Houses of the Broken and Other Stories

Posts tagged “perserverence

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.


Say Something Nice

I’ve been waiting to post something until I had something nice to say. It’s been a whirlwind summer and I’m still recovering. Lots of new things, lots of old things, and lots of tiring things.

I’ll start simple.

I like leather.

I like wine.

I ordered new business cards! Woo!

Now, why is it only Tuesday?


“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….

 


Technically Writing

I miss my woodchippers. I truly do.

I’ve been writing my fingers off in recent months but it doesn’t feel like it because it hasn’t been anything ‘fun’. Agent queries, product specifications, legal transactions… yes, I’ve been trapped in the world of technical writing and it just makes me yearn for the greener page all the more.

Some frivolity of tossing ne’er do well bodies in the ‘chipper could do me some good. Not to mention the question of what’s in the ‘meat’ that has everyone going crazy for it? The muse is demanding 80 degree days and fish bowl size tropical drinks heavy on the pineapple and rum. I would love to indulge her, but the Great Lakes region is not so forgiving.

In the mean time, the morning commute behind the local woodchipper service serves as a good reminder of what’s waiting for me on the other side.

Maybe soon I’ll be sharing exciting agent news! At least for now I know I’m official as the rejections come piling in. Until then… we wait.


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?


Some like a little warrior with their princess.

Some of my girls like conflict, I admit it. We… They … thrive on being able to best an opponent, no matter what gender, age or size. My dames dig damage. The rest of the world doesn’t always agree.

It’s not proper. It’s not ladylike. Don’t let them know that you’re stronger, faster, smarter. They don’t like that. Don’t talk that way. Don’t like those things…. it’s not appropriate.

Things that aren’t lady like are the best kinds of things. It’s no fun being a lady, I’ve had to do it a lot. No one says “Remember that time I knew what the shrimp fork was?” though they might fondly remember “Remember that time I ripped apart that entire chicken* with my bare hands?” Carnage is awesome.

Some of us are drawn to opposition, conflict and the like. Not because we want it, but because we’re not scared. It’s encouraged for boys to be brave. Why shouldn’t we be? Because it’s not ladylike….

I make a horrible damsel, it’s true. My hair isn’t long enough, I don’t wear dresses and I tend not to trip awkwardly when running away from things. IF I bother to run away. If a conflict can’t be neatly sidestepped, I’m more than happy to meet it head on. This tactic has had mixed results over the years but I rarely regret not running away. Bullies don’t know what to do with that, even as adults. It’s not always a matter of physical confrontation, but of self esteem and emotional control. You can’t make me cry. You can’t make me run. Your. Move.

“Princess” culture has never been my thing, despite being raised to know when to be a lady. Even as a kid, I wanted the princess’s horse, screw the girl in glass heels. (They’d hurt terribly anyhow. No wonder damsels trip.) What the modern self proclaimed ‘princesses’ fails to realize, is what the life of a REAL princess would entail. Extensive schooling, extensive training on etiquette, trivia, sewing, philanthropy, dance, strategy, arranged marriages for political gain…. it’s not all tutu’s an bon bon’s.

Keep your tiara, I’d rather have my soul.

I encourage all girls (and women) to add a little ‘warrior’ to their ‘princess’. Test your limits. See how well you can aim. Don’t be afraid of a friendly tussle. We get older and we forget… how we ran and played and bounced off the ground or tree or rock without a second thought. How we physically interacted with our environment beyond a keyboard and a screen.They are useful extensions for thoughts and ideas but they don’t compare to the feel of rough bark sliding under your fingers, or a cold stream shocking you awake as the water permeates the seals on your ‘water resistant’ shoes.

Learn strategy and how to pick your battles. Life shouldn’t be a constant fight nor a constant retreat. There’s no use ‘playing small’, because the more you do, the smaller you feel. You will be invisible if you act invisible. It’s a super power I’ve seen… or not seen… first hand.

Don’t be afraid to make them think. Make them nervous. Make them wonder… Even if you are wearing a skirt and a smile.

*Cooked. I’m no monster.


Rekindling the brain waves.

January is sliding quickly by and I’m getting back into the habit of being a working girl. It seems that a little bit of structure suits me. Or at least that the more structure I have, the more I want to break out of the box when I have a chance. It’s a passive-aggressive work habit at best but it seems to work for me. Deadlines help.

Speaking of deadlines… In an arbitrary discussion with myself it was decided that the summer solstice might be a good time to try to get my next work in progress out in print. It seems so far away but with the pile of editing I have to do, I know it will be here before I know it. And that’s not even taking time to format and tinker and perfect the look and feel of the product.

After the winter hibernation – which still calls to me in its fluffy, wooly tones – getting the brain back in the game is taking a little more effort than I’d like. But like any great training program, I need to up the reps and stick to a schedule. Don’t touch my chocolate though, I do have my limits…

The problem with having more ideas than energy is finding which one to focus the finite amount you have on. As much as I’d like to multitask when it comes to writing, keeping a linear process seems like it’s working out best for me – especially in the editing phase. I pause long enough to scratch down ideas for future projects, but diverting any real attention often just pulls the train right off of the tracks.

In the hopper now is the cannibal love story that refuses to follow any outline I put in front of it. If it, and I, survive through editing, it might just see an attempt at a screenplay as well. Because… why not? I’m not sure if I can make it in time for HorrorFest this year, but it is a far flung goal I’d like to attempt. If not, being able to have a second book at my table would be an awesome enough accomplishment.

I’m sure life doesn’t have any designs on innovative new ways to thwart me while I’m busy making plans…


NaNope

This is National Novel Writing Month… a month that has been sacred to me for years now. It’s a special time when all of my friends and family know to bugger off and leave me alone while I WRITE STUFFS!

It’s been good, it’s been bad, it’s been ugly, but I’m proud to say that over the past few years, despite life being life, I’ve managed to at least hit 50k when it was down to the wire. I work good under pressure, and I know it. And usually, I can buckle down. Usually…

I’m fairly certain I’ve been writing about 5,000 words a day. The problem is, very little of it has been ‘fiction’. Life turned topsy turvy on me in a very short amount of time. I thought the trip west was going to be my biggest obstacle in this year’s process, and I anticipated having to ‘dig out’ once I got back home. Little did I know, that would be the least of my worries. Long distance travel, jet lag, an ill timed sickness… and that was the easy part. The month was young, I still had time. I could have pushed myself, but I didn’t want to burn myself out too early.

And then…

No job. Just like that. *poof* It’s gone. Well, shit.

I’d love to tell you that my book (Houses of the Broken) was doing well enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about being a cube monkey any more, but that’s not yet the case. Working a day job, finding time to write, blog, promote, live life, sleep, eat, bathe occasionally… it takes a toll. And I’m tired.

Now that I sit with more time on my hands, I still can’t find a moment of peace. Suddenly I’m in a scramble to take care of all the things I didn’t have the chance to fit in to a 24 hour day. Meanwhile, I have to evaluate if I’m ready for a permanent career change, if I’m stuck in a career change whether I like it or not, thanks to the lack of current jobs, or if I just want to throw caution to the wind and do something… different. Really different. Flying without a net different.

*spoilers* I’ve always been the conservative one. Even talking about this makes my heart start to tense up ever so slightly. *thumpthump* Ack.

I should be writing right now, but not writing here. That’s the other part of the problem. All this adversity just makes me want to blog, and talk about life and things, and the plight of Generation-X. And maybe wear flannel two sizes too big… I’m feeling nostalgic. I rocked the flannel.

So, this year I get to accept failure. Failure at being an adult, and failure at NaNoWriMo. I’m still chipping away at it, and the good news is, even deep in personal strife, I’m still stacking up the words… just half as fast as usual. I want to just quit, I do… it would be easier. I want to quit everything right now, take my ball, and go home. Maybe hide under the covers too, at least it’s cozy there. I could go for some winter hibernation, hiding from my problems and the difficulties of the real world. Maybe, crazy enough, I will even let myself have some ‘down time’ and not feel guilty about it. Nah. That won’t happen.

At least not until December.