Monday, November 3, 2014

Finding Home Again

You remember when you moved away from home? Like for that very last time? Maybe you got your first job and moved into your own apartment. Or maybe you got married. Or maybe you left mom and dad and moved into a commune to grow special herbs. And then you went back home to visit, and you were like . . . Oh.

OH.

This place is, like, familiar and stuff. But. It doesn’t fit anymore.

I’ve felt this way a lot in my life. Maybe we all do. That whole growing thing, and all. But in particular, the last couple-three years, my life has experienced a tremendous amount of change. Like WHOA NELLY change. Truth is, I did not see myself here five years ago. I thought I’d have a book out by now, maybe more. I thought I’d still be a full time writer, like I was then, maybe editing some for extra cash, but I imagined that I’d spend most of my free non-writing time either with my kids or baking or preparing for the next holiday or birthday, as I’d done for probably forever.

I did not imagine that I’d be tired all the time, my eyes so grainy and strained, they constantly ache.

I did not imagine that I’d go nearly two years having read only like 1.25 books.

I did not imagine that I’d be working twelve to sixteen hours a day, every day, editing other people’s writing.

I did not imagine I'd experience X, Y, Z, and other traumatic things.

And I certainly did not imagine that I’d go nearly two years without writing anything new.

But I also didn’t imagine that I’d be happy.

For a while there, I was afraid I might not make it to today. Loss became this truly palpable thing. And I came to understand helplessness at its absolute most terrifying worst. Sometimes I had to make the conscious choice to just not let go.

And then I made a new choice, and I started stepping. As in, out of bed. I started stepping, as in, to get dressed. I started stepping, as in, to apply for jobs. And I kept stepping and stepping, in part because I had some pretty amazing people in my life who loved me and climbed down to hell beside me and encouraged me to keep stepping some more, thank god. Thank them. And it got better. And better some more. And even better.

Then one day, even though I knew things still could be better in a lot of ways, it dawned on me that I could not be much happier. I did not know happiness could feel this good. And I began to feel whole again, settling into myself. I was home.

And then something happened. I received an email informing me that I had been given a reading slot at the upcoming World Fantasy Convention.

And I was like . . . Oh . . .

OH SHIT.

I’m not a writer, people. I haven’t been a writer for a long time. This world is familiar, but I don’t fit anymore.

Yet again, I have returned to a place that I once called home. And there's such a longing to stay. But. Fear. Inadequacy. FEAR. I can't do this.

Except. My friends Brad Beaulieu and Derek Silver have graciously, kindly, lovingly agreed to read with me, so that I don't have to read alone.

We're there for you, Brad said. We'll fill the room with happy faces.

So. Okay then. Okay. Deep breath.

We're calling it: Sloshed and Sexy.

Because at least one of us will be downing a shot right before. In fact, all of you are invited to join us, drinks in hand. We'll be reading sex scenes so people will come. To the reading. We can all share a cigarette afterward.

So if you'll be at World Fantasy this year or in the vicinity, hope to see you there.

Friday, November 7, 10 PM, Arlington room.

And thus, I keep stepping and stepping. Finding home again.




Friday, August 1, 2014

Out Came Random Tolkien References and a Fabulous New Cover

So the response to my last post was kind of ... overwhelming. You know how when it's gray and rainy out for days and months and forever in a row, and it's the middle of December in the middle of hell and the sun will never come out again for as long as you live, and you will never, ever smile again because the world is a flame-retardant poopbag that has actually managed to catch fire and blaze like the deepest depths of Orodruin because of course? Well. You all extinguished the flame on the fiery poopbag, my friends--with your super offers for edit samples, and your tweets, and posts, and emails, and remarkable displays of kindness. Many thanks for that. I will soon track you all down individually and give you air kisses and virtual cheek squeezes.

*waves away the fading smoke to see you better*

The amazing thing about receiving kindness is that it sort of forces you to pause and wipe the ashes and dust from your lenses so you can view the world more clearly--and see that even though it's a fiery bag of crap sometimes, you don't have to look all that far to find a Samwise Gamgee cooking up some sausages and taters for you in the midst of the flaming shite. Besides the obvious benefits of receiving such help, the kindness is rejuvenating and utterly inspiring. And it makes me want to keep blogging. Weird, yeah?

On that note ... LET THE BLOGGING BEGIN! PROBABLY!

I''ll take a tentative step towards blogging more regularly the easy way: with an announcement of a fabulous YA Mystery Romance and its gorrrrrgeous book cover, which happens to belong to my BFF and partner in crime and critiques and occasional glasses of Grey Goose (and sometimes sausages and taters). BEHOLD! I BRING YOU BEAUTY!

SCATTER by Michele Shaw
Summary: 

When you spend your whole life being invisible, being seen by the right person is worth giving up a few secrets ...


Ten. That’s the number of years seventeen-year-old CJ has been running from her father after witnessing her mother’s murder. And while she’s never been allowed out on Halloween, she’s good at being a ghost. With her real identity erased and no hope of staying put for long, she’s listed her chances for friendship, a first kiss, and college under “never gonna happen.”  

One. The number of people CJ can trust. That is until she and her aunt flee to yet another safe house where they find nothing is what they expected. Saddled with a nosy housemate she doesn’t want, entrance into a private school she can’t afford, and unexplained hostility from gorgeous classmate Boone, CJ is ready to move on. But she finds it isn’t so bad when her first-ever prospects for friendship and love slowly tempt her to step out of her secrets.

Zero. The probability that CJ can stay. With her father’s relentless drive to find her endangering anyone who dares to protect her, CJ must choose between her new life and doing what’s right, because the only thing worse than letting people go, is watching them die.

About the author: 
Michele Shaw is a young adult author, short story writer, poet, and editor who lives in the Midwest of the USA. She eats way too much candy while writing and snapping pictures of sunsets and has never met a dog she didn’t love. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@veertothewrite), and her website michelelshaw.com

(ALSO, SHE'S THE NICEST PERSON YOU WILL EVER MEET EVER AND I LOVE HER BUY HER BOOK SO SHE CAN GET RICH AND HIRE A CABANA BOY TO MAKE ME TATERS ALL THE TIME AND ALSO BECAUSE YOU'LL LOVE THE STORY)

***********************
How's that for a rad cover? Isn't it enticing? And I gotta tell you: I've read this book--read it actually when it was just a wee babe coming to life, and I loved it even back then. It's now a beautiful and fast-paced page-turner from Muse It Up Publishing. It's mystery. Love. Growing up. Thrills. And OMG OMG OMG I-CAN'T-READ-FAST-ENOUGH-BUT-DON'T-END-YET! Look it up, check it out, and put in your pre-order now on the Muse It Up website. (Seriously, it's an amazing price, too). And then find Michele on Twitter and Facebook and tell her I sent you (just be friendly though, not like super stalky or anything. Don't make it weird.)

So excited about this book. So so so excited. Can you tell?


*To those of you who have e-mailed about edit samples and haven't yet heard from me or are waiting for an additional response from me: my most sincere apologies. That overwhelming-ness is rather huge, and it's taking some time to get through e-mails while also editing and continuing to look for work, yadda yadda. But I promise I will respond! Thanks again! And I'm still hoping to see something kind of academic come in, too. Are you a college student? A writer for an online journal? Hit me up! I CAN HELP YOU. 

Also, thank you thank you thank you again and again.

Friday, July 11, 2014

#TBF: LOVE in the Pages of a Diary



December 28, 1996

Dear Baby,

I went into labor today. Doctor sent me home and told me to return when the labor pains get closer. I don't know what I'm doing. Presumably they do. See you soon.


December 30, 1996

Dear Baby,

We've returned to the hospital. Labor pains have gotten stronger, but not much closer. Doctors won't induce or break my water until your actual due date of January 2. They gave me Demerol instead. It doesn't help. So far I've only seen two of the three doctors in my group practice. They are both stupid, old men. "I've done this many times, little girl." That's what the white-haired one said. Here's hoping the woman doctor will be in soon.

If I don't die first, see you soon.


January 1, 1997

Dear Baby,

The doctor gave me morphine. It doesn't seem to help.

I wish my mom were here. She would know what to do. I feel very alone. And scared. And OW.

Please hurry.



January 2, 1997

Dear Baby Girl,

Today you made me a mom, way sooner than I ever expected to be. I'm not sure yet how I feel about things.

You are so much tinier than I expected.

And so fragile. So, so breakable.

And this world is so big and heavy. It weighs on me so hard I am all but flattened by it. And I am so much bigger than you. But small yet. I worry I'm too small to protect you from it.

Nobody told me about the worry. How it will begin to consume you the moment you look into your newborn's eyes. For the first time ever, it's not a worry for yourself, but for another being, and that makes it somehow far more terrifying. You check the fingers and toes. The creases in the neck and the space behind the ears. You touch the bottoms of the feet and watch the toes curl. You slide fingers into the fists and feel the grasp of tiny hugs and never-letting-go. And then you think about germs and skinned knees and drowning water and betrayal and bullies and gossip and lies and people that hurt.

I want to believe I'm big enough, smart enough, wise enough to keep you safe. But I know better. I'm just a stupid kid. Everybody has let me know it, just in case I didn't already.

So there's this fear. As in, FEAR.

The nurse has left me to rest. Your dad went home to sleep. We're alone now. Just you and me, and you're sleeping in my arm, breathing softly, your tiny lips moving just slightly, just lying here totally trusting me, because you don't know better.

Just you and me, alone.

So, yeah FEAR.

But there's something else, something immense, and I'm only just starting to really figure it out. The thing is, I've felt love before. So many happy moments, where love seems to have filled me up. And it's made me weep when my heart has broken. When my dad left. When Johnny **** smashed the baby pumpkins in my mom's garden during my 13th birthday party. When my mom lost her job. When Dave **** broke up with me right before my Biology class with Mrs. ********, possibly the worst teacher in the history of ever, who told me to stop crying or she'd send me to the office.

In all the moments of joy and all the broken heart moments, I thought I knew what love was.

But now you. And now I know the truth.

This is love. LOVE. It is bigger than my swollen heart, bigger than me. Bigger than this awful world. Bigger than fear. You don't love me, yet or maybe never, but I love you.

I. Love. You.

I'm just a stupid kid, but I'm capable of LOVE. That makes me feel really strong. Maybe not smart enough. Or wise enough. But damn it, it makes me big enough.


January 4, 1997

My Dearest Girl,

I was nursing you today, just you and me on the daybed in your nursery. We finally seem to have gotten a hang of this feeding thing. You wrapped your little fist around my finger and looked up at me wide-eyed, with little droplets of tears at the corner of your eyes, and something broke inside me. Just shattered. You don't care how old I am or how much I don't know. In your eyes, I saw that you know how much I love you. You feel it. I know you do. And I realized today I am wholly and unconditionally yours. I made a promise to you in that moment. I swear to you I will never break it. I will love you as if our lives depended on it.


July 11, 2014

I still love you as if our lives depended on it.