Where Did March Go?

I swear it was February just a second ago. March was a pretty difficult month here on Pagan Lane, leaving little time for me even work at my day job. So, this is just a quick update to let my readers know I’m still alive.

My fanfic, Digging for the Bones, has been nominated for best Harry Potter fanfic over at Fanatic Fanfics. The voting for that begins on April 11 and ends on May 2. If you want to vote for me, you can go here.

Night Draws In, is still more or less on schedule. Still editing and revising.

The saddest news I have to share is that my dear friend, James Reynolds, who was one of my most ardent supporters, died suddenly in March. Everyone who knew James is heartbroken by the loss. A gofundme account has been opened for his wife, Tonia and his sons.

Hopefully, updates will be a little more frequent after this.

 

 

 

Cities of Dreams

Years ago,  Neil Gaiman  wrote a story about the Baghdad of Dreams.  A Caliph had realized that his fantastic city was subject to the degradations of time. To prevent this, he made a deal with the dream King that his city should live forever. And it does, the Baghdad of dreams exists as long as its stories are told.

All cities have a dreaming self. Every story told about a place adds to the dream. Often the dream of the city lasts much longer than the city itself.

When I use real places, I try to be accurate. I’m a  little obsessive about details.  However, it’s important to realize as an author, that I don’t want to use settings that real people might live in. Which is why all my characters live on fictional streets. I’ve heard horror stories from people who live in homes that are mentioned in fictional stories about random fans showing up to  gawk at them.

On the other hand, I understand the thrill of going to a real place  where a favorite fictional story is set. King’s Cross station in London has become something of a pilgrimage spot.

My upcoming story is based in the southeastern Michigan of dreams; real places I have lived. In the cities of my dreams, there are still unmapped places. Hidden spots where one can still slide over into fairy. The cities themselves a mixture of fact and fantasy.

Some settings I use exist, some don’t. Some existed in the past, and I decided that these places never should have gone away. So I preserve them in my dreams.

 

Updates

Happy Leap Day, All!

Just thought I would give folks some updates on what’s been happening.

I have found an editor for Night Draws In, which makes me very happy, and I have a graphic artist working on the book cover.

The second book has about 20K words thus far. They are not good words, but they are in English, strung together using standard American grammar and punctuation. That’s all one can really expect from a first draft (at least from me).

Weirdly, one of my minor characters highjacked my keyboard to ask the subReddit /r/nosleep for help with a problem she’s having. If you like short creepy tales, told in the spirit of “Every story is true. And some of them actually happened” you might enjoy it.

Why I Write Stuff And What Stops Me

Every so often I get into a “Why do I bother?” funk. I think this is something all writers run into. This is what my funk looks like:

brain weasel slinks in the door and takes up residence at my keyboard making it impossible to get any writing done. He perches on my desk, looking ready to eat my face. He opens his mouth, baring razor sharp teeth. He speaks. “Why are you bothering to say anything? No one wants to hear it. Someone has already said it better.”

Then another brain weasel joins him. “Shouldn’t you be doing something constructive?” she asks.

I look around at my house. There are many, many tasks that need doing. It is always in some stage of renovation and always in need of cleaning.

There are also the many tasks that must be done to keep our business running. I teach a class, so there are classes to plan. There are forms to fill out. Invoices. Schedules. Expense reports. Taxes.

Care of Self and Family must happen. Food must be bought and turned into meals. Sleep must happen. Clean clothes are preferred.

My friends and family would probably like to see me once in a while.

I think, “Yeah. I’m wasting too much time with this.”

The brain weasels twirl their whiskers as though they were Snidely Whiplash and invite other brain weasels over for a party.

They troop in. Get mud all over my floor. Turn up the music. Complain about my housekeeping. Tell me I’ve gained weight. Complain that I don’t keep any good snacks in the house and I should go to the grocery store right NOW and get a couple of tubs of Ben and Jerry’s.

They point out that writers never make any money and anyway, all the writing I’ve done is mostly fanfiction and what am I doing trying to publish anything?

They’re especially bad whenever I enter a new stage of my writing process (like trying to crowdfund an original novel for instance).

I consider mopping the floor, but it seems futile. Brain weasels are great at making everything seem futile. Now, I am paralyzed–any task that crosses my mind seems like the wrong one to get started on. I sit down at my computer in a grim mood. Pour some coffee. Wonder if a Ben and Jerry’s run is a solid idea. Check email.

And then a miracle happens: I get a review that reads something like this:

Paganaidd,

I wanted to thank you for writing.

I have been dealing with [pick one] depression/a family member with mental illness/disability/a suicide attempt/a significant other’s death/a breakup/a whole bunch of stress

It helped me to read [your character’s] inner thoughts regarding suicide/cutting/drug use/family member’s drug use/child abuse/sexual abuse/mourning. It’s not an easy topic . Thank you for making me feel human/sane/understood/not a complete failure.

HA! Take that brain weasels!

I go back to writing.

 

Because MATH!

I tweeted this picture @diversebooks the other day. WIN_20160105_20_07_42_Pro

 

This is for their We Need Diverse Books campaign. They are an awesome group.

The statistic from the pic (in case they are not legible).

Out of 100 Americans,

  • 33 are People of color

Out of 77 White people

  • 39 are Women

Out of 38 White men

  • 2 are queer

Out of 36 Straight white men

  • 9 are physically disabled
  • 2 are learning disabled
  • 1 has a cognitive impairment
  • 9 are mentally ill

This leaves 15 ablebodied, neuro-typical, straight white males.

90% of books published are written for 15% of the population.

Numbers mostly drawn from the 2010 US Census data. They are also fairly rough, but even with a (say) 10-20% margin for error, that’s just…scary.

It showed me pretty starkly that exclusion is not only morally wrong, it’s bad business.

Night Draws In: Excerpt

I’ve Just posted the first chapter of Night Draws In on this page. Here, we meet Angela and we get a glimpse of our other two heroes, Lydia and Bailey.

If you read and enjoy, please head over to my crowdfunding page and help me publish! Either by donating yourself, or by passing the word around.

Why Are They Laughing?

Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.

–William Blake

Every so often, one of the people who reads my work will write me a review that says something like, “This shouldn’t be funny, but it is.”

I’m an EMT, a person who has chronic depression and a person who had untreated Lyme disease for twenty years. For all these reasons, my sense of humor is deepest black.

One thing I notice when I watch dramas, especially medical dramas, is that there is often an unremitting seriousness to the character’s interactions. It heightens the tension, but it is an example of how fiction misinterprets humans.

In real life, none of the helping professionals you meet during an emergency will be nearly as upset as you. To the cop, the EMT, the firefighter, the nurse and the doctor, the worst day of your life is merely Tuesday.

This does not diminish what is happening to you. It is still horrible and you are entitled to your fear/rage/shock/pain/whatever you feel. It bears remembering however:  humans are incapable of maintaining that level of seriousness day in and day out. Unless they are actually clinically depressed and that’s a whole other blog post.

Spend any amount of time around people who have lived through grim circumstances and you will notice they all have a gallows sense of humor. The worse the circumstance, the darker and sicker the humor. Have you ever been at a funeral and wanted to laugh? This is NORMAL. Human brains are wired this way.

It does not mean we don’t care. It doesn’t mean we don’t understand that this is awful for you. It means we need to keep our shit together so we can not only help you, but we can also help the next person.

If you watch British comedy, you’ll notice a thread of darkness that underlies a lot of it. My parents grew up in the UK during WWII and they both had a pretty grim sense of humor. A cultural legacy, I think of having your first memories be of going to the shelter during a bombing.

After an especially bad call, you might hear helping professionals laughing with each other. We try to do it out of sight of the public, keep it in the squad room or break room, but it happens.

Why are we laughing when something horrible has happened?

Often, it’s because we’re on the first hour of a twelve to sixteen hour shift. Often, it’s because it’s cold and we just tumbled out of bed and we’re still a little bleary. Often it’s because we’re trying to keep up our own morale.

Sometimes, it’s because if we don’t laugh, we will sit down to cry and not stop.

Ever.

Night draws in

Tags

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The current title for my novel.

Current description: A girl returns from the Faery Realm suffering from acquired brain injury. A young trans man with dark premonitions wishes he could channel lottery numbers. A teenage mage refuses to believe in magic.
image

They’re going to save us.

Feedback about title or description welcome.