I’m sitting in my living room, wrapped in blankets, steeling myself against the coming winter. The temperature outside is dropping today. The days are getting woefully short. (OMG, I miss the sun already.) The wind is whipping my 12 foot skeleton around. Yes. It’s still up, and no, I haven’t figured out how to dress it up like Santa Claus exactly, but I’ve got a bag full of red tablecloths and some duct tape, so it’s only a matter of time. Because despite all of this, I am happy. Because inspiration–or is it madness?–is once again bubbling up inside me. Kind of like the inky black bubbles in the La Brea Tar Pits. Sticky and messy, but whatevs. I’ll take it.
Because it’s about damn time!
I can finally feel the dark cloud lifting off me, and the fun creative juice returning to all the bits of my life. Which feels like a miracle. I talked about it a bit online and on the Productivity Alchemy podcast, But if you didn’t know, I wound up in serious burnout this past year. Like. Serious. Burnout. Like, not a creative fire anywhere in my body burnout. Like, barely getting through the day burnout. Like, “hi five, you took a shower today!” level burnout.
I know how it got so bad. It’s because, like a dumb ass, I didn’t see it coming. And I just kept trying to bop along like nothing was wrong. I should have stopped. I should have seen the burnout coming, but I didn’t until it was on me. It was a lot of things, all. at once. The (never ending. Like, when will it end?) demands of the pandemic, Pop Pop’s Parkinson’s downturn and death, and dealing with all the side effects of actually surviving the unsurvivable cancer. Fun fact: Did you know humans aren’t machines that can just keep grinding, forever and ever, no matter what pressure they are under? No? Yeah, me either. Actually, machines can’t do that either. Not without maintenance, so I don’t know why I was surprised when all that killed my productivity. Why I couldn’t get anything else or extra finished in any part of my life. Let me tell you. Survival mode. It’s a thing.
But I can finally see the way out. I finally feel better. So yay! Caveat: I may still need a little bit of grace while I ramp back up. I’m not at full speed, but I am getting there.
So why are we here? Well, I’m feeling retro. Watching my Twitter happy place unravel recently has unearthed my deep-seated need to create a space to talk to you all, old school style, to collect the random tidbits and happenings in my life in one place, so that we may chat and grow closer. So, I’m blogging again. It’s SO 2000, right? Yeah yeah, I know.
But hey. The days are shorter, winter is coming, and we’re all gonna be stuck inside a lot more, right? So why the hell not? I’m going all chatty weird Aunt you haven’t seen in five years and who just has to tell you all. the.things. all up in here. Lucky you!
Make yourself comfy, settle in, grab a drink, and let’s get to the gossip, shall we?
Still life with Furballs
First. Some of you over in my Facebook group discovered the secret page here where I posted the cover for Revenge of the Furballs, which is book 5 in the 24/7 Demon Mart series. Woot! Yes. It IS real. It IS a thing. And I am BUSTED!
Although, in my defense, the secret page isn’t technically secret. It just isn’t linked on the nav bars on the website. Nothing nefarious is going on here, I promise. I created the page a couple years ago for a Christmas book promotion and forgot all about it. Then I noticed that page was getting a lot of traffic from out there, in the wild wild interwebs. In fact, it was my MAIN source of new outside traffic, so I decided to update it and turn it into a welcome page with all the series info for 24/ 7 Demon Mart. Here it is, if you want to see it.
I digress. Y’all seem excited about Furballs, which means a lot to me, because it means you aren’t bored with the series yet, ergo I should keep writing more. So, here’s the update. I’ve written the first draft, and I’m about 50 percent through the first revision, which is where I take the first (vomit) draft and try to make it into something that makes sense and might one day be funny. Because spoiler alert, my books are never funny until the third or fourth run through. I don’t know why. I have always been one of those weird writers who has to rewrite and rewrite, until it’s as good as I can get it. And maybe the jokes just come easier the third or fourth time through. So I’m working on Furballs version two now. If there’s good news, it’s that this book isn’t as much of a mess as (Re)Possessed was at this stage, so it shouldn’t take me a FULL YEAR to finish and release. Phew! And here’s the cover, for you curious kittens:
Horror Comedy Gooble, Gobble
Okay. Here’s where I come clean. I would be farther along in the Furballs revision, if I hadn’t just taken two weeks off. GROAN you say. Back to the keyboard, author monkey! And normally, yes, I would agree. But this was important, I promise!
Because one of those weeks, I actually got to hang out with other authors, and the magic people who make audiobooks and run websites like Freebooksy, etc. And I met a few authors who are totally my speed, and YOUR speed! Which will totally pay off for you in the future, I swear. (Do you KNOW how many books I dig through in order to find the ONE gem worth sharing to Monsters in your Inbox? DO YOU???)
My writing buddy Scott Burtness (Wisconsin Vamp) and I went to a publishing conference in Las Vegas in mid-November. It was a whirwind of parties and bad decisions. (Drunk karaoke at 2am, anyone? Wait No. That was a good decision. Because Scott B. is a karaoke STAR!) But, I did manage to sort through the 2,000 other authors to find the FOUR who write horror comedy. FOUR.
Me, Scott B. were two of the four. The other two were Sarah Tasz, who writes the Dead Mall Series, and Jeff Chacon, who has a two book series about a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas that no one notices, because people are always weird in Las Vegas. One is called “Fifty Shades of Brain.” I mean, Do I really need to say any more? Love both of these people. LOVE. THEM.
I got to meet the lovely people who produce my audiobooks as well. Podium Audio had a very fancy cocktail party at a swanky private bar inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel, wherein my editor, Kate Runde–who wore a sequined dress. Like all sequin. Like, a glamorous smiling disco ball– talked me into trying some fancy drink made with Prosecco and elderflower. Because the whole point was fancy. Pinkies up, people! We writers don’t get to leave the house very often, so when we have an excuse to do it up, it sometimes gets weird.
Now, normally, I am not a girl drink drinker, but it was actually tasty. Although, it could have been the company. When you mix a bunch of weirdo introvert writers with a bunch of extrovert voice actors, hilarity ensues. I spent way too much time chatting with two very funny Irish narrators who were just as confused by romance novel tropes as I was. Sorry, fellas. I do not understand bully billionaires either. If I did, I’d be writing romance and making a KILLING. But I digress.
I went to the party with a fellow Ohio author. I did not know until we arrived that he is the “OG” of the now-hot LitRPG genre, Andrew Sieple. We adopted each other at Luke Gygax’s talk about role playing games in storytelling, because hello, OHIO in. the HOUSE! Plus, introverts. Neither of us wanted to show up alone. But it was actually really great to meet another Ohio writer, one who lives only an hour from me, and who is also a big geek like me. We were two Ohio nerd peas in a pod.
Over the course of the week, I became instant besties with the lovely Lavinia Wren, an historical fantasy writer who is planning a series of COMEDY penny dreadfuls. Comedy penny dreadfuls. Let that sink in. Be still my heart. And yeah. Full disclosure. We met while standing over the wine table at a party. (You know where to find me. Next to the drinks!) And we both woke up the next morning, not quite understanding how we each had a full, unopened bottle of wine in our pockets. But that’s another story. I assure you, it was legal. But that’s all I’m saying.
And, I was lucky enough to run into the whole THREE people there who were writing sci-fi comedy, including Marcus Alexander Hart. He writes Galaxy Cruise, which is like 24/7 Demon Mart in space. And he is an absolute delight of a human being. Absolute. Delight. He really rocks those red glasses in person, too. And, thanks to the online author match-making magic of Ziggy Nixon, I got to putt putt and chit chat with Chris Tullbane, who writes the “Many Travails of John Smith” urban fantasy comedy series. If he ever tells you he’s shit at putt putt, don’t believe him. He’s full of crap. Just make sure he’s on your team. YOU WANT CHRIS TULLBANE ON YOUR PUTT PUTT TEAM. Trust me.
I had so much fun with these ghouls! So. Much. Fun. Why is this important? Well, because writing is a lonely and solitary endeavor. It’s also really hard. Success is illusive. It’s a creative career, so it’s really easy to take failure personally. And having a friend who understands really can keep the bad brain spiders at bay. (So many bad brain spiders. Aaah! Stop attacking me, spiders!) Also, I expect you will see us collaborating on all kinds of things in the future.
In the meantime, Scott B. and I did a FB livestream with some of these folks, so if you aren’t offended by silliness and bad camera angles, and my face being all puffy from hypothyroidism (thanks cancer!) you can meet these other authors and watch the replay here: https://fb.watch/gRqN2KPRBr/
Unfortunately, at the end of the conference, everyone went home with Covid, which sucks. Except for me and Chris Tullbane, who apparently had to be the weirdos and get Influenza A instead. Look at us being rebels! Which is why I had to take a SECOND week off of writing. To fend off a virus. Yay germs.
And to get a root canal. Then second one on the SAME tooth, because one of the roots grew back. Grew. Back. Apparently, that tooth is Deadpool. It has endless regenerative powers. Jerk. I think as I sit here with my puffy hamster cheek, aching.
But, now that the virus is wearing off and the worst of the tooth drilling is over, the inspiration is returning. I’m toying with the idea of releasing an anthology of four new 24/7 Demon Mart short stories sometime next year. I have the ideas and have started writing two of them, but we’ll see. This would be an extra project, squeezed in between the full stories, which I KNOW you guys are waiting for, and you guys totally deserve!
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
One last thing before I leave you. I went to the grocery store last night, and came home with a fish. Not for dinner. A pet betta fish. If you are wondering why there were betta fish at the grocery store, yeah. Me, too. And worse, the poor things were not well cared for. Because they were pet fish in a GROCERY STORE.
And while part of me didn’t really want to buy one, for fear that I would encourage some CEO somewhere to stock MORE because “hey look we sold this one betta fish, there’s demand!” I couldn’t leave poor Karloff at the store. He was sick, and sad, and I had an empty, warm clean tank at home. (Because I adopted Igor, another sad sick Betta back in the spring, and he has sadly passed on. I’d like to think he was happy while he was with us.) So soft hearted me couldn’t just leave little Karloff there. He appears to have an infection and fin rot. And I had meds, so in the cart he went. I don’t know if I can save him? But at least he can live out his remaining days in a quiet, clean, warm tank getting meds. Here he is, getting settled in last night. He did eat breakfast this morning? So maybe, just maybe…
That’s it for now. The ramblings, not the fish. Sending you good fortune and warm hugs as we hurtle toward the dark days of Yule!