11 October 2018

Slow Gin

My concept drawing of my character, Ginolwenye, from the Nature Walker Trilogy.
[Disclaimer - wannabe authorly post ahead. Read at your own risk.]

It seems that I am constantly in edits. The first part of the Nature Walker Trilogy, Wanderer, took me fourteen years to write. Now, mind you that was not fourteen years of writing every day or anything crazy like that. It was fourteen years of write for a while, put the manuscript away for a while, take it back out and fall back in love with Sath and Gin for a while, rinse, repeat. This face, rendered via Adobe Fuse CC, was always in my mind just like that, with that expectant look on her usually freckled face. She is still in my mind, almost constantly, repeating her mantra:

You aren't done yet.
Finish my story. 
Get the manuscript back out.
Sath and I miss you.

I always do as she asks, being the ever obedient author and alter ego. Even when I was working on other things (Proud Racer, Clobberpaws, and The Baskervilles-coming soon - just to name a few) or not even close to a Nano month of any sort, she was always there - I don't want to say nagging, because that's negative, but yeah, she was nagging. She's still there, wondering what is taking me so long.

A funny thing happened in the more recent years, though - thanks to a beta reader of mine who carried on his own nagging campaign. He said that he wasn't buying how I was writing Gin. He said that after everything she had been through, to come out the other side still bowing and scraping and apologizing seemed inconsistent. I raged against that feedback for a long time. Fought it. Ignored it. But he kept on me about it, and as much as I hate to ever admit it, he was right.

I've come back to thinking about all of that in light of the recent political climate and the #metoo movement. At first, I was afraid that I should put a trigger warning for domestic abuse on the books because there are bits in there that are tough for ME to read, and I wrote them. No, said my Wise Beta Reader, people need to see that she was in those places and experienced those things and came out of it with her dignity and her mercy still intact. She came out with a better sense of who she was - what is more inspirational than that? She is an example of a woman that was bent to the point of breaking - but who never broke.

That isn't who she was initially. It was a long time before she stopped quaking in fear at every stern expression or jumping out of her skin at loud noises (like Qatu knuckles cracking). She would burst into tears at the drop of a hat as much as she would the drop of a weapon. Be glad that he convinced me that she needed to show the strength that she had - I'm not sure she would be worth reading otherwise.

More importantly, though, it was through those conversations that I realized it wasn't only Gin who needed to be stronger, and tougher, and more authentic. That isn't who I was - or who I am, depending on the day, if I'm honest. But again, without knowing it, Wise Beta Reader was right - Gin is who I want to be, and who I'm sure many others in my situation want to be as well, and I hope she resonates with them as much as she does with me. Everyone's situation is different, obviously, but if Gin can give someone the strength to just take one step at a time in the direction of safety, then she is doing the work - I am doing the work.

I also hope that this doesn't make Wise Beta Reader turn into Full Of Himself Beta Reader, but you never know. I suppose he has earned it. 

09 October 2018

Impostor Syndrome, la maladie du jour.

What?!?
So with my last post, I covered some pretty heavy topics and unpleasant truth, and this time is no different, really. Last time I still had faith in my country and my senators to do the right thing. No, I didn't, that's a lie. Last time I still thought that maybe enough of the people elected to represent us would want to represent us and listen to us. No, again, that is a lie.

Let me start again. This time I'm going to talk a little bit about something that I face on a regular basis, in all facets of my life - sometimes with a bit of help from colleagues and co-workers that I am positive are not doing it on purpose. I didn't cross that out, but it's still not 100% true.

I found an email today with an excellent article on impostor syndrome in academia from the Chronicle of Higher Education, linked here. While this article specifically speaks to academia and even more specifically to the faculty that work in this field, I found some points that were salient to my own life, both my professional life (as a nationally certified sign language interpreter) and my avocation (a novelist or an author or whatever you want to call me - well, not whatever you want, that could get a little ugly). 

You see, I am really good friends with Impostor Syndrome. I'm sitting here right now - having finished working hard to get my software ready to provide real-time captioning in a class on campus and arrived at said class to find no one there and nothing in my email about why - worried that because I decided to use the time I should be typing 
Female Student: [cannot hear him/her] 
into my software I am blogging, I will be seen as a fraud and fired. Rational Adult Nancy thinks that is ridiculous. But there is another me living in my mind that not only does not share that opinion but spends a great part of our conscious hours working on plans B-Q for what we will do when we are found out to be the fraud we are.

On any given day, I know that what I do for a living isn't easy.  It doesn't matter that I have been actively thinking in and about a visual and spatial language since I was about 12 years old. It doesn't matter that I love languages so much that I fell in love with the process of working between two languages and can't crawl back out. It doesn't matter that I have a Bachelor's degree in American Sign Language/English interpreting from a top university in that field of study - the first one to offer said degree, if I am not mistaken (Hello Maryville College! Go Scots!) - and I was nationally certified as a transliterator (spoken English to a signed form of English) and interpreter (spoken English to ASL) by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. in 1997 and 1999, respectively. It doesn't matter that I have interpreted for celebrities, politicians, authors, Broadways shows, and for students attending Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the UK.

None of that seems to be enough to make me feel confident about who I am and what I do. Currently, I'm sure that the fact that I am the only one in my family of origin without an advanced degree (my father had two of them!) doesn't help. When you're surrounded by grad students and people with all sorts of alphabet soup following their names and all you have is BA, CI/CT to show for it, you can feel pretty less than. But the author of the article I linked above had a great bit of insight into that part of the syndrome:
Learn to see yourself in context. If you feel like an impostor because you don’t know or can’t do a particular thing, think about that thing. Is that skill or content crucial? If so, can you acquire it? Not because you want to belong but because it may make you more effective or productive. And if it doesn’t actually matter, think about why it is that others have it and you don’t (assuming you really don’t and aren’t just being hard on yourself or inflating other people’s capabilities). Maybe there are real and good reasons why that wasn’t part of your background or education.
I don't want a master's in interpreting. I don't see the point in it, to be honest. I learn on the job, every day. I go to workshops. I study other signed languages. But then I see someone sign something so perfectly, so succinctly, with so much meaning packed into such an economy of movement and handshape and I just want to turn in my letter of resignation and go home.

But I don't do that. Of course I don't. Not even when - on various occasions, from the beginning of my career to present - colleagues that either don't sign at all or don't sign well enough to interpret or aren't really even sure what it is I do try to make decisions for me about my work. I should be incensed! I should be furious! I should stand up for me and what I know!

Instead, I scuttle back into my place in the universe and wait for the inevitable revealing of me as a fraud. Writing has done nothing to help this syndrome, either - if anything, it has made it so much worse. I give my manuscripts to my beta readers, breath held, heart rate on par with a disco beat - and I fully expect that they will look at what I have done and know that I am not a real author. My sentences are run-ons and full of too many ellipses and dashes. My characters are stock, storylines/plot so ridden with outdated tropes that you almost don't have to read them to know where they are going. My dialogue swings madly from stilted to entirely too much in the vernacular of both South Carolina and West Yorkshire that it makes no sense to anyone.

And while we're at it - international expat? Ha. You lived there two years, and you let the death of your pets in the first two months color the entirety of your life in the UK. You're no expat. You're just a frightened child. You're a fraud.

WOW, who let her out? The author of the article goes on to mention a specific piece of advice that I am trying to follow in my daily life - something that would be hard even without the aforementioned voice screaming in the back of my head. (Interesting side note: to those that have read my fantasy series, this is where the idea for how Ben communicates with Gin came from: THIS RIGHT HERE.)
Stay concrete. Impostor syndrome feeds off vagaries and generalities. "I’m not good/smart/charismatic/funny/self-assured enough." What’s enough? Who is all of those things? What is "good" anyway?
What happened politically in the US this weekend has cranked up the volume on the impostor syndrome, let me tell you. Remember the woman I mentioned last week? All of those feelings, all of those experiences - they not only lead to a strapping case of this syndrome but they help feed it and make it worse. Everything from why would you think anyone would listen to you to the ever present you must be remembering it wrong because why would anyone want to do that to YOU?

All this to say I don't have an answer for this yet. I haven't found a magic pill that will take these feelings away and silence that inner voice that delights in waiting until I'm about to fall asleep to remind me of all the reasons I'm going to be found out very soon. But I'm still looking, and in the mean time I'm trying to keep her as far as I can in the background.

01 October 2018

...must be Monday...

As found on FB, original artist Courtney Privett.
Man. Are you guys tired? I'm exhausted.

I'm not just exhausted because I didn't sleep well or I was out all weekend because neither of those things is true.

I'm exhausted because #metoo and #whyIdidntreport and all that. I'm exhausted because I've been in a state of hypervigilance since about last Tuesday. I'm exhausted because I simultaneously NEED to do something for all the others who don't feel heard and can't bring myself to speak up.

I am still not able to speak up and share. One day, maybe.

I want to share a story, though, that I heard recently that has restored some of my faith in mankind - and yes, I used that term deliberately. There was once a girl that was a freshman in college (I have her permission to share here, before anyone asks) who had been sexually assaulted in high school by a boy that she really, really liked. In the course of that rape, she managed to get her hands free and she punched him in the diaphragm to get him off of her. Even though he had held her down and threatened her with the knowledge that he had a gun under his bed, he was angry that she had punched him and knocked the wind out of him.

She carried that experience around through the second half of her senior year of high school. She went to the prom with the same boy because she was all but certain that she had done something wrong, and if she was just nicer to him he would like her back. At prom, he tried again by enticing her to come back to his house. She said no and that was that. He left, and again she felt she had made the wrong decision. The first memory was now joined with the second one - and notes started arriving in her locker from other boys that she knew, asking her to meet them in the parking lot for a quickie between classes or if she would meet them under the bleachers where it was private. She wasn't sure what to make of these advances - on the one hand, it was attention that she had never gotten from these guys in the past. But on the other hand, she wondered if it was just for sex and not any sort of relationship, so in the end she turned them down. An image of a piece of paper is still burned in her brain that said "But that's what I heard you do."

Heard from whom? What did she do? Graduation led to a summer camp job. The job led to a very wobbly start to a potential relationship with a fellow staff member. But she was still carrying that shame and her unerring conviction that she had caused the cascade of events of the second half of her senior year. She started uni that fall and the wobbly relationship steadied a bit, until one unfortunate evening when things were going well with her new beau and he happened to grab her wrists a bit too hard - absolutely and totally by accident, she is certain and since I know the beau in question I'm certain she's right - and she freaked out. That relationship wobbled to a pause, and later, still at uni, she happened to fall in with a long time male friend and wobbled off in another direction.

Still with me? Here's the faith-restoring part.

She and the longtime friend became unexpectedly - romantically? Intimately? Involved, on some level, and one night they happened to fall into a conversation about past experiences during said involvement. She loved that friend and trusted him so much that she shared with him not only the original experience but the reaction of the new beau from the summer job, expecting that he would follow suit and that would be that. But he didn't. Tears fill her eyes as she recounts this every time, but through his own tears he was so tender and careful with her - as he put an immediate stop to anything going on so that he could just listen to her. She came away not feeling shamed or wrong, but HEARD. BELIEVED

They are still friends to this day, and she tells me that one day she will have the chance to tell him how much that one moment meant to her. It's been more than 30 years since, but she hasn't forgotten - and now, when faced with all the triggering ugliness of our world right now, she still calls up that moment to remind her that there are some people out there that she can depend on. And if she can, then so can I. So can we all.

#metoo
#IBelieveHer
#riseup

Back to the faire...sort of...

This is me and my girl - well, okay mostly my girl Bryn, with what appears to be a Mommy growing out of her head. This photo was taken by a patron (at one of the renaissance faires where I work as director of the Hounds of East Fairhaven) in November of 2013, when she was just 5 months old and had been mine for about 24-36 hours.

We bring period appropriate hounds (mostly Western European, 1500-mid 1600s, but we also include some Asiatic and Eastern European breeds as well) out to meet patrons and we talk about their place in history. We also wear period-appropriate garb (or as appropriate as possible when the threat of a Clobberpaw on one's skirt is a real possibility) and tell the patrons about how these hounds (sight mostly but a few scent hounds as well) lived and worked with people in this time period.

I used to work much more than I do now. We started with a small group (four members) and we were attached to the Lord Mayor's Court at the Carolina Renaissance Festival near Charlotte, NC. We grew in numbers and ended up with our own tent the next year, then our numbers dwindled down to almost nothing and we have gone up and down ever since. We also added more appearances to our schedule - we now appear in the spring with the Royal Court at the Georgia Renaissance Festival and in September at the Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Festival in Greenville, SC.

I can remember the early days of CRF when I had three greyhounds (out of my five) that did faire with me, often sleeping in my Honda in the parking lot with me so that I didn't have to drive the 2.5 hours (one way) on Saturday nights to just have to get up and drive back on Sunday mornings. Thankfully I moved about 45 minutes up the highway since that time, so it only takes me just under 2 hours to get there now, and I only work on Saturdays because I simply cannot physically do my job on Mondays after being at faire and in the car all day Sunday.

CRF opened this past weekend for it's 25th year, and it was the first opening weekend that I haven't worked since the two years that I was forced into behind the scenes work due to living abroad. After the year that 2018 has been for me so far, I decided that it was in the best interest of my health, both physical and mental, if I took some time off from faire this fall. Bryn doesn't like the setup there anyway - she is afraid of the booth that we have after some bad playtime-gone-wrong experiences with some of our other dogs, and as a result I have to stand out in front of the booth with her for the whole day. Both of us are ready for the car after closing cannon! We will see how Ciaragh does up there - she was a star at GARF this spring until she got tired, but she's almost two and growing up more every day, so hopefully she will be able to manage being in close communion with other dogs better than her big sister does.

All that said, y'all go to the faire! The Hounds of East Fairhaven will be in their normal booth at CRF across from the DaVinci flying machine. We have greyhounds, Irish wolfhounds, borzoi, Ibizan hounds, and Afghan hounds in any combination on any given weekend, and we have fantastic human cast members that can tell you anything you want to know about their canine companions. The faire runs from 29 September to 18 November, Saturdays and Sundays. My girls and I will be there on the 21st of October and 10th of November, and I will be there with an Ibizan friend on the 6th of October and dogless to interpret on Deaf Awareness Day, 27 October. Hope to see you there!

Huzzah!



07 August 2018

Post Camp (Nano) Blues

You don't know how many times I have tied that same canoe up to that same dock.

When I was a kid and went to Camp Glisson, I would always be out of sorts for the first week or so afterward. I loved camp SO MUCH that I couldn't bear to be back home, and it would take that much time to get me back to my normal routine. So that's where I am now - still in the outofsorts with no real ETA for the backtonormal.

Bear with me. I have this piece I just finished a week ago today swirling about in my mind, the Baskervilles first novel to finish (nothing like giving a manuscript to betas that doesn't have an ending!), and more of my prequel to the Nature Walker Trilogy to reverse engineer and do primary edits.  Oh, and in exactly two weeks I will be back at my Day Job, but my schedule this semester is going to give me an hour and a half every Tuesday and Thursday evening to sit in my office and wait for the bus, so that's noveling time, right? Lemons and lemonade, y'all. 

09 July 2018

Camp Mail Call

Sometime in the early 90's, at Camp Glisson
Those of you that are familiar with me know about my love for all things camp-related and Nanowrimo-related. So the fact that I am a die-hard Camp Nanowrimo Participant should be no surprise, really. Every year I do three rounds of Novel Writing Month work, two for Camp Nano and one for Nano Proper in November.

One thing I love about Camp Nanowrimo is that since it is set up like virtual summer camp you get the daily inspirational emails in the form of #CampCarePackages and they are jam-packed full of advice that you can use even after camp is closed for the year. I wanted to share the care package from Friday because it speaks to who I am as a writer on a very deep level. Enjoy, and don't forget your bug spray or sunscreen. It's brutal out here in the wilderness.


Camp Care Package: Writer's block v. "writer's laziness".
From: Camp NaNoWriMo
To: NancyEDunne

Author Claire Kann takes over as your first Camp Counselor this July! She's providing this week's Camp Care Packages:


I’m the kind of creator that doesn’t experience writer’s block. I suffer from what’s known as writer’s laziness—and I know I’m not alone. When this happens, I can’t even force myself to get my work done. But instead of sitting and staring at a blank page, I’ll give myself a set number of minutes to indulge in media that will inspire me to get back to work. Writing a romance? Watch your favorite romcom! Knee-deep in horror land? Find a book that has the same kind of spooktacular themes you’re exploring. I often find that’s enough to jumpstart my writing.

04 July 2018

Art...is art, is art, is love.


So today, instead of focusing on the holiday (that will come later when the yahoos in my neighborhood start lighting fireworks and my dogs think that we are under attack), I'm focusing on something a friend of mine said on Facebook - that today she is celebrating living in a country where she has the ability to create art without the government infringing on it or stopping it, at least not at this point anyway. (Apologies to Erin for that ugly paraphrase of the beautiful post she wrote this morning.)

My art is writing. I'm not a Tolkien or a JK, mind you, but I do find a great deal of katharsis and calm in writing. I let my characters do things I would never have the courage to do. I let them say things that I think ON A REGULAR BASIS but would never say because, well, SOUTHERN AMERICAN. They go places I only dream of going and live in worlds that if discovered to be real places - well, I'd never come back out, is the thing.

I create those sentences and actions and places. I create those characters - they may be based on real people, but I have given them life outside of the people that served as inspiration. I do all these things in this terribly creative art form, but it isn't usually called art. Why not? Is it less art because it is words? Because thank goodness for spell check? Because I have beta readers who point out to me that "a king would never talk like that" or an editor who finds the umpteenth time that I have used the phrase "beat feet" instead of hurried or ran? Because it relies on the imagination of the reader to give the characters voices - even though they talk to me in my own mind with their own voices, their own intonation, and their own accents?

Maybe it's because I want to hide behind my work - I am the first one to say that I'm not a REAL writer or author. But that's not the case, it seems. I am an artist - words are my paints, the laptop is my canvas. I put the notes of the words together to form chords of paragraphs, and those paragraphs link together to form the sonata that is a chapter. I choreograph my characters on the stage of the world I've built.

Well, either an artist or a fascist dictator, which brings me back to the holiday today and the fact that I need to think about shutting the blinds and finding something loud to watch on telly - or diving back into Orana, and only coming out when I absolutely must. Because I'm that kind of artist, and my writing is my art - or because we are four days into Camp Nanowrimo and I don't want to get behind.

30 June 2018

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!


It's the most wonderful time of the...every four years (except for the Women's World Cup which is even better). The FIFA World Cup is going on right now in Russia, and what that means is I get a month of football on tv almost every day, and for the first two weeks, it's on 2-3 times a day!

Yeah, take a moment to feel sorry for my husband. He's not as into it as I am, even when his own country is playing. My country's men's national team didn't make it into the tournament at all, but I'm still hooked. I'm sure there are those that would criticize my choice to watch football instead of BECOMING VERY LOUDLY INVOLVED IN EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD AND THE UNITED STATES RIGHT NOW, but - and this is tremendous personal growth on my part that I can say this out loud on my blog - I don't care.

There is nothing wrong with getting lost for a good two hours at a time in a football match. It brings a lot of things into perspective and teaches lessons that I think are incredibly important in the current political climate. It's also good for my author brain to tune out of rhetoric for awhile and focus on fast-paced strategy. Trust me, you'll thank me when you read the battles in my fantasy novels.

But back to the topic at hand - how football can inform politics. There are the obvious things like the fact that nations that cannot stand each other somehow can set that aside for 90 minutes on a football pitch. That said, there are disputes that come out during these matches between these nations that teach me more about the wider world beyond our current president's playpen - sorry, country. For example, during the group stage match between Switzerland and Serbia, there was controversy over a motion made by two Swiss players of Kosovoan descent followed by a complaint about the referees for that match being nationals of countries that do not have the best relationship with Serbia. None of that made sense to me at first, but it prompted me to look further into the double-headed eagle sign that the players threw up after the goal, and by that to learn more about Balkan Politics. Now I pay more attention to the nationality of the referees at all the matches.

The differences in play style remind us that there are differences in cultures, in climate, and in the people themselves - but that when it comes to the offside rule, we are all the same. The introduction of VAR in this World Cup allows for the objective (hopefully) assessment of penalties and fouls on the field - but it is still up to the referee to make the call at the moment on the field, and regardless of how fair or unfair the call feels, it is what it is and they move on. They move on to play smarter and harder and to avoid stupid mistakes fueled only by emotions.

I'm trying to use the lessons in my own life. Resist and call out tyranny and discrimination and hate without resorting to penalties and red cards that do nothing but make the rage louder and more fury filled. Find another way - a more civil way, to use an oddly vilified term right now - to make my point and stand up for those who cannot. Does interpreting for rallies rather than screaming in the street and waving a sign mean that I am not truly committed? Hardly. It means I am doing what I can to bring the message to even more people that hopefully will join the resistance. Offering food and shelter to those in need for whatever reason is JUST AS IMPORTANT as confronting the evils of the world that left them in need in the first place.

I was watching the Mexico v Sweden match the other day, being called by Jorge Perez-Navarro who is well known for his passion and excitement as well as his seemingly never-ending "Gooooooaaal!" He had called the previous match for Mexico and was very excited for everything that the Mexican team did. Makes sense. But in the match with Sweden when Mexico did almost nothing that warranted any excitement or passion, when Sweden scored he let loose with his famous "Goooooaaal!" anyway - because that's what you do. I am certain that it wasn't the result he wanted (even though Mexico and Sweden both went through to the next stage THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND HOLY MOLY HOW DID THAT HAPPEN South Korea?!?!?) but it would do no good in his position to be surly (even though it is VERY clear which team a lot of the commentators are following - glory chasers. Anyway. Where was I?). That is civility, ¿verdad?

This is who I am, who my parents taught me to be, and - once more for those in the back - this does not mean that I am resting in my privilege or supporting fascists. This means that I know myself and I am true to myself, and that is ALL that it means. I use the Gandhi quote quite often: "An eye for an eye will only leave the whole world blind."

Now, if you'll excuse me, Argentina have just equalized against France and I have got some cheering to do for the second half. Allez Les Bleus! Vaincre l'Argentine!

(and with editing...Argentina have pulled ahead and I clearly need to leave this and get back to cheering on France!)

20 June 2018

Just...wow.

I waxed poetic in my last post about how long it has taken me to get to this point - years of living with this story and these characters - and how surreal it still feels. Wanna know what will kick that feeling of being just on the verge of an anxiety attack right over into full-blown WHAT HAVE I DONE?

One little post on social media, from a real-life friend who happens to be KIND OF A BIG DEAL in the Rennie world saying she can't wait to start the new trilogy in the picture she posted: The Nature Walker Trilogy. She is about to find out about Gin and Sath and Orana and all the rest. The horrible little voice in my head says that I am about to be exposed as the imposter I am. Exposed - by someone that is my friend.

Now, all of us living in the rational world know that none of the drama described in the above paragraph is realistic. She may hate the trilogy. But she may also love it. In fact, there is a good chance that she will love it. And if she doesn't, my world will not end. Right?

There is a good chance that a lot of people would love it, and if only I would GET OUT OF MY OWN WAY and let them experience it then they will love it and share it with their friends. But that's the rub - getting out of my own way. I suppose this is something that all writers (and artists and dancers and anyone of a creative ilk) have to face. The tiny voice in my head is firmly standing in the way of me returning to dance class. But on the positive side, the tiny voice in my head kept me from following a traditional publishing route, and so far I'm quite pleased with the results of indie publishing (or self-publishing). I have a great team that provides me feedback and editing and creative support - a team that the tiny voice can't touch. One dissenting voice in the face of a supportive chorus is drowned out most of the time.

I hope that my friend's post on social media will lead to more people giving Gin's story a try and falling in love with her and Orana. But most of all I hope she enjoys the story because that's why I wrote it and published it - for people to experience and enjoy. All the wow moments pale in comparison to that.

11 June 2018

It's here! Guardian: Rise of the Nature Walker

Well, I have to say that almost two decades ago, when I first started playing an MMORPG, I never would have guessed that experience would lead to the gorgeous book cover over there. Even a decade ago, when the late nights, guild raids, and TeamSpeak chats were just a happy memory, I was sitting on a manuscript that I couldn't share - wouldn't share - but it wouldn't let me go. It took another ten years for me to finish it, polish it, rip it to bits and start again. It was a Superginormous chunk of memory in my cloud drive. It turned into a private blog, and that's where the first beta reader not only gave me feedback but encouraged me to keep writing and keep working on the story.

Wanderer came first and is the most similar to the original superginormous manuscript. Everyone hates exposition, and that's what I thought Wanderer was...but it isn't, not really. It's an introduction to Ginolwenye - Gin for short - and to the world I created for her to inhabit. Next came Tempest, arguably the most dark, personal, and difficult thing I have ever written. The majority of those two books were written years ago, and only needed some revising.

Guardian was different. Guardian was the end of the story that I couldn't quite make myself write. At the time that I wrote the first two, Guardian was somewhere I didn't want to go because I didn't want Gin's story to be over. I wasn't ready to leave Gin's world. But, as people started to get to know her and became invested in her story, I knew I had to be brave enough to see this story through. And so, Guardian came into being. And here it is, launch day for this last book in the Nature Walker Trilogy, and I still can't believe all of this is real.

Funny thing about Gin, though. She isn't done just yet. She is just coming into her own - her birthright, her inheritance, herself. Gin has a lot more to do, and I can't wait for her to point me in the direction of her next adventure. For now, though, you can get your copy of Guardian by clicking on this link. Ta very much, y'all. Very much indeed.

08 May 2018

#funnynotfunny

Mr. Allen, White County High School
Grief is a funny thing. Not funny ha-ha or funny "that is so interesting," but funny "what the..."

My default for handling things that are generally unpleasant, sad, upsetting, or otherwise is not to handle them. I use what I call the Interpreter Protocol - I close the door on whatever it is, build a wall to keep it out and try not to bother it again. And before any of you point it out, I know that isn't healthy or at all recommended.

I've been saying to anyone that asks me how I'm doing since losing my dad that "I'm okay" and "really, I've had the last few years to deal with it" and "He hasn't known me since about 2014 anyway" as though any or all of those phrases are the gospel truth. In fact, however, those phrases have been my protection - my wall that keeps my emotions safe from interaction with the pain and the guilt and all of those side effects that come with losing a parent.

The other day I posted a picture that I saw while at the farmer's market that I thought he would have found terribly funny. I can still hear his laugh and see him wiping away tears that always came with something tremendously funny. At the moment, when I posted it, I was not sad. I was not grieving. I was happy that I could see something and have a pleasant memory of my father that made me and Simon laugh to share. But that laughter - that humor - that's just another brick in my homemade wall.

Today I've had moments of profound sadness and I dealt with them the only way I know how - I ran. I pulled out a manuscript to work on, I cleaned out the makeshift food pantry in my desk because my summer hols from work are coming on, I did anything I could to stop thinking about whatever it was that set me off earlier. It worked - I cannot remember for the life of me what the trigger was this time.

But the sadness remains. I still miss him, even though it is not as visceral a feeling as the loss my mother and my sister are feeling. I miss him in the way that I missed both my parents during my first summer working at Camp Glisson, the first night of staff training week when all the fun and noise and laughter faded into the silent realization that I was alone in a new place with strangers. I miss him in the way you suddenly realize that something is gone as you pull away from university after graduation. This new reality is not that different from the one I was in a month ago, or a year ago, or even three years ago - and yet it is completely different and funny - and not funny, all at the same time.

The sign in question is the one on the right. Their tagline, "All Natural. No Doo-doo.
No kidding," would have made Daddy laugh until he cried, I am fairly certain.

Slow Gin