Tuesday, April 22, 2014

IN STARLIGHT Cover Reveal and release update!

Hi everyone!

Now I can share with you the GORGEOUS front cover for IN STARLIGHT, the sequel to OF STARDUST! It was designed by the lovely and incredibly talented Ida Jansson (who also designed OF STARDUST's cover.)

I am absolutely in love with this one...I hope you'll love it too.






 Isn't it beautiful?!?

Things are happening quickly behind the scenes, and while I do not have an official release date for you yet, I can tell you that IN STARLIGHT will be released VERY soon! Sooner than I ever imagined, which is so cool. My publisher, Booktrope, and Team February Grace are totally amazing: this book would not be happening without them!

I hope that you will find it a fitting continuation/resolution to the questions raised and left unanswered at the end of OF STARDUST.  Here's the back cover blurb...

***


Their wish was sealed…was their fate?

Young Fairy Godfather Gus Duncan is living his clan’s unfortunate family motto— Learn to Suffer — to a greater degree than he ever dreamed.

The woman he loves is withering away beneath the burden of memory, of one perfect night with him she was supposed to forget.

Facing a reality he never imagined, he must make the decision of his life: shatter the most sacred rule in the fairy code, or lose his beloved Till forever.

Can true love save her when even magic fails?


***

Thank you, to all the readers who asked for "more about Gus and Till"!

Hoping today finds you well, and in the sunshine...

~bru

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mania, Magic, Elsa, and Me

So...I've been gone for a while.

It's not without reason.

I kind of had some sort of a thing.

I don't want to call it a 'breakdown' because my professionals haven't used that word (does anyone use that word any more? Does it even apply to Bipolar?) but it was a Big Thing.

I had to go off the map for a bit, and physically get away from the Winter That Would Not Die (we have now officially broken the all-time snow total record for our state. Please, let that be the last of it. 93 inches and change, in all...just too much.)

I had a vacation scheduled for early April for a long time but I knew I wasn't going to be able to make it until then. I pleaded with my husband that I needed heat and sunshine, NOW, and with some quick changes and additions to my itinerary I found myself packing to leave the next morning, on the first flight from Detroit to Orlando.

I thought a lot about Gus on that flight (when you read IN STARLIGHT you'll understand why.) I thought a lot about my future, about my continued struggle to be able to write.

I thought about a lot of things. I even tried to write some of them down in a journal but my thoughts were too jumbled.

I was much too manic.

I was not manic in the 'whee I can do anything!' sense like most pure manias, no, I get into what they call 'mixed states' which are about as close to being in a living hell as I can or ever want to imagine.

I wanted to get away from myself most of all, but that is the one thing you never truly can get away from, no matter how far you run.

So I headed down to my safe place, Walt Disney World, and I spent the better part of four days before my husband was scheduled to meet me down there riding modes of Disney transportation.

Buses, boats, monorails. I rode them all, always wanting to get somewhere (as fast as my rented scooter would take me, I can't walk the distances there) but never really being sure where.

Even the peace I sought sunbathing eluded me, for while I drank in every drop of sunshine with a desperate sort of glee, I found that my skin reacted badly to the direct light even with sunscreen (medications, perhaps? I always have been quick to burn anyway) and I grew more frustrated as the days went on instead of more relaxed.

I was counting down the time until I wouldn't be alone down there any more, which for me is new, as I can usually LOVE time in Disney alone.

I felt lost. Defeated. I was tired of fighting myself-- I was fighting a storm inside of me that I had been unable to leave behind with the snow in Michigan.

The words of that now ever-so-famous Oscar winning song went through my head a million times... "Conceal don't feel, don't let them know..."

"Conceal", a painting I did during the month of February, was inspired by Elsa


I even ended up, at one point, singing that song, Let It Go, in front of a lobby full of people at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at the invitation of the pianist. I was good and worked up in a manic high at the moment, and I gave it my all. I didn't hold back, and it felt incredible. I was surprised by the round of applause I got afterward from the staff as well as all the surrounding tourists. I think I did it justice.

It was a great moment.

But it wasn't the moment to do with Frozen, and Elsa (whom I relate to entirely too much, but I digress...) that I will remember most from this trip.

No, that happened later, on the day my husband arrived.

After a stressful morning switching resorts to meet him and settling into the gorgeous Boardwalk view room we were given, we decided to head over to the World Showcase at EPCOT. I had an idea of something I wanted to do in mind but I wasn't sure we could do it.

I wanted to meet Anna and Elsa.

Now, I know that these are women portraying characters. I am not (at least, not yet,) delusional about that. But I wanted to see them, get a photo, all those touristy things, and it was the one thing on the whole trip that we'd talked about possibly doing that really meant the most to me. I can't even explain why.

Maybe it's because I wanted to feel some kind of a connection to past trips, where we waited to meet Princesses with my daughter. Maybe I just wanted to live the experience of doing the Princess Tour of Disney World, I don't know. Maybe it was the mania and a vulnerability I can't explain. All I know is, I just wanted to see Elsa up close.

I had heard rumors that the wait in the line to meet them was four to five hours long. So all week, I told myself we wouldn't wait, because this was my husband's birthday trip and we were supposed to be doing what he wanted...

...only it turned out he thought it would be cool to get a picture with Anna and Elsa, too.

So when they told us the wait time was only two and a half hours, we figured, why not? We're here for 8 more days, lots of time to do other things. This was our shot.

Only the wait wasn't really two and a half hours in the end.

I won't tell you how long we waited in the end because I feel a little ridiculous (okay a lot ridiculous) for waiting so long but I will tell you that my husband went to take breaks (it was allowed for one person to hold the place in line) in the shade and bought me a parasol to keep myself out of the sun as as I waited, sitting in my wheelchair. Otherwise there would have been no way we could have done it. (Even so I ended up paying for it physically, but again, I digress.)

The moment we walked into the room and saw Anna and Elsa standing there...the wait evaporated from our minds. They were both simply stunning.

But that isn't what I will remember most.

I will remember Anna's reaction when I told her we had had a winter to rival Arendelle's: with more than 90 inches of snow.

...and I will remember Elsa.

As we chatted, I looked up at her from my wheelchair and saw such kindness in her eyes, I just sort of blurted out something that, in that instant, made me realize why I relate to the character so much.

It was something I couldn't put my finger on exactly until I saw her standing there, looking like an angel before me. I said to her softly, "You know, we all have our own sort of magic we need to learn how to control."

She sort of tilted her head, and she looked at me curiously and said; "What kind of magic do you have?"

"Bipolar," I replied, quickly adding to lighten the moment, "and I am not talking North and South."

The Photopass photographers laughed a little at my intended joke, but Elsa's reaction was differently entirely.

In that instant "Elsa" looked at me in a way I cannot, to this day, describe; and I don't think I will ever be able to. She was very good at recovering from her momentary surprise (I know she wasn't expecting to hear such a thing) and she looked at me with such emotion, with such kindness and understanding. She reached out and put her hand on my shoulder. She took my hand and held it in hers a moment, and we just looked at one another. We really saw each other.

I started to tear up...

Then we were suddenly posing for photos, our time with them very limited, but she kept that hand on my shoulder the whole time.

At the end I thanked her quickly for making magic for all of us; for me and all of her guests. Again, she gave me a look that defies description but reached deep into my heart.

In that moment in my head, the lessons of the film and the details about the fictional Elsa-- how fear made her powers harder to control and love made it possible-- hit me all at once. All the pieces in my head that had been so fragmented, the unknown draw to the character I had felt for so long, were finally all understood in that moment.

I understood Elsa, because whoever wrote Frozen MUST understand Bipolar.

I have been Bipolar since childhood, though I was only properly diagnosed a few years ago.

My parents said many things to me that are along the lines of the "Conceal, don't feel," rule that Elsa was taught as a mantra.

No wonder she touches my heart...no wonder.

I will always remember the look in that young "Elsa's" eyes, and never forget the way she wordlessly and honestly comforted me in that moment in a way she may never understand. I found that as we left that day, I had to brush tears from my cheeks, and I have them in my eyes again now remembering the moment.

It was a moment of connection between two real people, brought together by the power of a story.

As a writer, I can imagine no more powerful instant connection than that.

Thank you, "Elsa".

Thank you for looking at me and really seeing me, and thank you for, in your own way, giving me inspiration to remember that fear is the enemy, and hiding myself away from the world to try to protect those I love from me and the 'storm inside' is not the answer.

Love may not be the cure for Bipolar disorder, but love IS the most powerful weapon against fear; every single time.

Queen Elsa, reaching out and touching not just my hand, but my heart.


~February Grace

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Godspeed's BookBub Day: On Sale for 99 cents today!

Hi everyone!

Just a very quick note to let you know that today is GODSPEED's long-awaited BookBub promotion day, and so the eBook is marked down across formats to 99 cents for the day!

Here are links for you, if you'd like to take advantage of this bargain while it lasts...

GODSPEED for Kindle:

GODSPEED for NOOK

...and it is also available through iTunes.

Thank you to everyone who has read and supported the GODSPEED already, I appreciate you all.

If you haven't had a chance to become acquainted with the good Doctor and company yet, now is the perfect chance!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

xoxo

bru

Monday, March 17, 2014

As I Am



I have avoided, for a very long time and until only recently, having anything glass around my home.

Every picture frame has had the glass removed before it is brought into the apartment; all drinking glasses replaced with (nearly) indestructible, if inelegant, plastic tumblers.

This is mostly because of a long-standing history of being told by my mother that I am a klutz; that anything I touch that is made of glass will surely end up broken.

It has also been a practical matter when it comes to the drinking glasses; with poor dexterity (left sided weakness) since my small stroke in 2000, I do lose my grip on things sometimes, and so much the better to drop a plastic tumbler than a glass one.

Lastly, losing my eyesight made it impossible for me to safely be around anything made of glass for a very long while.

It has only been lately that I have had to specifically remind myself that I am not completely blind any more. Even though all I can see without my special aphakia glasses is light and motion (legally blind) I am not completely blind anymore. In fact, the fifth anniversary of my first eye surgery is approaching; and the third anniversary of my last one has just passed. Six in total, and hopefully, there will be no more.

Only lately have I fallen in love with colored glass; pink, specifically, and starting with tiny votive holders from Michaels before moving on to a couple of larger glass vases. Heavy things, hefty to the touch and something that I felt comfortable displaying on my kitchen countertop; the one where we keep pretty, sparkly things since we never pull up barstools to eat at it. Or scattered on a bookshelf, here and there. Add some LED candles and voilĂ : pretty!

Several times I have passed over more elaborate pieces I admired at art shows: not only were they expensive but there was still this voice in my head—my mother’s voice—calling me the unkind names she called me as a child when I would trip over feet that we didn’t realize at the time were actually malformed; or sprain ankles that were not built to support the weight of my body due to a genetic mutation we wouldn’t know I had until I was almost 40 (and that to this day, my mother calls ‘nonsense’.)

If she lives to be 100 she will never let me forget the time that the peanut butter jar I swear I never touched fell off the shelf in the grocery store when I was four, and I cried so hard (and offered to pay for it out of my allowance from my grandparents) that when she gave me a severe scolding and name calling, a store employee actually came out from the back room, approached me, dried my eyes and told me that it was nothing to worry about, that it was an accident and accidents happen. Then she gave my mother a look that should have caused her to spontaneously combust.

I swore to myself that day that if I was ever a Mommy and my child broke something, I would never yell at them. And I kept that promise to myself; I never did.

So anyway… yesterday, I saw this vase…


 It was on a display table outside the Castle Shops in Frankenmuth, Michigan. My husband actually saw it first, and when he showed it to me I found that the way the ‘crackling’ in the glass caught the light and reflected the colors of the flowers in the pattern fascinated me.

The vase was inexpensive, so there went my excuse about being afraid of spending too much money on something I ‘shouldn’t’ have.

Then I found out that it had two matching votive holders…and I decided to take a chance. I decided to bring them home.

After getting them home and putting them on display just as I imagined, I began to panic looking at the vase.

What if Mom is right? What if I can’t have anything ‘nice’ or ‘delicate’? What if I really am the ‘bull in the china shop?’ What if…

What if I break it?

Worse, my OCD and anxiety said to me ‘what if it spontaneously shatters?After all, it is cracked glass already…

My husband reassured me that it is in a safe location. That it won’t spontaneously shatter.

That it will be okay.

Then, I did a little looking around online and found where more than one person said that it’s actually only one layer of the glass that is cracked, then fused between two other layers. 

So you can see the cracks, but there is more to it.

I think it was in that moment that I realized why this piece spoke to me so much.

It’s the ‘cracks’ in the vase that catch the light; becoming facets reflecting the beauty of everything around them.

It is the ‘cracks’ in who I am that reveal me, as I am. My scars tell the story of my life.

Instead of trying to hide them or worse, spackle and paste them back together, I am learning to layer smoother glass over them, to reinforce my strength. To wear my scars, my ‘cracks’, with my head held high.

We can’t control what life does to us: to our faces, our bodies, our minds, as sickness or even just age creep up and steal the prettier (or in my case, at least younger) facades we used to be able to show to the world.

Still we can fight, always, to retain our dignity.

We can fight to keep the scars from hardening our hearts or worse, shattering them completely. We can fight to keep the scars from taking the beauty from our souls.

We can fuse more glass over the breaks; insulating them inside like that layer of cracked glass in the crackle glass vessel. People may be able to see them but they won’t be able to touch them; and they might even find something of value reflected in all of the things that we have survived.

We might begin to see ourselves, too, in a whole new light.

The vase might break one day.

Then again, it might not.

It must be handled with care, to be sure, but then, it is a lesson to me and a reminder; sometimes we have to risk being broken to show the beauty we have inside of us.

Maybe we all need, in the end, to be handled with gentleness, and care; especially when deciding what voices playing out in our heads are going to be allowed to win.

I shouldn’t let the words that hurt me in the past win out.

Maybe we can overcome those messages, still.

Every time I see that vase, I’ll remember…

I’m not that defenseless little girl any more.

It’s long past time I stopped feeling like I am.

Friday, March 14, 2014

So Sad

I am at a loss for words today.

Rest in peace, George Donaldson.

Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world, we were all better off for it.



Monday, March 10, 2014

Seeking A Quiet Introduction to Spring

Yesterday I had about an hour of something I haven't felt in so long I didn't even know what to do with myself.

I felt calm.

New painting: "Climbing the Beanstalk"


That is something that could be entirely attributable to (another) slight med adjustment, made to try and help with the PTSD (and the worsening panic attacks I have been having lately) but I really hope it was something more.

I hope that it was the beginning of a process that I can encourage and cultivate.

During that rare span of serene thought (as serene as I get anyway) I scribbled down a list of words that I want to carefully observe for the rest of the month of March. Before things shift into high gear on In Starlight (The sequel to Of Stardust, which is, as of this writing, in the process of becoming a 'real book'...) Then I posted them on my inspiration board where I can see them every time I walk past.

Rest. 

Restore.

Rebuild.


Those are just a few of the words on my list, perhaps the most important.

Though I woke up this morning in a state of near panic again and to be honest have had my share of tears already today, after giving in to my body and going back to sleep for a few more hours I am feeling a little better if not 'well'.

I hope to slowly ease my way back into that calmer state I felt yesterday, though I know that instant may have been a rare and valuable (and carrot-on-stick) sort of gift; a state of mind that will elude me to a greater degree the more I try to pursue it.

Maybe calm can't be actively fought for.

Maybe the secret of attaining it lies in the giving up of the struggles you're facing (as much as is possible) and not fighting yourself is the only way to find it.

Maybe people like me (INFJ) aren't meant to ever truly find it.

I just know that it's something I wish I could have, and hope to keep hold of in a more sustainable way, one of these days.

So, aside from the Godspeed Bookbub promotion day (exciting!!!) coming up on Wednesday, 3/19 I am taking  a mental vacation as much as is possible the next few weeks.

Time to heal, play, and sleep, and be as quiet as my mind can be; in hopes that I will greet spring this year with gently open arms come April, and not still have my arms wrapped tightly around myself in a futile attempt to defend myself from the daily life that feels, so often, just too much.

Calming art and happy images are going to be a focus here when I do blog the rest of the month, so I leave you with something new that makes me inexplicably happy: the new Shabby Chic bolster pillow I bought at Target over the weekend. It is just what I needed to put in my favorite rocking chair to support my back, and it's so pretty that when I'm not in the chair I just love looking at it. It's reversible too, the opposite side has a rose print on it.

I hope you find something small in your day that brings you comfort.

It's a big, far too often unkind world out there, everyone. I know I don't have to tell you that.

Please be kind to each other today. Every day.

In the end, what else is there we can do that can really make any lasting difference?

xoxo

bru

Friday, March 7, 2014

Where The Sea Meets The Sky, and That's a Wrap!

Today's painting isn't one that I did during my marathon in February, it's actually one I worked on over several days this past week. It felt good to be able to get some painting time in, even with all that has been going on with the blog tour. I really hope you will enjoy the textures and variations in this one:

"Where The Sea Meets The Sky"
Now without further ado, here they are: the final stops on the OF STARDUST blog tour. Thank you so much for hanging in there with me while I posted all these! I really appreciate it.

March 7:

Ebook Escapes - http://ebookescapes.com - Review
Once Upon a YA Book - http://onceuponayabook.blogspot.com - Review
Reading and Things - http://readingandthings.blogspot.com - Review
Divergent Gryffindor - http://www.divergentgryffindor.blogspot.com - Review (CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS!)
Dark Novella - http://jenniferweiser.blogspot.com - Promo Post
 
 
Thank you again to YA Bound Book Tours for organizing, to my publisher Booktrope and my wonderful book manager Wendy Logsdon for making it all happen, and to all the bloggers who so generously shared their time and space with OF STARDUST! Thanks everyone!!!

I hope you all have a great weekend.

xoxo

~bru