Be Still: Setting Up My Writing Office (Collage Ideas)

“Be still and know that I am God” is one of my favorite scripture verses.* As an introvert who needs approximately four hours of alone time for every one hour of interaction with others, these words are balm on my soul. It reassures me that peace, quiet and solitude are necessary. I don’t need to seek after worldly things until I burn myself out or to prove to anyone that I’m “worthy.” Jesus died for me–I am his treasured one. This is my compass.

Is it weird that I’m a horror author who is also Christian? I don’t think so. Christianity, once you get past the baby milk and sugar, is actually filled with terrifying ideas and creatures–demons, angels, martyrdom and Hell being just a few. “Be still and know that I am God” are ringing bells of power in the cemetery of death, the world of lies and illusions we navigate before rejoining God in Heaven. Evil lurks behind the tombstones waiting to distract us or to push us off course. Few things about this are fair and the journey is sometimes filled with horrible things. But we get there. With God, we get there.

But let’s step back onto the main path for now. It’s foggy and cold in the cemetery, but the full moon is out and there’s a dry patch under the elm. Let’s talk about my main subject: setting up my writing space.

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Author Talks with her Protagonist: Persistence & Humor

I’m having a hard time wrapping up my final edits on my horror novel, M.B. Finishing a book, I’m finding, is like letting go of a friend. Anne is the name of my protagonist and she’s modeled a bit after me (but not entirely). We’re both intelligent women, both love old houses and each of us have our quirks. And our stubbornness.

I’ve been visiting Anne at her house, dragging my feet around her hallways while she pecks away at her laptop busily. Anne works as a freelance programmer inbetween renovating her house in her semi-retirement. I tend to mope and throw myself across her couch, counters, floors and rugs. I hide behind her long curtains and look out onto her front yard and the tree I placed at the edge, just outside the front row of bushes. Anne ignores my antics politely and reminds me to wipe up my smudge marks I leave on her windows.

Anne’s blunt and direct, like me, but slightly more patient. One of our latest conversations went a bit like this…

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Book Update & Thoughts on Bugs Bunny

On this side of the screen, I received my manuscript for M.B. back from my editor. I’m going through it slowly, combing through the suggestions. I’m plastering over plot holes, sanding down sentences, squirting oil into squeaky words and listening to see when the engine hums. M.B. is a horror novel with a sprinkle of mystery. It’s partially a reflection on the world and how vulnerable people tend to be treated (not too great).  M.B. has lots of layers of meaning, some tucked behind dark places. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

I’m aiming for an early to mid Fall publication date. It will start as an ebook and then will become available in print later. More on M.B. to come as publication approaches. Continue reading “Book Update & Thoughts on Bugs Bunny”

Thoughts on Auschwitz & The Appearance of Evil

Some of my personal interests are crime, psychology and history. These areas of study often intersect as humans tend to kill one another, often times over differences they can’t or won’t remedy. The Holocaust is a prime example of this trifecta intersection. From 1933-1945 roughly, the Holocaust was carried out by Adolf Hitler and his Nazis with great detail and intentionality. The Germans were very well organized and kept paperwork and records on everything they did, including in each death camp.

I started learning about the Holocaust around 8th grade, or around 13 years of age. Even now, when I see pictures and footage of Auschwitz, I feel confused. Surely, this wide brick gateway with the glass lookout tower wasn’t so bad, was it? It looks like an airport tower, or even an entrance to a theme park. Everything appears so orderly and ordinary, if a little old and European looking. I expect Hell on earth–flames shooting out of the gate, the Devil walking around on the railroad tracks, bloodstains on the fences, anything really.

How could evil look like so ordinary, so efficient? Where were the flashing lights, the warning signals or other clues? No. There was just brick, mortar, glass and railroad ties at the entrance. And something else I learned recently—Auschwitz is massive. The immensity of the death camp be seen in the BBC drone footage here.

The evil was in the ordinary.

auschwitz2

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Labrador Lessons III: Pace Thyself, Human! (Our First 10k)

There are gulpers and there are chippers in this world. I am a gulper. There are no stages, no stepping stones of graduated achievements with how I proceed. There is simply the goal and myself, whatever it may be. Everything between me and the goal must be overcome. And now, today, this very instant in fact! Definitely not tomorrow or a wishy-washy “sometime later, honey.” I will stay the course, finish strong, even if doctors and nurses hurry behind me with a crash cart and tranquilizer darts. Reality be darned!

All this I thought today during my first 10k, walking at a steady pace with my saintly husband* and tolerant Labrador. And then my Lab, during mile six, laid down in the middle of the road during a water break. She peered up at me and my so-called goals.

“Go ahead–try to move me, human,” my Labrador taunted me from the ground. “But you’re going to carry my 55lb butt back to the air conditioned car. And then I’m gonna pee all over your azaleas you just planted so lovingly…”

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Demons, Death & Double Standards: “What a Slut…”

I ask your pardon for including the word “slut” in the title. I dislike the connotations and one sided power the word carries. I imagine the word as a broken woman, dragging her dirtied feet through this patriarchal world, a shamed prostitute surrounded by self-righteous rock throwers. A man I knew died recently and, as I learned, wasn’t married to whom I (and everyone else) assumed was his spouse. The news startled me, but I knew it wasn’t my business. I instead chose to help as I was able with the memorial arrangements. I overhead the following conversation happen the day of the funeral:

“And what was with “their companion” written in the obituary…? What, they weren’t married? …What a slut…”

Ecstatic giggling followed the speaker’s judgement. I couldn’t see the group listening, but could hear parts of the conversation. I imagined the speaker’s tongue like a snake’s, split and elegant, licking the air in glee as she laughed. The group murmured some type of consensual agreement I couldn’t quite decipher. The conversation moved onto other matters, sliding easily to other interests.

I sat in my chair, shocked, my brain numbly processing what I heard. I began wondering if I was honestly in the presence of a demon.

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Changing of the Winds: Mary Poppins

I’ve always been entranced by a line in Disney’s original Mary Poppins movie. Julie Andrews says this line very quietly to the children at their bedtime when asked how long she’ll stay.

“I’ll stay until the wind changes,” she announces delicately to the children. As a child, that means only one thing: she’s going away. Mary is not permanent.

This perplexed me as a child and still rattles me a little as an adult. How brave Disney was to keep this element of the story, of change and letting go. Waiting periods and change are two of the hardest things for kids to understand. I’m not sure adults win the blue ribbon, either.

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Some of My Favorite Books & Why

With no particular rhyme or reason, here are five of my favorite books. There are, of course, many, many, many more.

Hurry, scurry, get thee to a library!

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Combing through Novel Drafts: How I do it

This morning I’m combing through my novel, M.B., for what is probably the three hundredth time–without exaggeration. If you want to write, and write well, get used to this process. As you scan back and forth over your novel’s pages, like a scanner hovering silently over the moon’s craters, you will find mistakes, blip and puddles that will need to be fixed, altered or mopped. This is good, normal and part of the writing process. I enjoy the process and bring tea, snacks and Enya music along for the ride. Make yourself comfortable and go.

Here’s some ways how I go about the revision and editing processes…

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Lifting up Writers: Leave and Read an Encouraging Comment

Writing, at least in the first stages, is often a solitary work. Frustration, anger and slow progress all join the party for writers at one point or another. Sometimes you stare at the pages and wonder if you ever properly learned your language. Other days, you forget how to spell your name, pronounce your novel’s title, or even how to properly pee.

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