Protected: Home: Chapter 1 (Patreon Exclusive)

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Do Better, Be Better

I’ve been trying to decide what to write about today, but I’m going to level with you–I’m exhausted. Between everything going on with the government (or lack thereof, consider the shutdown), those shitty “build the wall” kids at the Indigenous Peoples March, men freaking out over a razor commercial that asks them to not be terrible people, and all the fighting I’ve been witness to on my personal social media accounts lately–it’s a lot. I recognize the amount of privilege that I have to be able to take a breather from all of this, to just sign out of Facebook or shut off the TV and have everything go away for a minute, but I feel like I need to resuscitate my brain so I can continue to stand up for women as a feminist and to stand up for others with experiences I can’t even begin to fully understand as a human being.

Life is hard enough without all of us making it harder on each other. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t call each other out on our bullshit–we absolutely should. That’s part of what I appreciated about the Gillette commercial. If the people around you are being shitty and making the world worse for others, CALL THEM OUT ON IT. I’m tired of letting people get away with terrible behavior because of weak excuses like “that’s the way they were raised” or “they didn’t know any better.” Choosing to continue to live in ignorance doesn’t excuse bad behavior.

When I was in college, I read Until the Final Hour: A Firsthand Account of Life with Hitler by Traudl Junge, Hitler’s secretary. Throughout the book, she continually chooses to be ignorant of what Hitler and the Third Reich are doing. That sounds unbelievable, considering how close she was to the eye of the hurricane, but she chose ignorance about a lot of things. One of the most illuminating parts of the book for me was at the end, when she was reflecting on her role in Hitler’s regime and the Holocaust and in the aftermath, she tried to justify it by saying that she was too young, she couldn’t have made a difference. She was only one person. But then one day, Traudl Junge sees a memorial statue to a woman who was part of the resistance against Hitler and had dedicated her short life to opposing him and the horrors he perpetrated. Junge then realizes that she and this woman were the same age and Junge finally confronts the fact that she could’ve done something, but she chose not to.

You are never the wrong age to be the change you want to see in the world. Sometimes that change is standing up for yourself and your life on a national scale like the incredibly brave Parkland students who survived the shooting at their school last year. Sometimes that change is calling out a friend who makes a misogynistic joke that perpetuates rape culture. Either way, we have a responsibility to do better and be better.

What am I going to do? Right now, I’m going to go hug my kid, take a deep breath, and eat some dinner. Tomorrow, I’m going to get back out there and keep standing up for what’s right. There is a lot of good in the world, but it’s not enough to just look for the helpers like in that famous Mister Rogers quote–we need to be the helpers. Get out there and do the right thing. It’s not okay for people to be treated as less than human.

 

Your regularly scheduled smut will return tomorrow.


Click here to support me on Patreon and get writing tips, prompts, and exclusive content available only to patrons, including my new novel!

I can’t guarantee that supporting me on Patreon will cause you to have endless good hair days . . . but I can’t guarantee that it won’t either.

Home: Prologue

Starting today, I am going to release my new book on my blog before publishing it on Amazon! Subsequent chapters will only be available to my patrons on Patreon, but the prologue is free to all. If you’d like to sign up for future installments, head over to my Patreon page. As little as $1 a month gets you access to the book (plus a free completed e-book at the end).  I hope you enjoy it!


Prologue

Matt slowed his pickup truck to a stop at the intersection and took a drag on his cigarette, the ember glowing like a firefly in the darkening twilight. He exhaled out the open window and the smoke ghosted into the air. Laura hated it when he smoked, but she wasn’t in the car and therefore wasn’t entitled to an opinion. He flicked the ashes out the window and stared at the red stoplight in front of him, inordinately long considering his was the only car there. The paper burned up the sides until Matt was nearly at the filter. He dropped it on the pavement and glanced at the half empty pack of cigarettes on the passenger seat, wondering if he should have another.

The light turned green and Matt accelerated, pack untouched.

The trees thickened around the road as Matt pulled out of town, the road transitioning from city street to forested highway. The sunlight dimmed, softening the sharper lines of the trees. Matt drove along the familiar road, his mind elsewhere and his body on autopilot. He wondered if she’d be there, wondered if he even wanted her to be there. He thought of when she’d smashed the beer bottle, remembered thinking he’d cleaned up all the glass until the next morning when he’d walked into the kitchen and caught a sliver of it in the sole of his bare foot. Laura had worn slippers.

Matt drove past an illuminated sign, lit by its own shining lights, one, two, three across, metal rods curved over the top like thin, reaching arms. The trees had thickened around it and its bright white background and thick black type were a harsh contrast to the soft, darkening forest.

“Life is short. Eternity is not.”

—God

Matt glanced at the clock. 8:49. He spun the dial of the radio, looking for any sort of broadcast, but he found nothing but static. He turned off the radio. With the sun fully gone behind the trees, Matt flipped on his high beams. As he did so, he drove by the God sign again. He glanced back, confused, and wondered if he’d imagined passing it the first time. He shook his head. Christ, I’m tired, he thought. He never had been good at sleeping alone and this was proof. Matt continued down the road and soon the God sign flashed by his car window again.

“What?” he asked aloud, eyes narrowed in confusion.

He knew he’d seen it before, this time he was sure of it. He kept driving down the road and sure enough, the sign appeared again. This time, Matt slowed his truck and pulled off to the side of the road, his headlights pointing at the sign. He rested his chin on the hard plastic steering wheel, staring at the sign through the windshield.

“Life is short. Eternity is not.”

—God

Matt sat for a moment, wondering if he’d lost his mind. He sat up and angled the truck back on the road, intent on passing the sign once and for all. Instead, it soon rose in his high beams once again.

“Life is short. Eternity is not.”

—God

“What the fuck?” Matt asked the cab of his truck, empty except for his cigarettes. He glanced at the clock on the dashboard. 8:49. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and it, too, read 8:49. No service. Matt tossed the phone on the cracked leather of the passenger seat and started to drive, this time turning around, his headlights swinging across the trees on the opposite side of the road before they righted and Matt drove back towards town. After a minute or so, the sign came into view, just as it had before.

“Life is short. Eternity is not.”

—God

“What the fuck?” Matt asked again, louder, his voice filling the empty air in his truck, jarring his ears. He pulled over, got out of the truck, and approached the sign. He wasn’t sure what he expected to find, but he’d hoped it’d be more than nothing–which is instead what he found. The black signposts on either side had recently been painted, the new layer shining in the light of Matt’s headlights. The sign was ordinary, black type on a white background. Matt examined each side, running his hands up and down the sign posts, over the front and back, ducking underneath it. Part of him expected to step through some kind of force field when he did so, but nothing happened. The only sound around him was the idling engine of his truck, the forest quiet.

Matt climbed back into his truck and pulled back onto the road. He flipped on the radio, willing to accept static over silence. He drove quickly but was unable to outrun the sign that waited for him once more on the side of the highway. Matt pulled onto the shoulder and parked again, staring at the sign from inside the cab. He flipped off the radio.

3 Tips for Setting Reasonable Writing Goals

On Friday, I posted a blog about setting writing resolutions for the new year. And while it’s important to come up with a plan, it’s even more important to come up with reasonable, attainable goals. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure, you want to actually make progress! Otherwise, what’s the point of making those resolutions?

IMG_0787
Don’t do this.

So how do you set realistic goals? I’m glad you asked!

1. Be Specific

When you’re writing down your resolutions for the new year, you might be tempted to write something general like “write more.” Don’t do this. The vagueness of it can keep you from making the progress you want because you don’t have a clear plan of action. It’s like saying you want to “be healthier” in the coming year but you have no plan for eating better or exercising. If you want to write more, come up with some concrete ideas for how to accomplish that. Write in a diary every day, write one line of fiction every day, try to finish a piece of fanfic each week. Whatever works for you and what your overall goals are, that’s what you need to focus on.

2. Don’t Overdo It

I don’t know about you, but the new year always has me feeling very ambitious. I want to take on everything but by overloading myself, I’ve fallen apart in the past. Dealing with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD mean that I take these kinds of hits very hard and these put bigger roadblocks in my way than they might otherwise. But over the years, I’ve tried to find ways to work with my mental health issues instead of trying to push past them like they aren’t there. Doing the latter almost always results in my lying on the floor and staring up at the ceiling in the midst of an existential crisis.

55467022

Be realistic about what you think you can achieve in the coming year. Writing a novel a day isn’t realistic unless you’re Stephen King but that dude is nuts and even he doesn’t try that. Remember that you can always add more goals to your list if you complete the first set.

3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Nothing good or productive ever comes from comparing yourself to another writer. Everyone has a different style and works at different speeds. It’s not a contest; there’s more than enough space for everyone to create the art they envision. For example, in my last post, I laid out my goals for the upcoming year:

  • serialize my new novel, Home, for my Patreon patrons before publishing it
  • finish my new nonfiction collection and publish it
  • publish at least 6 Kindle shorts during the course of the year
  • submit work to at least 5 contests
  • submit work to at least 10 literary magazines
  • continue blogging a least 3 times/week
  • maintain my daily content on my Patreon
  • continue writing in my diary every day
  • don’t throw up during my reading in March

I admit, that is a LOT. However, I’ve spent years building up to this point in my writing career and workload; this isn’t my first rodeo. Maybe my personal goals seem too daunting for you–that’s okay! Don’t feel pressured to keep up at my insane pace. Maybe my personal goals seem too basic for you–that’s okay too! Challenge yourself according to where YOU are at, not where someone else is at. Your path is what’s right for you.

 

What are your realistic, reasonable writing goals for the upcoming year? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to have a happy new year (and tip your bartender if you go out tonight)!


Click here to support me on Patreon and get writing tips, prompts, and exclusive content available only to patrons! 

I can’t guarantee that supporting me on Patreon will cause you to have endless good hair days . . . but I can’t guarantee that it won’t either.

2019 Writing Resolutions

The new year is almost upon us, which means it’s time to make resolutions. It always feels like there’s so much pressure to create lasting, meaningful resolutions in order to become better versions of ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself–I highly recommend it–but this should be a time of optimism, not a time of guilt and absurdly high expectations.

oscars-holy-kevin-pam-michaol-erin-phglis-stanles-i-30030681

Take some time to sit down and think about what you’d realistically like to achieve this year with your writing. Maybe this is the year you’re going to finally write that book you’ve been wanting to write! Maybe you want to write a poem a day or get back in the habit of keeping a diary. Writing is writing!

d85256381cd50f8aaf8daab110122e73--keeping-a-journal-david-sedaris
I have this quote written on the inside cover of my own diary.

This year, I’ve set a few goals for myself in regards to my writing:

  • serialize my new novel, Home, for my Patreon patrons before publishing it
  • finish my new nonfiction collection and publish it
  • publish at least 6 Kindle shorts during the course of the year
  • submit work to at least 5 contests
  • submit work to at least 10 literary magazines
  • continue blogging a least 3 times/week
  • maintain my daily content on my Patreon
  • continue writing in my diary every day
  • don’t throw up during my reading in March

This might seem like a lot, but it doesn’t actually feel like it for me. Home is in the final editing stages, so it’s pretty much done and my nonfiction collection is already a third of the way completed (otherwise, trying to do two full-length books in one year sounds nuts). The shorts are generally under 10,000 words, and doing one every other month seems fairly doable for me (I type really, really quickly. I’ve literally broken keyboards in the past).

333-keyboard-break
Both from typing so aggressively and from doing this.

A lot of my goals have to do with maintenance as well as actually pushing to get my work out there, the latter of which is really important for writers. If you’ve been thinking about sending out your work to lit mags, DO IT! Poets & Writers has a great database of literary magazines and you should absolutely send your work out. The worst they’ll say is no, but you won’t know until you try. Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times before someone finally said yes, and now it’s a staple of the horror genre in both the literary and film worlds.

Carrie_the_Musical_Poster
It’s also a musical, I shit you not.

In my next blog, I’m going to discuss how to set realistic goals for your writing, so be sure to check back on Monday!

What are your resolutions for the new year with your writing? Let me know in the comments!


 

Click here to support me on Patreon and get writing tips, prompts, and exclusive content available only to patrons! 

I can’t guarantee that supporting me on Patreon will cause you to have endless good hair days . . . but I can’t guarantee that it won’t either.

Thank You

Now that the craziness of Christmas has died down, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who read my blog, support me on Patreon, buy my books, and just generally support me. I can’t tell you what it means to me to have all of you who help me to live out my dream of being a writer. You all are the best and I couldn’t be more grateful to you.

9bb
I am nothing if not consistent.

Be sure to stay tuned and check out the new content I have coming in the new year! Starting in January, I am going to serialize my latest book on here for Patreon subscribers before it’s published on Amazon. Plus, I’m going to bring you more blog posts and essays and stories and whatever else you darling readers want. Is there something specific you’d like to see me do in the new year? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for everything.

Christmas Music as Writing Inspiration

For those of us who don’t work in retail, Christmas music can be fun. It’s festive and really sets the tone for the holiday season. Plus, there’s an element of nostalgia because we’ve been listening to these songs since we were in the womb.

512px-Human_fetus_10_weeks_with_amniotic_sac_-_therapeutic_abortion
Mariah Carey’s high notes can pierce any placenta.

However, have you ever considered how you can use Christmas music as writing inspiration? I’ve discussed music in general as writing inspiration, but today I’d like to focus on Christmas music. It sets a very specific scene in one’s mind of presents, cozy fires, and above all else, snow, snow, and more snow. Below, I’ve listed a few Christmas songs with ideas for jumping off points to help inspire your next piece.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby

Is there anything more classic than this song? This version, sung by Bing Crosby, is the best-selling single of all time with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide. When thinking about it from a writing inspiration standpoint, you can either play with or against type. If you decide to go with, you can start a scene with a character who is excited about all the snow or desperately wishing it would snow for the holidays. To go against, you could have a character who is angrily shoveling themselves out from underneath a mountain of snow.

Real Life Inspiration: Two years ago, my dad drove up to visit for Christmas. He doesn’t get snow where he lives, so he wished and wished and wished for snow. We’d been having kind of a dry winter, but on Christmas Eve, the skies opened up and my dad got his white Christmas. I should also mention that he drives a little sports car with almost no ground clearance and he still insisted he could drive it through the snow. Cut to two hours later, my husband was still digging him out of our driveway.

Winter,_1962-63_-_Snow_clearance,_top_of_Ormerod_House_driveway_-_geograph.org.uk_-_998585
“Almost done!”

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee

I don’t know about you, but this song always makes me think of holiday parties. Consider using this song as a jumping off point for a story about a Christmas party. Maybe it’s an office party (as we all know, those never end well) or maybe it’s a friend’s party where that one friend nobody likes has overdone it on the eggnog. Think also about the kind of people who go to parties; there are the extroverts who thrive off of get togethers and introverts who spend the entire time trying to befriend the dog and counting the minutes until they can go home.

Real Life Inspiration: A close friend of mine had to attend a holiday party last night, so I spent the entire time sending her introvert memes as moral support to get her though the party.

7cfbe907cb63e4b4817ff87d47d0955a--silly-things-introvert

“Santa Baby” – Eartha Kitt

Am I the only one who thinks this could definitely turn into Santa erotica? Cute, flirty, seductive–this song has all the makings of smut if you want to take it there. It’s like the grown up companion to “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The only limit to this one is your imagination!

Real Life Inspiration: Okay, I admittedly don’t have any real life experience with seducing Santa Claus, but I do think there are a lot of elements about the holiday that lend themselves to sexytime. The glow of the fireplace or the lights on a Christmas tree alone make for the perfect mood lighting.

christmas-tree-with-fireplace
There’s definitely room for a joke here about “stuffing stockings.”

What are your favorite Christmas songs? Try using one of them as a writing exercise and then let me know what you create!

 


 

Click here to support me on Patreon and get writing tips, prompts, and exclusive content available only to patrons! 

I can’t guarantee that supporting me on Patreon will cause you to have endless good hair days . . . but I can’t guarantee that it won’t either.