Sunday, May 20, 2018

Another Week, Another Blur

It seems like it was just Monday, and now here Monday looms again, a mere three hours away.

Work has been so busy that it makes the days run together like wet watercolors. Monday's purples, bleed into Tuesday's reds, that get watered down into Wednesdays blues, swirl into Thursday's oranges, and run into Friday's yellows. The weekend passes in the blink of an eye.

What have I accomplished? I can't answer that. It feels like nothing. I accomplished breathing. That's it.

My brain tells me I must have done more than that. I look around me and see evidence that baking was done, cleaning was completed, laundry was washed, dried, folded and put away. I work all week, I work at home all weekend. I write.

Aha! I wrote. I finally chose a version of a story- Garnet and Quella's story to be exact, that I felt I could work with without having to restart it a twentieth time. It now stands at 55 pages, 28,201 words. Progress is being made.

I really did accomplish something.

Oh, and Kelly came home from her vacation in New Orleans with lots of stories and more pictures. She had a nice time, but her friend's dog died while they were away, which was sad.

Today, I met an artist friend for coffee and croissants and we had an interesting, thought provoking conversation. An hour and a half flew by, and neither of us had been aware that it had rained while we were enjoying ourselves.

It all seems as if only a day has passed, but here I am, about to start another week...I think I need a vacation. Life should not speed by as if I'm on a runaway train barreling down a steep descending track to the little station called End of the Line. I feel like I'm missing something big...

Friday, May 11, 2018

Stowaway Thwarted

We adopted Revere in June 2011, the summer before Kelly's junior year at Worcester Polytech. He quickly realized that when she brought out her back pack, duffle bag, and suitcase it meant that she was heading off to college- and he wanted to go with her! He would crawl into her backpack, climb into her duffle bag, and curl up in a corner of her suitcase and try to hide his white spots and became invisible.

Even after she moved home he would still know when she was preparing to leave for a vacation or a trip to visit friends. The minute the backpack and duffle bag appeared, or the suitcase was brought upstairs from the cellar, he would settle down on top of it or inside of it.

This has been going on for seven years. Revere does not like to see Kelly leave home.

The suitcase came upstairs with the backpack on Wednesday night. The look on the cat's face stated quite clearly that he understood what was happening- Kelly was going away again.

Last night, Revere was in her suitcase as she went about packing, gathering toiletries and other things she wanted to take with her. We both saw him wandering aimlessly around as she hustled about after I got home from a board meeting about ten past eight. While I sat down to have a snack and start writing, Kelly ticked off more items on her list and finished up her packing. We talked about how heavy her suitcase was, if it would meet the plane criteria, no more than 50 pounds. She said it shouldn't weigh all that much since she was going to New Orleans and had packed summer weight clothes and just a spare pair of sneakers.

I was stll writing as she zipped her suitcase shut, then lifted it off the bed, turning it upright and wheeled it to the living room where she could stuff her pajamas into it in the morning. Then she joined me at the table in the kitchen to write in her journal. We talked about the trip, staying safe, what to do in case of food allergy emergency, sights to see, places to go.

About a half hour later, from the living room, John began saying, "Stop picking!" Our cats have been trained not to pick the furniture, but they occasionally pick the carpet, which is also frowned upon. We couldn't hear any picking from the kitchen. He repeated the command. Then we heard him get up off the couch, saying, "Where are you?" I asked what was going on, since we couldn't hear anything. He replied the cat was picking somewhere but it sounded distant, maybe down cellar?

And then he was calling Kelly into the living room, telling her that she had better open her suitcase. She hauled it away from the wall, laid it flat on the floor, unzipped it, flipped the top open, and out stepped a somewhat disgruntled Revere! She had zipped him up inside, lugged him to the other room without realizing that 20 pounds of weight in her bag was due to there being a cat in there!

What had helped John figure out where Revere was is that he saw the front of the suitcase bulging out as Revere moved around inside it, anxious to get out. I imagine it got warm in there!

Stowaway status was thwarted by his deciding that he wanted out of the suitcase.

All I can say is, he was lucky she didn't pack her summer pajamas and just make due with a t-shirt and pair of shorts for one night. I can't begin to imagine what would have happened to the poor cat if she had hauled her suitcase out to the car so she could just leave for work in the morning. He's not a loud cat. He could have been unconscious by morning from lack of air. It would have been a traumatic find in Louisiana if John hadn't heard the cat picking, trying to get out- otherwise, we would have noticed he was missing because he sleeps with me every night, but that would have been nearly three hours later, and he does have a few hiding places. I have gone to bed without seeing him around in the past.

We'll have to wait and see if he jumps in her suitcase when she gets home, or if he's finally learned a lesson from his misadventure!

Tonight, with Kelly on her way to Louisiana, Revere and Riley Beans got a few new toys to distract them from her not being home.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Frustration

My life has been full of frustrations since March 30th when I came down with in upper respiratory infection that persisted for three weeks, cleared up for my birthday in mid-April, but then another health issue flared up leaving me limping around and having difficulty with stairs, and now allergy season has arrived which pretty much means  have to stay inside since I live in the woods where I am allergic to the pollen of every tree out there.

I need a nice hypoallergenic bubble to roll around in.

I need to feel better because there is a lot of stuff buzzing through my head, a lot of things I need to write, a lot of things I'd like to do.

Having a chronic illness is not easy. Eleven years ago I thought nothing of jumping in the car to spend an entire day hiking the fields at Brimfield antiquing. Gradually I've lost my ability to walk n uneven surfaces. I can walk n flat level places, like roads and sidewalks, but once  hit grass or dirt my feet began to ache, and the uneven surfaces stress my tendons and joints causing them to hurt. I can no longer enjoy walking on the beach because I cannot walk through dry sand. I can no longer go hiking in the woods- something I just to do just walking out the back door and taking the cat along for a hike across the brook and along the trails.

I feel like I once lived in a beautiful sphere, but that sphere is constantly shrinking. It's still beautiful and has so much to offer, but my rebellious auto-immune system is drawing the circle of things I can do in closer and closer. It hurts to cross the circle into the bigger part of the sphere where all the things I used to enjoy and love doing reside.

Sometimes just running to the store can be a major chore- because n top of the achy joints and tendons, the headaches, stiffness and generalized malaise there is like a heavy gray blanket of fatigue shrouding me. I no longer feel vibrant and alive. I feel grounded and sad, deeply disappointed.

I am envious of people who can weave in and out of pedestrian traffic on sidewalks, in crowded corridors...my joints no longer move that fluidly. It wrenches me to see people run. I used to be able to run. Now, if I come home at night or even during the day I have to make sure there are no large wild animals in the yard or else I'm toast. It's frightening to lose mobility and flexibility. It's disappointing and frustrating to have mental or brain fog, especially when writing has always come so easily for me but over the past year or two it has become more difficult to focus and find the words I want. I am editing and rewriting more than I ever have in my life because I end up throwing out filler words to take the place of the ones  really want to use but can't find at the moment- and then, when I have a good day, I have to go and find those fillers and replace them with the better words I  couldn't remember.

I can't help wondering if this is what Azheimer's is like...you feel like you, but at the same time you know that this is far less you than you know yourself to be. I have to remind myself that Steven Hawkins did amazing things while locked up inside his body. I can build worlds and populate them and pull out story threads...I just can't go out and live my own life the way I want to and do all the things I want to do.

My most bitter regret is not going off and exploring more of the country while I was able to do it. Now, it seems impossible, overwhelming. I am a lively passenger trapped in a tortoise-paced vehicle.

Every day I have to cope and adjust to new limitations. There used to be remissions, but I haven't had one of those in a couple years...my life has been laced through with stress overload all that time, ad while the stress has abated somewhat, I just don't know if this run amok auto immune system will settle down and allow me a respite.

That is my frustration poured into a nutshell.

And now I'm going to go write because, even though I want to tell the continuation of Romney and Ivy's story, once again Garnet and Quella are pushing through and trying to tell their story again. We'll see where this version goes...

Monday, April 30, 2018

Temporarily Unavailable

There is one copy of The Clockmaker's Son at Blue Umbrella Books.

That's it.

It has been officially retired from CreateSpace.

This is a huge, unnerving step for me. I have self-published 42 books, and now that number has dropped to 41. I still have complete control of 41 of my books, but The Clockmaker's Son has already begun it's journey toward being published by Dark Ink Press under their new imprint, Inklings.

This is leaping into a new pool for me.

The Clockmaker's Son will return!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Decision Made

Well, I've been working on a number of projects recently, another one that has seven versions on file but I'm still not satisfied with it, so obviously it's not quite ready to emerge fully formed as a novel or novella, and one that is not at all what I usually write that's making me nervous.

I'm putting those projects aside, plus the Spindrift project that's been kicking around since the Winter Solstice Ball novella was written years ago! It fills a fat binder in the dining room, and will just have to gather another layer of dust because...

.....more than five people have asked about a sequel to Romney and Ivy's story which began in Black King Takes White Queen and then continued in Black Knight, White Rook. The series doesn't even have an official or even an unofficial name. It's basically the story of a young woman's unexpected rise to power as the queen of the united black and white arts practitioners that all begins when her older sister's boyfriend summons her (in error?or does he really know who he's calling that fateful night when his father is murdered by a demon sent by his evil younger sister to destroy both father and brother?) and then subsequently marks her as his property when she is attacked by the same demon. In his practice, the marks he's left on her indicate that she is his wife and she is bound to him. Ivy has no real feel for her own power, but she quickly has to discover who she is and what power she wields in the witch community. In a very short period of time she finds herself married to a black arts warlock, pregnant with his heir, and preparing a very unprepared group of practitioners from both the white arts and black arts communities to battle Rayna Sharpe and her followers. Ivy's brand new husband is the guardian of a vast treasure hoard of magical items, and especially one item that absolutely cannot be brought back into the world because of it's pure evilness. Rayna is out to kill her brother and gain control of what he is sworn to protect with his life as the new King. Ivy finds herself struggling to discover who she really is while fighting to keep her husband alive.

In Black Knight, White Rook Ivy and Romney face new evil and struggles when Ivy's sister returns with a husband of her own, one who wants to destroy all that Ivy and Romney have accomplished in the two years since they defeated Rayna Sharpe. Ivy and Romney have a young son, Ezra, now. Things are especially hard on the young Queen who still has insecurities and self-doubt. She's put through several grueling ordeals as an evil warlock repeatedly drives wedges between her and Romney, but ultimately she loves her husband and her son and knows that if they are to defeat this warlock, she must dig deeper within herself and find a means to help them win. She heads off to Wales to visit family, to find her roots, and to find the lair of the evil warlock. She becomes more the queen that she is with each new challenge that she faces.

At Articulture and where I work, I've been asked when the sequel will come out. I have two versions started, so now I am rereading both novels to reacquaint myself with these characters and their story, and find the direction they need to go in to continue in book three.

So-my decision is that the third book in this series without an official name will be the continuation f Ivy Greenaway and Romney Shape's story.

Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Author Event Summary

This past Saturday (April21st) was the third Articulture event in as many years. Of the 10 WhipCity Wordsmith authors who had signed up to attend9 of us made it to the event. Authors began arriving just past 9AM. Our tenth Wordsmith had an emergency and was unable to attend (but she'll still get her swag bag next time I see her!)

The room rapidly became a beehive of activity as authors began whipping out colorful table covers and setting up their spaces with books being offered for sale and associated props to draw the eye of patrons passing through the room. At Ayden's Rogalski's table he had a vintage lantern, some patriotic wreaths, an antique inkwell, quill pen and pieces of parchment he was writing on. (I was the recipient of a sweet thank you note from our 9-year old youngest author during the course of the day, and several awesome hugs!)

Prior to the 10AM opening, author swag bags were distributed to the authors who had books to offer. I also had fun assembling an additional goodie bag for Ayden, and one for Lex. Debbie (Carol's daughter) and Tanya also got goodie bags. Melissa's mom, Elaine Frankonis couldn't make it to read poetry, but Melissa brought home a swag bag for her because she, too, is a Wordsmith.

Kelly had a LED ghost light to draw attention to her book Parapsychology which was one of the bestsellers at the show. I had wands (Black King Takes White Queen), black wolves (Out), and werewolves/wolves (The Clockmaker's Son). I also had some plush cats to represent Ivy's tiger cat familiar, Bex, who is killed by a demon in Black King Takes White Queen (her black warlock husband, Romney, who has no use for familiars takes her to adopt a new cat she names Jem), and Irina's tuxedo cat, Sebo (her vampire lover moves all her belongings to his castle, including her beloved cat, even though he prefers his black wolves). Most of my props found new homes at the end of the day- Bex went to Melissa who changed his name to Oliver (Ollie) after the Otherwords mascot, Sebo went to Kate Anderson, a fellow cat lover. Atka (I had two of these awesome small plush wolves) went to Lex Volker (Kylo-Ren) and Ayden. Ayden also got the small plastic werewolf figurine, and the wolf pocketwatch he had admired several times during the course of the day.  Together, Kelly and I sold 21 books during the day which was a pleasant surprise! I was asked when the third in the Ivy & Romney series would be coming out- it's partially written, so maybe later this year Bishop Amid the Pawns will find its way into print. The second book in the series is Black Knight, White Rook and is currently available on Amazon and for Kindle. Overall- The Hanging Man and Other Stories, the limited edition preview of the soon to be published The Clockmaker's Son were best sellers for me as was Disturbing, the jointly written ghost story anthology Kelly and I put together. She even sold a copy of Teleport!

Melissa Volker had a book deal going on at her table- for a few hours it was buy two books get a free surprise book. During the afternoon if became buy one book and get a surprise book for free. Her new book Apocalypse Alice, just published under the Inklings imprint of Dark Ink Press was her best seller. At her table with her was her son Lex Volker who was in the awesome Kylo-Ren costume she made for him for various events and photo-ops, kids party appearances, etc. He was a huge draw for the kids and young people who crossed light sabers with him and posed for pictures. It was fun to watch Ayden in his tricorn hat, shirt, vest, and slacks mock light saber fight with the very tall Kylo-Ren in his futuristic attire.

At the far end of the room ensconced in throne-like armchairs were first time author Lindsay Stenico (and her mom, Barbara) with her novel The Assignment, just published by Dark Ink Press. Lindsay is a freshman at WSU here in Westfield, and also the event and media publicist for Blue Umbrella Books here in town.

Beside Lindsay was Dark Ink Press owner and author Kate Anderson with her two novels Hospital Hill and Shadows in the Ward, and her new non-fiction book, Danvers State Hospital. Kate has a lot of irons in the fire- so we're always happy to see her at an event!

VC (Carol) Russell showcased her lovely poetry in her book Life's Garden. She had some framed poems and displayed the letter she got from President George Bush who praised her for her poem about the war in Kuwait and our boys fighting there.

Beside Carol was Judith Foard-Giucastro with her novel Senior Year, and her recently deceased husband (who was also a Wordsmith) Giuseppe Giucastro's book Joseph The Dreamer- Another Face of God. Judith was working on a joint project with Giuseppe and hopes to see it through to completion.

Rhonda Boulette came down from the hilltowns with her Flitten Kitten Fairytales. Her table was a riot of colors and plush animals and things to look at and touch. She had a big bear in a rocking chair, but was unable to read as planned due to increasing loss of voice during the course of the day. She has some new books in the works. It was fun seeing a plush Wolfgang frog! I passed her a tuxedo kitten who longs to become a flitten...he'll have multicolored wings!

On the other side of the main entrance from the reception hall was Ayden Rogalski with his mother, Tanya, showcasing his FOUR books! He had a number of copies of his new book Ayden's Home- The History of Westfield (which was a sellout!), and his first three books, Ayden's Washington, Ayden's Abraham, and Ayden's Titanic. During the course of the day Ayden was gifted with a hand-crafted tricorn hat which he wore for the rest of the day. He had a ceramic inkwell, a qhite quill pen, and a stack of rectangular pieces of parchment paper that he wrote on throughout the day. I loved the lantern on his table, and the decorative, primitive patriotic wreaths that were at the front f his table. His mom owns Country View Primitives on Franklin Street here in Westfield. It's a nice shop crammed full of antique, vintage and custom crafted primitives. Ayden has his own section- Ayden's Pickin's. He likes bottles- so has that in common with my daughter!

Board members of Artworks brought around bottled water and supplied us with cookies during the day. Most of us sampled Moe's donuts and coffee and food selections from the food truck out front.

During the course of the day we met wonderful people, the artists came up when they had a chance to look at the book offerings and a few books went home with them, Kelly ran down and bought four pieces of art during the afternoon. WSKB Radio talk show host Bob Plasse breezed through near the end of the event making contact with each author and laying down preliminary plans for radio appearances on future shows. Authors made connections with one another, which is one of the purposes of the WhipCity Wordsmiths, connecting authors, discovering resources and those willing to offer help and advice with projects.

WhipCity Wordsmith Geri Johnson stopped by and visited with each author. I gave her her Wordsmith pin which she promptly attached to her new black cap.

Photographers from the Westfield News came through (he totally missed Melissa, but got a good shot of Lex). Those photos appeared in the Westfield News on Monday, April 23rd. The Republican also had a photographer present, but I haven't seen any pictures yet.

At 6PM nine tired authors packed up and headed home for dinner and to put their feet up! The room was left spotless with just tables and a couple of chairs to remove at the end of the day.

At each annual event we learn something new that will make the following year even better. Now that Articulture2018 is over...the Board of Directors will be looking toward 2019 and how to make the event fresh and exciting!

Thank you to all the awesome WhipCity Wordsmiths (Kelly Buffum, Melissa Volker, Lindsay Stenico, Katherine Anderson, VC Russell, Judith Foard-Giucastro, Rhonda Boulette, Ayden Rogalski,) who gathered together to make this event a memorable occasion!

Sandy Sessler- we missed you! Next year, for sure!