Houses of the Broken and Other Stories

Posts tagged “evolution

When the Levee Breaks

When I grow up, and I mean when I have more control over my own destiny and find myself on the other side of the management desk, I intend to turn things around. Tell your friends what we’re like. Tell our competition what we do. If you don’t like something, say it. Don’t leave it a carefully guarded mystery, festering in a cave of fearful doubt.

The world is slammed with non disclosure agreements and expectations. But I want to disclose. Oh, how I want to disclose.

Too many strings make for a heavy burden when you have to keep nearly every aspect of your daily involvements short, sweet and anonymous. No one wants to get bad press, but the more iron clad the agreement, the more you should keep a wary eye to the big, flashy smiles behind them.

Some people *ahem* are good at telling stories. Some people *ahem* love telling stories and some of the best stories aren’t fiction. Does someone need a champion? Someone to blow the chained cubicles wide open? Someone to ask the other minions if they’ve been treated the same? (I hear some people are good at asking all the wrong questions.)

The best way to keep people happy is to keep your promises. Setbacks are reasonable, if not expected. Deception, well, don’t expect that to succeed for long. Ignoring problems also doesn’t tend to make them go away, unless your goal is to alienate and irritate people in to leaving. And those people, aren’t going to recommend you later down the line, even if they are subject to a gag order.

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2014 in Review. AKA – Things I never thought I’d do.

2014 has been a strange year. On paper it doesn’t look so bad, but to many of us it has been a mind numbing, soul crushing sequence of days. For me, this year has seen a lot of unrealized potential. Small flashes in the pan that keep a person spurred on, perhaps. While not much came to fruition, there are a number of things I didn’t realize I even had on my bucket list, that I can now cross off.

The year started with a new job. In the middle of the polar vortex. In a very old building. Nothing like starting a new job and immediately having to notify someone that the plumbing was frozen.

In lighter events, here is a simple list of highlights, there are a million emotional roller coasters that happened as each item played out:

  • Started a new, higher profile job.
  • Pitched a reality TV show.
  • Tried to start a business.
  • Joined roller derby.
  • Auditioned for a different reality TV show.
  • Got a book contract for my first novel.
  • Tried to start a business.
  • Survived a season of roller derby and actually played a bout (at my age!)
  • Covergirl for a photography business.
  • Tried to start a business.
  • Got unintentionally published in a magazine.

This was not a year of travel and adventure for us, it was a year of change and keeping things close to home due to such a shaky job market. Realignment of priorities, establishing some aggressive goals, and keeping ourselves sane. It didn’t always work, and it was never really easy, but we’ve made it so far. I’m still not sure where summer went.

Overall, I wish the word ‘perseverance’ didn’t come up so often, but there’s not much of a choice if you want to change your stars. 2014 started the trend of letting go, and I suspect 2015 will include some of the same. It’s a challenge not to give in and quit when things are hard. I’ve dealt with some new people I hope I don’t ever have to deal with again but I’ve also met some new people I’d like to get to know better.

Pipe dreams were chased and many glass ceilings were revealed. Now all I need is a brick.

All I can say to 2015 is – Bring it on.


“The Call”

On Friday the 13th, under the Fullness of the Honey Moon… I’d like to announce that I got ‘the call.’

The call. THE call. The CALL.

I liked your manuscript! Tell me more!

An hour later, my head was spinning. Is this for real? Couldn’t be… my cautious nature waited for the other shoe to drop… and waited… and I reviewed the draft contract… and waited to hear that shoe go ‘thump’ and then… hard copy of the contract made out to me, notarized and in my hot little hands!

No thumps required.

Without fear and further ado, I’d like to announce my signing with Cliffhanger Press, for my debut novel manuscript Houses of the Broken.

I was thrilled to talk and work through everything with TJ Loveless, and can’t wait to see what kind of package we can put together. I just hope she doesn’t have to empty out too many red pens on my manuscript! *eep*

Buckle up for a new adventure! I still can’t believe it’s happening… But please, keep your shoes to yourself….

 


Changing the Rules?

Why keep trying to beat someone at a game you don’t want to play? Interests and focuses evolve and change as we learn new things about our world and ourselves.

THEY say “Hold On!” But whose dreams am I holding on to? What do you do when you realize you’re still trying to measure yourself by goals you set before you even  joined the adult world? Naive expectation based on the way things “should” be, informed only by hope, logic and fairy tales.

This is not the way of the world.

The legacy of civilization carries with it inherent flaws which have defied evolution, lurking in the shadows of subtext. A generation is a small window of time, educated by its peers and environmental influences; it fails to grasp the bigger picture of how the machine began or the necessary evils that make it tick.

There is no level playing field and there never will be.

I neither want nor expect to have the life I wanted at 20. The world changed, forcefully, not long after that. The bright hopes on the horizon flickered and faded. Things got harder, things got leaner and the competition for merely enough to pay the bills increased.

It’s been that way ever since. Wondering when the other shoe is going to drop has become a way of life. Someone stole the brass ring and sold it for scrap.

It’s a new game… the old rules are useless.


Third Life – The 7 year glitch.

The more things change, the more things stay the same … thoughts from this time – 7 years ago…

My Year

This is going to be my year. And no, this is not a resolution, this is a lifestyle change. To think it will all change at once is foolish, but over the past year I have been slowly laying groundwork and reevaluating certain priorities.

One big step in ridding myself of negative influences has been my employment switch. The new job may not turn out to be all it’s cracked up to be, only time will tell, but regardless of that I will always have the fact that I looked out for myself and at least tried.

I really have to stop being so afraid of failure. I’ve taken a lot of chances this past year. Reconnecting with old friends, looking to better my career, trying to come to an understanding with my family, traveling abroad in a time of terrorism and uncertainty. None of those are safe or easy things. Some are big and some are small, but all it takes is a chance, and look where it’s gotten me so far: I have reconnected with my friends, and they didn’t reject me, I got a new job and got an offer from every interview, my family is a work in progress… every family is, but I think it’s getting better. We had a great time traveling and had no problems whatsoever, despite a bomb scare on the very flight we were scheduled for not two weeks before.

I think fear is healthy, but it shouldn’t be paralyzing. There are many times when I avoid activities or events because they’re unknown or uncomfortable and I’m afraid I’ll end up looking stupid or embarrassed or somehow fail. I’ve come to peace with that… I will look stupid, it’s what I do. It’s part of my charm.

Yes, I’m a dork, have always been a dork, will always be a dork, but you know what? The best friends are dork friends. They don’t judge you by your hairstyle or the size of your jeans. They don’t get jealous when something good happens to you, they get excited. They’ll be supportive, even if they might not agree with you. And at the end of the day, they’ll just be there ready to talk, or not talk; whatever you may need.

I’m sure there will be many times when I feel defeated and hopeless. Too tired to care or try anymore and discouraged to the point that I want to crawl in to a dark little hole and never be seen again. It’s hard not to be a self conscious little girl when you’re insecure and afraid. Hopefully I will be encouraged to not give up and have support when I need it. If I remember to listen to myself, that will be half the battle.

There will always be things I need to work on; it’s a fact of life. But I’ve been feeling more centered than I have in a long time, and much of that comes from being true to myself. Rekindling interests of the past, reconnecting with old relationships and the only people I felt ever really knew me, and sometimes just plain putting my foot down and not living my life by someone else’s rules and expectations. If I’m happy but someone else is disappointed in me, that’s their problem, not mine.

That settles it! I’m going to be a roller derby girl. If not now, when?


Reset.

My muse took the winter off. There’s no two ways around it. The minute I was faced with unlimited free time, my get up and go got up and went. (Cue Fell On Black Days…)

The end of the year synopsis… yeah, I avoided it. While my year was mostly dominated with awesome things, you remember most how things ended, not how great the middle was. The same holds true for basically any type of art or performance. When all else fails, finish strong and the crowd will be happy. Despite my reluctance to summarize my year in one easy nutshell, I did have a number of internal musings about the resolutions, clean slates, and starting over all over again. I came to a few conclusions…

There is no such thing as a clean slate. There will always be residue. Always. And that’s o.k. You wouldn’t be where or who you are without those traces of the past, both good and bad. While you may not like the past scribbles, they can’t be erased. But you can make them evolve into another sketch that is more beautiful. Build on the slate, don’t scour it. The depth of field will be all the more interesting when you’re done.  (Maybe some Shine On You Crazy Diamond.)

Resolution on resolutions: If you really wanted to, you already would have.

Starting over. Not a fan. Starting over is uncomfortable. But in truth, comfort zones were made to be broken, like it or not. And the thing that was scary today, is old hat tomorrow. Unless, of course, the parachute didn’t open…

Motivation. You want to get something done? Find a busy (wo)man. Having nothing to do made me listless, even as I tried to keep busy I just felt like I was trying to ride a solid lead unicycle under water. A soldier needs a war… a Katherine needs to be under insurmountable deadlines. (Which has put Blue Collar Man solidly in my head now…)

Long nights… impossible odds…

Feel free to rock out a moment, I’ll be here. *yawn* Better? I thought as much.

Into the fray, once more… and again after that, and another time or two. Maybe three for good measure. The muse, snowbird that she is, will be back. She always comes back. And the woodchipper will be waiting.


The Heat is in the Tools

Presently I have two very big influences in my life. One is trying to get my writing persona established and off of the ground, the other is a massive restore-o-vation of the very old farmhouse I live in. Neither are for the faint of heart. It takes a special kind of crazy to face insurmountable odds and go “Eh… what’s the worst that can happen?”

Life evolves. There’s no two ways around it. Things that were important one day, may not be so important the next. Likewise, something you never thought to be a consideration maybe become the burning desire that spurs you to action. Between renovation and writing I have found a few simple truths.

1. Each one is a lot of work.

2. If I don’t do it, no one will.

3. The heat is in the tools.

#3, obviously being the entire point of this exercise, is the important factor here. Maybe you’re wondering what exactly it could mean, in either context. The answer is fairly simple: Activity keeps you sharp (and warm).

When you’re ripping apart a 160 year old house in the dead of winter, you start to appreciate the concept of movement. To stand still is to be cold. There is no progress. There is no warmth. There is an overwhelming urge just to give up. Too hard. Too cold.  Too dark. Your mind becomes your own worst enemy. Before long you have yourself talked into a nice coffee shop and a cup of coco. But the cave remains, haunting your moments of relaxation and warmth. Only when hammer hits wall do you meet true feelings of satisfaction.

That work in progress is the same way. Be it marketing or manuscripts, sitting and staring blankly at things on results in cold frustration. I like to mull things over, but if it goes too long ambition starts to flag. Ideas fall by the wayside. And it’s just plain easier not to. To write is to work. The catch to being a writer is: you have to write. Even the best imagination imagination in the world can’t call themselves a writer if they don’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard.)

It’s hard, but the best thing to do is keep hammering away. Even when you’re tired. Even when you’re bored. Even when you think you don’t have time to spare. (And yes, I am trying to convince myself of this as well!)

It’s the only way to knock those walls down and build something great.


Third Life – Manifesto

Why not try for the long shots? There is nothing to lose. Realize what an enviable position that is. Nothing to lose is the best opportunity. You can take any chance you could possibly want to. There’s no one to answer to but yourself. The worst thing that can happen is someone won’t reply.

So few people have these type of chances… Opportunities. From an early age we get trapped… hemmed in… on a path… on a schedule… before we know who we are or what we really want from our life. Slaves to industry and commerce… SUV’s… big TV’s… stuff stuff stuff. Not many people get a chance to start over; to wipe the slate clean. Sure, it can be scary starting from the bottom… especially when you think you should be so much further head. But sometimes dead ends are what you need to point you in the right direction. At least that way you know where you’re coming from and what you hope to find.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself and your life. It’s a natural drive we all have, but sometimes our head gets in the way of our hearts. “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” Fear gets us nowhere. Being afraid to try does not result in happiness. Hesitation makes us weak. Reach out to the instincts that you have, the feelings in your heart that you don’t question. If you feel you’re destined for something better, don’t fight it, embrace it. But don’t sit idly by.

What’s the best that you can arrive at? What is it that you want? A job? A career? A big salary? A modest means and a happy home? How do you want to feel at the end of the day? What do you hope you can do for people and for yourself? DO you want to learn something new each day or do you want to do the same thing over and over, knowing that your task is done and done well? You have to ask yourself these things. Think back on your life and think of things that have made you feel this way. Or, alternately, haven’t. Sometimes starting with the things you don’t want is easier than defining the things you do. It’s unfortunate but true.

It doesn’t matter what you ‘feel like’ you should have… What matters is what you truly want. For example, do you envy people with smiling children because you want smiling children for yourself, or because you just feel like you should… because that’s what people do… that’s how people show progress and stability. Is it the symbolism or the true yearning? Never feel obligated to live your life like everyone else. Life isn’t a kit of parts. It doesn’t make you magically happy when you have what the person next to you has. And chances are, the people that look so happy, really aren’t. It’s easier to fake being happy than deal with the truth and the pain in your heart. I’d rather be around someone who is miserable but honest, any day of the week.

Maybe the sky isn’t the limit, but we must resist the tendency to sell ourselves short. To play it safe out of fear and panic. To convince ourselves that the known evil is better than the unknown trap possibly lurking around the bend.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

I try to go in to life and new situations assuming that I can do something until proven otherwise. I can learn. I want to learn. I might not know how to do something…yet. But the knowledge will come. It’s no harder to assume that you can do something than it is to assume that you can’t.

Maybe sometimes the learning curve doesn’t align with the demand, but the knowledge will come. It always does. Sometimes you have to dust yourself off… it’s a rare thing to be perfect. And who would want to be? Insecurity is your worst enemy.  The fear of looking foolish, of failing, of falling flat on your face. Of stepping on the ice and falling right through. There are lumps and bumps and bruises to be taken to be sure. Trials and tribulations exist for a reason… and everyone goes through them, despite the glossy facades they put on.

Don’t let yourself be your own worst enemy. Do not count yourself out before you even try. Do not judge yourself as a lesser person, just so you can beat someone else to the punch. Hurting yourself before someone else can hurt you gets you nowhere. Likewise, hurting someone else before they can hurt you does not make you better than them.

Maybe we don’t all have the divine calling we felt in our youth… or maybe they aren’t meant to culminate the way we imagined and planned. But if you feel it in your heart, it’s there, and it’s real. Hiding it… ignoring it… avoiding it… it doesn’t work. Fighting your own nature only causes conflict and pain. Learning to harness our gifts is a lifelong process. Sometimes there are sparks of insight, moments of clear and perfect intuition. Sometimes the skies are cloudy and gray for a long, long time… but they never stay that way. hold on to the sparks, and the flickers and the beams of light. Keep them close and keep them true.

And with that… my well has run dry…


Lessons to Myself

In retrospect, I’ve always been a writer. I say ‘retrospect’ because even now, sometimes I have hard time actually calling myself a writer. I surely didn’t believe it back then.

Rarely did I have an audience, or any desire to pass on my musings to anyone other than my  closest friends. A long span of time was spent post-college working on semi-academic pursuits. Essays responding to the experience and situations of my chosen profession. True, but often jaded snippets of my professional life and getting my legs in the world of the drone worker.

I hope I can find them.

Time has passed and these sentiments have been in the dusty file cabinet in the back of my mind for a long time. Being young and idealistic is sometimes a horrible fate, but that’s when you have the most energy to swim upstream.

Still, I used those opportunities as a tool and/or excuse to keep myself writing. Did anyone care? Not really. But it gave me a good reason to sit there and pound away at my keyboard without drawing too many questions.

In the wee hours, my work was different. The occasional short story. A start to a novel here and there that never made it past page 5. And poetry. Lots and lots of poetry.

Lots.

Journaling was also a good outlet for working through my thoughts, and sometimes I do revisit those entries. More snapshots of my life. In a mere few words I shoot back in time and remember the exact smell and feel of the situation. I rarely journaled about happy things though, so tripping down memory lane can be bittersweet if not bemusing.

But it all adds to the tapestry of thought and experience that is ‘me’. And sometimes finding a phrase, or a quote, that was inspirational 10 years ago can jog a feeling or a whole new idea that can be applied to things today.

Each page is a seed from which a larger idea can grow. They keep me thinking, pushing, tracing my evolution and future aspirations. Maybe I should really call them “Lessons to Myself.” Conclusions I made so many years ago still ring true today.

“Don’t forget yourself,” being one of my favorites. But every so often, I do. And every so often I’m there to remind myself.


Hitting expanded distribution and feeling reflective.

Houses of the Broken is starting to hit the expanded distribution network. Now available at Barnes and Noble online!

Houses of the Broken at B&N

I spent so much time at Barnes and Noble in my formative literary years, I had every section memorized. It’s where we went to talk, to learn, to browse, to sample all of the exotic music you couldn’t find just anywhere. It was the first bookstore/cafe in our area, and we drank it up. I still wish they made the Italian Cream Sodas I grew to love… every so often I feel nostalgic. This was before Borders, before Starbucks and before books came inside slabs of silicone.

Giddily, we’d walk down the aisles of our favorite sections, looking for new covers we hadn’t seen before, enticing us to touch them, heft them and see how the pages felt flipping through our fingers. At that age it was probably best that I had to be thrifty with my money. I had to choose… carefully… what next adventure I wanted to take home with me. I rarely left empty handed, if I had a choice.

I admit, I still like the feel of a trade paperback. Hardcovers are nice, but just too pristine. The paperback, ideally one that fits in your pocket, is a great companion. It goes everywhere with you, there to quell your boredom or sooth the anxiety while waiting for something unpleasant. The tattered edges growing dark from use and life experience. Favorite pages creased from being read again, and again, and committed to a memory always held close to the heart.

But now we have iPhone and Google for that…