing process, juggling projects, the importance of listening to instincts and learning to trust yourself. We get into the power of pen and paper, and leaning into the story’s flow. Richard talks about writing DC/Vertigo’s Lucifer and the upcoming Sandman Slim film. Richard and I also talk about the impact of finishing big projects and the vulnerable mind.
I had a great time talking to him! I hope you enjoy!
 
 
This episode is sponsored by LuLaRoe Rebecca Clark VIP. 

What I Thought About ‘Hearts Still Beating’ (Walking Dead Spoilers)

Well, here we are two days after the midseason finale of The Walking Dead. Everything is building before we take a break. February feels like a long time away. The premiers usually bring the payoff while the finale leaves us hanging. If you are not all caught up with The Walking Dead and care about spoilers, stop reading! Otherwise, you may continue.

I had to watch this episode twice before I could get my opinion together. A lot was thrown at us. I didn’t initially watch it with an open mind. I’ve been grumpy since “Swear.” I was frustrated through the first half of “Hearts Still Beating” waiting for payoff and the second half was awesome. The ending rocked. The second time through I was able to relax and just watch. Overall this episode was pretty great. I will admit that I am partial to the comic. I love it. It’s one of my favorites. So much in it is done right. I love the comic so much that my fandom makes me watch the show. Overall, I’d say it’s in my top three favorite television shows, but sometimes it’s just frustrating to wait and watch. The plot often feels clunkier to me then in the comic. Yes, I know the same story in different media has to have some changes, but still, the show doesn’t pack the punch the comic does. That’s all I’m saying.

Since my last several posts about the previous episodes have been mostly negative, I figured I’d start with what I loved.

Maggie is so cool! I love her raw, badass attitude. The scene where she takes Gregory’s apple and eats it rocked. The combination of her grief and dedication to her child growing inside her is a recipe for some serious character complexity. I would follow her before Rick any day of the week. I also really like that Edith, and Sasha is so committed to her. It’s similar to how Glen and Daryl had Rick’s back.

Yes, of course, I love Daryl. Part of this I think is that he isn’t in the comic so I have nothing to compare him to, and part of it is his kickass way of being loyal and morally correct. (Even though sometimes it get’s him into trouble… Hello, Dwight!?!) That being said, every scene Daryl was in this episode I loved. When he was rushing through the hallway, I was at the edge of my seat. I was relieved when he found food and clothes. Then he got discovered by a Savior. There was a pause, then the guy said he wouldn’t say anything and let him go. You can ask my husband, but I was shouting, “Kill him! Kill him!” Daryl did. He didn’t show mercy.

I said in my last post that Spencer needed to be zombie food. Well, Negan gutting him during a pool game for trying to usurp Rick was awesome! Thanks for the payoff. Man, Spencer was annoying.

I loved, loved the ending even though waiting for the rise will be painful. First Rick, Carl, and crew walk through the gates of Hilltop after Rick and Michonne have a heart to heart about fighting back. Then Jesus and Daryl show up. So good! So emotional! I crumbled into about a thousand pieces when Rick hugged Daryl.
Episodes 6 and 7 left me grumpy about the show, but I think if there was never an entire episode dedicated to Tara I would have made it through the whole first half happy as a clam. I still don’t see the point of that episode. Slamming on the breaks in the rapidly spiraling Negan storyline by going back in time two weeks to meet up with Tara and Heath after the satellite station slaying. Not only is this storyline before Glen and Abraham’s fall to Lucille, but it’s also before Dwight kills Denise with Darryl’s arrow. (Whew, that was a lot of D’s) That’s just bad structure. An entire episode dedicated to Tara and her discovery of all female society in the woods? No, not while Rick is defeated and others conspire against the Saviors. “Go Getter’s” leaves us in the back of a truck heading to Negan’s with Carl and Jesus. All” Swear” gives us is Tara? This storyline would have been much more digestible if it was shortened to fifteen minutes and worked into episode 14 of Season 6 “Twice as Far.” Imagine an episode where both characters of a relationship die simultaneously without ever finding out about each other. The show hasn’t done that yet. Instead of Tara coming back and finding out about Denise, she doesn’t come back. Rachel from Oceanside gets to kill her. Between the Sanctuary, The Hilltop, and the Kingdom the appearance of Oceanside was fatiguing more than interesting. As a foreshadowing to the power of Negan before Season’s 6’s gut-wrenching finale would have added even more terror to being surrounded by hundreds of Saviors in the dark woods.

Well, I’m looking forward to tuning back to TWD in February, which is also my birthday month.

What were your guys thoughts on the first half of the season?

Writer’s Block: The Way of the Unicorn

We’ve all heard those terrible two words entirely too often. Whether it’s a question or a string of unproductive thoughts, if you are a writer these two words may bug you as much as they bug me. Which is a lot, so realize what you are coming along for. I don’t hate these words because I fear them, I hate them because they simply aren’t true.

I’m gonna switch from saying “we” to “me” because I’m gonna say some weird stuff here.
My inner-doubt can transform into a dragon following me down the rabbit hole as it burns my toes with his fiery breath. I’ve gotten a lot better at managing my negative thoughts when it comes to my work and what the hell it is I’m doing but they are there, and a weight to manage. From the conversations I have had with other writers, this is a common theme. Inner-doubt is part of the gig. Saying I have writer’s block is one of the nasty tricks our minds pull and is an inaccurate way to put it.
Try this instead: “I have some more world building to do,” or “I need to dig deeper into my characters.”
That’s the truth.
I used to panic when I’d suddenly come to a halt or get hung up a detail that could quite easily be the first thing cut during edits. I think I’ve mentioned this on my podcast or right here, but writing questions to yourself is an amazing tool for unlocking your brain.

Seriously try it.

What is Molly’s motivation?

She feels a moral responsibility to free all the magical rabbits from captivity.

What is the island’s power source?

Magic.

Why?

Because the island is inside a vortex in a hidden part of the ocean.

It’s fun and how I work out a lot of kinks. I’ve been talking a lot to other writers recently about the importance of trusting ourselves. It’s hard for me. I constantly suspect that I’m up to no good. If something is telling me it’s not right, or it’s awesome, I need to listen to it and not assume my mind is out to get me for some godforsaken reason. I have to write everything down on paper for that reason. My brain clicks in different ways with a pen to paper rather than fingers on keys.

Writer’s block isn’t real. Not being able to see what comes next just means you have more thinking to do. Take a walk. Do a headstand. Make a playlist. Walk away. I almost always get the best ideas while I’m vacuuming. Write down everything you think until you find something cool.

Writing and what it feels like

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Author, Oli Jacobs is back on the show talking about his new book, The Children of Little Thwopping. Oli and I get into inner-doubt, getting lost in words, the importance of literature, and the shear insanity of being a writer.
 
 
This episode is sponsored by LuLaRoe Rebecca Clark VIP. Enter code Too Many Words Pod to receive 20% off your next order!

My Thoughts on “Sing Me A Song” (Walking Dead Spoilers)

After last week’s frustratingly dull episode “Swear” I was really hoping this week’s episode would give me everything I love about the show. But after ninety minutes of a hodgepodge of shallow storylines, missed opportunities of serious badassery, and three too many useless scenes, I’m only more frustrated. I’m not convinced the writers know where they are taking the story and characters. Or, they are trying to milk as much out of the ideas they do have that they are willing to sacrifice the pace. From this point on there are serious spoilers, so if you aren’t caught up stop reading.

I’m really having trouble wrapping my head around why we needed to spend an entire episode solely with Tara last week only to rush from characters in Alexandria to the Sanctuary and on the road between. I was super interested at the beginning of the season. Negan gained control over Rick’s group with brutal force. We went to the Kingdom to find a tiger and a leader with an interesting backstory. Over at the Hilltop grieving, Maggie showed signs of being the leader everyone needs. My attention was in their grasp. After two kinda terrible episodes with only one more till the mid-season finale, my confidence in the storyline has dwindled tremulously. I had thought the first five episodes were pretty great (even the single focus on Daryl) but now it all feels like it’s going nowhere.

Spencer’s attitude towards Rick and every scene he was in really chewed my nerves. What was the point? I’m not sure where the writers are going with Spencer’s arc, but it’s hard to imagine any scenario that won’t be equally as frustrating. Is Spencer really gonna rise against Rick in a substantial way? Probably not. I don’t care about his character, maybe I’m alone there, I don’t know. He has shown nothing but over-privileged stupidity and has brought no value to the plot or crew. Can’t we just feed him to the zombies? Tara too, while we are at it.

There was too little Michonne. Watching her walk through a deserted country road while whistling was awesome and felt more like the real Michonne and not some watered down version. Her zombie barricade was cool! Side note: The whole let’s kill Negan thing would be cooler if a group worked together.

Carl shooting two Saviors was really cool, but everything after that felt forced and disillusioning. Is anyone else wondering why Negan has so many people willing to put up his cruelty? Yes, we have seen his numbers, and he kills people with a bat named after his deceased wife, but I’m not buying it. I want to. Negan’s prolonged smirk-wrapped words don’t bother me as much as some, but the storyline surrounding him doesn’t sit well. He tire-ironed some dude’s face for sleeping with one of his wives but doesn’t kill Carl? Throughout the episode, Carl tagged along while Negan went about his business which was weird. The scenes where Daryl and Carl made eye contact were definitely some of the better moments. After several uncomfortable interactions between Carl and Negan, they go back to Alexandria. I found it strange that Negan was enjoying the houses so much since he had already been to Alexandria. Was he too focused on the guns? The episode left us with the impression that Negan wants to take Judith. I guess? Either way Carl messed up. What started out as something cool with a lot of potential fizzled into something hard to follow. It would have been more believable all around if Negan killed Carl right away. Why doesn’t he want to? I don’t understand Negan’s motivation for keeping alive. Which I guess is what he was questioning himself at the end while he held the baby in his arms…
Surprisingly enough Dwight (who I can’t stand) and his x-wife were some of the most intriguing parts of this episode. It seems like one of them (probably the wife) slid the note under Daryl’s door, telling him to go. The conversation the between the couple on the stairwell was some of the best writing in the entire ninety minutes.
I don’t like feeling that the story is slowing down. It’s almost halfway through the season so it should be doing the opposite. Between “Swear” and “Sing me A Song” there were at least six times where I thought something cool was going to happen but then it didn’t.
Now that I’m sour about where the season has gone so far I find myself less impressed with the first few episodes. Pay off is important and there seems to be missed opportunities every four minutes. It doesn’t really feel like the viewers are being considered here. Believe me. I get the writer has to write. But the story arcs here are sloppy and disjointed. There is no impression that they are following the characters honestly since it’s impossible to get intimate with any of them.
So, yeah I guess I have mostly negative things to say about “Sing Me A Song.” I am curious where the mid-season finale is gonna leave us, and yes, I’m still a fan, just a frusterated one at the moment. Hopefully it’s fleeting.

Perfectly Imperfect People: Gilmore Girls Revival

It’s taken me a second to get my thoughts together on the four-part reunion of one of my favorite shows. Like many, I was counting down the days until Gilmore Girls “A Year in the Life” became available on Netflix. After waiting for a quiet evening, I lit candles, poured wine, and grabbed a box of doughnuts. Within the first five minutes, I was in pieces. I experienced so much emotion on a variety of scales at such fast rate I was forced to take breaks between scenes. Like, seriously there is a lot in these episodes. They are very dense. I was concerned that there would only be four. I wondered how they could pull it off. But, they did do that. I don’t think I realized how much so until after I had watched it through the first time. There are spoilers below so if you haven’t watched all of it yet, stop reading and come back.

Before I get into specifics that stood out to me, I’ll say this: As a whole, I thought it was incredible and everything a die-hard fan could wish for. The creators rode the perfect balance between giving us familiar nuggets to hold onto and the proper growth in these complicated characters over the last ten years. Just, truly gorgeous. Sure, I would have liked to have seen more Sookie and Jess, but I’m sure I’m not alone there. The moments they were present were incredible. I really felt like I was visiting old friends. Gilmore Girls first aired in 2000. I was a thirteen-year-old insecure, bookworm with big dreams.

Rory rocked my world.

Finally a character on TV I related to and not just aspire to be more like. And, Lorelei (oh, how I love her) I didn’t relate to her when I was originally watching because I was a teen. That being said, I would have taken her as my mother in a heartbeat. Even though their mother-daughter relationship demonstrated how the linked the two were, they still had their issues. As a fellow young and quirky mother (though not as young), it’s really refreshing to see it as empowering rather than shamed or mocked. The whole show holds this flawed heart that is so real. The strong-willed are capable of anything. I love that message. It’s an important one. I rewatched the entire series once I became a mother and enjoyed the show in a whole different way.

One of the best things about Gilmore Girls is hanging out in Stars Hollow with the characters. Starting the four episodes in the town square with both Lorelai and Rory was the perfect way to start off.

“I smell snow.” (Such a great line!)

How can you not love the very real blend of weird, heartbreaking, and determined? Both Lorelai and Rory have dreamed big since the very beginning. The fact that they are selfish, and sometimes self-sabotaging only makes them better, it makes them real.

Since the episodes were so chock full of emotion, references and everything that made us originally fall in love with Gilmore Girls and I didn’t want to comment on a stand alone episode. I have a lot to say, but I’m gonna just focus on my top three things about the Revival that I loved the most. Who knows, there may be more posts to come about this. Just, so good! Amy Sherman-Palladino and Danielle Palladino truly did an outstanding job. You can really tell their hearts were so in. I mean can you imagine creating Gilmore Girls? I bet those strong-willed women would get restless on the shelf.

First of all, without a doubt, my favorite part was Emily’s story arc. I mean, wow this was standing ovation worthy.  Losing someone you love is a pain unlike no other. The effects are life changing. I know first hand how the experience of great loss alters you forever. Emily’s life was completely centered around Richard. She chose the path of a career wife. When Richard is taken out of the life they built, it all no longer means anything to her. That’s such an accurate portrayal. Watching Emily deal with the loss of her husband and change while she grieved for him, simultaneously punched me in the gut and reached out with a warm hug that said: “I’ve been there too.”

Throughout the year, we watch Emily fall apart, go to therapy, sell her belongings, sleep in, get a boyfriend, and lash out very “Lorelai-style” at a DAR meeting. The best part of all? When Emily takes to the sea by moving to Nantucket. Gilmore Girls is known for their media references, but this takes the cake, partly because no one comes out and says it. Emily moves to a house on the water and volunteers at a whale museum in Nantucket. The scene where she is standing in front of whale art similar to art found on a Moby Dick cover blanketed me in chills. Another fantastic aspect to the Moby Dick reference is that Rory quoted it directly right before her Logan stole the boat at the end of Season 5. I’ve included the full quote below. It’s always been one of my favorites.

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.” -Ernest Hemingway

Another one of my favorite aspects of the show was how unraveled Rory was. I’ve read several reviews that rips the revival apart for how disheveled and weak Rory is. The same reviews bagged on her casual and expensive affair with Logan. I love these things. Let’s not forget Rory was never put together. She was a perfectionist. Yale and the first round of Logan spit her out for a good bit. As a writer, I’m very familiar with what a confidence battle it can be. Rory’s confidence was never that great. She put on this facade. Maybe to protect herself? Maybe to remove herself from her mother’s exact path? I think where we find Rory at 32 in a very realistic situation. I found it oddly comforting.

The genuine augments hit me each time. Blowouts between characters on the show has always been something we can count on. While the show was airing on CW (possibly WB back then) the fights were there, and sometimes heartbreaking but nothing quite like the raw and impactful arguments that took place in the revival. I’m not sure if it was the fact that it was on Netflix, or now that everyone is older and has been through so much the writers decided to leave out any lightness. There were hilarious moments then bam these arguments between Luke and Lorelai, Lorelai and Rory, Emily and Lorelai were so real. The characters just went there with what they said.

So, yeah, those were my favorite parts. I hope there is more to come. Considering how much they left in the air and the last line (which I loved), there is a good chance there will be.

Other Favorite parts:
Kirk has pig
Luke and Lorelei’s Alice and Wonderland Wedding
Rory’s Buffy reference
Rory writing a book about her relationship with her mother
Jess turned out to be a good guy (just like we knew he could be)

What were your favorite parts? Things you didn’t like? Share in the comments below!

Writing, worry, and focus

I’m sure that I’m in a dramatic state of mind when I say this, but, I’m all out of sorts. Like, really, really in a mood. I have been in one since Monday. It’s the first week back to work (after one off) since I submitted the dystopian to several carefully selected agents. I can’t seem to climb out of this funk and focus on anything for very long. I gotta say I wasn’t expecting this. Just like every other part of this project these feelings are new to me. My over anxious, fiction-swallowed brain wonders what this means. It’s not my lack of confidence in the work itself or how I presented it. I feel good about both of those things. So, what’s my problem?

Writing that down led me to this answer: I’m burned out.

I burned myself out, and I’m still recovering. Sure, the unknown of what’s ahead is certainly eating at my feet, but that’s not the only thing going on. I pulled something crazy off, and now I’m paying for it. I suppose that means I will be slowly getting back into the groove of things. Perhaps leaning into this rather than fighter it would allow me to unclench my shoulders. After writing solely one story for so long, spreading back into multiple projects (nonfiction work included) feels strange.

Creating a world and spending time not only inside of it but obsessing over each detail fitting into place was fun. If I’m being honest, some of the most fun I’ve had. What I experienced with the book I just finished is something I’ve always fantasized about. Perhaps some of what is going on is that I actually miss the world I created. Does that sound completely crazy? Maybe, but I run that risk every time I open my mouth.

I’ve been cleaning and organizing my house. I’m in no way naturally domestic. I’m just so damn anxious, and cleaning helps. Also baking.

Again, I know I’m being dramatic, but I feel lost this week. I have a pile of work, but I can’t stop vacuuming or putting things in themed baskets. Waiting is part of it. I’ve got to find a middle ground, perhaps have more patience with myself. It’s hard to feel like I’ve accomplished anything when nothing is final yet. Again, part of the gig, I know. I just have to suck it up. Christmas is around the corner, and I need to sell more articles, so I have to find a way to ease my mind where it needs to go. Maybe whisper to myself, “Don’t worry, it will happen.” Who knows?
So basically, I’m just whining here right now, feeling sorry for myself when nothing at all is going wrong. But, my mind does feel clearer so for that thank you.

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Reality: new projects while waiting to hear

“Go for broke,” is one of my favorite sayings. One I keep close to the lip, a tool I use as I build my writing career. It’s Monday after Thanksgiving, after a week off, and I’m feeling more than a little strange. I started my time off completely zapped. I had never worked harder. The late summer well into November were so intense. I feel like a different person coming out of it. Finishing that book transformed into a rabid obsession that fueled all of me. The first two days off I still found myself drifting toward my computer trying to figure out different concepts (now it’s time to write another one) and ways to will my goals into a successful reality—which for some reason translates into checking Twitter too much. Once my family came into town, my mind left my work worries and remained in the warm present. It was a truly wonderful Thanksgiving that left an afterglow for the majority of the holiday weekend. As Sunday crept past my anxiety grew.

The project I’ve been referring to both here and on Too Many Words as my dystopian series has been consuming most of my brain. I had no idea how obsessed and wound tight I was until I stepped away. Funny how that works. Perception is the greatest of all powers to wield, I think. I sent out a bunch of pitches before the break, and now I’m off to start new projects I’ve lined up. I was in bed last night anxious about getting back to work and unable to get right to sleep. Not something I was anticipating. I just stared out the window at the wind-grappled trees trying to find a peaceful mindset to attack the next few weeks with, then eventually, I faded out. My dreams were a combination of rejection letters and zombie attacks. To want something so bad is a feat to hold all its own.

Monday morning started like most. My alarm went off at six. I sat on the sofa with coffee and a copy of Rune of the Apprentice by Jamison Stone. Then the mad dash of breakfast, packing lunches, and making sure my children are remotely put together enough to send out into the world for six hours. While I walked my dogs, I took the long route and strode as slowly as I could.

I sat down at my desk and opened my inbox for the first time in five days to find the first ‘pass’ from an agent on this project. It took some time to let that roll off my shoulders. “No’s” always come before “Yes’s” and I’m really confident in this project and in its ability to sell. I just have to hang in there and busy myself with my next projects. Gotta keep writing. Create. Pitch. Create. It goes on and on. This is the gig. After that I settled into an awesome planning session with Rebecca Clark about our next steps with the Shadow Bearers. Then before I could settle into anything real, I felt a need to vent, to think out loud. Sometimes to write one must clear out the junk first. So basically I just spent the last few hundred words thinking out loud about what I’m trying to process. Sharing my junk with you.

I’m in a new phase. My head needs to remain in the game. Now, I need to put a game face on and sell some articles.

Thanks for listening to my nonsense.

-J

Breaking Man and Building Heroes (Walking Dead Spoilers)

We are five episodes into the seventh season of The Walking Dead, and I’ve finally found my thoughts so far. I was counting down the days to the premier, soaking in every promo ad. Each character compilation of their journey from the beginning broke my heart. Hell, the release date was even on my calendar. And, here we are into the season, and I’ve been finding myself quiet. There are a mess of spoilers below, so if you are not totally current on the show stop reading, bookmark it, and come back if you want to.

As many of you are well aware of, I’m huge Walking Dead Fan. Comics. The show. The characters. I’m all in. So much so, I’m incredibly forgiving when it comes to oversights or devastating deaths. Last season left us with hearts in our hands, on the edge of our seats. For those who are also readers of the comic (myself included) had a pretty good idea Glen would face the fate of Lucille, but still, we weren’t sure. The Season 7 premiere “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” came and left many with a hollow feeling. I felt sick. Abraham’s and Glen’s death was gruesome and heart clenching. Oh man, when Maggie got ready to continue her way to The Hilltop despite the divesting loss of her husband destroyed me. The credits rolled, and I was speechless. I had planned to write something about the first episode, to take my fandom to the next level, and I couldn’t say a thing. Watching Negan break Rick down through the course of an hour closed any glimmer of hope, of a way out for them. The format of this episode added layers of emotion. Seeing their death’s through Rick’s memories, it killed me.

“The Well”  took us to the kingdom with the deliriously unstable Carol. Her quote “I don’t know what the hell is going on in the most wonderful way” will be among the classics for the show. The Kingdom’s involvement with Negan added depth to his reign that added gloom despite the cheery gloss of the episode. Plus, there’s a tiger with an owner filled to the brim with backstory.

Any hope I pulled from The Kingdom was crushed the following week while I watched “The Cell” through my fingers as Negan and Dwight (Dwight may be one my most hated characters) break down Daryl (my favorite) through repetitive and degrading torture. Daryl is an all time self-sacrificer. Despite his gruff exterior and incredible ranger-like abilities, he is all heart and oh so loyal. There is a whisper telling me Daryl will do something amazing. But a small part of me worries about his future. Daryl wasn’t in the comics, so there is nothing to pull from. The show often strays from the exact storyline in the comics, but there are always clues in the panels for an idea of what is to come in the show. I just don’t know what’s going to happen to him and it is making me crazy. I really, really hope he doesn’t go the way Beth did. There has to be good reason to break our hearts.

“Service” crushed me in an entirely different way. An hour and a half of Negan shaking down Alexandria. I felt the character’s feelings about Rick coming up short. As Rick transformed from instruction follower to a darker version of himself, something a littler closer to Negan, it was hard not to share the current disdain for Rick. He is the leader after all (or was) it was his responsibility to take care of everyone. Maggie trusted him…

But, here I am swallowing “Go Getters” and I feel hopeful. Wow, what an amazing episode. Maggie, Sasha, and Enid form a bond and a new alliance in the most heart-enriching way. There were several exchanges between Sasha and Maggie, Enid and Maggie, and all three of them, that left me screaming, “Yes!” The three clearly have a future with Jesus as they gain control over The Hilltop that I am really excited about. The Saviors showed up with a new crew. As the thugs took their share at The Hilltop, I didn’t feel sick the way I did while Negan pillaged Alexandria for their guns, pride, and mattresses because it was evident a new leader is emerging. Maggie, am I right? Wow, when she drove the tractor over the singing car and trespassing zombies. There was so much to take from this episode, that I finally found my voice. Right before the credits rolled Jesus and Carl crossed paths in the back of the truck heading to Negan’s!!!! Wow!

The Walking Dead has plenty of zombies, but it isn’t really about that. They are the setting. Life is the way it because of the zombie apocalypse, but it in earnest it’s about the people surviving, a continued comment on the harshness of humanity. The characters have been through so much, and have changed through it all. At the heart of it, The Walking Dead is relationships, fear, society, and the darkness in all of us. Humans are predators. Any storyline that really digs deep into the part of humanity really appeals to me, as it does with many. Apocalyptic worlds feel familiar. Nightmares are a manifestation of fears, stress, and trauma. The interest in a fallen society is a symptom of our current society (I am not just talking about the election). The time we are in is very intense, and uncertain seeming. There is a comfort I get when I watch or write a story about a broken world. The first time in Season 7, I can see ways our heroes can get out of it. Impossible odds, but they could do it. I believe in Maggie. There was something not right about Rick’s group and their merge with Alexandria. Seeing other factions split off really brings possibilities into play. There is a lot to hope for, as well as against. I’m really interested to see where all this goes on the show.

Lost in Fiction: writing months away

I’ve been lost in a hole. Not a dark, unforgiving one. Something more along the lines of a rabbit hole. I wasn’t in Wonderland. A dark, dystopian world of my creation has had me wandering around. I’ve lost a few months in the best kinda of way. Parts have been pieces I’ve been writing for years, that haven’t quite worked and parts are concepts I’ve always longed for when I reach for something in the dystopian genre. I’m really excited about it.

If you write or are plagued with a need to create in any way you might know what I mean when I say, “Ideas are priceless. The loss of them is terrifying.” There is nothing like getting a burst of inspiration. A clear picture. I love those random moments where I’m vacuuming or showering and an idea that feels like I’ve been waiting my whole life for appears. Crystal clear images. Pieces of me and pieces of something I’ve never known. There is a beauty in it that I love, something I crave. Perhaps even at times, my obsession with getting and growing concepts gets unhealthy. Maybe that fact that it’s something always on my mind, makes me impractical or selfish. Selfish, now I’ve hit on a note. I feel so selfish sometimes. One of my favorite things in the world to do is spend endless hours writing away while I listen to music too loud. It’s amazing, but it’s just for me. Sure, someday people will read it and hopefully get something from it, but I do it just for me. I do it because I have to.

Getting lost in a story is something I’ve always clung to, something that made it possible to survive my dysfunctional childhood. Magic friends in cupboards. The fountain of youth. A beautiful friendship with a sad ending. Magical creatures that teach very needed lessons. Antiheroes on the road to redemption. Heroes in books are something that has gotten me through so much. Creating them is something I must do, so I do. I’m so thankful for my partner in life and our child that support me as I chase my dreams, while I’m distracted, while I’m unworthy. They say they don’t see it, but it’s hard not to feel bad when I’ve done nothing for hours but create made up stories. It’s my job, it’s what I’m hanging my hat on, but it feels strange.

I’m so close to something I’ve been working so hard on for so long. I can’t wait and I can. I comb over lines searching for ways to make each word be the best it can. I feel sick and alive and hungry.

As my novel enters the editing phase, I have a moment to look around at my surroundings. Halloween has passed. Thanksgiving and family will be here any minute. Add more explanation. Bring the emotion forward as I best I can. Being close to something can make the want of it so loud it’s deafening.

I must look away and just keep my head down. I’m almost there. Names in a line. Eyes waiting. I feel different this time. Writing this draft felt like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Maybe I sound like a naive, lovesick teenager. Perhaps, it’s just like that. Each one is a little better. A passion transforms into a solid concept and then, we have something worth it.

There is something about chance that ignites curiosity in me and sparks a crippling fear. Simultaneously these things come together and bring sharp, angled tracks to the ride that is building a writing career. Part of me wants just to be at a spot that I can feel like I’ve achieved what I’ve wanted to, but I am cynical and practical enough to know that once I get to that point, I will be focused on the next thing.

Ivy covered doors. A castle in the clouds. The rolling hills of The Shire. Simple recognition.

Worlds to find. Places to seek. Hearts to break. I’ve been lost in a world in a way I’ve never been. I listened to myself differently that I have in the past. I wasn’t concerned with creating a certain event or trying to find the killer angle. It was the characters that lead me and the world they lived in.

In all honesty, I haven’t done much in the last few months than writing this story. Reality didn’t get as much attention as it should of. Other projects were on hold. As you know, my blog collected dust. But, here I am peeking from the pile of notebooks and many versions of Pages documents. I feel different. A little strange. Ready to pitch. It’s time to close.

updates and high hopes

Hey, everyone!

I want to start by saying thank you so much to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy of The Shadow Bearers. Rebecca and I really appreciate it!

Today on my podcast, Too Many Words, I talk with Rebecca all about The Shadow Bearers. What inspired us, how much fun it is building a fantasy world with a friend, and quite a bit more. You’ll get to learn more about us as well.

Do it up!

iTunes: http://goo.gl/0yXoZN

Stitcher: http://goo.gl/GlYWRa

More exciting news is that original artwork of Athea, Tag, Mayhem, and the locketts is in the works! So definitely keep your eyes out for that.

We are having fun getting new chapters ready for you to read. Both Rebecca and I are having so much fun working together. We are excited but also anxious to get in the Top 10 soon. We are in September, which means The Shadow Bearers is now in the second month of the Geek & Sundry Fantasy contest. There are a lot of great books, and we are excited to be a part of it.

10 more pre-orders unlocks Chapter 5: Drawn to Darkness

25 more pre-orders unlocks Chapter 6: Evil Alliances

Please pre-order your copy and tell a friend!

https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-shadow-bearers

Thank you so much for all your support and continued support. We can’t do it without your help!

excited to share!

Chapter Three: Lost Locketts is now up! Really, really proud of this one folks! Tiny tunnels ran beneath the darkest of places. Narrow walkways bored through thick earth allowing access to all the lands. The scent of wet grass and mud filled the little holes. The creatures that lived there carried the same scent, leaving traces of it behind on pillows after turning through thoughts and gathering what they needed. Most of the time they went unnoticed in the rest of the realm. Occasionally a

Tiny tunnels ran beneath the darkest of places. Narrow walkways bored through thick earth allowing access to all the lands. The scent of wet grass and mud filled the little holes. The creatures that lived there carried the same scent, leaving traces of it behind on pillows after turning through thoughts and gathering what they needed. Most of the time they went unnoticed in the rest of the realm. Occasionally a lockett would slip up and get discovered. Those poor locketts didn’t usually get to return home.

The locketts lived like most Huditrain natives. They had places to eat and shop, families to care for, and their individual jobs and skills that kept the days full. Their customs, of course, different from most. The tiny bark-skinned creatures cared to wear worms for warmth and snack on the dampest of soil. The routine little roots they were, undoubtedly made the lockett’s work ethic more fierce than other beings.

For more visit Inkshares: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-shadow-bearers

The Beginning

In my next attempt to lure you into preordering a copy of The Shadow Bearers and help my friend and I win the Geek & Sundry fantasy contest, you will find the first part of Chapter One below. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Chapter One:

Athea’s footsteps matched her wolf’s. Gangly trees framed the sky. The further she got into the dark wood the more her impending future faded into the midsts. She preferred hunting

Athea’s footsteps matched her wolf’s. Gangly trees framed the sky. The further she got into the dark wood the more her impending future faded into the midsts. She preferred hunting hairlings to receiving congratulations for an event that hadn’t happened yet. Wishing hail for what was expected enticed her to draw her weapons.

The walls of duty closed in around her. Night was near. The usual signs of the dimming sky was Athea’s favorite time to hunt despite the risks involved. She went further than advised. Dreams of what the dark lands looked like forced her awake when everyone else could sleep. Whispers of the dead tugged at her toes under the fur blanket. She wondered if it was a warning, but couldn’t be sure. Paranoia often blurred the lines of reality and illusions of fear. Now in the deep woods the idea faded. It would be a challenge to convince herself back to the village. The large mountains stood fierce behind the trees adding to how trapped she felt—living for a destiny she never wanted, something she would have never chosen for herself. Athea believed in a soul’s journey. Her father often asked her what she thought she was chosen for. Athea didn’t know what it was, just what it wasn’t. The power could have gone to any of her siblings, but it went to her. A curse.

A soft rustle brought Athea’s eyes to the sound’s source. A small gray hairling stood frozen between two hailberry bushes. She fanned out her hand signaling to her wolf. Mayhem stood dead his tracks. His wise eyes set on his master awaiting her cue. Athea pulled out her bow, then slid an arrow from her quiver. She nocked an arrow as she locked the prey in her sights. Her fingers tightened around the string. She arched her shoulder back as she pulled back the tension. Her eyes narrowed and focused. The fletching twisted in the wind as the arrow soared through a clearing in the brush. The moist soil soft under her hide boots. The cutting through the flesh was faint but a sound Athea would recognize anywhere.

“Mayhem, laana!” Athea extended her finger toward the rodent’s small carcass. “Gentle this time,” she warned.

Mayhem nodded before trotting into the wood. Athea slid her crossbow back into the gearpack. She leaned against a tree trunk. Her fingers danced across the dozen dead hairlings hanging from her belt. Dread of tomorrow’s ceremony whispered for her to run. She wouldn’t. Athea was stubborn and angry but she was always loyal. Something she called a fault but her father called a trait. The thought of her father brought a smile to her face. Lately the smile was tainted with sadness. He was ill. His time was ending. Fear and selfishness followed these thoughts. Her village’s safety would be up to her. Her father, Chief Meshvar, lead the Dagee, in The War From Nowhere, despite the loss of their allies the Nari. He fought them long enough to get his people to safety behind the great mountains. How could she follow that? Another war was certain, it was the when unclear. Mayhem sauntered back. His jaw loose around the tiny corpse.

Athea hung the limp hairling on her belt next to the others. A gust of wind rushed her way. The smell of smoke inescapable. It didn’t carry the scent of a campfire nor did it hold any resemblance of a spice or fat that indicated cooking. Her tribe had their faults but their survival skills wouldn’t lead any of them to cook past nightfall. Death loomed heavy in the air. She turned to her wolf, Mayhem. His gray eyes fixed on forces she could not see. Athea brought the tips of her fingers to her mouth.

She spoke the words, “Vine to vane. Ash to spine.”

Athea lay her fingers over the root-rich soil. Green and blue orbs hovered in the space between. All the energy kept coming back to her. There were no connections to receive her message. Usually, her community rushed in, roots connected all of them, but there was only silence. A desperate plea of panic rushed around in her gut. Mayhem whined. His eyes narrowed. He studied a distant cluster of sap weed trees.

“What is that?” Athena whispered to her wolf, both her hands grasped her rapiers—an extension of her after years of training.

Mayhem inched closer to the invisible threat. The bushes tousled. He growled and snapped his enormous jaw in warning. Athea pulled her weapons from their sheaths. Her words only audible inside her head. Broken twigs and crushed leaves sang in peril though there were no visible signs of anything.

Maybe conjurers, Athea wondered then dismissed thought. Conjurers wouldn’t be this far north. Her grasp around her weapons tightened.

A large part formed in the trees as a body collapsed from the underbrush. His large frame hit the dirt ground with a thud. A leather cord strung through a copper medal hung from his bloody hand. He was from her village. She raced toward him ignoring Mayhem’s warning.

Bent at the knees she turned the burned body to face her. The familiar glazed eyes of Kolton, the butcher, stared back at her. He held no acknowledgment that he knew Athea, the future chief, the one whose power skipped her first three siblings–a legend before she was born.

“What happened to you?”  

“It found us,” he muttered through gasps. Blood pooled at both corners of his mouth. His body fell limp in her arms. Mayhem howled. His eyes waiting for Athea’s cue.

Her mind came to no other options. Athea stood up. “Let’s head home,” she slapped her leg as she glanced once more at the still body. She would come back for the Kolton’s body once she understood the situation.

Athea and Mayhem trudged through the thicket, following the path they took to the hunting ground.

I sensed something before I geared up. I should have listened. I wouldn’t, she thought as she positioned her weapons to block her chest. I was too angry.

The smoke grew thicker the closer they got to camp. The dead hairlings thumped against her side as she ran closer. She ignored any fear warning her to slow down. Her eyes burned around the edges; her lungs struggling to work past the smoke. She cupped her hand over her eyes as one does to block the sun but the act served as no help, but her effort eased the panicked despair climbing her spine.

    Mayhem’s side brushed against her leather protected thigh. Wind rippled through her braids; the same breeze pushing soot-laden air into her face. The roar of the fire reached her ears now. Mayhem whined for their family. The stench of burnt flesh threatened to swallow them as the approaching flames grew near. Devastation flooded Athea. Charred bodies littered the cursed ground. Her village engulfed in angry flames. The fire that swallowed the council huts formed a distant circle. Silhouettes of the others staggered around the tortured corpses. A sense of dark magic lingered near the devastation. Athea collapsed to the ground. Pain goaded to eat her alive. Her father and everyone she knew, gone. Ruin ran rapid in her newly broken soul. An ominous fog stamped through the forsaken grounds. A force resembling nothing human. Dark shadows hastened around the bodies whose souls will never get the opportunity to grow properly with the earth.

Her daggers glowed green—an enchantment indicating dark magic only used by those consumed by hate.

We weren’t hidden well enough. It was foolish to think the great mountains would be adequate.

Athea’s emotion escalated in her, creating thousands of fissures.

She cursed herself.

All that time I wasted wishing my fate was anything but leading the village.

Athea never considered the idea of everything being taken from her. Her chosen legacy stripped away.

Her mind spiraled. Concrete thoughts were no longer coming together, only fragments of darkness and loss. Mayhem nuzzled her hand. His eyes set on the horizon past the village. He took two careful strides toward the cliff side. Her companion was right; the distance was the first step.

You can read the rest of Chapter One and Chapter Two on Inkshares: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-shadow-bearers 

 

this is where I beg

I tweeted yesterday, “Riding a fine line between delusions of grandeur and crippling self-doubt is part of my process.” It’s so true. Especially recently. Making a big jump to make my dreams come true leaves me unsettled. Probably because it makes me vulnerable. As some of you may know fantasy author, Rebecca Clark and I have entered our novel ‘The Shadow Bearers’ into the Geek and Sundry contest. My stomach is in knots and my hopes are high.

 

will

I want it so bad. The thing I am realizing is producing good content I can do, but selling units I have a lot to learn. It’s all part of it. I got so close with several agents with the YA contemporary I have been shopping. They have all come back and said contemporary isn’t selling the way it was. People want to see more fantasy. I’m glad I love writing and consuming fantasy but the realization Not Without Sunshine is farther from finding a home is difficult to swallow. Part of my makeup in romanticizing and dreaming big. Sometimes it is hard not to bend, to feel frustrated.
gg
I feel weird asking people to support my work, but it’s something I have to do to help my dreams come true.
We need a hand. Geek & Sundry pick the top three books and publish them, distribute them to bookstores, and shop the book around for other media possibilities as well.
We are making a big push to get 50 pre-orders by 50 new readers by the weekend. That puts us in the top ten, on the front page of the contest, and is a great way to reach our goals.
Here is the link to The Shadow Bearer Page https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-shadow-bearers
Rebecca and I are having a blast writing this together. Thank you for your help!
thank you
 
 
I included the prologue of The Shadow Bearers. I’d love to hear what you think. Chapter one and two are on Inkshares and Chapter three and four will be posted next week.
Athea brought the tips of her fingers to her mouth. She spoke the words, -Vine to vane. Ash to spine.- 1.jpg
Prologue

Chrysthe swallowed the urge to cry out as she dropped to her knees. The bodies of their tribe members’ lifeless spirits were strewn throughout the center of the village. “The darkness took it all while we were hunting, Emon. We need to run!” The urgency in her voice surprised her. They knew this day was coming why now the attempt at salvation?

Neilos wanted more power. Needed more power. Neilos’s hunger to be a legend led him into the arms of Kala, The Goddess of the Cipher Land. When he abandoned his people the Dagee, he sacrificed their lives. His thirst to rule all Hudtira far outweighed what he had right in front of him. His followers one of the many costs. His own sister, Chrysthe, left to fend for herself.

Emon pulled Chrysthe off the ground and cradled her face between his warm hands. “Unfortunately, my love, there is nowhere we can go. The Darkness will find us. We were all warned years ago.” Emon sighed heavily with the realization this could have been avoided.

“I don’t want to give up Emon.” Chrysthe pulled away from his grasp. She headed for the trail leading to the mountain’s summit. Emon knew she might find comfort in a place they’ve cherished through the years. The only place they could truly be together. Pine needle covered branches reached out to them as they hurried away from the settlement. A hollow sensation followed close behind. An emptiness so vast they could almost smell the cipher edging closer.

Both were silent as they tread up the mountain one last time. The undeniable realization sunk into Chrysthe’s gut as they ascended. Nothing could spare their lives.  Blood dripped from her balled up fists. She realized she was digging her nails into her palms soft skin as they reached the trail’s end. Defeat encased her bones.

Chrysthe leaned against the mountain’s vertical slate peak admiring the view of the land. Her head turned toward the river. She joined her fingertips. A blueish hue glowed in the space between her hands, “Vine to vane. Ash to spine.”

“I wasn’t aware that you cared enough about the Nari to protect them,” Emon stated. “After all they’re half the reason we’ve lost our tribe.”

“Yes, but our tribe is the other half of the reason. We started this too.” Chrysthe let out an exaggerated sigh. “No one should have to lose everything. It may be too late but any help I can grant is better than nothing.” Chrysthe’s cheeks burned as her palms tingled. The chant cast.

Emon paced back and forth debating what to do next. “I don’t foresee a way out of this, do you?”

“No. Not now. It’s not time.”

A flash of movement appeared in the corner of her eye.

“It’s too late for us, Emon.”

The Darkness hurtled toward them on the mountain top. Nowhere left to go.

“I love you with all of me, Chrysthe.” A single tear rolled down his face.

“Me, too.” Emon pulled Chrysthe toward him and held her.

This was their end.

They both knew it was pointless to fight the shadows, no one was ready for the change necessary to restore the peace. Without a sound the Darkness rolled in. When the shadows subsided both Emon and Chrysthe were gone.

Beneath the fallen dominion of the Dagee, Neilos stood in his chambers. His stretched hands folded at the waist.  Ferena, once a vibrant and prosperous nation is nothing but crumbled buildings cast in the purple clouds. The perimeter of the enchantment guarded by shadows—a benefit of following Kala’s orders. Bulging veins the color of wild violets weaved up his neck like vines strangling a green giant. A deep shadow resembling a human stood beside him—something only few could see. Neilos focused his stare on the mist rising from a stone pillar standing in the center of his rock-walled cavern. The only light source was the glow from his powers and a candle resting on the bone alter.

“Pascentium vitia, spiritus et carbones,” Neilos spoke in a melodic song. His long

chestnut hair shaved to the skin. An outline of a spider reached to each ear, then trailed down his neck. He hasn’t yet earned the right to mark his back.

“Send them back, not further,” an icy gust thrashed past his drawn face.

“They aren’t finished,” he snapped before reconsidering his audience. “They should do more before returning to their hosts.”

“What took thousands of years to build costs more than a week’s work,” the voice sounded closer to a woman’s. The blurry outlines grew more defined. The tip of a pointed nose quickly followed her flushed cheeks. He waited for more details of her to reveal themselves though Neilios never saw her lips. Her brief clarity faded back to an obscurity.  

“More can be done.” His voice rushed and frustrated.

“You need rest. Creatures will always have fear and hate. There is no concern of loss here.”  Each word the shadow spoke grew louder. Then just like a breeze past the flame of a candle, the voice went out. Nelios now stood alone in his tomb of worship. He nodded at the carved stone reaching from the ground to the curved planchement.

He pressed his fingertips together. “Quaerere nihil magis, sequor domum.”  

The purple light coursed from his hands surrounding the stone. His eyes rolled back into his head leaving only vast white orbs framing his nose. The small room’s air grew thinner. Neilos lungs gasped before the air became thin again. Silence filled his mind. He extinguished the candle’s flame with one heavy breath.

Everything grew quiet.

The whispers of failure nagged at the corners of his desperate mind. He chose to focus on the smell of muck permeating from the slop between the stone walls. His mind slowed as he began to pick at each detail of the smell. The lands he stole weighed heavier in the quiet.

Fun and music

e30 promo.jpgI have an extra fun episode to share today. Chris Ballew is on the show. He talks about his journey in The Presidents and how it led to Caspar Babypants. We get into how Seattle is the best city, his new album Away We Go and so much more! Between song origins and silly phone conversations we have some good fun.
Awesome guy. Great Story. Do it up! Let me know what you think below!

iTunes: http://goo.gl/bc47mv
Google Play: http://goo.gl/GNrXfC
Stitcher: http://goo.gl/Y2wRoq

chasing dreams

Hey, guys!

I haven’t been blogging as much as I’d like to. I tried the before bedtime and I only stuck to it for a week. I have so many deadlines and honestly, I couldn’t be more excited about it. I love to write, building my career is challenging but rewarding. Following dreams can be terrifying but I believe it’s necessary. Things have just been super busy. Most of my nights have been me bent over my computer writing until I’m close to passed out. I’m hoping once the fall comes I’ll have some more time to blog.

I’ve been working a lot behind the scenes, getting things set up and being heads down and creating. One of the things taking up my time has been co-writing a fantasy novel with the wonderful author, Rebecca Clark. It originally started as a short story and became so much more. Rebecca and I just entered our fantasy project in an Inkshares contest with Geek & Sundry. I’m really excited and nervous.

The more preorders the project receives and better chance it has to win. Winning would be amazing and help me get so much closer to my dreams.  Below you’ll find the blurb and cover. I’d love to know your thoughts. You can comment below if you have any questions. Shares and preorders would be so appreciated. It makes me nervous to put myself out there like this but we are super proud of this story and would love the chance to share the entire version with the world.

ShadowBearerseBook.jpgView the book on Inkshares

Countless Huditra villages demolished by a darkness spreading throughout the lands. Thousands slain by the falling shadows. Hate looms over the forgotten lands like heavy fog stifling the little life that’s left. Over the years the Nafarat have been casting their magic, destroying all that’s natural. The War From Nowhere forced those who’ve survived the initial attacks into hiding. Nothing alive was safe. Both Tag, the leader of the Nari, river, people and Athea, the future chief of Dagee, the tribe behind the mountains, are all that’s left standing of their kind. With their home grounds no longer safe Tag and Athea hit the traveler’s road, each with individual missions. When their paths cross, they reluctantly team up to seek the answers that will lead them to free the land of shadows.

A new month.

I’m writing this before I pass out. It’s been a long, busy day. Today is my official first day back from nine days off. I was nervous about taking the time but I organized myself and made it work. I had no idea how badly I needed the time off until I took it. My sister-in-law who rocks and my almost seventeen -year-old nephew whom I adore were in town. My husband and I both took off the entire time. This was the first time ever in the history of our marriage we both took that much time off at the same time. Crazy right? It was great spending time with family and unwinding. As much I love the hustle it’s nice to cool down the jets and just drink a crazy amount of wine and go on adventures. Good stuff.

It’s funny how often it’s overlooked (at least in my case) but spending time with myself without goals and crazy schedules really helps me to learn about myself. I got to know myself just as a person over the last few days in a different way. Which fortunately for me means that I have unlocked some pretty killers ideas that I had been searching for over the last few weeks. Score.

Now that I can clearly see my month of August I am really glad I took the time because I am going to be crazy (and I mean crazy) busy. I’m excited about all the projects I have on the docket. Starting at the end of the week stay tuned for updates. A lot is happening and changing. I’m a littler nervous about a couple of things. I continue to wait to hear about final decisions regarding the YA contemporary I’ve been shopping around though I’m a lot closer to where I want to be with it.

There is something unsettling about starting new projects. I would compare it similarly to getting on a roller coaster. The fact I’m strapping in for a series of intensities is clear but what it’s going to feel like isn’t. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I think it does. There is a fine line between excited and nervous. I ride it often. Honestly, I think I enjoy it. Part of the fun is the hustle.

I have a fun show lined up this week. I will have both Kate Hackett and Rebecca Weimer on this week’s episode of Too Many Words. It’s fun. Look forward to it.

That’s it for now. I’m tired and my eyes are starting to glaze over important words. Time to unwind.

-J

Zombies Please

E28 promo.jpgI haven’t blogged in over a week. This is my first week off in over a year. August 8th I’ll be back to work, and I’m super excited about my upcoming projects. Until then you can listen to my newest episode of Too Many Words!

Today Kendall Ashley – Distracted Blogger is on the show talking about writing for Nerdist and Geek & Sundry. We get into how we can’t get enough Marvel, Zombies, and Harry Potter. I had a super fun time talking to Kendall. Awesome person! Good times! Check it out!
iTunes: https://goo.gl/070Onu
Stitcher: http://goo.gl/iu84Ex
Google Play: https://goo.gl/qE6A7X

words to ink

Mind going crazy. Million different directions. Six notebooks circle me. I’m hungry. The words can’t come fast enough. Obsessive, frantic scrawling, then I flip the page or swap the journal.

A wish to fly. A hope to nurture.

Doubt and self-sabotage are shelved, though calling out the way cookies do after the house has fallen quiet.

The right music. The chosen journal. A thirst. A fear. A thousand. A battle of fiction and reality.

The more words that flow the further I get. Away. Nowhere. Anywhere.

When the pen is in motion, the worry, the doubt, the mocking of silence falls away. A cherished moment. The ink is dry. The words gone, served their purpose. The rest only lasts seconds till it begins to fade.

on an upswing

I’ve been in a whirlwind, a fictional ocean of ideas. In other words, I haven’t been blogging much recently. My head has been caught up in various fiction projects and getting the podcast organized—which it is now, so that’s nice. Whew! That was intense. As I produce a backlog of episodes in preparation for time off and then a fictional sprint, I thought I’d pop in.

How’s it going?

I’m on a bit of an upswing, I gotta say, and it’s nice. My anxiety is mild lately, in part because I’ve been paying attention to the present, and in part, for reasons I am not aware of—anyway you cut it, it’s nice. I’m still having trouble falling asleep but I’ve been staying asleep recently, and that has made a big difference. I think peace finds a way in when self-expectance enters the picture. Have you ever had the feeling like you’ve matured somehow over night?

As I parent, I noticed different phases and developmental milestones, but I hardly take note of my own. It’s certainly not because they aren’t happening, just for whatever reason, I am not always able to notice a change in myself. There is a time release involve with noting the self-change. It’s weird, but I think it’s a thing.

I’ve been making a lot of things happen recently in the background. (Hustling and word-slinging) As I learn to adjust and when to notice a project to grab, the closer I feel to sane. Do you know what I mean? I’m just feeling more comfortable somehow with all of it. I’m learning and progressing in a way that I feel good about, and I do believe that is part of why I’m more peaceful. Exercise certainly helps, as exhausting of an idea it is sometimes, regular exercise makes such a difference.

I’m gonna go tinker with the short story for Creative Alchemy INC’s new magical realism anthology, before flipping on Game of Thrones. (I’m only on season 4)

Check out the most recent episode of Too Many Words with Sarah Fader! 

Also, you can read some very personal pieces I’m proud of on Feminine Collective!

She deserves a novel.

Do you ever get a nagging an idea that not only refuses to go away but grows and grows until it’s impossible to ignore it?

I have those all the time.

Elliot Granger and The Clueless Brigade was definitely one of those ideas. I was knee deep in rewriting Not Without Sunshine, and I kept picturing a teenage girl with turquoise hair and a picture taking habit. Elliot started as a series of blog posts, then turned into a weekly fictional podcast. It gave me a solid outlet for Elliot and her friends without diving into another novel, because then just wasn’t the time.

As I plan Chapter Seventeen, the whispers that have been trying to get through for over a month are hard to ignore. Elliot and her world started as a passion project, but now it’s something more.

The deeper into the story I get, the more it becomes obvious to me that Elliot Granger and her clueless brigade need to be in a book and get proper manuscript treatment and devotion. The weekly installments will come to an end, but Elliot and her upside world will return better than ever, and in the format it deserves. I will keep you updated with her new home, and on release dates as I know more.

The podcast will be available until August 31st.

It’s sometimes hard to make these decisions, at least it is for me. But I’m excited about Elliot’s future.

 

Chapter Sixteen: Wandering The Unfamiliar

Listen to Chapter 16 on iTunes  and Google Play!

promo ch 16.jpgWe stepped into a tile floored hallway that broke away into a large open living room and kitchen that looks nice enough for Taylor Swift to use. The walls were white and lined with stainless-steel counters. The house was decorated with simple modern furniture. Not a single picture hung on the white and yellow walls. It was hard to ignore that every piece of furniture matched as it were taken from a showroom as is.
“We are sitting ducks,” Malachi groaned dropping his bag next to his feet. “We need a plan B.”
“Why is that?” I crossed my arms tightly around myself as I took in the inside of a house I would normally only drive by. Pete trotted up the stairs with his guitar case hanging loosely off his shoulder. He felt like a million miles away.
“I’m in love,” Molly cooed. Her large green eyes glistened as she looked at the shit we just stepped in. The pink streaks in her hair glowed under the bright lights hanging from the high ceilings.
“Something doesn’t feel right,” Malachi said, his eyes set only on Lincoln, who did seem at all impressed by the house. “I was expecting a shoe box with roaches.
Lincoln shrugged, “They are good speakers,” as he finished his sentence his lips curled into a smirk.
“I’m sure,” Malachi tossed his hand to the side dismissing Lincoln, “Where is my room?”
“Rooms are upstairs, and they are all huge,” Pete’s voice traveled down from an open loft overhead.
“Well, I guess I’m heading upstairs,” Malachi walked toward the wooden staircase keeping his eyes on Molly. Concern etched into every inch of his tired face.
Molly’s smile was suddenly gone. The spark disappeared from her eyes. She rubbed her stomach with a frown.
“You okay?” I asked her as I hitched my bag up on my shoulder.
“I just need some water,” Molly whined, walking toward the kitchen.
“Let’s not do this tonight,” Malachi’s voice tightened but clearly from concern and not frustration.
“You can do whatever you want.” Molly’s voice was indifferent, which wasn’t a tone from her I’d heard yet.
Malachi pushed out a massive sigh giving me the feeling there something I wasn’t catching, some hidden line of communication I wasn’t privy to. Malachi hissed a “Whatever,” as he climbed the stairs.
Suddenly I was the only one still standing in the foyer. I was in another world. Malachi was right, as nice as the house was, an ominous feeling hung in the air. A hole in my stomach was growing and filling with doubt. I was completely uncomfortable and restless in my own skin at that moment. Without a better idea as to what to do, I also meandered up the stairs.
Lincoln sat on a twin bed in the first room off the hallway. He was taking stacks of comics out of his green messenger back. As he grabbed a bunch of Spiderman, his eyes found me like he knew I was looking at him the whole time. His dark hair fell in front of his eyes. It seemed that every time it did that my heart melted into a pathetic puddle. As usual, I had no idea what he was thinking.
“You worried like Malachi?” His voice revealed more self-doubt then I’ve ever caught before. Lincoln is so mysterious about everything it comes across as confidence but in reality it really wasn’t.
“I guess a little.” I stepped into the room.
“Don’t you trust me?”
“I don’t really know you,” I smiled nervously. My words had come out colder than I intended but the truth I suppose often does. I added, “I definitely don’t this Rex guy.”
“I get it,” he mumbled.
I was frustrated that he wasn’t saying more. I wanted him to make me feel better somehow, assure me that I hadn’t just made a terrible mistake. But, he couldn’t because he didn’t know much more than I did. I realized that he was possibly even more lost than I was.
“Did I hurt your feelings, because I didn’t mean to.” I let my crossed arms flop helplessly to my sides. “I’m just…overwhelmed, I guess.”
“Me too,” Lincoln patted the spot next to him on the bed, and my heart twisted to its side.
The moment I sat down next to him I picked up an issue of Spiderman, nervous of the sudden tension screaming between us. I was in fact in over of my head. “I haven’t read this one yet.”
“What about Spiderman do you like so much, you hardly touch the other comics.”
“I like that’s he an underdog.”
“You like underdogs?”
“I am an underdog,” I glanced up from a panel solely focused on the web, to find his dark eyes on me.
I made a weird noise and looked back at the page.
“I make you nervous.”
“That’s an understatement,” I mumbled into my sleeve.
He laughed.
“Do I make you nervous?” I squeaked the words out like an award mouse.
“Nope,” he said leaning in. He pressed his lips hard against mine. I swear I could feel all his panic and self-doubt through that kiss. His hungry desperation wasn’t for me; it was for general escape.
Was that all this was?
The cruel thoughts whirled around in my head.
The distant, frantic strum of Pete’s guitar cut our very intense moment with a hint of gravity, at least for me. I pulled back, but his hand found my hair and pulled me back into him. My heart raced as uneasiness sunk into my knees.
Lincoln’s hands were everywhere. My chest was about to implode. Without any thought, I stood up. Flashes of something I didn’t want to think about found an entry into my mind.
“What’s up?” Lincoln frowned, his voice ragged and out of breath.
“We aren’t gonna do it tonight. We are still getting to know each other.”
“Can’t we do that better if we are sharing a room?” Lincoln grabbed my hand attempting to pull me closer.
“I’m gonna be in my own room,” I smiled a little annoyed with his attitude. Just because he found us, a place didn’t mean we were gonna shack up, did it?
“Is it cuz good boy Pete is here?” Lincoln’s face transformed into one continuous frown, his eyes even seemed a shade or two darker.
“No, it’s because I’m not ready to move fast. Everything feels like it’s moving too fast.”
“Whatever,” Lincoln’s voice was very curt. He turned to an issue of Captin America, “See ya in the morning,” he mumbled.
I was confused and stood there for a minute unclear how things got so weird so fast. The distance from my mom scared me. Her smile and guidance felt lightyears away. I was looking for an escape, but now I didn’t recognize anything.
I backed out of the room. At first, I just stood in the hallway for a moment unsure of what to do. I rubbed my hands on my thighs trying to hear my mom’s voice. Brain poured into my head. Was he okay? I was hit with a powerful desire to find a corner, curl up, and cry. My world was spinning out of control. In a house full of people I felt completely alone. Was it too late to fix everything?
The sound of puking came from a crack in a mostly closed door. I glanced in without really intending to as I made my way down the oversized and strange hallway. Even the doorknobs looked like they cost a fortune. Molly hurtled over the toilet with fingers stuck down her throat. It hit me what the secret dialogue between her and Malachi meant—all the comments he made in the car made sense. I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept walking even though that it didn’t feel like the right thing. Instead, I followed the sound of Pete’s guitar.
I came to a large room at the end of the hallway. Of course, Pete would grab the master suite first. He sat perched on the window sill. His whole body curled around the guitar making it seem like they were one. His crystal blue eyes drawn to the cords as his fingers plucked each one.
He looked up startled to see me. He stopped playing as a sweet smile formed on his dimpled face. “Done with lover boy already?”
I crossed my arms and looked down at my feet.
“Trouble already?” Pete leaned his sticker-covered acoustic against the wall.
“I want to take things slower than lightning speed.” I knew that sentence was all I needed. After all, Pete knew everything about me.
His eyes grew dim. He stood up and walked over to me. Pete folded me in a giant bear hug, “You might want to tell him about that night. Ya know, if you are serious about that clown,” Pete mumbled the words into my head. I heard them, but at the moment all I wanted was to be there in his arms because it’s the closest I felt to home in a while.

Wouldn’t mind being the mother of dragons.

Okay, so I didn’t get a post up last night. I happily passed out on the sofa watching Game of Thrones. Since I am late adapter to the show, I have the benefit of being able to do some of the best binge watching on record. It’s been a week full of long days and nights. Part of juggling multiple projects means there really isn’t enough time in the day. It’s all good, though. I actually love holding up in my room, laying in bed at night working. It mixes it up from being in my office. Really, if I’m writing, I’m usually happy.

At some point, I got too caught up with goals. I wouldn’t say I lost sight of the what I was writing. I’m just saying I have been artificially stressing myself out. When I actually let myself relax, I write my best, and I’m rather happy doing it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what draws me to a fictional character. It’s the imperfect and tortured characters that usually pull me in. I want someone to root for and someone to cry with. I am far from perfect, as are the majority us, and I like finding shared oddities, even if it’s with a fictional character. I’ve been (as you know) working on a wide variety of short stories for multiple projects at the moment, all fantasy but lots of subgenres, which means I’m hoping in and out of magnificence worlds. As I write all these very different stories, there is one thing they all share in common, at least one very flawed character.

I am always reading. As I go through books, I gradually add to my list of characters I’ll always remember. Most recently, Finch from All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven got on the list. Amazing book. Brilliant character depth. Since it’s summer and most of the shows I like are on break, and I’ve recently allowed myself to discover the fantastic world of Game of Thrones, that’s pretty much making up what I’m watching. The show is overflowing with complex characters and stellar, intriguing, and sometimes disturbing subplots. I’m continuously wowed and inspired.

Life is people. Stories need strong characters. I realize I’m saying a lot of what you already know. But one thing I’m finding oddly funny lately is how one can understand a meaning but without allowing it to fully sink in. We are all in a rush, ya know? But, seriously just spending a few moments and thinking about the endless possibilities of what can add complexity to a person is a worthy exercise. Small things can accumulate over time and transform the people entirely, but it takes years to see the other. There are some moments where the crash and bang of it all is suddenly drastic and life-altering. The truth is everyone is complex, again this we all know, but, it’s how one becomes complex that’s the story.

The world and the people in it.

You can listen to my most recent episode of Too Many Words with guest Antony Johnston  on iTunes and Google Play
Have a good night, and enjoy the Elliot that’s posting tomorrow.
-J

Balls to the wall.

I’m kinda kicking ass. Which is strange because if I were to have written this earlier in the day I would have probably told you nothing was going right. I was sleepy and low energy all day. A typical human reaction to working too late the night before…and apparently I’m doing it again.

Oh well.

Tinkering with the tone in the wizard story I’m working on while listening to Coldplay most of the night has been a delight. I’m going over each line and strengthening where I need to. This story has definitely turned out slightly different than my initial thought, but the characters naturally went this way, so instead of fighting, I leaned into it.

Let’s not forget this writing thing should be fun. It’s never fun beating your head against an artificial wall.

I recorded a fun talk with Kendall Ashley earlier today. We talked about the articles she writes for Geek & Sundry and Nerdist, zombies ( of course), and shows we love. That episode will air on August 4th.

Update: Starting the last week in July Too Many Words goes from Mondays and Thursdays to just Thursday for right now. Unfortuenly I haven’t yet figured out how to clone myself or have developed any device that added hours to the day. (Which, I feel like someone should.) I have my hands in all sorts of exciting new writing projects, opportunities I wanted to be sure to grab. This meant that I needed to rearrange my schedule, which was making me nervous but a theme I keep going back to is, adjusting isn’t something to fear, it’s just life.

That’s a good note to leave off on, I think.

Till tomorrow night

-J

A busy day.

Let me just start off by saying I’m deliriously tired so please keep that in mind, but alas I made a commitment to myself that I would really try to blog each night before bed.

Continuing to be determined to enjoy my summer and to log full-time hours, I started out taking turns going on adventures with kids taking a different dog each time. It was a lot of fun and also a really good form of exercise for all involved.

The second stop was the kids and I went to a pretty chill, wooden playground where the kids climbed around on the equipment while I sat on a bench as Jake (my rottweiler) laid at my feet playing with his rubber squeaky ball. This woman walking by me huffed and said, “I can’t believe you’d bring an attack dog to the park.”

I looked down at Jake who at this point was half asleep with the ball in his mouth before looking back at the frustrated woman, then asked, “What attack dog?”

“That’s a rottweiler.” Like, she was seriously mad and fuming about this. Her shoulders were tight.

I was kinda pissed and said, “You are breed profiling him and that’s not cool.” Something I do is smile when I’m mad which makes everything I say give off the air that I’m being sarcastic. It usually doesn’t help much in conflicts.

The woman tossed her hand back, said, “Ridiculous,” and walked away.

Ummm…okay.

Then it was swimming, the store for dinner items then heads down work time. I’m kinda feeling optimistic today, which is nice.

I gotta say productivty wise I killed it. I edited an article and got that where it needed to go. Pitched  column. (Wish me luck!)  Outlined two short stories. Did needed research. I also finished the second draft of the wizard story for the Meanwhile in Washinton anthology that I am co-writing with H.M. Jones. Which, I gotta say I’m having so much fun with this project and working with H.M. Just thinking about it gets me excited.

I didn’t do everything I set out to, but I did most of it. I like to think that I can pack everything I want to do in a day out of sheer will. It’s not always the case. Today I’m happy with what I did and what I enjoyed. Oddly enough it makes me nervous about tomorrow, but that’s just me being me, I suppose.

 

Well, I’m gonna read a bit before sleep.

-J