What Am I Even Doing?

What am I doing. What am I even doing even?

I feel like I have gotten very little accomplished on the writing front recently, which isn’t ALL true, as I did complete and edit Season 1 of Alayna and the Beast for bigworldnetwork.com. Haven’t heard back from the new editor, but we’ll see.

I did a chapter in my Cultbreakers rewrite… and I feel like that’s about it. I wish I could say that I’ve been really busy or something, but no busier than usual. I don’t know what’s going on, but I suspect that some of my lack of motivation has to do with Fallout 4, commonly referred to as the greatest game of all time. Though I still carry a torch for Resident Evil 4. WAIT! GAME #4 IS THE BEST?!?!

Bluggghhhhhh! I need to get motivated!

I think when a writer is struggling to get motivated and excited about writing, it’s probably time to do some more reading. Stories help me get my muse back.

Next up on the writing list is Our Liberties We Prize. Not sure what my topic is yet. I have a list in my writing journal, so I know I have a plan. I just can’t remember what next chapter is supposed to be.

So, this isn’t much of an update as much as a meh-fest!giphy (91)

Wizards in Space

You guys.

I can’t find the words to tell you how unbelievably excited, honored, and humbled I am to appear in Issue #2 of Wizards in Space Literary magazine. My story “Our Lady of the Crossroads” is featured, and tells the tale of a teen witch in the ’90s who summons Hecate to deal with her Health teacher, who happens to be a demon cast out of Hell.

Like don’t get me wrong, it’s a good story, but… daaaaaaammmnnn. My piece is surrounded by some incredible, incredible goddamn work.

My personal favorite has to be “The Land of Rough Draft” by Brenna Harvey. If you are a fantasy fan of any stripe or caliber, you absolutely must read this piece. I found it breathtakingly clever, laugh-out-loud funny, and emotionally devastating simultaneously. “The Land of Rough Draft” tells the story of Ventin, the stereotypical manly-man fantasy hero, the chosen one meant to fight the evil sorcerer Elthumath and rescue the blonde and perfect princess. However, the story reads literally like a “rough draft” of a fantasy novel someone is writing as they slowly wake up to the fact that their story is full of gender and ethnic stereotypes, and tired, disheartening tropes of high fantasy. The characters and stories change as the invisible author comes to understand how to write a much better story. Here are some choice excerpts:

“Ventin had an uncertain leadership role in this army. he often made passionate motivational speeches to his men before deadly battles against unbeatable odds. But he also snuck away for a great many entertaining side adventures without a noticeable impact on the organization or discipline of his troops. Whatever his official authority level, Ventin attended a great many strategy meetings held in large, luxurious tents… he stabbed a great many expensive daggers through the yellowed maps and into the rough wooden tables to emphasize just how righteous his fury was. Where he bought the daggers, none could say”

This description of Ventin’s sidekick character, Kimbo-Limbo: “Kimbo Limbo’s description portrayed him very emphatically as a black man, in language both fetishizing and smugly self-congratulatory. Kimbo Limbo had been added to the story under the misguided assumption that any appearance of a person of color in literature is necessarily a progressive, anti-racist move.”

Ventin says at one point, “I have therefore successfully couched stereotypical, oversimplified, homogenized depictions of non-Western cultures in admiring language.”

“Which obviously absolves you of all racism,” said Kimbo Limbo.

“Obviously,” said Ventin.

My favorite character is the villain, Elthumath, who is described thusly: “As a shortcut to imply the Dark Lord’s villainy, everything about his appearance, from his intricate glam rock eye shadow to his luxuriously tailored robes, suggested gleeful and unapologetic gender nonconformity.”

I could go on and on and on. But I won’t, because YOU SHOULD READ IT! Oh my God, please just buy a copy and read it. I’ve never read anything this savagely funny that also made me so, so sad. Because I love Tolkien, but he is the biggest a-hole of them all when it comes to this stuff.

And truth be told, this piece is making me look SO HARD at my own fantasy novel in the works, Harvest of Ash. I’m writing it to be feminist, but I fear to look at my work through Harvey’s critical lens. Because fantasy needs to change, and we need stories that embrace the world we live in now, not some romantic ideal of Medieval life which clearly sucked for 90% of the population at the time.

“The Land of Rough Draft” is just ONE of so many fantastic, illustrious, and wondrous pieces in this lit mag. If you’re a fantasy/sci-fi fan, and believe in reading progressive pieces about identity and representation that really make you think, this is the lit mag for you. Buy it. Buy it! DO IT NOW!!

It will make you go:

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Editors Know Best!

I heard back from Vivian, my editor for Humans Wanted, and she had some excellent notes for my story. Of course, just like when I was a teenager and my mom would try to give me advice, when I first read edits and suggestions of any sort, I always get huffy. “Well, I MEANT to use that word there, thank you very much!”

Then I re-read the comments and start making changes, and all of the sudden it dawns on me (with this music in the background). “Oh my God. This is so much better now that I’ve taken those suggestions!”

It happens each time without fail! I wish I could skip over that initial huffy phase (even if it only lasts about 90 seconds) and go right into the grateful stage. I suppose that happens with time! So typical — I’m great a dishing it out, but terrible at taking my own medicine.

In other news, I have written 50 blog posts on my blog I Know What I Know, which seems like SO MANY. I swear, very few of them are rants. Check them out. They will be relevant to your interests. This is because each post is radically different. I write about soup, wax museums, and that time I rode in a Lyft. There’s bound to be something you wanna read about.

I haven’t heard anything, but I’m still holding out hope to have a story in “Ride the Star Wind” which is a Cthulhu space opera anthology. The close date was January 31st but I haven’t heard one way or the other. I suppose I’ll wait until the end of the month and contact them. Fingers crossed?

Beauty and the Beast, Slayer of the Vampyres

Well, I have finished the first season of Alayna and the Beast, my beauty and the beast reboot. In my reimagining, “Beauty” is a vampire hunter and the Beast had a wife who was also transformed. They team up to kick some monster ass and maybe fall in love.

I wasn’t planning on it being a cliffhanger. I wasn’t planning on a season two until suddenly at the end of the final scene, Alayna did something unexpected! Wow. A character hasn’t surprised me like that in a long time.

The good news for this story, which was crafted with Big World Network in mind, and thought the site is under new management it appears it will stay up and they are now taking submissions again. I’m hoping to see this story online soon and for free, dear readers! Though I came abide by doing my own audio recording anymore — it’s just too time consuming with a toddler!

I finished some books recently and you can read my reviews on Goodreads. Please follow my Facebook author page for updates. I’ve just started reading Beyond Black by one of my all time FAVORITE authors, Hilary Mantel. Not even done with the first full chapter to and I am already in awe of her descriptions and electrifying characterization.

Ahem, by the way Hilary, where is the final Cromwell book in your Wolf Hall series may I ask?!?!?

Much love. Read, write, rise up!

New Year, Old Fears

I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about the new year, as are a lot of people. The general climate is one of fear and devision, and it seems like the more things change the more they stay the same. So what’s the point of making some kind of resolution?

I am definitely NOT the poster child for keeping resolutions. I can’t tell you how many diet, fitness, and mindfulness programs I’ve started and slowly let list into the rocks like an ill-fated cruise ship. I know this about myself, and yet, what are the options? Give up and never try to make yourself a better person?

I don’t have the answer to that, but here’s something I can tell you. In 2013 on a road trip to and from Jekyll Island, Georgia with my husband and father-in-law. I had lot of time on my hands so I spent it journaling, specifically making new year resolutions. I’m sure that journal entry had the obligatory fitness goals, but it also included a challenge to myself to really take writing seriously. I had just turned 30, and I decided if ever there was a time to make a real go at this writing dream, now was the time.

I’m no JK Rowling, but here I am at 33 with published poems and short stories, numerous manuscript requests, and a steady gig blogging for mom.me. And my momentum is still going strong. For that reason, I’ll never badmouth a resolution or a person making it. Now if I could get the pumped up about fitness… 😣😥😦

Okay, so for the writing update, I sent a lot of my break finishing The Feast of All Saints by the incomparable Anne Rice, but did get a smidge of my own work done. I wrote a very short, very half-hearted chapter of Drifting, which is so scanty I haven’t the heart to post it on Wattpad yet until I flesh it out some more. My best writing day lately was at the lovely Fuel coffee shop in my hometown where I cranked out a very action packed chapter of Alayna and the Beast, my gritty Beauty and the Beast reboot where”Beauty ” is a monster slayer. It’s a fantasy novella I’m not sure what to do with, but I love it.

If you’re reading this, know I love and appreciate you and your support. I wish you luck with any and all resolutions and hope 2017 is a year of peace and healing.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (has infected everything I write…)

Things have picked up on the writing front. As of this writing, Christmas is at a record-high 90% SAVED rating, which as allowed me to get a few things done here and there!

First, I completed a 3,000 word short story titled “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I am so entrenched in the Christmas cheer that I can’t stop writing about it. The story focuses on a young mother and her daughter who have been protected (unbeknownst to them) for years by the angel on their Christmas tree. Things go to hell in a handbasket when the angel is lost in the basement and not in her proper place at the top of the tree…

(Side note — I had a friend in college who was convinced he’d coined the phrase “to hell in a handbasket” and I had to gently remind him that was bulls**t).

I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of ghost stories at Christmas time, as was the tradition in Victorian England. This has inspired a series of blog posts on I Know What I Know about paranormal experiences I’ve had over the years.

I also crapped out a couple of Christmas-themed poems, one about how all of our traditions for this Christian holiday were stolen from pagans, and the other about how Christmas magic fades as you grow up, but is reborn once you have children of your own. I’ve almost filled up my poetry notebook, and when I’m done I think I’m going to self-publish it. Just to give them a home. Because I’m not much of a poet, but writing poetry has made me a much more vivid writer. My descriptions often get praise from my readers, and this is because I try to describe things poetically and say it in a new way. I don’t want my little thought-nuggets to float around in my piles of notes and old writings forever when they could have a nice tidy little book to live in.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking a lot about journaling lately. I still keep a journal, but it’s not much more than just a list of things I’ve been doing or thinking for the past few months. I don’t write in it any more often than that. Mostly, I pour my creative journaling energies into a logbook I’m keeping for my daughter of all of her milestones and developments. I don’t write in that one as often as I should…

It’s weird — I used to go back and read my journals fairly often. Maybe because now the pile of notebooks is 24-25 years long, but I don’t have that desire anymore to marinate in a sauce of myself. I’m not sure what would be gained from looking back, and with so little time, I’d rather push my writing career. Yet I can’t see myself ever not keeping a journal…

Anyway. Happy holidays to everyone, be safe, and spread the love.

Here We Come a’Wassailing (but not a’writing…)

Oh sweet Queen of Heaven, I have written PRETTY MUCH NOTHING LATELY! ACK!

Well, here’s my story/excuse/”the deal” — My husband, daughter, and I attended NCTE and AREA (English teacher conferences for those who don’t know “the lingo”) and then drove down to the glorious Jekyll Island for Thanksgiving.

When we got home, it was November 28th, and I realized I had exactly NOTHING done for Christmas. No parties planned, no decorations, no meals, no gifts.

It was almost enough to say, “Screw it, we’re not doing Christmas this year.”

sadpug

My face was literally this pug

But then I saw my husband’s sad glistening little Christmas-loving eyes… he is a major Christmas fan, but because of grad school and finals, I knew it was all up to me. So I abandoned all my writing projects and kicked my ass into SAVE CHRISTMAS MODE!!!

As of this writing, successful gatherings have been thrown together, the festivities are scheduled, cards sent, photo ops with Santa perfected, the menus achieved, and the SHOPPING DONE (as is MOST of the gift wrapping). I would call Christmas 90% saved (assuming something doesn’t go wrong… DAMN I JINXED IT!).

So, I’m going to do my very best to get back on track with the writing. I hope to get a lot accomplished over the break, but… we’ll see.

me-as-santa

This is obviously a painting of me. Because this year, I AM SANTA. I HAVE SAVED CHRISTMAS! (just ignore the burning German toys at my feet– just pretend they’re my writing hopes and dreams) (but she kinda looks like me, amirite?)

My Sinuses Cannot Stop Me!

When you’re sick, and your kid’s sick, it’s hard to get any writing done! Also, obviously I’v been setting up my website. However, last Saturday, my mom took my daughter for the morning, and I was able to drag myself to the computer and work. I’m working on a “secret” project, but, you read it here first — I’ll tell you what it is!

I’m about 40 pages into my first romance novel. It’s a m/m paranormal historical romance. I don’t want to give out the working title yet, because I think it could give away the ending. So far, it tells the story of a shy young man named Grayson who is secretly in love with his sister’s fiance. But, that’s not his only problem… his sister was bitten by a werewolf!

I’m reading Anne Rice’s The Feast of All Saints. It’s interesting to me because I think it’s pretty brave for a white writer to tackle the story of people of color in historical New Orleans. But everything Anne does she does balls out, and you just have to go along for the ride. In the 70s I think they probably didn’t ask as many questions about appropriation. I can overdo the Anne Rice (like when I read the Mayfair Witches trilogy I was like “gah, can we finish this?”) but it’s been a long time, and I’m glad to return to her lush world. She’s definitely a huge influence on me and shares that equally with Stephen King. From Anne, I learned that you should follow your heart and write about anything you want, even if your obsession is lusty vampires (sorry, that doesn’t go for you, Stephenie Meyer), as long as you are a technically skilled writer who doesn’t hold back.

Love you, don’t forget to be excellent to each other,

Amelia