Monday, July 14, 2014

Word Count, A New Painting, And An eBook Giveaway

Hi all,

Sorry I haven't posted, I was writing like the maniac I was the first week of July (CampNaNoWriMo total in six days of writing (between July 1 and 8th, I took two days off in the middle) came to 50,145 words.

For a project that I did entirely for myself and don't think the world will ever see. And that's perfectly okay with me :~)

Given the highly manic state I was in at the time due to a doctor prescribed change in meds (you never know how these things will go... and hence my ability to write like that-- if there was any doubt before that my meds are the master of my fate when it comes to my ability to write, there can be none now...) the writing was effortless, and I have missed it being that way so much. Alas, I could not continue on like that (too dangerous to my health overall) so my meds have been changed AGAIN and I have been exhausted the past several days. Trying to wake up, and get back into the swing.

Some changes on my publishing team have me scrambling at the moment, too, but hopefully that will all work out soon...(I will really miss you, Wendy...thank you for everything.)

In the meantime instead of a real post, I will show you my latest painting...first time I've picked up a brush in a long time...hope you like her.

The text is taken from a single line of random dialog I wrote some time ago. The entire piece read:

"Do I miss him?" She repeated the senseless question. "Sooner you should ask, sir, if the stars would mourn the moon."

So the painting has the last line in it. I think it's kinda cool.


Moon and Stars by February Grace (blue streaks in her hair, still drying!)


Talk soon, xoxo

bru

PS Thank you to Melissa and Jo for their recent 5 star reviews of In Starlight! I appreciate them both so much. Additionally, Jo is running a contest on her blog for eBook sets of OF STARDUST and IN STARLIGHT! You can enter by visiting her here. Thank you again, Jo! :~)

Monday, July 7, 2014

...And The Universe Laughed

Oh, how can I still be so naive, even at the age of 43?

I thought that a simple change of what I called 'mindset' and a new datebook, a new goal or two, and a hopeful heart could work magic.

The Universe at large (whatever that means to you) had other plans I guess, and I am starting to think has a really snarky sense of humor.

I have taken more hits in the past seven days since my little mid-year-restart program began than in a good long while before it...and it knocked me off my feet. Straight to bed, shaking in full-blown panic attacks with my anxiety meds barely controlling the fury of the terror of the flashbacks.

I have been so agitated that I have walked, literally, up and down the block until my legs refused to hold me up (that isn't as long a time as it would be for most people, remember, I am $#!* at walking long distances because of my joints and my back; hence why I am wheelchair bound in WDW and other large places like museums and the like. Distance walking? No matter how the soul is willing (or in this case, manically driven) forget it. I have walked until the pain is absolutely unbearable and now I can't move.

This past week/weekend everything seemed to hit the fan at once.

The anchor of my team, writing-wise, has moved on to other things. I wish her the best...but I feel lost and am trying to figure out what happens now.

My husband wasted most of his holiday weekend trying to deal with a recurring water problem at our apartment that should have been fixed months ago but no one can seem to figure out. I can figure it out just fine-- CALL A FREAKING FULLY-QUALIFIED PLUMBER but no one seems to hear me.

Got bad news about my father's (seriously declining) health. The cancer keeps trying to come back on his skin, the same kind that took his voice box (though he never smoked a day in his life) and has left him scarred and silent (though whispering angrily, and sadly making little sense most of the time these days...)

Another relative is having major surgery soon that scares me half to death. Elective, but risky.

There is a family wedding we are missing this month because I am in no condition to cope with the stress (no guilt there...)

And on top of it the mania has just kicked into overdrive...

I mean, I wrote 28, 472 words in the first four days of April. No, that is not a typo. I'm sure some of them are trash, but I don't think all of them are horrible.

That might be considered a major victory for someone who has not been able to write in fifteen months (anything but blog posts and a few lines of flash or poetry) but it was kind of like a person who has been starving gorging themselves when they finally see food: and I made myself sick.

So I've written nothing the past two days, spent most of them in bed with the covers over my head, feeling like I am strapped into a roller coaster I can't get off of.

Add to that the fifth anniversary of an event that, while it didn't directly involve me, had a huge impact on people I know and care about in a place that means the world to me, and the memories of doing what I could to help through that time are never easy. I never feel like I did enough-- like anyone could have done enough.

I'm beginning to realize that despite my desire to put the brakes on all these raging emotions, the most that I can do is try to look at it the way that my doctors have taught me-- as a cyclical thing and not as things that will last forever-- though days can certainly feel like forever when you're shaking and crying and can't accomplish anything that you want to and you feel like a burden to everyone.

If I could control it, then I wouldn't have Bipolar/OCD/PTSD requiring a cocktail of ever-changing medications because it refuses to be managed. Yeah, at about two months in I think this latest combination has run its 'helpful' course and is doing more damage than good (note to self, email doctor today.)

Then... Monday came.

Not so sure when I've been happier to see a weekday, honestly.

I am taking very slow steps.

I got some extra sleep this morning when I felt too tired to get up at the first alarm.

I'm writing a blog post. 

I'm drinking my beloved cOfFeE...

I'm wondering if maintenance is going to insult me with another round of "we aren't sure what's going on here..." or just call the freaking plumber already.

And I'm getting ready to take my story in a direction that I didn't imagine when I started writing it. A direction that scares me, and that ensures that this book would never work under the 'February Grace brand', that's for sure. Maybe it's just something I need to 'write through' and get out so that I can move on to the next 'February Grace' type thing.

I'm not sure.

So that's how my holiday weekend went.

I hope yours was better.

As far as my re-start to the year, yeah, lets just pretend that didn't happen and try to continue on with our previously scheduled 2014.

It was probably better to begin with.

~bru

Monday, June 30, 2014

All In

So, I'm taking a very big emotional risk here...

I went ahead and signed up to participate in CampNaNoWriMo for the next month. (If you don't know what that is and want to find out, visit campnanowrimo.org)

I promise not to blog about it consistently (gets old fast, I know) though I may update word count on Twitter, depending on how it goes! (Again, only now and then, promise.)

It was a very difficult choice for me to try to do this: after all, it's been an entire year since I've written anything of any length or substance (In Starlight started at Camp last year) and I have been unable to write for so long.

But I have an idea screaming (not whispering, not murmuring, but SCREAMING) in my ear and I can't shut it up-- and I know of no other way to shut it up faster than to try writing it out.

The reason I am choosing to try doing it with NaNo is the sense of community (and comforting familiarity to me, been participating in some form or other every year since 2008) that the project offers. Even though I opted out of being in a 'cabin' (I am going to be a 'hermit in the creepy little shack alone' type for this) I still find the whole of the idea of NaNo, in any form, invigorating.

I sat out NaNoWriMo last November on purpose but not by choice: under strict doctor's orders not to participate. 'It will feed the manic cycle' she said. 'It will not help you stay at a more stable mood level,' they said.

Pardon my language here, but after a year of playing by their rules I have only one thing left to say here: screw that.

After going so long without writing and so many med combinations in the past year I have lost count of them, I am definitely riding the edge (if not over it) into an agitated, more manic state anyway and I am driven to DO SOMETHING. I think the safest thing I can do is try writing something. My doctors may not be happy when they find out (by the time I see them next the month will almost be over...so...) and yes I am taking a chance by doing this. But I have got to try something to break out of this cycle of being lost without words.

I had intended to start with simple poetry (being there is no exact word count requirement for CampNaNo it seemed to lend itself to the endeavor) but it has morphed into something else, something that no one will ever likely get to read but something that I want to try to write for myself, at any rate.

So that's that.

I can't wait to start writing...I wish today was the first. Given I have to sleep (because of my med schedule mostly) I probably won't be able to start writing until about 24 hours from now. But...

I actually found myself writing something of a *gulp* outline-ish thing on sticky notes this morning because I am so ready and raring to go. That is new for me...I am usually a total 'pantser', beginning to end.

I hope the idea holds up, that it doesn't fall apart halfway through but even if it does, I will have learned from the experience (you don't learn if you don't try) and maybe I could still harvest some decent poems out of it all. At any rate, I will have written SOMETHING somewhere.

So wish me luck...the candle will be lit and in my window from July 1-31.



I have no idea how bright it will burn, but I hope it will help me find my way out of a dark place without words that I have been trapped in for so long.

~bru

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Rebeginning" 2014: Or, A Second Chance at the Year



Song I am listening to at the moment: Walk On, by U2


"Anguish" By February Grace: 2/14


 
Have you ever hit an emotional landmine?

Of course. We all have.

Sometimes it comes in the form of running into someone we have been avoiding, or have been avoided by, for years.

Sometimes it’s a random song on the radio or on shuffle on our iPod. 

Sometimes it’s a ragged-edged photograph at the bottom of a box stored deep in the closet, behind our winter clothes.

Today, in my case, it was opening up a notebook I thought was still blank inside and finding it was anything but.

It was from 2011, right about this time of year, and I was in a full blown manic state, though I didn’t know it at the time.

It contains pages of thoughts on some latest-thing-self-help exercise or other, in which I was supposed to write every day and work toward self-acceptance.

It holds barely legible notes on the origin of the word ‘acceptance’, and ways in which I was not accepting myself. It was also full of mania-infused hopes and dreams, plans and lists, of things that never came to fruition or at least, never in the way I had possibly imagined that they would.

I still grieve for the things that might have been.

I also find it sickeningly ironic that three years later, even with the knowledge that I was manic then and may well be manic at the moment—I still haven’t accepted myself.

Some may say it’s the plight of the idealist temperament (INFJ here) that we can’t ever accept ourselves. I don’t know if that’s true. I just know that last night, I felt more optimistic than I do in this moment, having just stepped on that epic emotional landmine. 

I’m still taking stock to try to figure out which parts of me it took with it when it went up.

Last night, in my previously more optimistic moments (which I am trying to reclaim in this moment) I saw someone post a photo of a blank datebook on Facebook. 

I was thinking—I have a blank datebook for 2014 that I never used. (Monet’s Gardens at Giverny…) I went with a different one instead.

What if I started the year over again—my own personal second chance at 2014, beginning on July 1?

I mean, hell, I have the new datebook. Why not?

Will the things I record in it change?

I hope so.

I hope instead of just charting the bad of my moods running from one end of the Bipolar spectrum to the other with many mixed-states in between that I can think of and record some of the happier things. 

(Observe: two different self-portraits I painted in February of this year: while in different Bipolar states. Quite striking, the difference, isn't it?)





 
I hope that, with some time and distance, I can look back on the first half of 2014 and remember more of the happy things there have been than the sad things. Because honestly, if I were looking at anyone else's life and seen what I have managed to accomplish in the first half of the year despite the devastating effects of the ‘constellation’ of health issues that I battle, I would be damned impressed.

But I can never be impressed with myself. It just isn’t how my brain works.

I just want to get back to words—to finding ways to twist and craft them into something with more meaning than the letters themselves possess on their own: to create a broken-china mosaic on the page that turns into the image of something beautiful when you take all the fragments and fuse them together, finally.

I want to create in 2014—more than I already have (though 60+ paintings in February was quite a run…) and what is more, I want to CREATE 2014. At least the last half of it.

I want this year to be something I lived by choice and not just a series of events that happened to me.

I want to take as much of my power back from those who would hurt me with their silence as best I can.

I can’t control what others do and sometimes because of the Bipolar I can’t even control my reactions to it. But I can try to learn to twist those reactions, to smash and break the ugly down and rearrange the pain into something beautiful, to someone.

Even if only to me.

So I am counting down to the rebeginning of 2014.

The preparation work begins now, reframing my thoughts and building upon them to try to ready myself for this restart.

Then, on July 1st, hopefully I will be in the right frame of mind to say “Happy New Day, everyone.”

"Angel Fountain" (also painted by me)
 
I hope, come December 31, I will be able to look back on the second half of 2014 and say I lived by choice and survived through rebuilding; not that I lived by the rule of circumstance alone.

xoxo
~bru

Friday, June 20, 2014

Exciting News!!!

Hello, my friends! I have happy, exciting news to share today!

My amazing Team February Grace and incredible publisher Booktrope have put their talents together once again to the benefit of my writing and have JUST released THIS:

Cover Design by Ida Jansson
 Pardon me for a moment while I SQUEEEEEEE!!!

Isn't it pretty? Now, if you haven't read either of my "Fairy Godparents for the 21st Century" stories, you can get them both together for less than the price of buying them separately!

Of course, you can still get OF STARDUST and IN STARLIGHT separately (and you have to order them that way if you want them in print; this is a 'virtual' box set.)

Here are the links I have so far...

One Wish: The OF STARDUST COLLECTION: Amazon
One Wish: The OF STARDUST COLLECTION: BN.Com

...I will add them to the sidebar as time and energy allow. I tried to pretend I was a normal person and took a short walk last night and while it was lovely, today I am PAYING for it: so much pain, I can barely move. Still, it was such a pretty evening...

Anyway, thank you all for your support of my writing, be it through Tweets or FB mentions or sharing the stories on Wattpad...it all helps to get the word out, and that, as you know, is what helps the most!

I am so grateful for you all.

Happy Friday!!!

xoxo

~bru

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wrestling With Shadows: When Life, Age, and Illness Change Your Appearance

Today, for Throwback Thursday, I decided to post a favorite old photo of mine (and I have so seldom ever liked photos of me...even in childhood, I went for 're-take day' in the first grade after I saw my pictures because I didn't like them. The photographer was about to turn me away because I didn't have a re-take request from my parents, but I think seeing that I was about to cry, they decided to just go ahead and let me do the retake anyway. Kindhearted...the second pictures were better.)

But I digress.

After posting this photo...




I kind of regretted it.

You see, it's really the first time I've seen it with the level of restored vision that I have now, thanks to fabulous surgeons at U of M (GO BLUE!) and the special aphakia glasses I have to wear to be able to see anything beyond light, color and motion.

Without those glasses I will always be legally blind, but lately I've been taking them off more and just existing for awhile in the blur...and I wrote something that turned out to be very personal the other day that I will share here because I know that most if not all of us, as women, have body issues, especially as we age:

I wrote:

I like not wearing my glasses. I am learning it can be a relief to sink into blindness; to not have to see the harshly defined lines of the world but all softness instead-- and to be able to avoid, completely, my own reflection in the mirror.

Ouch. I wrote it down and in a hurry and rereading it later, surprised even myself. And just when I thought I was finally getting a handle on this self-acceptance thing.


Even though just a week or so ago I had someone tell me they didn't believe I could have a daughter old enough to graduate high school, I still feel that the past five years and especially all those surgeries have aged me. No doubt they have changed the landscape of my face...after everything that happened, the surgeries reshaped my face, which is now lopsided among other issues.

Unreal, though, that when I look at the photo from five years ago and the one I just snapped today with the same camera for comparison (both were taken without any makeup and have not been retouched or altered other than to change their size for posting) the only thing I could think was "My god, I have gotten fat." Here is that photo:



And there is one reason for that and one alone: my meds. Psych meds, and other meds.

ALL but one of the meds I am on (several) are KNOWN to cause weight gain. The only time I ever came close to struggling with my weight like this was when I was taking extended rounds of Prednisone back in the early 2000s after an MS misdiagnosis. But even then, awhile after that med was stopped the weight began to come off, on its own (with destroyed disks in my back I can't work out) and I was thin again, as is shown in the first photo here.

Not anymore. And there is little chance of my getting off of any of these meds. The best I can hope for is maybe they'll come up with something better, something that doesn't cause you to balloon up so badly.

About a week ago, after about two years on the meds and fighting the steady weight gain with no success, I finally went through my closet and got rid of the clothing I can't wear; all but one or two sentimental pieces I couldn't part with. It was a very hard thing to do, especially for a woman who, as a teen, crossed into the very dangerous territory of self-starvation, thinking that if I couldn't be the prettiest girl in a room I could be the thinnest...

I have a very close relative who is anorexic and has been since I was fifteen. She is one of the few family members I still see on rare occasions, and she never fails to point out that I've 'picked up a bit' or ask 'what happened, you were so thin before...' and suggests that I 'stop taking that junk that the doctors give' me.

The 'junk' that keeps me alive.

So, I guess I am back to the point of decision: feel sorry for myself (ewww) or just try to accept that while things about my appearance have changed that I can't control (my facial bone structure, the scars on my nose from the HEAVY glasses, the weight gain) that I can change some things...like my hair.

I think I'm going to let my hair grow for awhile. I really like the way it looks in the first picture here, and if nothing else, that part of myself I should, hopefully, be able to reclaim in time.

I don't know if I have a point here, my friends... maybe just working out some things in my own head. But I guess if I had a point, it's that we all get older, our health changes, our bodies and faces change. It may be out of our control, and it can happen in an instant. But our spirit, and who we are inside is still ours to work on and shape, if not to choose outright.

So please, I'm asking, choose to like who you are...because I see your photos all the time online, my friends, and you are ALL beautiful.

I'm going to try to choose that, too. Starting this minute. I was about to say that I doubt my success, but doing that is sabotage before I begin.

Acceptance...somehow, I will get there.

xoxo
bru

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kindred Spirits, and "Women Who Write Books Are..."

Just sharing a happy snapshot or two today: taken a few weeks ago when we were visiting the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

How could I know that Cinderella's Fairy Godmother was there and not stop by to say hello? I simply had to.

She was very excited to hear about my books, and I told her that she was a major influence on me as a child and helped lead me to writing about Fairy Godparents.

She said she couldn't wait to tell all the other fairies about the books. So sweet.

Thank you again, Fairy Godmother, for being so awesome!



...and one other humorous moment: With Gaston at Belle's Village:

Me: "So, Gaston, we know how you feel about women who read books, what do you think about women who write them? This guy behind me here has been married to one for fifteen years."

Gaston: "They're even WORSE!"



Priceless.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

xoxo

bru

P.S. Do stop by and check out IN STARLIGHT in its limited engagement on Wattpad: currently being posted a chapter a day!



Like all magic, this special arrangement can't last... so read it there while you can!