I’m so happy to report that I’ve just finished another WIP! For the Love of a Witch is a fantasy romance novella, written in the style of a fairytale. It’s a huge departure from my typical writing style and was super challenging (and super rewarding) to write. I’m really excited about this story. I think it’s my best work to date, and I hope my readers will think so too.
As for Graduating Class of Never, I’ve received some really great feedback from a few publishers, and now that the first draft of FtLoaW is done, I’m going to do some rewrites before sending GCN out again. I also have a short story and a YA sci-fi novel that are next up in my queue, so there’s lots to keep me busy.
And now a bit of a personal update. My life has been at a standstill since 2012/2013. I had, until then, neglected my mental health and I paid a heavy price for that. I crashed. Hard. I’m just now getting to a place where I no longer feel like a threat to myself. Every day remains a struggle, but I’m able to eye the future with optimism. It’s a good feeling. One that I want to protect and further cultivate.
A part of getting myself back on track, it’s time to start getting serious about my writing again. That means dealing with the submissions process and the inevitable rejections, as well as sorting out my social media. I’m researching which platforms will be best suited to my needs and my strengths. Whatever I decide upon will have to be sustainable and more importantly, fun! I think that was a big reason I resented social media so much back when I was first published. It felt like a chore, and more than that, a waste of time. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I just sort of spammed Facebook and Twitter, hoping that if I threw enough things out into the world, something would stick.
This time around, I’m going to go at my own pace while gently challenging myself. After all, I’m just as much a work in progress as any of the stories I write. There’s still so much I have to learn about myself, and for the first time in a long time, that feels like a privilege instead of a character flaw.
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This past week has been upsetting, to say the least. I can’t say I’m altogether shocked by the results of the US presidential election, but I am disappointed. At times like this, when the world seems so ugly and cruel, it’s easy to get dragged down to some pretty dark places, to obsess over feelings of helplessness and despair.
This is why it’s so important to have a mental health toolkit ready. It can be a literal toolkit, with things like scented candles, colouring books, and chocolate in it; anything that brings you joy and provides a distraction from unwelcome thoughts. Or your toolkit can be purely internal. There are numerous mental exercises (google Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), which will help you to recognize patterns of maladaptive thoughts, emotions and behaviours, and teach you how to reshape them. We can’t control what happens, but we can control our reactions.
For me, I’ve begun guarding myself from negativity. No more reading the comments on Facebook posts! Those things are deadly! Instead, I’m focusing on the expressions of love and support spreading all over social media. I am so proud of the thousands of Americans marching in #notmypresident protests. I also find it helpful to reaffirm the values to which I aspire and to make a promise to myself that I will always speak up when I see injustice. I will do what I am able to, as the saying goes, be the change I want to see in the world.
And if all else fails, find something warm and fuzzy to snuggle up with and know that this too shall pass.
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On May 15, 2016, the rights of Romancing the Beard (formally known as The Bearded Lady) will be returned to me. I’ve been going back and forth on whether to republish it, either through traditional or self-publishing means, but right now, I’m leaning towards retiring RtB indefinitely.
I may change my mind someday, but for now, if you’ve any interest in reading a quick, quirky story about an interracial ménage à trois (man, I was ambitious for my first foray into erotica!), then clickity click here to snag Romancing the Beard before it disappears.
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I am beyond happy to report that I’m finally done writing the first draft of Graduating Class of Never!
GCN is a young adult paranormal novel that uses death as a metaphor for mental illness. As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I wanted to create not only an interesting story, but one that teaches young readers different strategies to help them cope them the curveballs life will throw at them, strategies that I’ve learned during my own recovery and which I continue to use on a daily basis.
I began writing GCN in January of 2012, a lifetime ago really. There were times I thought I’d never finish it, times that I thought I would never be able to write anything ever again. Mental illness can really twist perception and demolish ambition and motivation. But thanks to the support of my family and friends, as well as a ton of therapy, I’ve been able to claw my way out of my own mind, and it’s my hope that GCN will give young readers some tools to be able to do the same for themselves.
Though I’m taking today to celebrate, there is still a lot of work to be done. This week I’ll begin the first of many edits, and once that’s done, who knows how long the whole, torturous submission process will take before GCN is published. But I’m optimistic that, one day, you’ll be able to pick up a copy at your local book store.
In the meantime, here’s to me, for overcoming a few more of my personal demons! And here’s to Graduating Class of Never, for transforming the way I think about this whole writing biz.
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