It’s nearly October…

…and if you know me at all, that means I may be in for a writing marathon. Although this year is different. I have a toddler to deal with and it’s like wrangling Godzilla in miniature form. Not sure where I will find the time to write. As is, I’m sneaking this in during her nap as I sit twisted in an odd angle hoping I don’t disturb her too much. (She sleeps next to me.)

I have a lot of thoughts in my head at the moment, one of which is I may suffer from seasonal manic-depression. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m not too upset. I’m actually kind of okay with the notion. Even in my depressed state, it’s not like I lie in bed, unable to get up and do things. Nor does it mean I think sad thoughts all day long. I’m just not feeling very social. In fact, I just want to recharge.

And then it’s like I snap out of it and look at my life with an “oh my god” sense of awakening where my house needs some serious cleaning. Hence, the manic phase. And then I play catch-up with neglected friends with apologies that I couldn’t focus on any of my reading obligations or even shoot a message. It seems like a Herculean effort to even click on a button and post a sticker in Facebook. There needs to be one that says, “I’m sorry I’m a shit. It’s me, not you. Love me anyway?” Because I really don’t mean to be a shit, I just don’t have any energy for anyone save for Baby Sophia.

I do this every year and it’s just as embarrassing last year as it is this year. What’s worse is, I know I’ll do this again next year. And the year after that. While it doesn’t bother me, it seems to bother the people who care about me and I don’t know what to do and say about that. “I’m okay, I just need time to recharge” just doesn’t seem to make sense to them. I’m one of the weird ones that’s kind of an extrovert in that I can’t seem to shut up from expressing myself yet kind of an introvert in that… I really do like peace and quiet. Going out with people freak me the hell out, I clam up or say the absolute worse thing, my jokes and intentions backfire–it’s just not a pleasant experience for me. So I like being a hermit and the most “out there” I put myself is on the internet via memes or blogs like this one. You know, where I’m shocked when people actually read the shit I write. LOL

I don’t know, you guys. Most of my friends are writers, and if you’re reading my writing blog then chances are, you’re a writer, too. So tell me what you think. What are your thoughts? Do you relate because you also deal with seasonal manic depression (or other emotional or mental issue) in your life? What’s going on with you?

P.S.

To my friends who hang around year after year suffering through all my flaws, thank you. You don’t know what your tolerance and compassion means to me. To those that couldn’t take my bullshit anymore, I understand and I’m sorry.

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Behind the Scenes of “Model Town”

Warning: this blog post may contain spoilers, SO if you don’t want to know anything more, bookmark this page and read after you’ve finished “Model Town,” which is available for FREE download on Amazon Kindle between Monday, June 5th and Friday, June 9th. You can pick up a copy of that here.

Like many of my short stories, “Model Town” was born from too much scrolling on the internet. I joined one of those writer groups that specializes in posting Open Calls For Submissions and one day, I saw an ad for a Toys in the Attic horror anthology. Intrigued, I clicked on the site to learn more. The ad suggests to email and pitch creepy toy ideas before submitting, as they didn’t want a hundred stories about an evil doll and nothing else. I thought a toy train in a model town would be fantastic.

But what would be so special about this particular toy? The closest thing I had to a model town could be found in my favorite video game franchise, the Sims. I’ve been a fan from Sims 1 to Sims 4, and I can’t begin to tell you how many hours I’ve spent building and decorating both houses, lots, and Sims. I’ve wasted away my life getting my neighborhood “just so.” And then it clicked. That was it! What if I created a town that was like a vampire? It sucked the very soul out of you–literally–all the while appearing to be oh, so innocuous. You could stop at any time–only, you couldn’t. It called you back because that’s how obsessions work.

Speaking of inspirations and obsessions, the character of Zachary Malvern was based off of Mr. Dark from Something Wicked This Way Comes as played by Jonathan Pryce, who embodied tall, dark, and sinister in all the right ways. Though it never came out in the story (because Laurel never figured it out), Zachary first appears in the train opposite Laurel when she has her first Fayton dream. That’s right: Zachary, being a creature of the fey (and definitely of the Unseelie Court) had the ability to change his guise at will. He first appears as a woman because Old Roy was the town’s last victim. Much like the Autumn People of Something Wicked This Way Comes, Zachary Malvern caters to one’s desires–he’s a classic devil with a soul to steal.

What were Laurel’s last words? “Will you… at least…” It was a request she had of Zachary and he understood all too well what she needed to hear. I left it up to interpretation as I feel that stories, like poems, are personal things and should cater more to the reader than the writer. It could have meant “will you at least tell me if you loved me” and if you thought that, fine. That lends the story one tone. But if you must know how I meant it, her last thought was “will you at least lie to me?” Laurel wanted some comfort before she went into that box for eternity to be forgotten forever after. And Zachary, not being completely without compassion, obliges her. Did he love her? Well, even I don’t know that. Some characters are so vague and mysterious, they keep their secrets even from me. And I’m not so nosy as to ask.

Hope you enjoyed this episode of Behind the Scenes. Got a question? Leave me one in the comments below or follow my Facebook Author’s Page and shoot me a PM. Until next time, bye!

 

 

On Editors

(*This was originally written and published on Oct 5th, 2016 on my Facebook Page. Posting it here for those who missed it and also, because I can easily look this up on my blog.)

As some of you may know, I recently hired an editor for the very first time and not only am I loving the experience, I cannot stress enough the importance of finding one. And not just any editor, but one that is not only knowledgeable in his or her craft but is a good fit for you.

But let me back up a space and answer the question most writers might ask. “Why hire a professional editor?” You may argue you are a good enough writer–or you will learn to be a good writer by editing your own work. You may argue you have friends who beta read for you and they can help with tense shifts and grammar rules and the like.

True, true. But, to answer the first: you as the author will NEVER be able to see the glaring flaws of your own story. It makes perfect sense to you because you are utilizing your own language. I am fluent in Rebecca-ese so naturally, I will understand all the hints and references I am making. An editor will help *translate* Rebecca-ese into a language everyone can understand. My editor told me when I needed to elaborate and on what. I may see the story play out in my head and upon rereading it, get the same visuals. But did I remember to write that out?! Haha. Oops. No, I didn’t.

Now, regarding beta readers–and I am NOT anti-beta readers–there is a difference between an opinion and an EDUCATED opinion. Do they know the definition and use of foreshadowing? When to flag me for repetitive words? When I use passive vs active voice? I like beta readers to gauge how my story might hit the common reader but to test if my story structure is sound, I hire an editor. They will test it like a building inspector will an archetect’s designs, point out your weak spots and help you plug up those plot holes and discrepancies that might make your story fall flat.

But you know what I love BEST about having an editor? It’s like having a private tutor. That’s right. It’s like the BEST two-for-one deal you will get. NOT ONLY is your story getting the makeover it needs BUT YOU, as an author, get to see what you did wrong! So make a note of your weaknesses, ask questions as to why this change was necessary and you will improve your craft! Dreamy, right? I am swooning.

So, OK, so you’re sold on getting an editor. Now what? Find one whose work you admire. Read their stories (if they also write) and if they have a similiar writing style or preferred genre to yours, then try them out. What was important to me was to find an editor who could help me achieve my vision for my work. I wanted my story to still sound like me; I didn’t want my story to sound like a knock-off Stephen King or even resemble my editor’s “voice”. I was lucky and I found that. Find an editor that works with you. It should feel like a bond, a partnership. If you feel like you’re on opposing sides of a boxing match, it is probably time to find a new editor.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Stayed tuned for more thoughts. Got any questions for me and/or my experience as a writer? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Behind the Scenes: “The Girl Without a Face”

My latest short story, “The Girl Without a Face” is now available on Amazon!

Did you know I have a penchant for the meaning behind names? Velia means “veil” because she wears a mask, Lonan means “raven”, and Lilura means “enchantment.” However, not everyone is cool enough to get a name with special significance. Cicero, the Royal Advisor, looked like Sir William Cecil as played by Richard Attenborough in the movie Elizabeth (1998). Calyndra got her name for no other reason other than the face I liked how it sounded phonetically.

When I wrote “The Girl Without a Face,” I  wanted to explore the theme on beauty and love. I didn’t want a princess who was “the fairest of them all,” and I didn’t want a cruel stepmother. I decided to take these fairy tale tropes and play with them a little. I didn’t want to break completely away because I wanted to pay homage to the classics but at the same time, I wanted to try something new.

The idea that stepmothers were evil implied that mothers were kind for the simple fact of being one’s mother. (If you read my poem, “Dear Mother,” you know how I feel about my own.) Mothers, in my opinion, made for better villains in my opinion. With a stepmother, the child might yell in teenage rebellion, “You’re not my real mother!” and run off into the woods to meet her prince. But the princess couldn’t do that with her real mother. She’d always wonder why, what was it she did to earn such hatred and abuse, as with the case with Velia.

So I had this idea that maybe Lilura didn’t take to pregnancy all too well. Perhaps, like so many women, she felt bloated, ugly, and ruined that by the time Velia is born, she experiences postpartum depression to such a degree that she becomes downright psychotic. I hinted that Lilura isn’t human. We have one clue to this when she tells Velia, “…Our kind do not take and give Oaths lightly. It seems my blood runs strong through your veins, daughter of mine.” I drop another clue in that magic seems to be rare not just in Velia’s kingdom, but the surrounding kingdoms as well. That’ because Velia lives in the land of men, whereas Lilura and her kind happen to be creatures of magic: they are some type of fey, making Velia half.

Velia is Lilura’s opposite. While Lilura is all vanity, willing to do anything to retain her beauty at the cost of others, Velia yearns for love and acceptance. At first, it’s for a mother whose motives she wanted to understand but later, it becomes clear to her she simply wanted to be loved. Velia’s quest for beauty isn’t for beauty itself but out of fear for being isolated and alone, of being insignificant.

I want to talk more about the theme of beauty and also of Lonan–but perhaps that’s best reserved for another day. I wouldn’t want to give the ending away, after all. Not yet. Maybe at a later date when other people have had a chance to read it. That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more “Behind the Scenes” as I discuss my other short stories.

“The Girl Without a Face” Teaser

New #shortstory #TheGirlWithoutAFace will be published on Amazon Kindle tomorrow! Love #darkfairytales? Here’s the blurb: “Once upon a time a girl, disfigured by her mother, seeks a way to become beautiful in order to be loved.”

Want more? All right, I’ll give you the first paragraph…

“When I was a baby, my mother, the Queen bit off my face. That was what the servants told me when I was old enough to ask why I had to wear a mask, why I was told not to take it off, and why there were no mirrors in the castle. They said she went mad with grief and chewed my face off, that it took three of her ladies-in-waiting to pry her off me.” ~Velia, The Girl Without a Face

So look my new story on my author’s page located here.

Girl Without A Face MOCK UP

The Girl Without a Face Has Gone to My Editor

Just turned in The Girl Without a Face over to my editor. Anddd I am nervous as heck again. I have complete faith in Jeremy Menefee but I always feel like I’m taking a Final Exam whenever I turn in my work. I half-expect to see a big giant F on my report card. I’m one of those people who suffer from test anxiety so even though I study hard and have nothing to worry about–I will still chew my nails and sit on pins and needles until I get my progress report back.
 
Thankfully, Jeremy is my editor and not my English teacher. He’s the dude who’s going to help me with my homework! ❤
 
Those of you waiting eagerly for something new to read by yours truly, know this: it’s coming sooner than you think! 😀

Trending Now

I had a fellow writer friend chat with me recently. They felt all sorts of down because they didn’t feel like their work was worth a damn. We’ve all been there, right? You look around you and see how different your writing is from someone else’s and a bad case of Imposter Syndrome crops up. In this particular case, we have this one thing in common: we tend to let our natural poetic instincts take over and bleed into our creative writing rather than go for what’s trending now: which is to write in a clean, clear-cut way. We had a bonding moment because we were poets first, short story authors and novelists later.

This reminds me of the story of how I came to be a poet. Do you want to hear it? Well, keep reading if you do.

Imagine a twelve year old me, attending sixth grade in a small town in California. In English class, we came upon the chapter known as Poetry. We all had to study poetry in California back in 1986. I remember reading Langston Hughes’s “Hold Fast to Dreams” and Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Mermaid” among other various poems. Then one day, we were promptly sent home with an assignment: write a poem. I went home and tore through several sheets of notebook paper because I was dissatisfied with everything I wrote. I even changed rooms in which I did my homework, hoping that a change of scenery might spark some inspiration. (Sound familiar?) My self-loathing chased me outside, to the garden in the back, where I finally, finally wrote a poem that kinda-sorta resembled what I saw in my textbook. (Do you see where this is going? I didn’t. Not at the time.)

When I arrived in class the next day and we turned in our homework, I was shocked to learn our teacher would be reading our poems aloud. I was downright mortified when I realized while I wrote a page-long poem about a unicorn in rhyming couplets, my classmates all wrote something along the lines of “the cat/sat on the mat.” While everyone was laughing and having fun, I was dying inside. Please let the bell ring, do NOT read my poem, I thought.

But Fate had other plans.

The teacher read my poem. I paled and shrank into my seat trying to become One with the Chair and Desk if not the Universe. By the time she finished, you could have heard a pin drop.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, this short girl who had always bullied me asked the teacher, “Who wrote that?”

“Rebecca.”

My nemesis turned to face me. My heart stopped. I expected a jeer. But she smiled and said, “That’s beautiful.”

That moment, right there, changed my life forever.

I don’t know why we compare ourselves to others. I don’t know we try to “fit in” and the moment our writing style doesn’t match the work of others, we automatically assume what we did was wrong. There was a documentary I remember watching that claimed Mona Lisa caused a stir because before Da Vinci’s famous painting, all portraits were done indoors. I read that before Sappho, all poems were patriotic in nature but she chose to praise her deity, Aphrodite and wrote love poems instead, inventing even her own form: the Sapphic stanza. Byron invented the Byronic hero. So with all these people doing their own thing, finding their own greatness, why do we allow others to try and mold us to their own style? Granted, I understand we’re not all going to end up Da Vincis, Sapphos, and Byrons here, but goddamn it, I’m going to try.

Lush language and imagery might not be for everyone but I don’t think that should stop a writer from expressing what’s in his/her heart just because it’s not popular at the moment. Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and the novels of D.H. Lawrence was a hot trend once. Styles come and go. And likes attract likes. I don’t think we’re such special snowflakes that we won’t find an audience who appreciates what we do. For fuck’s sake, if Ed Wood can get a cult following even after being nominated the Worst Director of All Time, (winning him a Golden Turkey award, I might add), then I say there’s hope for the rest of us.

Oscar Wilde said it best: “be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

Author’s Note: Special shout-out to author Colin B. Leonard for catching a few errors. You’re a doll! Thank you!

“My Most Painful Howl” (a poem)

“My Most Painful Howl”

My most painful howl is not
The sound of the wind
Beating its fists against the windowpane
Begging sanctuary from the rain.

My most painful howl is not
A dog calling to the white-faced moon,
An emptying, echoing, hollow bay
For a lover who never learned to stay.

My most painful howl
Is a whisper to my pillow
Where tears—how sharply they grieve me—
Cannot even be held, and they, too, leave me

“The New Cage” (a poem)

“The New Cage”

I twittered nervous as a bird
Nestled in the jaws of a cat.
And you, you tossed me a word
Purring gently this way and that
And told me that the sharp teeth that I felt
Was the new cage and its ivory bars.
How could I listen and not melt,
Nor fill my eyes with twinkling stars?

In the end, there was but one feather,
The tell-tale sign we were together.
Was it worth it, was it fun? Very.
At least for the cat that ate the canary.

“Dear Mother” (a poem)

“Dear Mother”

You were a doorway I crawled through,
But I wouldn’t call you ‘Mother,’ no.
Every shackle dragged me back to you.
Your chains weighed me down, kept me low.
With metal teeth and metal claws,
You ripped me apart, exposed my flaws.

Oh I know why you sliced into me
With cutting words and gutting sarcasm.
You never meant to set me free.
You slid within this bleeding chasm
To hide inside a life you couldn’t fake.
My life, dear Mother, wasn’t yours to take.

You were a woman, loud and broken
Screaming for the world to hear her worth
You handed Charon some small token
And sailed upon the boat ride of my birth.
Whatever it was in life that wrecked you,
Know, dear Mother, I’ll never respect you.

I was the one who pulled myself through,
Crawling across your splintered floor.
I separated the me from the you.
I birthed myself while you waged war
On the daughter you were meant to praise,
On the daughter you were meant to raise.

And you raised me all right: you razed me to the ground.
But I endured, dear Mother, every hell
Beat into me, pound for pound.
But I got out and I’m doing quite well.
And though one day, I may forgive you,
It’s only because I learned to outlive you.

Author’s Note: Yeah, I’ve got mommy issues. In one of my writing groups, we had a challenge to write a Mother’s Day poem. I didn’t want to spoil anyone’s mood but obviously this had to be said.