Finally some solid links for the upcoming events! I’ve been busy making connections, and Fall 2013 is starting to get booked.
September 14, 2013 from 1pm – 3pm I will be having a book signing at the Erie Book Store. The event listing can be found on Facebook.
October 18 – 20, 2013 at the Warner Theater in Erie, PA I also having a booth at the Eerie Horror Film Fest. Come keep this ghoul company during 3 days and 3 nights of reckless horror abandon. In addition to books, there will be some teasers for my upcoming works and the opportunity to see some of the work of Shane Montross, first hand!
September 5, 2013 | Categories: News | Tags: author, blog, book, book signing, con, horror, news, photos, publishing, self publishing, upcoming events, writing | Leave a comment
I’m not good at tooting my own horn. Sitting quietly and observing is much more my style. It’s what allows me to take in the world around me and paint it on to the page. But with self-publishing, the responsibility of self-promotion falls squarely on my shoulders.
Posting on websites is a fairly passive, low risk venue to get your name out there. Every day I find a new venue I should be using. A little time, and I can happily work through the websites.
But now I’m looking at a book signing. There is a book store here that loves to promote local authors. Once I get a schedule figured out, it will be full steam ahead. I’m going to have to smile, talk to strangers, probably prepare an elevator speech just to be on the safe side, and gather my promo materials. It’s both exciting and nerve wracking, especially for someone like me who likes to be over-prepared.
My mind is swirling with ‘what ifs’ and all of the things I’ve ‘heard’ you should do. I’m sure it will turn out fine, but figuring everything out is half the fun.
August 7, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, book signing, marketing, publishing, self publishing, self-promotion, writer, writing | 3 Comments
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…
August 3, 2013 | Categories: Serials, Third Life, Works | Tags: balance, blog, difficulty, evolution, motivation, serials, short story, writer, writing | 2 Comments
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.
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.
August 2, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, evolution, inspiration, philosophy, poetry, short story, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I’m working on a theory: Women like 2 things. Sex and murder.
The first one isn’t much of a theory, I’ll admit. I think 50 Shades of Somethinorother nailed that just fine. <pun intended> Murder, carnage, fascination with sharp pointy things and a cathartic righting of wrongs… that’s what they really want. They’ll take sex, but let’s be honest, they ‘d just as soon nudge you when you’re a step too close to the woodchipper.
It’s an escape, a release of a whole other kind, to gleefully banter about how to plan the perfect ‘accident,’ and practice the batting of eyelashes. I’d like to say it’s innocent enough, but it depends how much I feel like obscuring the truth.
The girls I knew yesterday, and the women I know today, all express these darker tendencies. Birds of a feather? Perhaps. Or maybe, truly, it’s part of a larger truth that the male marketing media has long denied.
Dames dig damage.
Talk to a woman, any woman, no matter how happy, or well rounded, or comfortable she may be, and see how long it takes her to utter the words “I could have killed him.” Red handkerchief in with the delicates? One swig of milk left in the jug? That bag of garbage left to ferment and walk itself out to the curb? The co-worker who constantly farts in your cubicle?
It doesn’t take much. And that’s just the daily grind. Think of the conversations that happen in the thick of relationship turmoil. I might need a poll for scientific accuracy, but I’m not sure I’ve ever met a woman who didn’t relate to and admire “Thelma & Louise” just a little bit. Women are hardwired for protection. Never mistake a nurturing spirit for weakness.
And for your own good, put the seat down.
July 23, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: 50 shades, blog, carnage, damage, dames, erotica, murder, perserverence, serial, sex, Thelma & Louise, woodchipper, writing | Leave a comment
With any luck my newly posted Kindle book will behave. I say luck because it took 2 of us working on multiple attempts to even get close to some consistent formatting. I don’t know where the ‘easy’ button was for this transition, but they sure hid it well.
Only when researching in the depths of the forums did the real truth come out… complications. Formatting issues. Shifting images and line spacing… Even now, while it looked good on the preview, I still can’t be truly… perfectly sure… that it will look right on the various devices and formats…
So I’ll cross my fingers and share the link… the content is there… if only it looked pretty…
Houses of the Broken on Kindle
July 6, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: amazon, author, blog, book, kindle, novel, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
See what I did there?
I’ve been sitting on pins and needles since the launch of Houses of the Broken last week. To put it mildly, I’ve learned a lot. It’s been interesting watching how Createspace and Amazon handle the publishing, and sales. And torturous as to how long it takes for sales to report from the various outlets.
Every day I check my ‘sales’ list, and my Amazon ranking. Some days I’m happy, some days I’m said, some days I’m just plain confused. I need to get a better media blitz together, but it’s difficult when no one returns your inquiries… I could argue back from a ‘no,’ flat out ignoring is a lot harder.
In many ways, it’s what I expected: It’s a lot of work. It’s a leap of faith. It’s not great for immediate gratification or questionable self esteem. And Kindle formatting… good grief. Don’t let the ‘it’s easy as pie!’ sales speech from CS or Amazon fool you. If you have a formatted file for a print book… be prepared to completely reformat it. This is still a work in progress and I even have people to help. I’m already wondering if the $69 fee to convert it in CS might have been worth it… but I’m the stubborn sort, and I like to know how things work for myself. So… Kindle version will be out… eventually… Besides, spreading out the action should be good… I think.
For now, I’m keeping an eye on the sales numbers vs. the number of copies that are showing up in people’s hands. If they don’t match, I’m not going to be a happy camper and that will lead to a whole other series of blog posts in the future. But for now… I must wait.
Take a chance on me!
July 3, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: amazon, author, blog, book, CreateSpace, novel, perserverence, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
Now available in print, and soon in Kindle format, Houses of the Broken.
Anna Shaw never intended to go home again. On the run from her demons since an early age, she never looked back to her sadistic father and the family she left behind to suffer at his hand. But with age comes the nostalgic longing for the familiar, and after years of distance from her estranged family, the only contact remaining to Anna — her sweet baby sister Lacey– uses their mother’s illness to lure her back into the fold one last time.
What starts as a bittersweet family reunion with her ailing mother and four of the younger siblings Anna so willingly abandoned as a teenager soon becomes a snare of animosity and deceit, proving once and for all that the perverse legacy of their father is more than just skin deep. And when the handsome stranger Anna met on the arduous journey back to her family shows up on Lacey’s doorstep with her vagabond sister, Silver, Anna discovers that her gruesome tendencies are not just hers alone.
With no one left to lead the family, Silver and Anna fiercely struggle for control of a twisted birthright. Anna must face a difficult reality that gives her only one choice to stop the fraternal darkness from spreading, setting off a chain of events that will leave her an unsure fate and no place left to call home.
Houses of the Broken is currently available at the following outlets:
Houses of the Broken on CreateSpace
Houses of the Broken on Amazon
June 24, 2013 | Categories: Blog, Houses of the Broken, News, Works | Tags: amazon, author, book, CreateSpace, NaNoWriMo, novel, photographs, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
Katherine Alton is a professional designer and an amateur herbalist who enjoys burying things in her garden. An avid fan of dystopian literature, she was drawn to the bittersweet and the macabre at an early age. Unable to shirk the unrelenting gray skies of the Great Lakes region, Katherine has been working on finding more constructive outlets for her creative impulses.
That don’t involve digging.
June 24, 2013 | Categories: Katherine Alton | Tags: author, dystopia, writer, writing | Leave a comment
It has arrived. Snuck right up behind me, in fact, a day early. My hands trembled in excitement as I tugged at the packaging. In a moment, the reveal. Glossy cover, straight spine, not a bad heft… my PROOF is here.
I flipped through the pages, surveying what I could at a glance. Text right? Check. Images formatted? Check. Any obvious glitches? Nope. So far so good. Closer inspection… where did that ‘s’ go… gah, there’s another one missing…
Yes, there are typos. After all the eyes and editing, there are still typos not willing to reveal themselves until they’re in glaring black and white. But I’ll find them., as many as I can. I still have time.
There will be tweaks inside and out. Little things. Picky things. Things to add more polish and shine, but overall I am very very pleased. And soon it will be ready for public consumption.
But will the public be ready?
June 18, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, CreateSpace, NaNoWriMo, novel, publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
This is the theme of the week and this potentially wine laced tirade. Nothing has worked right the first time, but perseverance is paying off. I hope.
I bought ISBN numbers. Or at least I thought I did. A few hours later my celebration was cut short by a note from customer service… somehow I had managed to log in to their site during a test phase. So neither my account, nor the numbers I bought were valid.
Try, try again.
ISBN numbers re-claimed, profile re-established, onward to the final phase. Createspace and uploading! *the crowd goes wild* The proof comes up, I start to page through it. The few minor image issue flagged aren’t really important until…
Where did my header go? *crap*
I had wanted blank pages in the front of the template, which CS hadn’t provided. Apparently in my previous attempt to insert them, I manage to scrub out the header information in the entire file. Not good news. Thankfully there was a formatting fairy to the rescue, and I was able to get the doc fixed to re-upload. On to the cover.
Oh, we only take PDF not JPEG. *sigh* Ok… cue email to my friend doing cover art. //facepalm.
It’s taken 2 tries on everything this week, but things seem to be working… now I wait to hear from CS and see if my info and files are all up to snuff.
And now we wait, until the morning…
June 12, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, CreateSpace, novel, perserverence, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | 3 Comments
The coffee is coursing through my veins this morning. I guess that’s what happens when it’s a freshly opened can. I want to do everything and nothing, all at the same time. Or at least, everything I want to be doing is nothing I ‘should’ be doing right now, which happens to me more than I’d like to admit.
But I bit the bullet. Made the leap. Bought some ISBN’s. After all of my fussing and fretting I went with the 10-pack. Now I get to figure out how the whole process works as I finalize my interior file. This is turning into a busy week, iron after iron plunging deep into the fire. Photos to edit, files to upload, design meetings to be had, social media marketing to post…. and then there’s my day job, which try as I might, does not appreciate being ignored for shinier, more exciting (to me) things.
I’ve come to realize in recent years that the Universe loves to subject me to the ‘all or nothing’ approach. If I’m doing one thing, 10 more pop up. If I have nothing to do, I can’t stir anything up to save my live. I guess it averages out but it’s like having your cake and getting the batter jet pumped straight into your bloodstream.
Folgers don’t fail me now…
June 11, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I’ve been in a bullet biting mood.
I unceremoniously sat down this past week to start formatting Houses of the Broken for CreateSpace. I was in the mood, which is something that has not happened for a very long time. ABNA helped me in a few ways. I made it a few rounds, got some good feedback and most importantly… was faced with a deadline to get my stuff together.
It took an hour. No lie.
Well, for the first blush at least. Before I knew it, I had a nicely formatted novel looking document sitting in front of me in Word format. Immediately I learned a few things….
My manuscript program sucks for grammar and spell checking. So does Google Drive. Word is where it’s at. This was a bit disheartening at the time. I’ve been using Scrivener, which I really like for formatting and ease of story organization but good grief… the amount of errors that flashed up on the screen once I copied it in to Word was just plain disconcerting, given it was something I thought I had made a substantial amount of read-thrus on.
I’m not sure how to rationalize my work flow now. I like the way the manuscript program organizes, but if everything ultimately ends up in Word… why waste time going back and forth? It seems like extra busy work .
Very soon we’ll be wrapping up the graphics portion of the document and then it will be proof time! I can’t wait to get a copy in my hot little hands, though I’m sure the minute I open it up I’ll see 20 more glaring mistakes that mysteriously weren’t there the last 30 times I looked.
But it’s getting close… so close I can almost read it.
May 29, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, CreateSpace, novel, perserverence, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I disavow any knowledge of April. It’s dead to me. Water under the bridge. A pillar of salt in the rear view mirror, if I was to look…
ABNA was the least of my obstacles this past month. (There I go immediately talking about what I just swore I wasn’t going to talk about…) April really doesn’t deserve a recap, so it’s not going to get one. I will just bask in the sunny glory that is May for today, and savor it. The light is at the end of the tunnel and a little mental recoup is hopefully on its way.
It finally quit snowing… for a few days… I’ll take what I can get at this point. Any day I don’t have to scrape off my windshield is a good day at this point. All of this may have been telling me that I need to revisit my first complete NaNo (that rarely gets talked about and/or admitted to): Mother Nature, Inc. It’s been sitting in the shame pile for a couple years now but never quite quit nagging at me. Might be time to give it a fresh look and a serious scrubbing.
As always, too many ideas, not enough time. But now I can make espresso at home… who needs sleep?
May 1, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: abna 2013, author, blog, NaNoWriMo, perserverence, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I’ve taken the better part of the day to mull over my thoughts on this morning’s list.
I didn’t make the cut.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was a complex mixture of disappointed, unsurprised, and relieved. In my mind, I made it about as far as I expected/hoped to go. The feedback was fairly positive overall, even my final review. Sure, I’ll wonder why I didn’t make it and why others did. That’s human nature, but really… it doesn’t matter. It was a lesson that gave me nothing to lose.
There is no negative outcome for this, which is the great part. I made it far enough to get some decent feedback, and I didn’t have to pay a cent. Complete strangers told me what my close friends had been trying to get me to believe all along. And I won’t lie, it felt good.
Maybe I was a lucky one, even in losing. I saw some of the reviews that came in… there was some tough loved dished out here and there. I had my critiques, but they weren’t unfounded.
Well… except for the one that said I had a foul mouth. *mwah*
Within 10 minutes of getting the news, I was letting my dear photographer Shane know to put the new book cover on the top of his to-do list. Problem is, I’m too much of a designer and I have a vision for this production. Sure it would have been great to be published, but I have ideas… bigger than just pages and pages of text. I’m not sure I would have taken well to middle management telling me ‘Oh yeah, that’s sweet that you have cover art all worked out, but this is what you’re getting.’ Not for this one, the next one maybe, but not this one.
This one is mine.
April 16, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: abna 2013, amazon, author, blog, book, book competition, novel, paper, perserverence, publishing, writer, writing | 2 Comments
Patience is not one of my virtues. Well, not many things are, but patience is right up the top of the ‘not’ list. I’d even say it’s my #1 non-virtue.
Tomorrow marks the next cut in Amazon’s ABNA 2013. This time it’s the semi-finals. I’m not going to lie, it’s a big cut and it’s a scary one. My odds at this point are 1 in 100. Though technically I think they’re 1 in 95. The unexpected twist (as opposed to the expected twist?) was that today I happened to find that… the Publishers Weekly reviews were posted. Ahead of schedule… BUT… and this is a Sir Mix-a-Lot big kind of but… the cut list doesn’t come out until tomorrow.
So here I am, with a fresh review that I can fixate on, and no clear direction as to my fate. The review was pleasantly pleasant. No outright raving, but no cursing me to a fate of never touching a pen again either. After a month of eager anticipation, I get to wait a little more.
This is how tomorrow likely plays out… I go to work, get my coffee, sit down to check my emails and take a deep breath, nonchalantly going to the ABNA page. I breathe a sigh of expectant semi-relief as I see they’re not there yet.
And then I proceed to refresh the page for 4 more hours… while trying to maintain the illusion of working. Eventually, the page will change, and I will freeze in my tracks, body flushing with anxious anticipation. More than likely, my boss or coworkers will pick this exact moment to ask me a question, or buzz me for a phone call. It will likely be a complicated question involving lots of nitpicky details. I will nod blankly, pretending to acknowledge them, as I click the link for the list, all the time in my head repeating *no whammies no whammies no whammies,* peering through the corner of my eye while I try my best to get them to go away in a speedy manner.
The list won’t be long. I’ll probably have to look a few times, just to be sure. If I’m not there, I’ll check again. If I am there, I’ll check twice, convincing myself that I actually remember how to spell my own name and book title. I will have to print the page out either way, just to be sure.
And then I’ll space out for about 30 minutes. I hope my boss is more virtuous than I am.
April 15, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: abna 2013, amazon, author, book competition, publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
When the pressure builds exponentially, and the chaos turns to white noise, this is the dead calm. When the little distractions and annoyances fall away, leaving you with the meat of the problem, a semblance of direction and a path of action, this is the dead calm.
A nemesis identified in the eye of the storm gives you no path of retreat. Surrounded and poised for action, your only option is to dig in and overcome; there is no choice, there is no hiding.
Face it. Take it on. Persevere.
Perseverance has been the theme of the new year. As much as I had hoped 2013 would issue in a phase of ease after the debacle that was 2012, it just hasn’t happened. There have been moments of stumbling, moments of feeling overwhelmed and swallowed up by the evolution of life. But even the spider climbed and re-climbed the spout when it needed to. I could do without the Sisyphean tasks, but I really have no choice.
Onward, I roll.
April 11, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: difficulty, evolution, nemesis, perserverence, sisyphus, writing | Leave a comment
Use your time wisely.
April 10, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: advice, blog, motivation, writing | Leave a comment
First of all, for all those brought here looking for leathers and feathers, this is not about you. Sorry, that’s a whole other post. I’m talking about good old, self controlled, nose to the grindstone discipline. The kind that motivates you to do what you do, to make yourself better, to hone your skills and to get into a good habit.
Habit’s are hard. It’s hard to kick bad ones and even harder to start good ones. That New Year’s resolution you made to eat better, exercise more, be nicer to you coworkers? How’s that going right about now? No matter how good your intentions, it’s often tough to carve out time to sit down, focus and commune with your inner Muse. Muse’s are fickle beasts, but you have to feed them often or else they’re hell to lure back off of the sofa from their piles of bacon and duck based reality TV. They need action, and so do you!
Less talk, more action.
Call it what you want, but I like that as an inspirational slogan. I find myself sometimes caught in what one friend refers to as: analysis paralysis. It happens when I’m picking out a new computer, it happens when I’m looking for the perfect pair of black boots, and it happens when I’m trying to put a story together in my head. A million variations of ‘If this, then that…’ drone on in my brain, driving me to the point of fatigue. Two hours later I look up, no resolution has been made, and I’m ready for bed.
It’s easy to over think things or to over discuss things. Sometimes this is a good trait, if you can thoroughly go through your options but… and this is a BUT…. you need to know when to stop and make a decision. Nothing creative will ever truly be ‘finished.’ There is always more that could be done, tweaked, moved, streamlined, polished… sometimes you just have to accept your idea and act on it.
The difference between a writer and a wanna-be writer? Writers write. It’s just that simple.
Maybe it’s notes on the back of a receipt, maybe it’s a text to yourself on the phone, maybe it’s a whole day of pouring your soul out into a blank journal, any way you cut it, it’s progress. Don’t assume you’ll just remember things later… as confident as we are in our memory skills, there’s always something ready and willing to pop up like a weed in the place of the masterful idea you once had while in yoga, but never bothered to jot down.
So get off your ass, sit your ass down and put the thoughts into corporeal form. Don’t make me have to crack that whip.
It’s Mz. Alton, if you’re nasty.
April 5, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, discipline, inspiration, motivation, resolutions, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I’m a design professional by trade. All you need to know – aside from the fact that it is not fashion related – is that it’s not near as glamorous as people seem to think it should be.
There has always been more than my day job on my mind. For years, I tried to figure out how to channel the thoughts and ideas into a tangible form. Sometimes I cook, sometimes I create, sometimes I write. It’s never enough, my hive is always swirling with ideas, usually at the most inopportune times.
I’ve always been an avid reader, especially as a kid. As an adult I’ve been enjoying revisiting some of the ‘classics’ that I never got to in school, or were considered too scandalous for juvenile consumption. While my reading has always leaned more classic sci-fi and fantasy, I don’t feel the need to emulate my inspiration; I write what comes to me. A healthy nudge comes in handy once in a while, but forcing a story never works.
Dystopia draws me. Ray Bradbury has always been one of my absolute favorites. As a teenager “A Sound of Thunder” made a huge impact on me. As an adult “Fahrenheit 451” did the same. Another early favorite was “The Year When Stardust Fell” by Raymond F. Jones. It’s been a hard one to track down, but it’s worth a read. For years I scoured second hand book sellers just trying to find a legible copy… now it’s on Kindle. Go figure.
Pretty soon we won’t need paper books at all…. but what happens when the power goes out?
April 2, 2013 | Categories: Katherine Alton | Tags: author, bio, dystopia, sci-fi, writing | Leave a comment
This is going to be a short one today, because life has a way of popping up at the most inconvenient times. Personal tragedy of some close friends, and a sun that refuses to shine has me stuck in the philosophical rut of “What’s it all about?”
Why do we do the things we do? The writing, for me, is an outlet. The things that collect in my head in the wee hours and the in between times. I like to share it, if I think it’s something someone else can relate to, or enjoy. And yes, it’s nice to show other people what you’ve made. But money and fame has never been an illusion of mine.
The bottom line is, I do it for me, not them. If you could see my archives, you’d understand. I’ve been writing in a silent collection for years, with no intention of things ever seeing the light of day. But they’re there, for me, as a snapshot of my past, my experiences, and the occasional crazy dream I was able to capture before it slipped away in the morning light.
Maybe it’s a phase that will fall by the wayside when something more “Important” happens in my life, but I don’t think so. It’s how I balance, how I maintain, and how I help myself understand the world around me. A friend recently said to me “What is life, but a series of passing phases?” The point being, indulge the creative urges. Explore yourself, the world around you.
I’ve always been the type that would rather know, than ask “What if?”
April 1, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: balance, creative, philosophy, writing | Leave a comment
The back-lit glow of the tender oregano leaves on my kitchen windowsill catch my eye this morning. As much as I fancy myself a green thumb, I’m surprised that this plant has lasted all season. Every now and then when I’m cooking I grab a few sprigs and toss them in to the daily special, just because I can. It is a picture of both form and function, sitting attractively in in its vintage, green McCoy planter that I scored at a garage sale for a whopping twenty five cents… and then allowed to subsequently fall victim to an over curious puppy who loves to topple over my plant stands.
In recent months I’ve become quite adept at the art of super gluing. I’m sure that will come in handy if I ever have children as well. I try to push out the thoughts of using it to glue their mouths shut or their hands together, though it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Maybe it’s best I stick to pets.
The weather has turned chill and I find myself quickly seeking solace in comfort food. I love to cook. I love to share. Cooking for one can be sad at best, but I’ve adapted. Right now the smell of garden fresh rosemary and thyme are wafting through my kitchen as my first real attempt at beef stew simmers away quietly on a stove that is a mere year younger than me.
I braved the wet chill outside to harvest the last of the edible items from my garden for this endeavor. A hand full of onions, some sprigs of rosemary and thyme and I was on my way. If I get another nice day, I need to turn the garden over for next year. If there is a next year. Either way, it’s best to be prepared. Unlike the rest of my family, I do not have a rototiller or a plow or a tractor. I have a shovel and my hands.
My garden is not big but it is more than adequate for my needs. Each spring, when the sun first shines, I head out with gloves on, shovel in hand donning a sweatshirt that quickly becomes a tank top once the blood gets pumping. I turn it once. I turn it twice. I turn it three times. The next chance I get, I hoe it, rake it, whatever seems best at the time. And then I turn it again.
A little time getting dirty is very Zen to me. Send me out in the middle of a patch of dirt and I’m a happy girl. If I’m sweaty, smudged with earth and covered in bits of organic material I consider it a happily successful day. It’s more productive than going to a gym and a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy.
I do not like being trapped in suburbia. I’ve tried it. Large tracts of builder homes where a family farm once sat, makes me want to cry. It’s hard to fight your heritage sometimes. I come from a line born of the earth. Living life inside an artificially controlled environment, under the glare of fluorescent lights, does not soothe my soul. Put some sunshine on my shoulders and some grass under my feet and you’ll see the shoulders relax and a smile bubble forth in no time.
Any given day I spend about ninety percent of my time at home in the kitchen. I never go in the living room. I rarely sit at the dining room table. Kitchen and bedroom are the only two rooms I occupy on a consistent basis. I like it here. It’s warm, it’s well lit, and it’s full of food.
Every party I’ve ever had has eventually ended up in the kitchen, no matter how small the kitchen was. Eventually I came to the conclusion that a much better use for the living room furniture would be to move it to the kitchen when it was time to entertain. This idea, while initially met with more than a few quirked eyebrows, was a stunning success. My dream kitchen has room for at least a love seat, if not a sofa in it. My dream living room, I could care less about.
I suppose there should be a chair or two in there, just to keep up appearances.
March 29, 2013 | Categories: Third Life | Tags: earth, garden, green thumb, kitchen, rosemary and thyme, serials, short story, writing | Leave a comment
This life, while well intended, was a matter of necessity and a good bit of dumb luck. My marriage ended badly, as most marriages that end are prone to do. In a classic case of when it rains it pours, this put me in a difficult position at work during a rocky economic time. I tried and tried to make the best of the situation, but as soon as I was almost done jumping through the hoops to get my life back on track, I was downsized. Before I know it I’m joining the growing throngs of thirty-somethings retreating to the safety of their parents basement to regroup in a time of distress. This arrangement never works well for any of the parties involved, as people who have had to live back under their parents wing all well know.
After a brief sentence in the basement of my youth, I took on the daunting task of making the old family homestead once again habitable. Trying to breathe life into a house that was never particularly nice or well constructed ended in futility but succeeded as a stop gap.
I have a million different things on my mind right now. I can’t focus. I did not get the job. I do not have to move in four weeks or less. I still have to give my kitchen a makeover and now my family is fulling embracing my new significant other. Some days I swear I slipped into a bizarro life when I wasn’t paying attention.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I tend to do that. Often the brain works quicker than the fingers or mouth will compensate for. As a result, most days I only get to express every third thing that actually comes to mind. It’s just easier that way. I find people who aren’t used to my… energy… tend to glaze over and reward me with nothing short of the feeling of beating my head against a brick wall. I’ve taken the time to communicate with you, the least you can do is smile and pretend to listen. It’s the pop quiz at the end that always gets them…
Sometimes I’m evil like that.
I had expected this month to turn out much differently. Yes, I’m only five days in, but it’s amazing what a difference a day can make.
My first honest attempt to leave this town behind has been thwarted. This was not pleasant news. The job market is thin at best for my industry and missing out on an honest opportunity is daunting at best. I guess my shock and awe at not only being called once, but being called back a second time should have been a good indicator. Always listen to your gut. Always.
In many ways, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. The acquisition of that job would have meant a month full of frenzy and a winter full of angst. A quick temporary move up to my home town with enough clothes to last me and my pets riding shot gun while simultaneously trying to wrap up the home improvements at my actual home several hours away, list it on the market and wait for it to sell as I start the renovations on an old house I just couldn’t help but get myself in to. Which is not habitable, of course.
I’m sensing a pattern.
Indeed, I was mentally steeling myself for life once again on the open road, mid winter, through the heart and soul of the snow ridden hill country. I was organizing my closet in the slow hours at work, debating what things would be of critical nature to take for the new job and wondering if they had a dress code that would force me to go shopping. Again.
I hate shopping.
March 28, 2013 | Categories: Third Life | Tags: crisis, leaving, old house, serial, short story, unemployment, writing | Leave a comment
I pull off my mirrored sunglasses and pink Harley jacket and sit down at the bar for lunch. It’s only Tuesday but I need a break.
The effeminate bartender in front of me stomps his foot and declares across the bar, “I hate women!” Looking over just a second too late at his new patron.
“Oh, sorry…” he smiles sheepishly.
“It’s o.k., I hate women too.” I flash him a grin and a wink and order my beer.
I shouldn’t be here now. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Though ‘this’ isn’t really a bad place to be. It’s the two year anniversary of the split from my husband and honestly, I don’t need solace or even a shoulder to sniffle on. This makes me smile.
I take a glance around the bar and wonder why everyone in this town has to look like my ex mother in law. A healthy dose of paranoia has kept me looking over my shoulder for the past two years. In truth it was mostly unfounded, but old habits die hard. Every trip out in public starts with a scan of the crowd. Every venture in to the mall veers me far away from her favorite stores and the family’s known haunts. And I don’t go to Wal-Mart unless I absolutely have to. It really doesn’t inconvenience me much, and at this point it’s become a matter of habit. Most days I hardly even notice.
I’ve never seen her. And nowadays I’m not quite sure what I would do if I did. Visions of hair pulling and assault charges danced in my head for the longest time; initiated from either side of the fence. Some days I wake up and hear her being quoted on the local radio. Yeah, that’s a lovely start to the day. She practically runs this town, and I do my best to live under radar.
I take a deep breath and remind myself that all of that unpleasantness was twenty four months and thirty five pounds ago. A bold cropped haircut, some new clothes, and a revived inner confidence that has brought the sparkle back to my smile and I’ve practically put myself into witness protection right before my very eyes.
It was unintentional, I swear. Mostly.
I’ve carved out a nice little life for myself really, despite the odds. Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit. Other times I probably give myself too much. I practically have the American dream. A nice house, built in the twenties, with built ins and beveled glass as far as the eye can see. A spunky, not so little, lab pup waiting at home for me that likes to keep me on my toes by chasing her down for my favorite shoes. Or socks. Or deodorant. My two cats, who at this point have become my longest standing adult relationship, lurk on the radiator boxes at the window sills waiting to watch movies with me or get a belly rub if I feel so generous. When I walk into the kitchen they twist themselves around my ankles and pretend it’s an option for me to walk away.
There’s even a nice little vegetable garden in the back yard that out produces anything I could possibly eat by myself without turning orange from tomato overload. On the weekends I mow my lawn, do my laundry and head to the local butcher shop for a little bit of meat and a lot of gossip. What more could a girl ask for?
And what am I thinking as I sit here? I. Want. Out.
March 27, 2013 | Categories: Third Life | Tags: crisis, serial, short story, writing | Leave a comment