When compared to other people, I’m not a horribly busy person, save for school days and weekends (ha!), but like anyone else, there are things that just make my silly heart happy. Some trendy, some not. Mostly not.
I absolutely love keeping up with Youtube channels I’m subscribed to.
My subscriptions have a wide range, too. I follow a few beauty vloggers, a few mom-based DIY channels, some home decor inspiration channels, and a few channels that made it big with “clean with me” videos. Yes, that’s totally a thing. And, though it sounds downright ridiculous, sometimes you learn things and sometimes it makes great background noise when the house is quiet and I have a job to do. I’ve always been one to stay busier if I know someone else is busy, too and those videos give the great illusion that you’re not alone in the tasks of a tired homemaker.I also follow a lot of crafting/sewing and gardening channels. Those are the ones I typically watch while I have my morning coffee. Or my third morning coffee. Whatever.
When I am alone, I like to browse Amazon for no reason at all and look at all the things I may or may not buy one day. I don’t think I’m the only person who does this. I try to check out the Daily Deals and look at different lists of collections. It may be weird, but nothing makes me smile more than looking at funny coffee mugs on Amazon.
Recently, I have discovered Grove Collaborative, a website which specializes in cleaning products. I’m a lazy person–I’d rather order than go to the store and buy. The cool thing is, there is typically some kind of a discount or a big list of freebies they send you when you make your first order. I got a ton of free stuff for spending only $20. I’ve received my first shipment and am surprisingly delighted at the array of products. Prices–mostly–are comparable to big name brands you can get at Wal-Mart or dollar stores. There is usually a sale or discount being offered on their website, too. I already have a few favorites that I plan on reordering. One, Mrs. Meyers Dish Soap in lavender. It’s really nice. Two, Method all-purpose cleaner in honeycrisp apple. It’s probably my absolute favorite thing ever. And, three, Method Glass + Surface cleaner in mint. It seriously smells like mint. *Disclaimer* I am not affiliated with Grove Collaborative, nor do they compensate me for this post. A lot of bloggers out there DO receive products from them for review, but I review books, not cleaning supplies. Though, one day I just might…
Weigh-in days have become my favorite days… For those who follow my blog or Facebook account, you will know I’ve been on a weight loss journey since June. I have lost over fifty pounds already, though I did take a diet break from Halloween through Christmas. I’m at it again and I’m loving my results. I have become half-mom, half-scientist because I now read a lot of health and fitness articles whereas I used to just not (ha ha). Weigh-in days have become much needed confidence booster days. I am enjoying my success to the fullest and I think I probably really deserve it. I’ve worked hard to come this far and failure is simply not an option.
Ibotta and Retail Me Not. Those are apps I keep on my phone. I just got Retail Me Not, so I’m not sure if I’ll continue to enjoy the coupons and discounts it finds for me, but as of right now I love it. And, as for Ibotta, who doesn’t like a rebate on things they’ve already purchased? Both of these apps save me money on just about everything. Both are easy to install, easy to navigate, and I like money–I’d like to keep as much of mine in the bank as I possibly can. After all, I have kids to raise and a family to feed. And cats. Those little buggers are expensive, too.
Obviously, reading is another guilty pleasure, but I didn’t list it because I feel like you probably already know that about me. I’m reading something awesome right now, as we speak. Review to come tomorrow! Until then, tell me what your own guilty pleasures are? I could have seriously listed ten more, but I probably would have lost you all after six or seven.
One of the hardest thing any writer could ever go through is not writing. I mean it. It’s ridiculous how sometimes words flow easily and sometimes they just sort of putter out, the flames of creativity are extinguished and the writer is left in an endless cycle of house chores and filling coffee cups. But, I think we all go through it.
A lot of writers and well known authors have said that when the block hits, you just have to keep going. Sit down. Type words. Guzzle the bean fuel. Repeat.
There is a lot of truth in that. Still, for the last two years, I haven’t written anything substantial of my own. No new books. No new short stories. Few blog posts of meaning, aside from reviews (which, in total honesty, I totally enjoy because my first love is reading). It feels like my brain has turned to mush and every time I sit down with characters bouncing around in my head (sounds painful, eh?) they just fizzle before I can make anything that makes sense.
I feel that one day I might actually write a book again. I might regain what I’ve lost. I might be able to work through the storm brewing in my head and turn it into a story. I feel like I’m close to meeting that goal. After all, I’m still writing things, just not stories. No new worlds to explore and no new characters to torture.
It makes me wonder what other writers do when they lose someone who took a piece of their heart with them when they left? Up until two years ago, I thought personal losses and heartbreaks were supposed to send writers into a writing frenzy as they drown their sorrows in a bottle of absinthe and bang out hundreds of thousands of words on their vintage type writers, which their agents will immediately declare a masterpiece. I don’t even have an agent. Nor do I have a bottle of absinthe. And, I haven’t owned a typewriter in many a dark moon.
Through the journey of deep loss, I have gained something. I have learned to see the beauty in things I used to take for granted, like the turning of seasons. Sometimes it hurts to know that I’m watching the leaves turn or the snow fall, but my daughter can’t. But, most of the time, the biggest part of me knows she would enjoy it and, more than that, she would want those of us she left shattered to enjoy it, too.
I’m going to make a promise to myself this year that I will at least begin a new novel. I miss magical realism and the thoughts I shift through while writing. I wrote an entire novel in three weeks once. I really want to bring that young, somewhat talented writer back. She is missed.
In the meantime, I have a whole slew of books to get reviews out for. I’m behind. The holidays really kicked my butt and I don’t like being behind. I hope my readers are of a forgiving mind. I’ve read some really great books to share with you lot and I have a few in queue that I believe are going to be hits with the hard case crime crowds.
Stay tuned. Stay warm. Look forward to watching the seasons change again.
If you know me personally or if you follow my blog or we’re friends on Facebook, you will know that I’ve had the hardest year of my life and am in the process of healing. It’s a process which I will never complete and my only goal is to get back some semblance of a normal life. I’ve accomplished a little bit of that. I’ve gotten to a point where I can wake up and see my family and get kids dressed and ready for school without collapsing to the floor. I can walk to the bus stop and talk to my friends and neighbors in the morning like I would any other morning. And, I can find joy in things again. But, I’m still not there yet.
As far as reading and writing goes, I’m working again.
**Waits for applause.**
Thanks, I needed that. Working as a writer again is a big thing for me. I’m still reviewing, but I’m reviewing slowly. My brain works sort of like a wire with a short in it right now. Sometimes it works well, other times I’m shorting out and there are sparks, but no productivity. I’m going to work past that, though. Healing takes time I guess.
As a matter of fact, I’m going to start another novel soon. So, naturally, that means I’m going to spend this fall in my bathrobe, with my best friends…
My best friend.
My other best friend…
All of my best friends. Oooh, and dark roast in there, too.
I went to Ollies today and I found some really cool Halloween candies to put on cakes or cupcakes. I have no idea what to do with them yet, but this is one of those things I was talking about earlier–finding joy in things again.
I’ve also been reading some non-fiction and science fiction and have found a few shows on Netflix that I absolutely love to watch. Science fiction novels, Mad Men, and Shameless are probably going to consume my fall this year.
I enjoy both the UK and US versions of Shameless and Mad Men is a gift from the time traveling fairy as far as I’m concerned. No doubt, if I ever have the chance to time travel, I’m going back to 1960 to rob a Sears for the clothes and shoes.
And that’s pretty much it. I’m writing and editing and submitting again. I’m enjoying things when I can. And I’m trying so hard to have something normal in my life because without something normal, I feel like I might fall apart.
Every year I keep a log of books, short stories, and articles of note that I’ve read. In 2015, I logged an awful lot of books. Some were new releases, but more often than not, not. By this log, though, I figured that I read more how-to books, gardening books, and history books than anything else. I don’t know why it happened this way, but maybe because I’ve been sort of fighting a dark depression and anxiety with hobbies–gardening, sewing, and just about anything I can do which would keep my hands busy. I’m the kind of person who needs to be doing something, even if it’s something small, such as mending a buttonhole or planting a seed. And, once I’m focused, that’s it. I’m addicted to something new and you’ll soon find me in bookshops and online seeking out books regarding my new hobby, whatever it may be. I can’t just be a novice at anything. I will constantly strive to master it.
But, in 2010, for example, I logged mostly romance and horror novels. In 2011 and 2012, same. In 2013, by some strange tap of the reading fairy’s wand, I changed directions and returned to my science fiction and fantasy roots. You see, the firsts books I really loved–and I mean REALLY loved–were sci-fi novels, comics, fantasy tomes, and short stories in magazines involving elves, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, aliens, and vampires. I started reading time travel novels again. I started picking up newer novels by authors I’d forgotten I loved so much in high school. And, I began to change the way I think about things again. I think that’s just something that happens ever so often in life. Your life changes direction, so your reading lists change direction, too.
By 2014, I’d changed completely. I haven’t completely let go of reading romance, but I want to read everything about everything. Sometimes there just isn’t enough space on a year’s worth of bookshelf for all of the books a person would wish to read. I think that might be what happens to me. I am too ambitious. But, there are just so many books!
But, back to 2015.
Last year, my children grew. My fortunes changed (sort of) with the coming of a move which will take me from living in a small 3 bedroom house with a small yard to a small 4 bedroom house with a yard that reaches beyond what the eye can see (my husband’s family’s farm). In anticipation of this move, my family and I have discussed a lot of changes. We’re letting go of cable because it won’t be available. We’re going to have an internet connection to watch Netflix and Hulu and do internety things. But, we’ve also decided that we’re going to raise some chickens and continue growing beautiful herbs and Cherokee purple tomatoes (which are to die for, by the way, and can be found at Burpee’s online). On the farm, my father-in-law and brother-in-laws (and their wives and families) raise chickens, horses, cows, pigs, and sometimes goats. And, I think my niece has some rabbits somewhere. So, with all of this in mind, I’ve been reading about soil, about how to raise animals (because I’m absolutely terrified of horses and have no clue how to manage livestock, much less live with them), and about how to live a simpler life.
Now, hold on, people. Before you start thinking ahead, NO. No, we are not homesteaders. Absolutely, just no. I have mad amounts of respect for homesteaders, but that’s not what we’re doing at all. We’re just simplifying things and moving forward with raising our family in an area where I won’t have to worry about being so close to other people. Well, except for my husband’s family. Two of his brothers, their wives, their collective six children, and my mother-in-law and father-in-law all live on the same stretch of property, but it’s big enough that none of us have to look at each other if we don’t want to. Or unless I need to be saved from the horses (ha ha).
The beautiful part of how life changes your reading habits, though, is that when I move to my little farm shack in the middle of nowhere, I’ll have new places to read. Also, I have a niece and a sister-in-law who both love to read, too, so maybe we can exchange good books ever so often. Who knows–we might even start our own book club right on the edge of the mountain. I’m sure the new experiences I have there will absolutely reflect in the 2016 reading log. I have plans to pick up a Farmer’s Almanac and a Gardener’s Almanac next time I’m in the Dollar General store in town. And, beyond that, there’s a discount store in Beckley (about 35 minutes from me) where I can pick up as many books about flowers and plants as I want because they’re really cheap. I’d love a book about flowers so I can learn about which ones are the easiest to grow and which ones need what because I do have plans for a white rose bush and roses are not things I know a lot about, although I’ve always loved white roses (among other white flowers, I also love the white moonflowers/Datura).
There are a few crime fiction novels I plan to read this year, though, and they’re already sitting on my nightstand. AND, I do have some drama, history, and romance novels sitting in my shelf, waiting on me to give them some attention. First, though, I have a book filled with the love letters between Lucrezia Borgia and Pietro Bembo. The book is called “The Prettiest Love Letters In the World” because they truly are. I’ve already taken a peek at them.
And, of course, it’s January 3rd, which means I’ve already read a book this year. It’s was called “Treasury of Royal Scandals” and it was published some years back, but still such a great read. Books aren’t like food–they don’t ruin after a while. They stay great. I’ve learned that there is also a book out there called “A Treasury of Great American Scandals,” which I’d like to add to my collection, too. The author, Michael Farquhar, has many books out I’d like to snatch. Seriously, where has this guy been all my life as a reader? “Treasury of Royal Scandals” was brilliant. It was a great way to start the year, in my opinion.
I’m curious to know how everyone else feels on the subject of changing tastes in books. Is it just me? Do the rest of you change tastes every now and then? I can’t imagine I’m the only person on the face of the planet who sometimes switches from medieval kings and queens to cyborgs and werewolves.
Yay! You finished writing your novel/short story/article/comic/other stuff! I used to love this period of time because of the sense of accomplishment I gave myself after typing “The End” as I grinned like a…well, whatever grins. As most writers can tell you, it’s a wonderful, wonderful day when a project you’ve been working on forever finally comes to a full stop and you’ve told the entire story, start to finish. You’ve conquered the beast!
Well, just walk away. That’s the best advice anyone has ever given me and I’m all too happy to pass it along. Walk away from the manuscript and leave it alone. Do other things. Live your life and gain some new experiences before you do anything else. Most writers (though, I can’t speak for everyone) have a family and/or friends who love them and would appreciate knowing they’re still alive somewhere. Now’s the time to reconnect with those people. Or not. Just do stuff.
I’ve made a good list of things you can do between writing projects. I hope it helps someone.
Relax and do nothing for a few days. Writing can drain a person and you need to recharge your batteries.
Do something nice with your significant other. Go to the movies, have a nice dinner or just watch a documentary together on Netflix and eat grilled cheese sandwiches on the couch. Either way, pencil them in and spend some time with them. They’ll appreciate it and you will too. You need this.
Get online, update your blog layout and give it a facelift. Write a fun post or two. Write emails to your friends, return emails from your friends. Clean up your email accounts—delete old emails, rearrange emails you’re keeping. Go through your social media accounts and get them all up to date, too. Get EVERYTHING online up to date. It won’t take as long as you think.
Go shopping and buy pens, notebooks, printer supplies, editing supplies, post-it notes. Go home. Put these items in a box or drawer and just leave them there. Smile that you saved seventy-five cents on your notebook paper.
Buy or borrow five novels or novellas. Make coffee. Start reading the first one. Keep going and read the entire thing in one sitting. Nap. Repeat.
Write reviews for books you’ve read. Post them wherever you usually post reviews.
Go to a museum. If you’re lucky enough to have a museum around town, take an afternoon and go.
Bake a cake, muffins, or cookies. Arrange them on a pretty plate. Take them to your elderly neighbor.
Find a good Youtube channel and learn something new. Sewing, baking, carpentry, anything. Learn how to make brownies in your microwave if you want to start small. Or, you could learn how to build shelves with real hammers and real nails and real wood from a real hardware store—the sky is the limit.
Buy a packet of seeds and start growing something indoors all by yourself or buy a plant at the local nursery and bring it home to care for it. Digging in dirt can be refreshing to creative people. Do yard work even.
Go to your book stash. Whether you store your book all in shelves or in a series of odd places around your house (or just in boxes somewhere), go find your stash. Put an empty box or bag at your feet and dig through your books. Really, really dig through them. Anything in there you know you won’t read again? Yeah, we all have a few of those. You can donate them to local libraries for other people to enjoy. Or, box them up and send them off to a friend who would like to have them.
Contribute or attend a local theater presentation. Is the local theater troupe performing Romeo and Juliet? Buy some tickets to support the locals and have yourself a great time.
Start a collection of something (besides books…we’ve already established that you collect those). Paperclips, glass bottles, antique dishes…whatever you like.
Get a haircut. No, seriously. A lot of writers I’m friends with have told me they sometimes neglect haircuts/salon appointments. Take care of this while you’re between writing projects, even if it’s just a quick trip to Supercuts.
Play music and listen to something you wouldn’t ordinarily listen to. REALLY listen. Listen for the lyrics, decide how the songs make you feel.
Volunteer at a nursing home. Often, our elderly are lonesome and many of them have no one to talk to through the day. Just talking to them is sometimes the greatest gift anyone can give. If you’re lucky, you’re going to be old one day. Remember that.
Read more books you haven’t read yet.
Call your mother. She misses you and while you’re in book mode, she doesn’t hear from you enough. I know this because I’m a mother and I’m also a daughter—I know how it goes.
Reorganize your workspace. Prepare like your life depends on it.
Go snack shopping. Buy coffee, vodka, and cookies. Or, ya know, whatever you like. Now, you may begin writing your next project. I’m sure you have a million ideas by now.
*Disclaimer: No crack was consumed during the writing of this post, or ever, by the author, Rhiannon Mills.
Being a writer is nothing like I thought it would be when I was nine years old. At that age, I read, for the first time of many, Anne Rice’s “Interview With A Vampire” after watching the film (Nine year old me did everything bass ackwards). I was hooked on writing from that moment forward because, though I’d always loved reading, I realized I could turn the mush in my head into something beautiful, too. From then on, I was a writer.
It isn’t a glamorous lifestyle for the vast majority of us, either. Writers have struggles like everyone else. We have bills to pay, children to raise (and eventually send to college), and, for many, there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything we want to. I’m up before the sun to get my kids ready for school. After that, it’s laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, and caring for home and hearth while my husband sleeps. But, it doesn’t end there. At 3:30, my husband wakes, showers, and dresses for work while I pack his lunch and stack his paperwork on top of his lunch bag. Then, the afternoon circus begins! The minute I’ve packed his last sandwich and he leaves for a long night at work, the kids waltz through the door and it’s homework and dinner time, which often takes hours. By the time everyone is fed, educated, and bathed, my brain is mush.
And, heaven forbid someone have a doctor’s appointment! I need a coffee IV and crack to get through those days! *See disclaimer at the top of the page.*
Somehow, through the disaster that is my life, I manage. My husband, bless his brave soul, is a coal truck driver. To help make ends meet, we budget every penny. I clip coupons, plan weekly menus, look for sales, compare prices on everything we buy and, on occasion, take small sewing jobs for a few extra bucks. We paid our taxes last year with money I earned baking my cousin’s wedding cake.
But, not once have I ever begged other people for money so I could write full time! Sure, I have my husband’s income, whereas a single writer would be on their own, but I really feel like I’d have more time to write if that were the case. Maybe I’m wrong about that. If I am, please leave a comment and weigh in with your own struggles (and cheers to you, too).
I’m quite certain that there are a lot of crowdfunding pages throughout the internet for very good causes. Examples of what I feel are good causes are:
Families or individuals who lost everything to a natural disaster or housefire.
Families or individuals inflicted with a medical crisis.
Those trying to raise money for schools, nursing homes, or programs where the funds will go toward the greater good (example: new library books, walkers for the elderly, or new playground equipment to replace the faulty or unsafe).
Let me be clear.
Crowdfunding is not a means to survival! If an author cannot earn enough money through their books to live on, it’s time to evaluate needs versus wants. Example: You need to eat, but you want to sit on your butt and ponder the meaning of life.
It’s not enough to offer those who donate the prize of a few ebooks or audiobooks. Readers can just buy those from Amazon, lickity split, if they want them. Crowdfunding is not an unofficial welfare program! Your readers are not responsible for your Kibbles-N-Bits, YOU are! Your readers should be respected, not used as your personal ATM. If they enjoy your work, they’ll pay for it and you will earn a royalty check, not a handout from the magic social media fairy.
There’s a real meaning behind the phrase “starving artist.” If you’re ever going to make it to George RR Martin or Anne Rice status, you have to start somewhere else. Nobody starts at the top. Ask Stephen King about starting small. He talks all about his humble beginnings in “On Writing.” Before you make it, you might have to fold sweaters at GAP or stock shelves at Wal-Mart first. You might even have to serve umpteen Jager Bombs to jerks who like to call you “Sugar Tits” and “Princess Pretty Panties” at a bar that only plays country music (like I did). You might have to work long days, longer nights, and drive to work through snow storms, on icy roads, and work Thanksgiving and Christmas, completely missing out on Grandma’s baked ham and pumpkin pie. But, DAMMIT, those are life experiences and they are worth every miserable minute!
Every single time your boss tells you to work Saturday when you were supposed to have that day off or your paycheck is just ten dollars short of what you need it to be, you’ve added a dirty, scummy, gritty notch in the belt of your worthwhile life experiences. And, you can’t write without life experience.
I may only be a small fish in a big sea, but the water here is fine. I’m not saying I want to be here forever. All writers have goals and mine will one day take me into deeper waters if I’m lucky. Until then, I’m going to put the work in. I’m going to submit novels, novellas, short stories, and magazine articles until editors are tired of seeing my name in their slush piles. I’ll earn my stripes, thank you. The success will taste so much sweeter that way.
About Rhiannon Mills
Rhiannon Mills lives, loves, and writes in the mysterious mountains of West Virginia. When she isn’t writing, she’s sewing, baking, blogging, reading, or watching documentaries about any number of things.
I live in an unincorporated town called Itmann, West Virginia. Itmann used to be quite the little place, settled on the outskirts of the big (ha!) town of Mullens, crammed between a river and railroad tracks and a whole lot of mountainside. There used to be a school here, from what I’ve been told. But, now, Itmann is a few hills full of old houses–most of them coal camp houses redesigned over the decades to look like normal houses– and a couple of bears and maybe a few snakes and squirrels here and there. We don’t even have a gas station. But, we do have a post office, so we have that going for us, right?
I’ve lived in Itmann since I got married in 2001. Since then, several houses in Itmann have become empty, void of human life, and are now falling in or will be soon. And that’s not just in my little town, that’s my entire county and most of the surrounding counties, too. Southern West Virginia revolves around the big nasty business of coal and when the coal mines aren’t producing, they lay people off. When mass amounts of men and women are laid off, they either go completely broke here or move elsewhere. It’s a sad fact, but it’s a reality that all families here have to face every single day. But, ya know what? We face it together.
I wake up every morning and get my kids ready for school, just like everyone else in the United States. But, instead of a bus pulling to the curb to pick them up, they walk to the bottom of the hill to be picked up. We make this walk with my neighbor and her kids, so after the kids get on the bus, my neighbor and I walk back up the hill together and chat about whatever’s going on, which mostly consists of our kids and what’s on sale in the local stores. We wave and say “hey” to the other neighbors on the hill as we walk because it’s 8 AM and everybody is starting their day, too. We come to my house first and, at the bottom of my driveway, she and I say goodbye for the time being and go our separate ways. I go inside my house and quietly check my email because my husband, who works nights driving a coal truck to fill up the trains my neighbor’s husband conducts, is sleeping.
See what I did there? I just showed you an example of how everything around here revolves around coal–even for those who are not coal miners.
On a typical day, I do laundry, pay bills, watch tv, play with my cats, and call my mother. I write, I cook, and I sometimes grow plants in the dirt outside–and then eat the fruit that comes later. I listen to music–David Bowie right now–and I keep my phone close in case the kids or my husband need me when they’re not home. I’m just like everyone else, I guess, but there are a few things about living in West Virginia the rest of the world seems to always get wrong.
For one thing, not all West Virginians are hooked on prescription pills. Sure, there’s an epidemic, but I’m taking no part in that and I’ll have absolutely nothing to do with those who do. I’ve seen horrifying things happen to people who I love, thanks to the pill problem around here. It kills me to see someone I was once close to throw her (or his) life away over a few pills. Families here are being torn apart by drugs and it’s happening at an alarming rate, but there are a lot of drug free people here, too, so don’t get it twisted, dears.
Not all West Virginians are stupid. There are stupid people everywhere. But, there are a lot of really smart people here, too. Sometimes I wonder why everyone thinks people in West Virginia are a bunch of shoeless, uneducated hillbillies, but then I remember that it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks as long as you’re happy. And, for the most part, I am. The truth is, however, that a lot of college educated people in this state come back home after earning their degrees and end up in the mines because there really isn’t much else here that will pay a living wage. Those who don’t want to work in the mines and aren’t willing to wait for a different kind of position to open up just leave the state. But, just looking around my neighborhood, I can honestly tell you that each one of my neighbors has a good head on their shoulders–and I know this because every family up here has been here for at least thirty years or more. We all know each other quite well. If I ever need help with something, chances are, I need only look up the hill a little ways or down the hill. There are a lot of writers, doctors, lawyers, poets, and excellent teachers in West Virginia. One need only look to find them.
Not all West Virginians are toothless, either. I’m sure some of us are. For example, I wear a partial. It’s not because I’m a hillbilly, either. It’s because I had five pregnancies back to back and, during my fourth pregnancy, I took seven (YES, seven) different pills and supplements just to keep all of my levels where they should have been, but it wasn’t enough to keep my son alive and it wasn’t enough to keep my teeth from leaving me. That particular pregnancy took every bit of the vitamins out of my body to keep my son alive and, in the end, I lost my son and, about a year or so later, a few teeth. However, we have some great dentists here. Most WV residents have beautiful smiles. Even me, with my partial.
Not all West Virginians love football. Some of us, like me, prefer quieter activities, such as writing, reading, and sewing. WVU seems to be the team of choice around here, though I really wouldn’t know because the only thing I get excited about on TV in the fall is Dr. Who’s new series on BBC. I have a lot of friends who love football, though, and that’s okay. They love my football hating, grouchy self anyway.
Not all West Virginians go crazy over pepperoni rolls. I don’t. I can’t eat them. They’re lying little bread rolls! You look at them and think there’s a pizza in there, but when you take a bite, it’s just pepperoni and bread…and mozzarella if you’re really, really lucky. Come on, people. Take me to Lucy Lou’s (pizza)and keep your pepperoni roll lying liar bread things to yourselves.
Not all West Virginians listen to country music. I DETEST country music. A minute ago, I was listening to David Bowie because I love him and his androgynous self. Right now I’m listening to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” being performed by Prince, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and some other folks…all together…on one track. It’s totally blowing my mind, I love it that much. Sometimes I listen to Tori Amos. Sometimes I am more in the mood for Rammstein. I even listen to Tool. But, you will never, ever, ever catch me listening to country music unless it’s Johnny Cash. And let’s face it, Johnny Cash was just one of the first punks but sounded so country because he grew up playing it that way (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
I guess the moral of this blog post is that you can’t judge a person by where they live. I hate it when people do that. Not just to West Virginians, but people from anywhere. It’s ridiculous. And, now that I’ve gotten this off my chest, I’m going to go watch some Dr. Who play ball while I help my son with his homework.
My kids have gone back to school already. Their first day was Thursday, August 13th. Yeah, it was a wee bit early, but that’s off topic. Tonight, I was reminded of my own high school days. I’m thrilled to death they’re over and done with, but I’m notorious for my trips down memory lane.
This particular trip is being brought to you by my overwhelming sense of nostalgia and my absolute hate of high school and middle school bullies. Yeah, I had to deal with bullies sometimes, too. I think most of us nerdy writer types have a few bully stories. We’re weird. And we were born weird. Most of us have come to terms with that and we’re all okay now.
But, not toooooo (yes those extra o’s are necessary) okay. Otherwise we’d never sell any books.
First, let me tell you a little bit about the high school I went to. It was SMALL. Super duper tiny. There weren’t a lot of students at all, but all of the other kids I went to high school with spoke of how big it was when we first started. This is because the beginning of my 9th grade year was also the very first year the school opened. It was built to consolidate a few high schools into one. But, I’d already gone to a middle school elsewhere that was about three times the size of that high school, so for me, it was tiny and that meant one thing.
There was nowhere to hide. I was alone.
I had friends, though. As a matter of fact, I made friends quite easily with a group of girls I’m (mostly) still in contact with. We’ve all changed over the years, but I’m so glad I have them in my life still. They were a small group, but they accepted my weirdness. There I was in my Doc Martens, band shirts, and larger than life thick eyeliner, and the rest of the girls were wearing sweaters and jeans and dressing to impress. I wore jeans and sweaters and nice little girl things, too, just not every single freaking day. I dressed to impress nobody. I liked what I liked and didn’t try to hide it. I think some of them actually did try to hide it because every once in a while I’d get a compliment from someone I didn’t know about how they liked my killer eyeshadow or how they wished their parents would allow them to wear black fingernail polish.
And, there was this one time… A very sweet young girl in my class came up to me one day and smiled. She was one of the more popular girls, so I had no idea what she wanted with me (I was always skeptical of people). But, instead of being mean or teasing, she was pleasant. She asked me about an assignment we had while she’d been sick and then, as she turned to walk away, she stopped and said, “Ya know, you’re kinda like a living, breathing Daria. Daria is awesome, ya know. You look and act just like her!”
From that point on, that young woman was okay in my book and we talked often in classes we had together. And, both of us were damn smart, so we had a lot of smarty pants nerdy things to talk about sometimes. Ya know, books and homework and stuff. She passed away just a few months after graduation and every time I see a picture of her or hear her mentioned on Facebook from another classmate, I remember her kindness because not all of the other kids were always nice to me, the freakazoid fatty in the big boots.
I think I was probably called every single name in the book when I was in high school. Everything. And, because of my insane love for bands nobody in my high school liked (or would openly admit to listening to), I was branded a Satanist on more than one occasion. Do you people have any idea how that can affect a kid? It was pretty terrible. If I actually HAD been a Satanist, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much. But, I wasn’t. I also wasn’t a witch thankyouverymuch. If I’d been a witch, I promise I would have turned several boob grabbing boys into toads.
But, I wasn’t just a kid in a Marilyn Manson tee shirt. I was smart, too. It was confusing to some people, though (my mother, mostly lol) because I made straight A’s in most classes, but was failing in math and wound up taking Applied Geometry just to pass. For those who don’t know, “applied” in Wyoming county is the same as remedial in other places. So, I guess that meant my brain was one sided. I’m okay with that. Artsy types like myself can probably relate. It was crazy difficult for me to explain to friends that I couldn’t help them with math, but I could explain any piece of Shakespeare to them in three seconds without even thinking about it. I could diagram sentences with the best of them, but I couldn’t figure out what X was equal to. I’m sure my teachers wanted to strangle me.
I liked a lot of things other kids didn’t like. I was not particularly rebellious, though I had my moments. I liked bands nobody else liked and I liked to read books. Big books. I read “A Game Of Thrones” by George RR Martin in 9th or 10th grade. I read Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” when I was thirteen and was totally unimpressed by it. I thought they were idiots. I also thought Romeo was sort of pervy. I was also the only one of my friends who even knew who Dr. Who was. But, I liked to kick back with my friends more than anything else. We did a lot of cool things together that I’d absolutely strangle my children for if they did the same things. Like jumping off train tracks into a rocky creek. Like throwing quarters at the sign dancer at Little Caesars. Like smoking behind the bus and hiding the cigarette between my boobs when I knew I was about to be caught (I didn’t that time, FYI, but I got burnt pretty darn bad). Like taking off on fourwheelers with boys and wrecking and ending up with a million stitches in my head and leg. I still have the scars from that one.
I wrote a lot in high school, too. I kept notebooks and notebooks full of short stories and the beginnings of novels that I’d never finish. I wrote every thought that popped into my silly little head. I kept journals and I sketched a lot, too. I wrote my own magazine (and if anyone has an old copy, hit me up because I’d love to see my old work lol). Most of my stories, though, were written because I was afraid of something. I was afraid of monsters. I was afraid of vampires and demons. I was afraid of my own shadow sometimes. Whatever it was I was afraid of at the time was the hero of my next story because the best way to overcome a fear, at least in my teenaged mind, was to discredit it. I still do this. Have you ever read a little novella called “The Demon King” by Rhiannon Mills? Hey, I wrote that.
I always thought I’d be a big shot author one day. I thought I’d take on the world. I thought I’d be the next big thing and live in some loft in New York somewhere and I’d be writing novels and selling them faster than you could say Stephen King. I didn’t quite understand how it all worked back then. I thought I knew, but I had no idea.I had big plans. Very, very big plans. I was going to write. The people would make movies out of my books. And I’d be a recluse, too, because being a recluse sounded fantastic to me (it still does). I wanted to write the books that Tim Burton would turn into creepy, weird movies for creepy, weird kids like me. Honestly, that would still be awesome…
I am a writer today. I’m an awesome author. I write the awesomeness. I pull the darkness out of my head and spew it forth onto the page. I am a knight in shining sweatpants and write whatever creeps into my big head. And sometimes, when I think back to the bullies of high school hell’s past, I smile because maybe they knew something about me that even I, myself, couldn’t have seen back then. Maybe they saw that I was different, that I was weird, and that I stood out. I didn’t see it that way much. I wanted to fit in, to be like everyone else, but I wasn’t about to pretend to like things I didn’t like to do it.
So, thanks, asshats.I’m a reclusive independent author now. The minute my kids are out the door for school every day, I’m writing another chapter of epic science fiction/fantasy/horror proportions. I work with coffee stains on my shirt and a furball black cat in my lap. I don’t make a lot of money doing it, but people pay me to hear what I think. I take the darkest periods of my life and bleed them onto a blank page for other people to read and judge me by. I’ve learned to let go of my fears by typing them out into a blank document. I don’t live in a loft in New York, but I have a hovel in Itmann, West Virginia where I wake up to a tiny army of minions of darkness (my four awesome children) and am greeted by my two black cats, Salem and Scrappy, and my pitty mix, Thor, every single time I come in the front door. I’m not into name dropping (har har har), but I have friends and acquaintances who have written books that are now films (and you’ve probably watched at least one of those). Some of the same writers I grew up reading are now names in my email contact list. Not George RR Martin, though. My books aren’t bestsellers and have never made it to the New York Times, but I don’t care. I’m pretty pleased with my life. And I owe all of my successes to the bullies.
Had you not all called me a fatty satanist witch, I might have wound up sitting behind a stuffy desk all day, working 9-5 for The Man, and miserable every minute of it. Instead, I’m happy and dropping cookie crumbs on my keyboard. Cookies, coffee, and great books are bliss, bitches.
How many of you are planning on participating in Nanowrimo 2013? I made a post on Facebook today asking what others were doing to prepare for the month of November and all the National Novel Writing Month entails, but mostly the responses I got leaned toward planning and plotting. Makes sense, right? What else can you do?
Well, I have a list of things that may help you. At the very least, it may make you laugh or give you some food for thought.
1.) Hook yourself up with a good writing playlist. A lot of writers need some music to help them along while others would rather write in complete silence, but if you enjoy a tune, Youtube is a great place to start. But, if Youtube is too much of a distraction–what with their shiny, sparkling videos and all–then you can try a site called Grooveshark.com. No videos, just music and the ability to make playlists and save them.
2.) I refuse to get into a long debate over the concepts of plotting versus pantsing, but if you’re a plotter, perhaps now would be a good time to jot down some notes or get a few key phrases or reference photos for characterization rounded up and put together in a folder on your computer.
3.) Consider using Google Drive to make your documents or creating a profile and downloading Dropbox to keep everything organized. I use Google Documents through Google Drive because I’m constantly bouncing back and forth between my laptop and my desktop computer. However, Dropbox is equally as accessible and very helpful. I’ve heard great things about both.
4.) On about October 30th or so, go to the grocery store and buy what you need, be it toilet paper and coffee or snacks to nosh on through your adventure into Nanowrimo. You should also make sure you have a few legal pads, pens, pencils, a sharpener, highlighters, or whatever else you may need.
5.) If you’re making your participation in Nanowrimo official, head over to the website (Nanowrimo.org) and make a profile. It’s free. However, you can take part without creating a profile and making it “official” because the greatness behind this particular month is that it gives you an incentive or a special drive to FINISH THAT DANG NOVEL already! LOL.
6.) If you already know you’re going to need some reference materials for your project, locate those things now. Bookmark sites on your computer you might need, locate books you might need as desk references, and get everything together in one spot (or in a folder on your computer). Great places to bookmark would be baby name websites for naming characters and maps of places you’re thinking of including in your story. Another great resource for reference books or other books you might need is Thriftbooks.com. I buy a lot of used books there because they’re cheap and in great shape and there are no shipping fees in the US (and I just happen to live in the US).
7.) Don’t do any of these things. Just wing it. Some of the best books were written that way.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Bones Of Willow Lake has a cover artist! The very talented Mark Hogg will be creating a wonderful cover for my pending release and I’ll report more when there is more information available. Other than that, I’ve been listening to you people. One of the most searched keyterms for this blog is “Demon King Rhiannon Mills sequel.” Somebody really wants more Draken, huh? Well, I hear you and I’ve got something coming.